Monday, January 5, 2009

Hi-tech cossies -- Whither are we drifting?

There is plenty of debate about whether hi-tech cossies, such as fastskins, and wetties should be allowed in ocean swimming. There are no hard and fast rules in this sport, just as there are no rules that extend across the entire sport. Whether hi-tech suits should be banned is a matter for individual swim organisers and for swimmers to express their views.

One major swim is considering banning all cossies except for conventional styles -- traditional budgy smugglers for blokes, and one or two piece cossies with no arms or legs for the laydees. They are working on the wording.

Even Australian Swimming has recognised this issue by banning hi-tech suits for junior and age group competition.

We believe the argument should be about keeping as flat a playing field as possible. Allowing hi-tech suits in ocean swimming means that all swimmers who wish to be "competitive" will have to fork out the hundreds of dollars required to buy one of these suits. Even if the wish only to be competitive in their age group, they will feel the need to spend the money. This will raise the entry cost to ocean swimming as a sport. To be an ocean swimmer now, all you need is a pair of cossies and maybe a pair of goggles. That's it. Well under $100. If you have to buy a fastskin, then you're talking about something under $1,000. Then where does it stop?

The vast majority of swimmers take part in our sport for the sake of being part of it, not to get the latest hi-tech gear to seek the ultimate micro-advantage over their competitors. That's the route triathlon has taken. We would rather see ocean swimming remain relaxed, not become ever more expensive and anal.

Similar arguments apply in NSW, Queensland and WA to wetsuits. Not in Victoria, where wetties are de rigeur. The debate there probably is lost, although some hopeless romantics -- we are their fellow travellers -- continue to wage a quixotic battle.

By the way, we have no problem with swimmers wearing these suits if they wish. Some people genuinely feel the cold. But they should not be allowed to count in open or age group company.

What do you think? Post your response here and/or vote in the poll at left.



  1. Great to see the blog up and running- for swimmers a soapbox and the parish pump as well.Peter Timmins

  2. The argument on whether Hi-tech suits should be allowed in ocean swimming is, in my opinion, not really relevant. There is no doubt that Hi-tech suits make you feel great in the water. But when it comes to competitive ocean or open water swims, the suits will make you feel great-but they won't win you races. The people who win ocean and open water races, at any age level, are the ones who have put in the hard yards in training, have good surf skills, make there move at the right time and who have that little bit of luck at the end. The women╩╝s Olympic Champion was not in a special suit with special hi-tech panels when she won that medal. She just did a lot of hard work in the pool and raced smart.

    As I see it, although the suits might give you a small edge in racing, they are not going to get you on the podium without out the training and experience.

    I also have a comment on the Cole Classic registration one has seemed to comment on the fact that there are a handful of swims this year with a $40 entry fee, and these are swims that have no where near the status of the Cole Classic.

    I am more than happy to spend $45 to swim at an event as professional and significant as the Cole.

    Shelley Clark

  3. Wow $1000 racing skins? They must be to cover OS.coms body?
    I think suits and in particular LZR’s are an advantage in the pool but not necessarily in open water. Last time I heard Speedo LZR’s were $700-$800ea for neck to ankles. The Speedo LZR issue came about because of the recent world record blitz and the fact the LZR is buoyancy neutral and has a structural design that helps enhance classic body position in the water. This could mean if you wear a few at once you may increase your relative buoyancy (not proven). The structural changes really appear to help swimmers hold body position in the pool and perhaps help streamline from the dive and off the wall. All previous suits are not buoyancy neutral and don’t have the same seams or girdle structure .i.e. they sink and don’t provide the same advantage.
    If an optimum result is the goal then I won’t wear anything more than legs or shorts
    (or a womens one piece) in an ocean swim because I don’t always want to hold a classic pool swimming position. I.e. when looking for directions. Hence a Speedo LZR would be working against this requirement to lift. After the Bondi bluey attack of 2007 I carry a full Speedo body suit, like others, which I purchased for $100. Leg skins can be bought for $40 and I bought a neck to knee for my wife for $39. This was cheaper than a normal swim suit and they look more flattering according some. Even though you can buy cheap neck to ankles on line for as little as $65 I wouldn’t be quick to wear one again in an ocean swim. I would in the pool.Open water swimming for me requires more flexibility in the shoulder area than pool swimming and I found these suits created fatigue in my shoulders and torso after about 1km.Personally I think a cheap full racing skin is a great option for those concerned about blue bottles, skin cancer or just self image. I know of one person who wears a suit to cover burn scarring. If they eventually make a full suit that doesn’t fatigue my shoulders and is under $150 then I’ll buy it and wear it purely for the ongoing sun protection. Why buy a stinger suit when you can get a cheap racing skin that will create less drag than a stinger suit. Let’s face it stinger suits look daggy as well. The racing skins are a great option for people concerned about skin cancer, blue bottles and self image. They are not expensive. Buy on E-Bay from as little as $35 for a pair of shorts. Happy shopping everyone.

    If the Cole provides Manly with good financial support then why does Manly have the need to run another swim a few weeks after the Cole?

    Name witheld due to sponsorship obligations.

  4. Didn't we ban Dawn Fraser for choosing to wear her own swim suit? Now that's "anal".

    David O'Brien

    PS: cole plate still for sale.

  5. The thing I like about ocean swimming is the lack of fancy equipment - it's just you, your goggles and your smugglers. Jeez we have enough of that posey hi-tech bollocks on dry land. Let's keep it out the water.

  6. I agree fully with os.c. These hi-tec suits will help little when it comes to negotiating ocean swell or strong wind. They would be beneficial in a closed environment such as a pool. But theres nothing better than beating the guy (or girl) in a "Hi-tec" suit


Please use the drop down menu, Comment as, to attach your name to your blog.