Bob Bowman on Arizona State’s Techsuit Swims: It’s a Learning Experience

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Bob Bowman on Arizona State’s Techsuit Swims: It’s a Learning Experience

Arizona State turned heads nearly two weeks ago, blitzing the NCAA leaderboard – not to mention Stanford and California – in dual meets. It came with the Sun Devils, the men’s team already ranked No. 1 in the nation, wearing techsuits.

The reason, to coach Bob Bowman, was simple.

“I think you’ll see a lot more people doing that because, No. 1, it’s a lot more fun. And No. 2, I just think it’ll make the sport better,” Bowman said on a Zoom call with media Wednesday. “I think the days of people trying to be as slow and tired as they can be all season and then have some miraculous thing at the end are over. It just doesn’t make sense to me, and I hope it doesn’t make sense to everybody else.”

Whether or not they were miraculous, Arizona State’s swims against Cal were historically fast. By the end of the weekend, Leon Marchand held an NCAA record in the 400 individual medley among NCAA-leading times in four events. Grant House lowered his nation-best time in the 200 free. A slew of others set themselves up as potential NCAA finalists.

And much of that was because Bowman opted not to keep the Sun Devils’ powder dry for NCAAs.

The team didn’t rest for the meet – also on the call, Marchand alluded to one light day before the back-to-back meets against Northern California foes. So what transpired at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center was all about the suits amplifying the works swimmers had put in for months.

And that’s the point for Bowman. (It’s not a new perspective from him, either.) He’s quite clear that hard work throughout the year is “the primary ingredient,” as he hopes to bring Arizona State from sixth at NCAAs last year, its best finish in four decades, to contend for a title. But when you’re shaving, tapering and suiting up for championship season, it’s hard to tease out how much each element helps.

Wearing the techsuits early not only gets swimmers used to them, but it gives the coaching staff valuable intel.

“We decided to wear the tech suits because, No. 1, why don’t we want to go fast in meets?,” Bowman said. “Why do we impose slowness on ourselves when we don’t have to? We’d like to learn how to swim in the techsuits, and these meets are really the only time to learn how to do that, except for a couple of practices where we use them. We wanted to be able to do that under racing conditions. And No. 2, we also want to learn about our training plan. And if you’re going to go through your whole season without using the techsuits for the most part and then at the end, you’re going to add a techsuit, and shave and taper the training, there’s three variables you just changed and you don’t know which one made the difference or how much of a difference.

“So we’re taking one out of the equation. We’re going to know what the suits are doing for us, so we’ll have a much better idea of how we’re planning for the championship season and whether our taper was successful or not.”

As for the timing of donning suits against Cal, the reigning national champion and a program that has finished no worse than second at NCAAs since 2010, instead of say, this week’s meet against in-state rival Arizona – Bowman doesn’t see it as fundamentally changing the equation between two teams who figure to duke it out for Pac-12 and NCAA crowns.

“I think the best way for us is to use these suits and learn how to swim in them, and then at the end, we’ll all know,” he said. “Everyone will be fully prepared at NCAAs, and we’ll see how it shakes out.”

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Curious Swimmer
1 month ago

U.K. Swimmer here. I could never understand why they DIDNT wear race suits… I mean if there’s any logic to it, why not leave your goggles at home too?

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