In 2008, 108 swimming records were broken. Many were looking for an explanation as to how all the records were falling. During the Beijing Olympics, much attention was given to the new swimsuits created by Speedo. Some swimmers were wearing multiple swimsuits to increase their buoyancy during competition as Italian freestyler Federica Pellegrini wore two on her way to a gold medal in Beijing. It has been reported that some competitors have went with as many as three swimsuits looking for that competitive edge.
In an earlier post as to why athletes dope, athletes are always looking for an edge, real or perceived, legal or illegal, right or wrong. Even the average Joe is looking for an edge. Take Joe the Plumber from the 2008 presidential campaign. He didn't pay his taxes; whether right or wrong, he wanted to keep more of his money because he was greedy similar to these athletes' greed in driving them to take a "whatever means necessary" approach to “make it.”
In the world of swimming, the international governing body, FINA, has had enough of these shenanigans. On March 14th, they released a charter providing clarity on new international rules where technology and the number of suits will not be a factor in determining one's accomplishments. According to the charter:
• Swimsuits may no longer cover the neck or extend past the ankles or the shoulders.
• Swimmers may wear only one suit and will follow the body shape to avoid recent compression methods.
• Buoyancy and thickness will be measured by an independent testing team in Lausanne, Switzerland, led by Professor Jan-Anders Manson.
• All swimsuits, even those previously approved by FINA, must be submitted to the independent testing team by March 31.
The executive director of FINA, Cornel Marculescu, summed it up best when he told The New York Times, “Definitely the focus got to be too much on the technology instead of on natural development. The most important thing is we keep our values, and our values are the values of athletes, which is their physical preparation and effort."
The values of all athletes and the common Joe are what we, as a society, have been getting away from as we pursue what we think is going to be greatness. When others see what decisions these athletes made to achieve that greatness, only then will people have to reexamine their own values and allow us to experience the great moral awakening.