• Photo Showcase: U.S. Swim Trials, June 30
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OK, maybe there are better people on our staff to test-drive the latest in swim technology, but the line was pretty short when this assignment came up again.
Actually, I was the only one in line. So, cover your eyes while I attempt to uncover the difference between the super speed suits of four years ago and a slightly less souped-up version used by many swimmers in Omaha over the past week.
Unfortunately for all of us, I can most assuredly say the latest creation from Speedo's research laboratories is more revealing than the suit I wore four years ago. During the 2008 Swim Trials, I modeled on these pages Speedo's LZR Racer — the suit in part responsible for a slew of world records — and didn't feel too uncomfortable in front of a camera thanks to the mostly full body coverage.
This is different.
The FASTSKIN3 Super Elite Racing System — the suit, goggles and cap in one package — purports to enable every athlete to reach full potential in the water. Athletes like Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps have looked great in them all week at the CenturyLink Center. Your faithful correspondent, frankly, doesn't.
Phelps is the cover boy for the FS3 catalog. That picture was taken with an underwater camera.
Similar equipment wasn't available for us to use at the Ralston High School pool last week, so I needed to quickly learn how to do the backstroke to give the photographer a usable angle of the suit. Docker Hartfield, who coaches Ralston/Omaha Gross and Swim Omaha, dove in and helped me stay afloat in the 4-foot water just long enough to get a photo.
Unlike the old LZR Racer, the new suits are allowed to cover males only from the waist to the top of their knees.
I have lost some weight the past few months, but not enough to prevent a flabalanche over the FS3's “IQ fit waistband.” Don't laugh. This has to be the tightest waistband ever.
The company says that the snap-back band is designed to eliminate the need for drawstrings and ensure a flatter, more efficient profile while reducing soft tissue bulges. (I am not making this up.)
Even the chiseled Phelps seemingly can't wait to lower the waistband after a race. Phelps has been lowering the suit as far as he can as he strolls to the NBC interview area — not because he's trying to moon the crowd, but probably because that compression isn't as comfortable out of the water.
On the bright side, the FS3 sculpted what soft tissue I was able to cram into it quite nicely, and there definitely was a smooth feel while I glided through a few freestyle laps.
But what I appreciated the most were the goggles. Not only do I have a strange urge to wear them in photos for future media credentials, but the increased vision I had in the pool with the hydroscopic lenses and 180-degree horizontal peripheral vision was spectacular.
The least enjoyable part? Getting the suit on and off, and not because of a few extra snacks of late.
Putting on and removing the FS3 made me pine for the LZR Racer, which was also difficult, but nothing like this. Speedo actually provides a pair of synthetic-coated gloves to aid in sliding the suit around your thighs and over your hips.
No joke: My hips are still a bit sore in the spots where I had to pause while sliding on the FS3. At one point, a glove came off, and I still have a skin burn on one finger to show for it.
Based on my research, the suit helps you glide through the water, but less fabric definitely makes it slower than the LZR Racer, which was the idea. Mission accomplished.
And for the average human being, the FS3 has a strange way of making you feel like you've won a competition — merely by getting it on.
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