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Even without supersuits, world records may fall

Ryan Lochte, who never opted for the most technologically advanced bodysuits, was "thrilled" when they were banned. Breaking world records "can be done. . . .It's just a matter of time." he said.
Ryan Lochte, who never opted for the most technologically advanced bodysuits, was "thrilled" when they were banned. Breaking world records "can be done. . . .It's just a matter of time." he said. (Harry How)

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"I fell like the freestyle was the one affected the least. With the long-axis strokes, there isn't as much drag there."

Limited benefits

There is widespread agreement that the suits provided the least benefit to the very best swimmers, because the most accomplished instinctively did the things the suits were credited with helping even middling swimmers achieve. That fact suggests the sport's stars have less ground to cover to reach their suit-enhanced times.

Lochte, who never opted for the most technologically advanced supersuits, said he prefers the textile jammer to the longer synthetic suits; it simply, he said, feels more comfortable.

Vollmer, who went faster in winning the 100 freestyle at this year's national championships than she did in winning the title last summer, said she liked how her 2009 high-tech Jaked suit allowed her to slip easily through the water, but the buoyancy it provided interfered with her freestyle stroke.

"Putting on the suits altered [my] stroke and almost felt uncomfortable," Vollmer said. "My underwaters felt amazing in the Jaked suit, but my swimming didn't actually feel faster-it felt 'off.' "

Last year's world championships in Rome featured 43 world records. The Olympics in Beijing in 2008 produced 25 world records and the 2007 world championships in Melbourne, at which the newfangled suits began to emerge in force, produced 15 world marks.

Though U.S. swimmers can be expected to drop time this week's international meet, the drops surely won't be dramatic as after last summer's U.S. world championships trials as swimmers got accustomed or, in some cases, switched to the highest-end speedsuits. Many were still trying to get their hands on the very latest technology at the 2009 U.S. championships.

If even a single world record were to fall this week at the Pan Pacific Championships, it would be very, very big news.

"Any world record that is broken now is going to be much more impressive," said Gregg Troy, Lochte's coach and the head U.S. men's coach.

Yet Lochte hopes he has one in him. At the 2009 world meet, he topped the record Phelps set at the 2008 Summer Games with his time of 1:54.10.

Two weeks ago he hit 1:54.84.

"I was thrilled" when the suits were banned, Lochte said. "I was so happy. Finally, everybody would be playing on the same level. Now it's up to the swimmer."


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