Originally, the Duel in the Pool in December was supposed to be swum in textile, knee-length suits which would be legal in 2010. Over the past few weeks, I have heard rumors, mainly from ReachForTheWall.com, that any suit legal in 2009 could be used at the Duel. This came from the replacement of France and Russia with Italy and Germany; Italy, whose sponsor Jaked, well-known for its full polyurethane Jaked 01 suit, had not come out with a 2010-legal suit, pressed for these rules. Without France and Russia's backing, USA Swimming could not hang onto its position of only 2010-legal suits.
Two main problems: 1) it was already enough of a mess this summer at Worlds! (I'm assuming you all know the story!) 2) Star American swimmers such as Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff (and possibly/hopefully others) will no longer wear polyurethane suits.
Imagine Phelps getting beat (while wearing his textile jammer) by Great Britain's Michael Rock (in a Jaked) in the 200 fly. With the way things are going, I'm scared to say it could happen.
I sent an email to USA Swimming today about the topic and my suggestions. This is the text of that email:
This email is directed towards Mike Unger and the organizers of this year's Duel in the Pool in Manchester in December.
While neither USA Swimming nor British Swimming has confirmed anything, ReachForTheWall.com's Amy Shipley has reported that nontextile bodysuits that caused so much controversy this summer over exaggerated fast times and world/national records, will be used the British Gas/Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool in December.
I know that USA Swimming and British Swimming had originally intended to use only knee-length textile suits that had been approved by FINA for use in 2010, but Shipley has reported that this changed when France and Russia withdrew from the meet and Italy entered.
I understand that USA Swimming has done its best to ensure fair play at the meet with the 2010 suits, but Italy has gotten its way, and 100% polyurethane suits will still be worn.
However, these suits have become more important than the swimmers themselves, and the Duel in the Pool, as stands, will only furthur that sad reality. Moreover, many of USA Swimming's top swimmers (including Michael Phelps, Katie Hoff, and possibly Ryan Lochte) plan on continuing to wear their 2010-FINA-approved suits for the Duel, risking prize money and valuable points. In addition, the Duel will not raise the profile of swimming in America is our top swimmers are losing races because of their choice of swimwear.
This must change immediately. If not, USA Swimming should immediately withdraw all swimmers from the Duel and cancel the meet.
It is sad that suits so detract from what is a great concept meet and what could be an amazing annual (or bi-annual) tradition.
I look forward to future Duels in 2010 or 2011 and beyond where swimwear is no longer an issue.
Thank you for considering my comments!