August 26, 2009 / 12:05 PM / 10 years ago

Swimming records will fall despite ban on suits, says Peirsol

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Records smashed at the 2009 world swimming championships are likely to be broken as early as next year despite a ban on polyurethane swimsuits taking effect from Jan. 1, says world and Olympic champion Aaron Peirsol.

Gold medallist Aaron Peirsol of the U.S. poses on the podium after winning and setting a world record in the men's 200m backstroke swimming final at the World Championships in Rome in this July 31, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/Files

The swimsuits, which provide greater bouyancy and streamlining under the water, helped contribute to 43 records being broken at the July 17-Aug. 2 championships in Rome.

However Peirsol, who swam one minute, 51.92 seconds to break his own world record and claim gold in the 200 metres backstroke, is not convinced his and other records will stand for long even after swimmers revert back to textile swimsuits.

“This sport will learn how to break those records again very, very quickly,” Peirsol told reporters on a conference call to discuss his appearance at the World Cup short-course meeting in Singapore from Nov. 21-22.

“People have had a taste of going very fast. They won’t forget it. They will get back into the water and think they can go that fast again, and they will.

“I think people will be surprised at how fast they go next year. I do think world records will get broken next year.”

Peirsol said he had initially been sceptical and critical of the new suits’ performance capabilities, but had begun to accept their use by the time of the championships.

“The initial impact of the suits was pretty negative, including (from) myself,” the 26-year-old added.


“(But) I go back and forth with it. I thought the competitiveness it brought to the sport was unparalleled....I think it levelled the playing field quite a bit.

“You could look at it as being an evolution of the sport with the way it was going with technology and I began to start looking at it like that.

“It was helping not just the top level of swimmers but it was starting to trickle down, all around the world — and I didn’t see anything wrong with that.”

Peirsol, who broke the 100 backstroke record at the U.S. Nationals before the world championships, failed to make the final for the event in Rome.

“It was hard to deal with and hard to swallow,” he said. “It was my own fault. I thought I was swimming faster than I was and the field was swimming slower than they were.

“At the time it happened it was extremely disappointing, but by the time the meet ended if someone had told me I was going to go 1:51 (for the 200) if I missed the 100 final then I would have said ‘okay, that’s fine’.

“That 200 backstroke completely erased any semblance of regret from missing the 100.”

Peirsol, who has so far only committed to the season-ending World Cup event in Singapore, said he was considering competing at some of the other meetings on the circuit that included Durban, Rio de Janeiro, Moscow, Stockholm and Berlin.

“It will be awesome. I’m really looking forward to it. I haven’t done many World Cups.

“I would like to go to Europe for a couple and that is a definite possibility.

“Coming off of this summer, it will be really good.”

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