When the Pioneer girls’ swimming team won the national championship in 2006, Speedo outfitted the team with high-tech LZR (“laser”) suits and has sold them to subsequent team recruits at deep discounts. But as the team–state Division 1 champs for nine consecutive years–starts up its fall season, the expensive, water-impermeable suits are history. Pioneer coach Denny Hill says that swimmers wearing the suits have broken so many records that every swimming rule-making body, from FINA (the Olympics) on down, has been moving to outlaw them. FINA is expected to ban the suits by the end of the year, and they’re already forbidden in high school competitions.
Hill agrees with the high school ban, saying the expensive suits gave an unfair edge to students who could afford them. While swimmers will miss the suits’ benefits–less friction, less fatigue, and more buoyancy–they won’t miss the half-hour struggle to put them on: “Some of our kids were wearing their knuckles raw trying not to rip them.”