The Sporting Chameleon

an absolute cheesecake of a sports blog

Polyurethane not suiting Phelps and co

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WORLD records galore have tumbled at the Swimming World Championships in Rome.

But the action has been overshadowed by the row about why all the records – 35 at the last count – have been falling.

Bodysuits made from 100% polyurethane (which I believe is also the main ingredient in a McNugget) have turned swimming into an equipment sport much like Formula 1.

To put it another way, if I was in a 100% polyurethane suit and Michael Phelps was in his birthday suit, I would have a decent chance of beating him.

But this is not the main swimsuit controversy in the sport.


This picture shows Phelps, winner of eight gold medals in Beijing last summer, and behind him Paul Biedermann climbing out of the pool after the 200m freestyle final.

Biedermann, wearing a 100% polyurethane Arena X-Glide suit, had defeated Phelps and his lowly 50% polyurethane Speedo LZR suit.

After the race Phelps said that he looked forward to racing Biedermann when “swimming gets back to swimming”, meaning once the polyurethane suits are banned in January 2010.

But of more concern to the swimming authorities should be that Phelps and Biedermann are both clearly wearing women’s swimming costumes.

Men should swim in shorts or trunks (and even then only in exceptional circumstances, such as the Swimming World Championships).

Regardless of the performance benefits Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal would not turn up at Wimbledon wearing skirts.

Andrew Flintoff would not run into bowl in a pair of high heels.

Rio Ferdinand would not play in a crop-top and denim hotpants. Actually he might, so ignore that.

But that is the equivalent of what Phelps, Biedermann and the majority of the male swimmers are doing – they are swimming in drag.

And it is this that is doing the most damage to the sport’s reputation.


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