RA essay - 1 Mr Calvey WRT 102-65 3 April 2009 Too Fast for...

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Mr. Calvey WRT 102-65 3 April 2009 Too Fast for Our Own Good There is something new in the world of competitive swimming. It has the ability to create “a 4% increase in speed” and increase “swimmers' oxygen utilization by 5%” (Schneiderman 33). Elite competitors are expected to spend at least $550 on it for every meet. The legality of its use has been constantly called into question since its introduction to the world in February of 2008 (Schneiderman 33). It is called the LZR. It is not a new designer steroid or drug used for doping. It is a swimsuit designed by the massive swimming manufacturer, Speedo, with the help of a variety of high-tech partners. To fully understand the conflict that has arisen around the LZR a little history is crucial. While the LZR is not the only high-tech swimsuit on the market it was the first and arguably the best. Its release caught the industry by surprise. Immediately Speedo’s competitors voiced their displeasure. TYR , Speedo’s closest competitor filed suit alleging a variety of grievances including federal and state anti-trust violations (Schneiderman 33). This was the legal manifestation of a world wide surge of excitement and concern over the suit. The entire industry denounced the LZR as “technological doping” while scrambling to develop their own version (Schneiderman 35). Today TYR has their own version of the LZR, the Tracer, as well as smaller companies’ creations like Arena’s Revolution and Blueseventy’s Nero. While the business side of the controversy had died down with the potential monopoly averted, the question as to the suits’ legality in the sport remained. 1
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The two most influential governing bodies in competitive swimming are the International Federation of Swimming, FINA, and the United States’ National Collegiate Athletic Association, NCAA. FINA approved these suits for use amid a great deal of opposition from coaches worldwide. The NCAA however declared them to be an illegal aid and outlawed them. After intense legal pressure from Speedo and the other swimsuit manufacturers the NCAA reversed their decision and declared the suits legal (Futterman D8). It is very clear that these decisions by both groups are more products of Speedo’s army of lawyers, rather than the honest feelings of the members. This has left the conflict in a strange place. While being deemed legal by the governing agencies much of the swimming world still questions the ethics of the swim suit. These suits’ cost and technological manipulation of the human body betray the spirit of athletic competition and should be banned. The cost of these suits is obscene, the cheapest being around $400. Their expected lifespan is not much beyond one meet. That means a LZR at $550 has an effective life span of about 4 days. That would average out to $137.50 a day. Swimming at its core has been a very basic sport. Competitive swimming used to require little more than a day at the beach, a racing swim suit, goggles and a towel. As these suits become more common
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This note was uploaded on 09/28/2009 for the course WRT 102 taught by Professor Frost during the Spring '08 term at SUNY Stony Brook.

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RA essay - 1 Mr Calvey WRT 102-65 3 April 2009 Too Fast for...

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