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Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton

Cheating Suit Maximus vs. Cheating Suit Lite: A case study

Rating: 6 votes, 5.00 average.
Our little region of the earth is not all that big on USMS participation, but we are very big on YMCA masters swimming. From September to April, there are meets held almost every other week. The pools are not always ideal, and those accustomed to plenty of rest between events would definitely be disappointed. A typical time line is warm up from 11-12; Star Spangled Banner; meet starts around 12:07, and is over by 3:00 or 3:30 at the latest.

You can swim 4 events, plus relays, for $7. It's actually a great way to practice racing different events. I have come to think of these meets as high quality sprint-and-strategy practices.

During the last two of these meets, held the Grove City Y on Jan. 10, and the Allegheny Valley Y yesterday, Jan. 24, I swam the exact same events but used different suits.

(In between, on Jan. 17, there was the 1-hour postal swim held at Carnegie Mellon University.)

The Grove City meet, I used my B70.

The Allegheny Valley meet, I used a somewhat old Tyr Aquapel, which I had purchased last year for less than $60.

I had planned to swim in jammers yesterday to better compare the old world as we knew it (where B70s were legal) with the new world that we must get accustomed to soon enough (where only jammers will be allowed.) However, in between meets, USMS ruled that body suits will be legal for the rest of this year's yards season, so I figured I might as well use up all my old suits.

Leslie recommended saving my B70 for a bigger meet than the ones held in our Amish mudholes.

But I wasn't yet psychologically ready to give up the crutch altogether that I have become so used to.

So I decided to compare the B70 times against the non-flotation-style body suit that doesn't cost very much. Both suits, it should be noted, are kneeskins and provide the same amount of body coverage.

The B70 feels pretty much as tight and compressing as it ever did.


(I wore suit on right)


The Tyr, on the other hand, is noticeably stretched out (though not yet sagging) from its original couple swims.



(I wore a different color)

Hypothesis: The B70 would prove significantly faster in all four events--the 100 free, 50 free, 25 fly, and 500 free.

Results: B70 times in blue; Tyr Aquapel times in brown.

I will also bold the better swims of each comparison pair.


EV #2 M/F 100YD FREESTYLE

AGE GROUP: 55-59
1 JIM THORNTON 57 M SEWY 53.35
25.74 27.61


AGE GROUP: 55-59
1 JIM THORNTON 57 M SEWY 54.35
26.06 28.29



EV #6 M/F 50YD FREESTYLE

AGE GROUP: 55-59
1 JIM THORNTON 57 M SEWY 25.16

AGE GROUP: 55-59
1 JIM THORNTON 57 M SEWY 24.80



EV #10 M/F 25YD BUTTERFLY

AGE GROUP: 55-59
1 JIM THORNTON 57 M SEWY 12.92

AGE GROUP: 55-59
1 JIM THORNTON 57 M SEWY 11.87



EV #12 M/F 500YD FREESTYLE


AGE GROUP: 55-59
1 JIM THORNTON 57 M SEWY 5:34.13
29.29 33.64 34.73 34.65 32.75 35.19 34.93 34.76 33.58 30.61


AGE GROUP: 55-59
1 JIM THORNTON 57 M SEWY 5:27.62
28.95 32.50 33.56 32.96 34.78 33.85 33.79 33.61 34.03 29.59


Discussion

My hypothesis held up in only one of the four events, albeit the marquee event in many swimmer's eyes: the 100 free.

After swimming a full second slower in the Tyr than I had two weeks earlier in the B70, I felt sure that the remainder of my times would be proportionately slower as well. Thus, I was, if anything, entering these races with a "nocebo effect" mindset, which--had I done worse--might have been an alternative explanation for why I did worse.

My 50, however, was .36 faster in the textile suit. The 25 fly, which was hand-timed (as opposed to the other swims), probably doesn't count too much, because it's always a crap shoot how the hand timers are going to do.

But the 500 represented a significant drop--6.5 seconds--in the textile suit vs. the B70.

Both the 100 and 500 discrepancies might be explained, at least a little, by strategic differences. When I swam the 53.35, for instance, I felt more controlled and less "thrashy" than I did when I swam the 54.35. And I probably tried somewhat harder in the 5:27.62 500 than I did in the 5:34.13 one.

Moreover, the sample group of one person and two meets is not statistically significant in any way, shape, or form.

Nonetheless, the fact that in 3 out of 4 events, my hypothesis did not hold up makes me think that it is possible that something other than suit composition (neoprene-like vs. textile) can occasionally make a difference in my swimming performances.

Leslie used to argue this quite a bit. Who knows? Perhaps the dear girl was partly correct after all?


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Comments

  1. pwb's Avatar
    Jim, I think you're seeing the "fine wine effect" of getting better with age, which, clearly, you are.

    With about as much scientific evidence as you presented here, I think the body coverage effect is greater than the body material, provided there's not too much difference in the material type (e.g., B70 vs. your TYR is close in material, B70 vs. nylon drag suit is not). That's why I think we're going to still see our women (masters and elites) swim comparable times to the 'cheating suit' era, whereas us males will be relegated to the slow zone. Well, except for us males in the full thrush of the "fine wine effect" that is.
  2. jim thornton's Avatar
    Thanks, Patrick.

    I definitely agree with you about coverage area. Maybe the combination of shaving and spraying some sort of Teflon substance (ScotchGuard?) on the depilatoried body could make up for some of the difference?

    In the meantime, I did this a while ago as a joke, but the more I think about it, I don't know why it would be illegal. As Quicksilver pointed out, there is no current FINA ruling that says the drawstring must cross below the naval.

    What would stop us from wearing an Erkel suit?

    And if this, too, is outlawed, I call upon my fellow aging and hairy and moobish old men fellow swimmers to join me in wearing thongs to all national meets until FINA realizes the horror it has unleashed and restored full male coverage!


  3. The Fortress's Avatar
    I agree about coverage, but women are giving up some coverage and zippers too. So our times will be effected,though perhaps not as much as men.

    I will offer the following unscientific hypothesis: From my knowledge of your moods, you were in a malaise at your prior meets and you were psychologically ready to go faster at this one.

    BTW, you may not think the B70 is stretched out, but it is. You've swum in many events in it at a ton of Y meets. If you compared it to a new B70, you would see that it has stretched. But as you note, perhaps coverage is more important.
  4. jim thornton's Avatar


    +





    =

    The Horror!
  5. jim thornton's Avatar
    Leslie, someone said you can get really cheap new B70s somewhere on line. Do you know where? And was it the B70 Nero or Neo?
  6. pwb's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jim thornton
    Leslie, someone said you can get really cheap new B70s somewhere on line. Do you know where? And was it the B70 Nero or Neo?
    Jim, I don't know if this is cheap enough, but I bought one last fall from Gear & Training and the price & availability is still decent compared to "list price": http://www.gearandtraining.com/gearn...&dept_id=11000
  7. pwb's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jim thornton
    In the meantime, I did this a while ago as a joke, but the more I think about it, I don't know why it would be illegal. As Quicksilver pointed out, there is no current FINA ruling that says the drawstring must cross below the naval.

    What would stop us from wearing an Erkel suit?
    I think you could take this one step higher and have the top/drawstring cover the moobs, kind of like a male halter-top-suit. Doesn't the FINA ruling say something about not extending above the shoulders?
  8. Water Rat's Avatar
    Leslie, what are you implying about Jim's waistline if as you suggest his B70 must be stretching yet he believes it still feels tight? Is Jim stretching disproportionately to his B70?
  9. jim thornton's Avatar
    She may have seen a recent picture of me on Facebook...

    The camera, I am praying, occasionally lies.

    Mustn't it?
  10. RustyScupperton's Avatar
    Jim is a perfect specimen of a man of his shape!
  11. aztimm's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by pwbrundage
    I think you could take this one step higher and have the top/drawstring cover the moobs, kind of like a male halter-top-suit. Doesn't the FINA ruling say something about not extending above the shoulders?
    I thought it said nothing above the navel.
  12. jim thornton's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by RustyScupperton
    Jim is a perfect specimen of a man of his shape!
    That's the nicest thing anybody has ever said about this pear-shaped apple-like dough-boyish Hershey's kiss of a man-child.

    Thanks, Rusty!
  13. jim thornton's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by aztimm
    I thought it said nothing above the navel.
    Navels can be surgically adjusted. Even, it turns out, eliminated.

    The genie is out of the bottle and hard to stuff back in. Once people realize they can go faster through artificial drag reduction, some are going to be trying to do this anyway they can.

    I have been wondering, for instance, if you sprayed ScotchGuard on shaved skin, or something else that could give your skin a temporary Teflon coating, if this might not work almost as well as wearing a Teflon-coated suit (like the early Aquablade).

    Then meet officials are going to have to start checking skin for illegal substances.

    This might not be such a bad job with Natalie Coughlan and the like. But I can pretty much guarantee that anybody forced to check my withering stubbly flesh for drag-reducing agents is not likely to enjoy the job that much.

    Unless they suffer from a very weird, and up till now, unheard of, fetish.
  14. jim thornton's Avatar
    Damn!!!!!

    Aztimm is right. After his comment, I tracked down the FINA official ruling. The part on coverage:

    SHAPE – For men, the swimsuit shall not extend above the navel nor below the knee, and for women, shall not cover the neck, extend past the shoulder, nor extend below knee. Furthermore, no zippers or other fastening system is allowed.

    I really, really, really did not want to have to undergo cosmetic navel-raising surgery, but now it looks like I have no choice.

    I hope that when the doctor's done, people don't ask me, "Jim, why do you have two Adam's apples?"
  15. qbrain's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jim thornton
    Damn!!!!!

    Aztimm is right. After his comment, I tracked down the FINA official ruling. The part on coverage:

    SHAPE For men, the swimsuit shall not extend above the navel nor below the knee, and for women, shall not cover the neck, extend past the shoulder, nor extend below knee. Furthermore, no zippers or other fastening system is allowed.

    I really, really, really did not want to have to undergo cosmetic navel-raising surgery, but now it looks like I have no choice.

    I hope that when the doctor's done, people don't ask me, "Jim, why do you have two Adam's apples?"
    Maybe with some crack spackle and a falsey you can make an adjustment without the aid of the medical profession.
  16. jim thornton's Avatar
    Actually, the blubber is such that the navel kind of disappears now into a hairy little slit of sorts.

    I think I could probably draw a more convincing navel with a Magic Marker.

    For some reason, people rarely seem to let their eyes head into the direction of my hirsute umbilical slit. Not sure why, but I think this can work to my advantage.

    I do like your spackle idea. But don't you think wood putty would work better? I could buy some in the blonde Norwegian wood color, roll it around on the bathroom floor first, then spackle it in till the slit disappears. Then draw the fake one by my solar plexus.
  17. jim clemmons's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jim thornton
    Leslie, someone said you can get really cheap new B70s somewhere on line. Do you know where? And was it the B70 Nero or Neo?
    Jim,
    If you want to consider an alternate suit, try here: http://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/lane9/news/23213.asp?q=Industry%20News:%20FINIS%20Discounts%2 0Technical%20Suits%20to%20$20

    I don't have any experience with them but the price is about right.
  18. aztimm's Avatar
    Paul Smith sent this link out to our team this morning:

    http://www.finisinc.com/tech_suits/

    Says they're $20, can't really go wrong at that price.
  19. jim thornton's Avatar
    Hey, thanks. I needed to get a regular suit anyhow, and for the extra $20, what the heck! Maybe on June 1st, I can cut the thing to the bottom of my navel and put a drawstring in.