Swimming Around The Globe

The 1968 Hollywood film, The Swimmer, starred Burt Lancaster as the man using a series of private swimming pools to travel across Connecticut in the USA. There aren’t enough private swimming pools in the UK to enable keen swimmers to recreate the movie in real life, but don’t let that put you off the idea completely. Why not try swimming around the world, taking in some of the most spectacular pools you could hope to experience?

Even if you don’t fancy a complete round-the-globe trip, it’s still possible to take in some of the most beautiful, astounding and take-your-breath-away swimming pools that other countries have to offer. Next time you’re planning a holiday, try checking out the pool arrangements in the country you’re heading to. You never know – you might discover a hidden gem.

Here’s our pick of some of the most stunning pools that are on our ‘To do’ list.

 

Scary but dreamy swim balcony
Scary but dreamy swim balcony

 

San Alfonso del Mar, Chile

If we could only visit one world-renowned swimming pool in our lifetime then the pool at the Chilean resort of San Alfonso del Mar would be our chosen destination. Set alongside the Pacific Ocean in Algararobo, the lagoon-style swimming pool at San Alfonso is absolutely vast. It’s the longest swimming pool in the world, so if you’re planning on attempting a few lengths, then you’ll need to make an early start: at over a kilometre, one length of this pool is the equivalent of swimming the length of 20 Olympic swimming pools.

Just the 2 lengths today
Just the 2 lengths today

Covering an area of eight hectares, the San Alfonso pool holds a staggering 66 million gallons of water, which is around 250 million litres. Seawater is pumped from the ocean, treated so that it maintains its clarity, and then heated to a luxurious 26 degrees for optimum comfort.

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

If you ever find yourselves on a stopover in Singapore, then make it your mission to book in for at least one night at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Head for the 57th floor and prepare to take a dip in one of the world’s highest swimming pool – the SkyPark Infinity Pool.

 

You can swim up to the edge in the Marina Bay Sands
You can swim up to the edge in the Marina Bay Sands

 

The SkyPark gives visitors to Singapore the chance to take in a stunning 360 degree view of the city. There are restaurants and gardens to explore but the main focus of everyone’s attention is the astonishing infinity pool. If you’ve got a head for heights, then you’ll love the sensation of swimming among the skyscrapers, but if heights really aren’t your thing, then you’d probably do well to steer clear of this one!

 

 

Hanging Gardens, Ubud

Another sky-high pool can be found in Ubud in Indonesia, but this one is far removed from the cityscapes of Singapore. The infinity pool at Hanging Gardens is one of the most photogenic swimming pools in the world and has won numerous accolades. Both Conde Nast Traveller and Trip Advisor have given the pool their coveted Number One slots, on lists of the world’s most beautiful pools, so this is one which should be on every swimmer’s bucket list.

 

Chill out above the trees
Chill out above the trees

 

The split-level infinity pools allow swimmers to ‘float’ – quite literally – above the surrounding trees, so that they are completely immersed in the jungle. The romantic setting makes this a popular destination for honeymoons and even weddings, so if you’re planning on getting hitched soon, then it might be worth planning a visit.

Huvafen Fushi, The Maldives

Another top romantic spot, Huvafen Fushi is a swimmer’s paradise. Many of the resort bungalows come with their own pool attached, and the whole resort is surrounded by the beautiful blue waters of the Indian Ocean. The swimming pool at the resort is one of the largest on all of the islands that make up the Maldives, but it’s at night that the pool really comes into its own. Fitted with a myriad of lights, the pool twinkles every bit as much as the night sky. The resort also boasts the only saltwater flotation pool in the Maldives, so you can relax and chill when you’re tired from all the swimming.

 

Relax for hours in waters at the Maldives
Relax for hours in waters at the Maldives

Bondi Icebergs, Sydney

You might reasonably assume that keen swimmers paying a visit to Bondi Beach in Sydney would immediately head for the famous surf, but in fact, there is more to this beach than the sea. The Bondi Icebergs is one of the oldest and most established winter swimming clubs in the city. Since 1929 die-hard Sydney swimmers have been braving the cold waters and taking part in winter swimming competitions. The only licensed pool in the city, visitors can swim in the pool adjacent to the sea but protected from the sharks and the surf.

 

Just a pool wall separating the ocean
Just a pool wall separating the ocean

North Sydney Olympic Pool, Sydney

Still in Sydney, an absolute ‘must swim’ destination for any swimming enthusiast has to be the North Sydney Olympic Pool. The Art Deco building is a piece of art in its own right, but it’s the incredible views that make this pool such an outstanding place to visit. With unrivalled views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the neighbouring Luna Park, locals recommend visiting after dark, for an impressive, illuminated view across to the iconic Sydney Opera House.

 

Famous North Sydney Olympic Pool
Famous North Sydney Olympic Pool

If you can bear to tear yourself away from the views, then you will probably appreciate the Olympic dimensions of this pool, where history has been made. No fewer than 86 world records have been set by some of Australia’s finest swimmers.

Amirandes Grecotel Exclusive Resort, Crete

Of course, you don’t have to travel all the way to the other side of the world in order to visit an outstanding swimming pool. Closer to home, in Greece, the Amirandes Grecotel Exclusive Resort is a swimmer’s paradise. Many of the resort’s suites and guest villas come complete with their own pool, but that’s not the end of the story. The resort has an Olympic-sized saltwater swimming pool, designed to resemble a Minoan palace, so you can swim to your heart’s content surrounded by history and serene views.

 

Olympic size swimming pool surrounded by historical beauty
Olympic size swimming pool surrounded by historical beauty

Mardan Palace, Antalya

Turkey is an extremely popular holiday destination within easy reach of the UK. Thousands of British visitors head there every year, but far too few of them know about the country’s world-class swimming pool at the Mardan Palace in Antalya. You may need to save up for a while if you’re planning to visit though, as it’s reputed to be the most expensive resort in all of Europe.

Largest swimming pool in Europe
Largest swimming pool in Europe

The principal feature of the hotel’s landscaping is the huge outdoor swimming pool. It’s the largest in Europe and is built to resemble an oasis, but with the addition of a ‘canal’ running alongside, complete with gondola. The pool is spanned by an elaborate bridge based on a design by Leonardo da Vinci, which he intended to span the Bosphorus but which had never been built until now. Within the swimming pool is a separate fish tank, which gives the impression of swimming among tropical fish, rays and even sharks.

Molitor Hotel, Paris

Just a Eurostar trip away, Paris is the home of the Molitor Hotel, which began life as a public swimming pool complex. Situated adjacent to the Bois de Boulogne, the building was opened in 1929 by Johnny Weismuller of Tarzan fame, who also happened to be an Olympic swimmer.

Built in the Art-Deco style, the complex was intended to represent an ocean liner and it quickly became a fashionable spot for Parisiens, with Louis Reard showing off his new design of the bikini in 1946. With an indoor pool featuring three tiers of cabins and an outdoor pool which had its own sandy beaches, the Molitor Piscine, as it was known, was a thriving part of the city’s leisure and sporting industries. Sadly it fell into disrepair, and following a brief incarnation as an ice-skating rink, it closed its doors in 1989.

Sadly these wonderful pools fell into disrepair and was a haven for graffiti artists
Sadly these wonderful pools fell into disrepair and was a haven for graffiti artists

The buildings became home to a group of graffiti artists, before being declared a historic monument. Nowadays, it is enjoying a transformation into a boutique hotel, and the two pools have been restored to their former glory. Every keen swimmer should make an attempt to visit this important destination and swim in these two pools.

Now restored, the Molitor is a must see for all swimming and Art Deco lovers
Now restored, the Molitor is a must see for all swimming and Art Deco lovers

Aquatics Centre, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London

Proving that you don’t have to travel far from home to experience superb swimming conditions, you only need to travel as far as East London, to take a dip in Britain’s best known swimming pool. Built as part of Olympic Park which hosted the 2012 Olympic Games, the Aquatics Centre is now open to members of the public for the first time since it was built.

 

A fabulous swimming pool in our own back yard - London Olympic Style
A fabulous swimming pool in our own back yard – London Olympic Style

 

If you’re a confident and experienced swimmer, then you’ll want to head straight for the 50 metre competition pool, divided into lanes so you can swim as many lengths as you wish without fear of collisions. Younger swimmers, beginners and those lacking in confidence can improve their skills in one of the two 25 metre pools. Classes and training sessions are available in addition to public swims, and you can even enrol in the Tom Daley Diving Academy, if you’ve got a head for heights and a yearning to try a dive off one of the high boards.

Learning to swim, fitness swimming or diving with the best
Learning to swim, fitness swimming or diving with the best

Whether you’re a keen amateur swimmer or a seasoned professional, there are opportunities to indulge your passion all around the world. So next time you’re planning a holiday, remember to check out the pools at your destination – you might just find something unexpected!

Basics

Most swimming coaches will tell you to do the same things again and again, and sometimes it’s the basics that really trip us up. It’s tempting to look for complex reasons as to why we can’t achieve our target times or distances, but the simple fact is that failure to reach our full potential in the pool is usually because we’re forgetting to work on our foundation movements. So if our coach could give us their key tips to swimming better than ever, what would they be?

Listen to all the tips to help you become a great athlete
Listen to all the tips to help you become a great athlete

Focus on Your Breathing

Breathing whilst you swim is one of the first lessons of all, and it is also one of the most complex for beginners, who tend to over-breathe or, even worse, accidentally get water in their mouths and choke. Learning to breathe in a controlled fashion and in time with the stroke is key to success. But even the most experienced and dedicated of swimmers can fall into lazy habits, and it’s very easy to forget about timed and controlled breathing and simply take in a gulp of air whenever you fancy it. Breathing is to be controlled at all times, especially into and out of the turns and at the finish.  If you can do this, you can improve your overall time.  When your coach tells you to work on your breathing, it is for good reason – time and efficiency. Good breathing equals maximum oxygen intake and exhalation, without distracting from the efficiency and speed of your stroke. If you are struggling to get your breathing right, go back to basics and work on those drills.

 

Try to control your breathing into and out of your turns
Try to control your breathing into and out of your turns

 

 

When Going Past the Flags, Make Sure You Dolphin-Kick

There are some exceptions to this rule, primarily if you are swimming a fast 100 metre breaststroke. But in most instances, dolphin-kicking past the flags will work to your advantage. If you have watched swimming legend Michael Phelps in the pool, you will know that this is his signature technique and one that he employs during each race as a secret weapon. In fact, this move has helped him to win medals all over the world. So if you are serious about competitive and advanced swimming, and want to have something in common with one of the most legendary of swimmers to date, make sure you perfect the kick that competitive and professional swimmers use.

 

Try to dolphin kick beyond the backstroke flags rules permitting
Try to dolphin kick beyond the backstroke flags rules permitting

No More Than Three Breaths for Your 50-Metre Freestyle

You don’t need to breathe endlessly for a short freestyle race. Most coaches will tell their pool sprinters to take around three breaths only for a fifty-metre race. You certainly don’t need to knock out ten breaths. By adding extra breaths, you will lose momentum from the minute you start and from when you turn. All fast competitive swim sprinters know that it just takes one breath to lose the race to a more efficient swimmer.

Take few breaths on a 50m sprint
Take few breaths on a 50m sprint

Don’t Breathe into the Finish

Have you noticed how much focus on breathing your coach wants you to put? For sprinters and distance swimmers alike, most coaches will say that there is no need to take a breath into that finishing stroke. A great athlete to watch to really understand this is Michael Phelps, ideally when he did his 100-metre butterfly final in the Beijing Olympics. He kept his head down on the final stroke and took home the gold medal.

Head down and no breathing into to finish makes all the difference
Head down and no breathing into to finish makes all the difference

Follow the Correct Breathing Pattern

Yes, more breathing. It’s the key to swimming success, especially in competition situations. Make sure you listen to the breathing pattern that your coach is setting for you. Don’t breathe on every third stroke if your coach is telling you to breath five, seven and nine. Do it right the first time and you’ll save yourself a lot of grief, as coaches will continually drill this into their teams via endless practice if they see mistakes and laziness occurring.

Controlled swimming

Keep Your Stroke Going Whatever Happens

We’ve all experienced the stress of trying to train for our butterfly in a busy pool full of other lane swimmers. They get frustrated and annoyed by the disruption, especially if they are just doing a few lazy laps of breaststroke, and you feel uncomfortable and unwilling to rock the boat. However, you need to train to improve this vital stroke, and sometimes that means being a little selfish. Don’t sell your training short by breaking your stroke, unless you are genuinely worried that the pool is too busy and you are in danger of hitting an unsuspecting fellow swimmer. If this occurs regularly during your practice, look at alternative times to train. A lot of pools will have advanced training session times with ability lanes, or be open very late or early to allow serious swimmers to train in a quieter environment. Ask the leisure attendants for advice on the best time to attend, or see if there are opportunities to train at a local school, college or private pool.

 

Try not to break stroke on butterfly, you're only cheating yourself
Try not to break stroke on butterfly, you’re only cheating yourself

Don’t Do a Circle Swim in a Race

If you circle-swim in a competitive swimming environment, you increase your total distance swam. The distance may be minimal, but it is also very likely to see you lose the race to someone just a second or so faster than you. Remember that every advantage counts in high-performance competitive swimming.

In a race swim up and down the centre line - don't swim in a circle
In a race swim up and down the centre line – don’t swim in a circle

Keep Kicking

This is a funny one, but most coaches comment on it. As swimmers, we tend to focus on our arms, but our coaches want us to kick more. It’s vital to kick hard and fast and get into a good rhythm, and you’ll really feel the difference if you activate your glutes and hamstrings to take on the work. Practise kick drills with floats if necessary to build that strength and speed – don’t be too proud to go back to basics and really work on that technique. Running and lower-body strength training can also give you an edge and help to get those leg muscles firing efficiently in the pool. Using your legs effectively is particularly crucial for long-distance swimming, where your arms will get tired if they are doing the majority of the work.

 

Keep kicking, it's vital not to overload and over tire you arms
Keep kicking, it’s vital not to overload and over tire you arms

Commit to Your Training Programme

If the set that your coach has programmed for you isn’t to your taste, you’ll need to just get on with it if you want to achieve your full potential. Remember that competitive swimming is meant to be tough and challenging. Your coach is there to work on your weaknesses as well as your strengths and will have the ability to coach accordingly. Don’t keep questioning it or complaining. If you don’t push yourself and feel out of your comfort zone, you certainly won’t find yourself setting new PBs or winning races. The best swimmers are constantly challenging themselves and seeking new ways to swim better, harder and faster and this usually means training for longer, more frequently and at a higher intensity than their competitors. It also means being ready to hear criticism and respond to it by fixing issues rather than moaning.

Try not to argue with your coach. Work in harmony but work hard
Try not to argue with your coach. Work in harmony but work hard

 

Make Sure You Cool Down Properly

At the end of your swimming training, it is natural to want to get out of the pool as quickly as possible and go and eat lots of food. Many seasoned swimmers find themselves cheekily cutting down their 400 metre warmdown to just a short lap of the pool, along with a few underwater moves. It is fun to relax and wind down, but remember that after a serious training session you need to flush out lactic acid build-up within your muscles by keeping them moving and gently cooling down after hard training. If you don’t do this, you will be tight and sore the next day and unable to train to your best ability.

Swimming down after racing is essential. If there is a pool available - do it and don't cut it short
Swimming down after racing is essential. If there is a pool available – do it and don’t cut it short

 

Eat Right After a Workout

If you are serious about training, you cannot work hard in the pool and then nip to a fast-food joint on the way home. Your body needs protein to recover and rebuild torn muscle fibres, and your glycogen stores need topping up to give you energy for your next session. A protein shake is a great way to get a rapid infusion of necessary amino acids, vitamins, minerals and carbs, and you can whiz one up with your fruit after training for rapid recovery. Be serious about nutrition and you will really notice an improvement in your performance. It is also equally important to be hydrated before and during your swim. Conversely, eat poorly and fail to hydrate and you will watch other more committed swimmers sail past you. Consult a nutritionist to help you build a food plan that supports your training needs if necessary, and stick to it.

 

Refuel after racing and training with quality protein, avoid junk food and quick fixes
Refuel after racing and training with quality protein, avoid junk food and quick fixes

 

So these are some of the most common coaching cues given by coaches, and many competitive swimmers will recognise them and nod ruefully as they remember being shouted at in the pool. Bear these in mind and focus on getting them right at your next training session and your coach will appreciate your commitment.

The Importance of Land Training

We all know that swimming is a sport suited to just about everyone, regardless of age, shape or ability. Did you know that you can significantly improve your swimming through additional exercise on dry land?

Land training can really boost your swimming performances
Land training can really boost your swimming performances

Beginners and returning swimmers.

If you’ve only recently taken up swimming, or have only just ventured back into the pool after a lengthy break, then the chances are, you’re going to struggle to complete sets without feeling pretty exhausted!
Whilst this is perfectly normal and to be expected, the more you can improve your lung capacity and general fitness, the quicker you will see an improvement in your swimming performance.

exhausted swimmer Jogging or running are both great ways of building up fitness levels out of the pool and out of the gym. Try to increase the distance you cover each day, and aim for a pace that leaves you able to hold a conversation without getting out of breath.

Running pics

Its all about making small life changes… See our previous blog post about “deskercise” to learn a variety of methods to help you improve fitness as part of your working day.

Experienced and advanced swimmers

These swimmers are the slightly crazy kind who spend hours, and hours, and hours training everyday in and out of the water!

London 2012 land warmup

For us mere mortals not quite up to this level, it can be difficult to find time for a full on fitness regime.
However, if you can spare the time and money to join a gym you will find that the facilities available such as the range of weights, resistance and cardio machines have a positive impact on your swimming. However, you don’t have to spend time and money on a gym in order to reap significant benefits.

Core strength is vital in all sports, particularly swimming
Core strength is vital in all sports, particularly swimming

 

Core strength is a vital component in the swimmer’s tool kit, and exercises such as ‘The Plank’ can help to develop core muscles. Lie on your tummy with your arms bent, hands curled into fists just beneath your shoulders. Now push yourself up into a press-up, but with your forearms on the floor. Curl your toes under to take your lower body weight, tip your pelvis slightly forward and feel the pull in your abdominal muscles. Hold for a count of 10, then lower yourself back down. Make the exercise harder by raising each leg in turn, without tipping your pelvis back.

 

Always stretch before and after exercise
Always stretch before and after exercise

 

Running or jogging will help to improve your cardio fitness. You can use a machine or simply go out in the fresh air to exercise. Remember to stretch out your muscles before and after running to avoid cramps. Try incorporating weights and resistance bands to improve your muscle strength but don’t overdo it and aim for alternate days, to allow muscles to recover between sessions.

Caring For Your Swimwear!

If you’ve invested in a high-quality swimsuit, then you’ll want to make sure it lasts the test of time. A good care regime can make all the difference, and it needn’t take much time. Our guide will tell you all your need to know.

The Golden Rule

Rinsing the swimwear is vital for protecting fabrics

You need to rinse your swimming costume immediately after it has been used, then wash it properly when your pool session or day at the beach has ended. A good care routine will make sure harmful chemicals are rinsed out of the fibres of the costume, where they will otherwise do damage. These substances include salt water, perspiration, chlorine, copper, sunscreen, dirt and oil from the skin.

What Is Your Costume Made From?

Here is an example of a specialised swimwear material

For the best care routine first see what your costume is made from. Most will be made from blended fabrics, primarily high-tech and man-made, which give a superior fit and comfort. Some materials are more robust than others, making them ideal for serious swimmers who are in the pool regularly.

Traditionally, swimwear was made from cotton, although this is less common nowadays. It can look great, but it doesn’t give a great fit nor does it last well when it interacts with chlorine. Sometimes it is blended with polyester or spandex. This sort of variety is perfect for a summer holiday, when you want to look good and are more likely to be lying beside the pool than swimming in it.

The Washing Routine

The first rinse should be done in cold water. A cold shower is ideal, or you can remove your costume and rinse it in the sink under the cold tap. A good tip if you are wearing a beloved swimsuit on holiday is to avoid sunbathing in it after you’ve been in the pool, as the combination of chemicals and UV rays can damage the fibres of the swimsuit.

Let the swimsuit soak. then add some soap.

Then hand-wash your swimsuit, either right after the rinse or at the end of the day. Fill your sink with cold water and add some gentle liquid soap or washing detergent that is designed for delicates. Allow your costume to soak for ten to fifteen minutes before gently massaging the fabric to extract dirt and chemicals. then drain away the water and then rinse again as many times necessary, making sure you don’t twist or wring the fabric at any point.

Washing Machines

Do not use a washing machine!

 

It is tempting to use a washing machine, but avoid doing so. Even the most gentle wash cycles will affect the costume and cause damage to the fabric and the component parts, such as any padding, elastic straps and embellishments or clasps. Some experts believe that there is value in machine-washing your bathing suit periodically to remove more engrained chemicals, oil, salt and dirt than you can with a hand-wash. If you want to try this, put it inside a mesh bag to minimise twisting, tearing or stretching. Another good tip is to wash it with a couple of towels or some other delicates on a delicate cycle to prevent the costume from being over-agitated.

Sunscreen Stains

 

If you swim outdoors, then you are likely to use sunscreen, which can stain your swimwear. As a general rule, prevention is better than cure, and you can avoid stains by letting your sunblock fully sink into your skin before you get dressed for the pool. If a stain does appear, however, vinegar and baking soda are both suitably gentle as cleansers. Simply sprinkle a healthy layer of baking soda on to the stained section and then allow it to sit for an hour or two before you carry out the wash. The soda crystals should draw the oils out from the fabric. For the vinegar approach, take a cup of basic white vinegar and dilute it into three cups of warm water, allowing the costume to soak. For a more serious stain, you can also dab the vinegar directly on to the stained fabric. After the soak, wash in the usual way.

Try to apply sunscreen before putting on your swimsuit to prevent staining
Try to apply sunscreen before putting on your swimsuit to prevent staining

Drying a Swimsuit

Avoid wringing out your swimsuit, as the fibres will become overstretched and damaged, and the shape will start to be lost. The best way is to put your costume down between two clean and dry bath towels, roll these up into a sausage and then press them so that the towels absorb water. Don’t forget your costume and allow it to sit for a long period of time, or it may go mouldy.

Rinse then dry your swimsuit without stretching the fibres
Rinse then dry your swimsuit without stretching the fibres

 

Another good approach is to lay the swimsuit flat in a well-ventilated area. Be careful when hanging it to dry, as the fabric can stretch from its own weight. Also keep it out of the sun’s glare if you want to avoid fading. Don’t use electric dryers, or the elastic fibres will rapidly stretch and lose their form. Be wary too of basket or centrifugal dryers that you can find at some leisure centres, as these can over-agitate the costume. Remember that your costume should be completely dry and clean before you store it away.

Storage

Don’t risk storing your swimwear in a plastic bag, as mildew often occurs in wet and dark conditions. At the very least, if you are travelling, for example, cut holes in the plastic bag to allow the air to circulate, and wrap the bag in a towel to catch any stray water.

Technology in Sport – Progress or Cheating?

Swimshop_TechDoping

Infographic by Swimshop.co.uk

The ceaseless advance of technology affects every facet of modern life, leaving no stone untouched. Many fear that, due to the relentless pace of innovation and consumption, even the most basic, raw, and authentically human activities will be changed forever. For many people, sports fall within this class. The love of competition has brought people together for thousands of years, resulting in the dynamic blend of skill and training that is evident in the performance of the world’s top athletes. However, that dynamic blend now includes more than the natural products of genetics and hard work. A growing amount of high-tech sports items, from bodysuits to bicycles, has many questioning just how natural new records are, even if they are accomplished without the aid of performance-enhancing drugs. The ‘shiny suit’ controversy in swimming is a prime example.

‘Shiny suits,’ as they’ve been called by experts like Craig Lord, are Speedo LZR Racers, suits made of hydrophobic polyurethane material. This special material was developed, in part, by NASA, and it represents some of the latest advancements in material engineering. The suits have increased buoyancy and 10% less friction drag due to ultrasonically welded seams. As a result, they cut the times of swimming’s elite by 2%.

This development had a profound affect on the swimming community. Within a single year, athletes wearing the LZR Racer broke 93 world records. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 89% of all swimming medals, and 94% of all gold medals, went to athletes in shiny suits. This lopsided statistic showcases the incredible impact of the technology, and it motivated the efforts of people like Lord, who spoke out against the arrival of shiny suits.

According to these critics, the arrival of shiny suits marked, in many ways, the death of true swimming. As Lord says, ” In swimming, the human and angles of buoyancy, both natural and honed – the latter requiring a great deal of work and effort over long periods of time – govern the efficiency of movement and speed in and through the water. What shiny suits did was remove the need to work on angles of buoyancy, one of the key aspects that go into what makes swimming swimming, what makes swimming aesthetic and appealing.”

In essence, critics said, shiny suits destroyed the sport by substituting technology for skill and hard work. This criticism cuts deep, because it is based on the very core of our assumptions about what makes sport worthwhile. As the shiny suit controversy revealed, sports like swimming are not simply about achieving the fastest lap time. They are about perseverance, determination, and integrity. For people like Lord, the beauty of swimming is incomplete without the dedication of the swimmer, who must hone her craft day after day. And Lord was not the only one with this view.

In 2010, swimming’s governing body, FINA, banned shiny suits in a dramatic statement of value. The decision was heralded by many as the salvation of swimming, which could now return to its roots as a test of purely physical performance, without artificial aids. There is no doubt that other suits will push the limits in the future, and it’s likely that this won’t be the last banned technology. The FINA decision is one that has parallels in many other sports, and with the arrival of genetic modification, in life in general.

As technological capacities continue to evolve, people will be forced to decide what it means to be human. And sports like swimming, with lofty and idealistic traditions of integrity and honor, are indicators of what we value about basic, raw, and powerful experiences, and how we want to treat them in the years to come.