Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A World Record In 2010... Now What?

On January 1st, 2010 the ban on *shiny* suits took place and after a period of a few years of World Records being set at an unbelievable rate the records stopped.  As the records stopped the swimming community began to talk.

Where did all the records go?

Was it all the suits?

I went to the 2010 Canadian Pan Pacific Trials in March where there were no Canadian records... nowhere even close.  Everyone saw it, a lot of people were talking about it, it was that 800lbs gorilla in the room that was ominously milling around the pool deck.  The scene in Montreal was similar to the scenes on pool decks across the world as they prepared for the summer Championship season.  There were a few who started to breakthrough and perform at a high level - Camille LaCourt of France and Ryan Lochte of the US were certainly chief amongst those swimming at near world record levels while some were drastically off shiny suit form.

Fast forward to today and the Chinese women's 4x200FR relay participating at the 10th FINA World Swimming Championships (SCM) in Dubai.  Chen Qian, Tang Yi, Liu Jing and Zhu Qianwei combined to smash the world record in the relay with a final time of 7:35.94 taking the gold medal ahead of 3 other teams that also eclipsed the old WR of 7:38.90.  Finally, a breakthrough.

Quote...  Annamay Pierse (WR holder women's 200BR LCM 2:20.12) via Twitter...

"New WR for China in the relay. Maybe people will stop thinking that the almighty suits were the only reason people swam fast & start racing" 

Fair or foul?

Swimmers are fantastic athletes and the ones who compete at the level where world records are under the microscope are simply tremendous.  The work, the dedication, is equal to that of elite athletes of any sport regardless of the disparity in net income in comparison to a big-time professional athlete in baseball, football, basketball or European football.

That said...  It's taken nearly a full year to break 1 record.  There were over 100 world records (maybe closer to 150) broken in 2009 at a rate never-before-seen in the history of the sport and now in 2010 on December 15th we are at 1.  Coincidence?  I don't think we have to call on Sherlock Holmes to crack this case.

Today is a big day for swimming and there is hope, the Chinese women are to thank.  Today was just day 1 of the Short Course World Championships, hopefully there are more records in the coming days.