We're seeing records being shattered left and right esp in Swimming.
Does the use of technology, in this case, the Speedo LZR Racer suit and a more sophisticated pool design, take away from these victories?
article with excerpts:
Advances in training techniques, pool design and swimsuit technology have contributed to the increases in speed for swimmers, who also enjoy financial incentives that allow them to remain in the sport longer than they would have two decades ago, when the Olympics were restricted to amateurs. If Phelps breaks the record of seven swimming gold medals won by Mark Spitz at the 1972 Munich Olympics, he will receive a $1 million bonus from Speedo, the swimsuit manufacturer.
“When you pulverize the world record by more than three seconds, that is remarkable and is only happening very seldom when four superstars are at the peak of their performance,” Orjan Madsen, the German Olympic swimming coach, said of the 4x100 relay record of 3 minutes 8.24 seconds.
At the same time, some swimming officials are questioning whether the multitude of records devalues each one and whether human performance is being unduly aided by technology.
Fauquet has called for more debate about the use of Speedo’s LZR Racer, the latest advance in the full-body suit craze popularized in the last eight years. The Racer has been worn in the setting of about four dozen world records since its introduction in February. The corsetlike suit is made by ultrasonic welding instead of stitching, can require a half-hour to put on and shoehorns the body into a more streamlined position.
More sophisticated pool design has also helped to dissipate wave action. The pool in Beijing is three meters deep, compared with two meters for many racing pools. The added depth is designed to lessen resistance.
For major international competitions, like the Olympics, the pool is 10 lanes wide, instead of 8. The two empty outside lanes serve as buffers, keeping the waves from ricocheting, dispersing them instead to a gutter system that is flush with the surface of the water. The plastic buoys that serve as lane dividers are designed to direct water downward instead of outward. The nonskid starting blocks are meant to facilitate a propulsive takeoff, similar to track and field, which can shave valuable ticks off the clock.