The last word on “High Tech” swim suits

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I have used this space in the past to rail against the trend of allowing “Tech” swim suits in high school meets. The top of the line model was the popular TYR LAZR full-body suit costing $550. Unfortunately, it has taken a few years for reasonable minds to come to their senses and ban these suits.

The suits, some made out of synthetic material meant to resemble shark skin, made a mockery of Olympic and international records. On Tuesday, the National Federation of State High Schools, the Indianapolis-based rule-making body for organizations like the IHSA, announced an immediate ban against “Tech” suits for the upcoming seasons.

One of the area’s top girls programs, Loyola, opens its season Sept. 3 in a dual meet at Evanston.

The National Federation’s decision came only a few weeks after FINA, the sport’s international ruler maker from Lausanne, Switzerland, decided to enact an original ban of the “Tech” suits.

I don’t follow the sport outside of high school. I find high school’s 500,000-yard freestyle boring enough to watch. It’s so long that teammates must place markers in the water to let their swimmer know how far they’ve gone. It’s a good reason to head to the concession stand during a swim meet.

But didn’t Michael Phelps complain recently about losing a race to an opponent with a better “Tech” suit?

I am forever stumped by how the National Federation allowed the pumped-up, steroids suits in the first place? Did anybody stop to imagine how much of an unfair advantage the suits created? It didn’t take me more than a few seconds to realize how unfair boys swimming had become when I watched the Glenbrook North Sectional featuring swimmers in five different styles of suits.

One club swimming coach at the sectional supported the “Tech” suits, which became an issue during the spring when FINA started holding committee meetings after the record-breaking Beijing Summer Olympics. I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Is that all that matters in club swimming? It’s just about your time?”

The new National Federation regulations don’t go far enough. The new rule allows suits between the waist and the top of the kneecap. The full-body suits and tights are gone, but boys can still wear the Bermuda-length shorts. How about everyone wearing the same style of suit? Bring back the $30 Speedo trunks.

At least you won’t see the full-body suit anymore, handsomely modeled by American swimmer Ricky Berens (above) at the World Championships. Berens had his own version of a Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction. For half a grand, you would think the suits wouldn’t break apart before impact.

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