Reaction Time Comment Featured; Parent’s Point of View on Speedsuit Ban

PHOENIX, Arizona, August 10. AS most of our readers know, users can interact with our content and each other via Reaction Time commentary on our articles. From time to time, our readers post something so strong we feel the need to bring special attention to the post.

On August 9, Chapter13 posted the following in response to John Leonard's reprinted article entitled The Big Deal About Swim Suits:

I would like to share a parents point of view on the issue of suits. A bit of background…. my daughter has been swimming since she was 8 years old and in two weeks she will be leaving to swim at a Division 1 University. She first qualified for Senior Nationals when she was 14 years old, been a finalist at Nationals and Junior Nationals, competed at Olympic Trials in 2008 and World Champ Trials 2009.

Every parent out there knows the sacrifices we all make helping our children succeed in the sport of swimming. Years spent driving to 5am practices, sleeping in the car waiting for our swimmers, back to the pool after school, meals in the car, homework in the car, travel expenses, the athletes giving up a "normal" social life and the hours in the pool practicing and perfecting technique. All this working towards the one or two big meets a year, hoping to stay healthy so that all the hard work and sacrifice will be rewarded with a best time or two or a new "cut". That is all good, life lessons to be learned in a good clean sport.

2008 rolled around and the LZR became the biggest headache for every parent I know. How to get the suit, how to pay for it, should we buy two in case one rips, gets lost or stolen? Luckily Speedo loaned suits at Olympic Trials and my daughter was able to wear a LZR for the first time at the biggest meet of her life. Her club team is a small team with no suit sponsorship so in those days good luck finding a LZR if you weren't Speedo sponsored!

At the height of the difficult economic times last year we made the decision to purchase a LZR in the spring of 2009. It wasn't an easy decision but we felt that it was important for her to be on an even competitive field at her big meets. We felt she had earned it through a lot of hard work, so we bought a LZR knee suit with an open back for her to wear to the spring meets, high school champs and World Trials this summer. ONE suit that had to last through about 20 swims! Every time she swam I would pray that it wouldn't rip. Even in good economic times, how many families can not be anxious about budgeting for multiple suit purchases? For those of you who post on this site who are not parents, let me assure you that only a small percentage of families can absorb the cost of these suits on an ongoing basis.

As if all this weren't challenging enough, along comes suits of a completely different level….Jaked, Arena and their ilk with an insane price tag and unavailability to match. Watching World Champs in Rome gave me a sinking feeling knowing that my daughter could be priced out of the sport at some point. In less than a year technology took such a leap rendering the LZR a dinosaur, what would the next year bring?

I am acquainted with approximately 30 parent who have children leaving this month and who will be swimming in college. Every single one of us…heaved a huge sigh of relief when the NCAA came out with it's decision on suits beginning in Sept 2009. In the news release I don't believe cost was mentioned but it had to be a leading reason for the decision that was made. The controversy and expense surrounding the suit issue would have been the beginning of the end for college swimming. The reasons are obvious.

I do believe there is a place for new products and technology in the sport of swimming. Reducing the suit profile is a good compromise which will allow for new fabrics etc but will limit the amount of benefit still requiring the physical work needed on the part of the athlete.

Cost must be considered so as to be reasonable. Availability to ALL at a swim store nearby, NOT requiring a lengthy internet search etc. and calling that "available to all".

All that said, what was saddest about the past year for me as a parent was seeing how unprofessional and ineffective swimming's governing body was. I valued my belief that swimming was an honest sport where hard work and dedication paid off for the athletes. A sport where success could be measured, where there was never failure as you could always find something to feel successful about even at a meet where things didn't go all that well. Don't even get me started about the friendships made that will last a lifetime. It's been a great journey until now…..I hope the future will be a better one for all concerned.