The Meaning of 24.81

Excerpt by David Rieder, originally published at SwimmingWorld.TV

PHOENIX, Arizona, November 29. TODAY at the Eindhoven Cup in the Netherlands, American Randall Bal swam a 24.81 in the 50 back (long course). While the time only ties him for 14th in the world in 2009, under the circumstances, it was an outstanding swim considering one major detail: he wore a 2010-legal suit.

The Eindhoven Cup is notable because, in addition to only allowing suits that will be legal next year, it offers a monetary prize for eclipsing the world record in textile (i.e., whatever the record was on January 1, 2008). For the 50 back, that mark belongs to Thomas Rupprath, a 24.80 from 2003. Thus, Bal has come the closest of any swimmer to eclipsing what is considered at this meet a "world record."

For five years, Rupprath's mark was a magic standard. No one could touch it until the first generation of performance enhancing suits came out, when Liam Tancock obliterated it. The record has changed hands a couple of times since then, and a total of 15 swimmers (including Rupprath himself) have gone under that time. Many credited the suits, but maybe there was more to it.

Read the rest of the story at SwimmingWorld.TV