U.S. stars Michael Phelps, Katie Hoff and Ariana Kukors have decided to throw out their long, technical swimsuits before the items are officially banned in January.
All three plan to don short, textile suits in meets this fall and winter. Their decision likely will cause many to stand and applaud.
But will they do anything other than make a statement? Are they doomed to lose?
Phelps declared a couple weeks ago he would wear a waist-to-knee “jammer” beginning with mid-November World Cups in Stockholm and Berlin. At both, he is expected to face Germany’s Paul Biedermann who, in Phelps’s words, “crushed him” in the 200-meter free this summer, with Biedermann suited up in his high-tech Arena X-Glide.
Hoff said Wednesday she and Kukors would follow Phelps’s lead. The two training mates jointly decided to wear short suits in December’s 2009 Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool against Germany, Italy and Great Britain, a meet in which Italy will be outfitted in ’09 model Jakeds and all ’09 suits will be allowed.
Hoff said she hoped other Americans would “take a stand” and join the mini-crusade against the suits. American Ryan Lochte said he would consider wearing briefs at the Duel in the Pool if urged on by Phelps.
U.S. Duel team member Jack Brown, meantime, has been through this before. Arizona’s Brown led a jaw-dropping 400-meter individual medley final in August at the U.S. Open in Federal Way, Wash. All eight in the field wore briefs, a decision that earned them a wild standing ovation, but also caused them to swim more slowly and feel more pain. (Their times were significantly slower than in the prelims.)
“I’m hoping it will happen,” Hoff said. “I hope enough people agree.”
Hoff and Phelps both had the same thing to say about their projected performances: If they lose, they lose.
Which brings us to our question of the week: Will they lose, and does it matter?
Does even Phelps, the sport’s resident living legend, have a prayer of winning a single race if his rivals wear rubber suits? Is making a statement better than going full-bore for a victory?
Will the site of the events, 25-meter pools, help or hurt their chances? Phelps hasn’t swum in a short-course meters event since before the suit revolution in 2006; Hoff’s last meet took place in 2004.
Well, what do you think? We want to know. Tell us below.