Forty-three world records were shattered at the Swimming World Championships in Rome, which was recently held between July 26 and Aug 2. However, it is doubtful that 43 world records will be broken in the entire year of 2010. That’s because FINA, swimming’s international governing body, unanimously decided to ban polyurethane swim suits, which were used in the World Championships and have been used by almost all swimmers in 2008 and 2009. The ban comes into effect Jan. 1, 2010.
During 2008 and 2009, polyurethane suits made setting a world records an almost absolute at every meet. In the 2008 Olympics, 21 world records were broken out of 32 events. Also, only one Olympic record was not broken, and 66 new Olympic records were set.
One may argue that the records are being broken because the swimmers are getting better. Michael Phelps probably broke close to half of those records, right? Not entirely. While he did break seven of the 21 world records at the 2008 Olympics, he only broke one out of the 43 records at the Swimming World Championships. Can you name more than two of the people who broke the other 42 world records? Exactly. Swimmers who few people have heard of are breaking world records that were previously held by legends such as Mark Spitz. Thanks to the swimsuits, it can be said that Spitz now holds very few world records, and certainly less than he should hold. Spitz, who won seven gold medals at the 1972 Olympics in Munich (the record for the most gold medals won at the Olympics until 2008) made a joke after the World Championships that he should come back at the end of 2009 and try to re-attain some of his world records.
“The suits that are breaking world records are so good that today I am announcing my comeback,” the 59-year-old jokingly said.
Janet Evans, a former American swimmer, showed her disgust that world records held by legends are being broken by swimmers who have no business breaking them by stating that polyurethane swimsuits are “threatening to make a mockery of the sport.” However, not all swimmers are disgusted by the suit. American swimmer Aaron Piersol exclaimed that he is enjoying wearing the swimsuits because “it is the fastest we’ll ever go.” Piersol is undoubtedly right, next year he and everyone else will be slower, and most of the records set in the last two years will remain intact.