The Daily Mail reported on the unfortunate experience of Italy's Flavia Zoccari who had a split swimsuit at the Mediterranean Games in Pescara, Italy last week.
While there has been a strong worldwide outcry by coaches and athletes against the use of technical swimsuits in the pool, we have observed the effects of the controversy in the open water.
Throughout the year, including the time certain swimsuits were not allowed, it has been our observation that the best open water swimmers have continued to win.
In other words, the same swimmers who won BEFORE the controversy CONTINUED to win during the time some swimsuits were banned and AFTER the most recent FINA ruling. This has been true whether the race was a cold-water race in San Francisco Bay, a 1-mile race in England's Lake Windermere, a 10K FINA World Cup in Portugal's Atlantic Ocean or professional marathon swims in the warm rivers of Mexico and Argentina.
Winning remains the ultimate goal of the world's elite open water swimmers - as opposed to setting world records or achieving best times in the pool.
As the technical swimsuit issue continues on the pool deck in Indianapolis at the USA Swimming national championships this week and in Rome at the World Swimming Championships this month, we hear that most open water swimmers have already determined what works best for them. And, if the recent past is a precursor to the future, it seems that the best swimmers will continue to win in the open water, effectively holding off their competitors no matter what the conditions are.
In summary, it seems to us that the heart of a champion still counts for a lot in head-to-head racing.
Copyright © 2009 by World Open Water Swimming Association