By Phil Hecken
Despite Mitt Romney’s prognostications, the 2012 London Olympics seem to be moving along swimmingly through the first full four days of competition. So it’s only fitting that today’s Olympic Correspondent, David Grindem, is focusing on the history of swimming at the Games. For Americans used to having swimmers win every race (though no longer, quite possibly due to questionable training practices), the fields for both men and women seem to be wide open this year. There are also no controversial swim suits, so records set in prior years are not falling. But there’s still plenty of excitement in the deep end.
Join me now as our Olympic Corrspondent guides us through…
Swimming at the Olympics
By David Grindem
Like many other Olympic sports, swimming is transcended by a few star athletes. These famed Olympians include Mark Spitz, Ian Thorpe, and most recently Michael Phelps. Most of us can’t remember their events or times, but they certainly have cemented their place in sports history. But unique to the sport of swimming is the uniform, or rather lack there of, which creates a particularly interesting retrospection into the uniform history.
As swimming lore would have it, the first competitive swimsuit commercially produced was created in 1913 by Jantzen Knitting Mills. Made of wool and weighing nine pounds, it’s safe to say that it was no technological marvel and itched like hell. In 1914, Speedo branched out from underwear to produce swimwear. Speedo’s first major contribution to the sport was the introduction of the Racerback style which increased both speed and flexibility. Today the Racerback remains a very popular cut for female swimmers.
The woman’s event was added to the Olympic games in 1912 and up through the 1930s, the suits continued to get shorter, but were worn with a modesty panel. After World War II, nylon replaced wool and silk as the major fabric of competition. In 1964 colored suits were for the first time cleared for competition and the modesty panel was eliminated for women in 1973.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the primary suit was the infamous speedo brief and basic woman’s suit still used today by many amateur swimmers. It was in the 1990s that the major technological revolution began for competitive swimming. With the introduction of more modern fabrics such as lycra, the suits became much faster. Rather than suits becoming smaller, suits began to increase in coverage.
First came the jammer and in 2000, Speedo created the full-body FastSkin. The engineering of the suit mimicked a shark’s skin in a way that caused the water to bead away from the suit in a zig-zag pattern. Additionally, the stitching on the suits was designed to isolate muscle groups and reduce vibration in the water. This new suit resulted in a dramatic drop in times and resulted in an astonishing number of world records during the 2000 Sydney games and beyond.
In the same way that other sports have been plagued by the advancement of technology ”“ think tennis rackets and metal baseball bats ”“ it had come to compromise the integrity of the sport. Fabrics continued to evolve with the use of rubber and polyurethane being incorporated into fabrics which was creating suits that were much faster than human skin. The tipping point came when speedo introduced suits
that looked like bondage at the 2009 World Championships in Rome where 43 world records were set. In 2010, the swimming governing body outlawed non-textile suits and the amount of coverage. Limited to between the waist and knees for men and not past the shoulders or knees for women. Since, there has been an enormous reduction in record swims, with the first being by American Ryan Lochte. This has prompted some to reconsider the new rules because of the difficulty in trying to break records set prior to the ban.
The suit that will get the most recognition at the London Olympics is the Speedo FastSkin3, which also includes a redesign of the cap and goggles that apparently mimic the lines of a barracuda. While every apparel maker feeds their consumers
ample bullshit the occasional marketing ploy, the science supports the reduction in drag with the new shape. As for the current Olympic cycle, swimming doesn’t offer much in terms of team uniforms for most countries. However, the traditional powerhouses sometimes get their own design . Many swimmers are sponsored individually and the rest are least offered free suits. As a result brands are often specific to a swimmer and suits devoid of any team markings. Rather, team identification is limited to swim caps during actual races and team warm-ups in between events.
Since the 2012 games have just begun, and since actual swimsuits designs get very little media attention, hopefully there will be some design surprises in London.
Thanks for the article, David. Very nicely done!
Tuesday Morning Football:
Our resident Brit, uni watcher, and colourizer extraordinaire George Chilvers has prepared for our edification a another review of the
uniforms kits in the second group games of the men’s soccer football at the Olympics.
The excellent Historical Football Kits site has now set up an illustrated Olympics set of pages, so my job is made significantly easier.
The second group games were played on Sunday and I will just highlight the changes from the first set of games ”“ see Monday’s article.
In Group A at Wembley Senegal wore green shirts and yellow shorts against Uruguay who stuck to their sky-blue, while Team GB and UAE kept the kits they wore in their first games.
Coventry’s Group B games started with Mexico v Gabon, and despite Gabon staying with their “Brazil-look” yellow and blue Mexico seemed to think they needed to change from all green to all red. Korea took the field in their usual red shirts and blue shorts against Switzerland who wore their change kit of all white.
I was at Old Trafford for Group C. An amazing game between the “All Whites” of New Zealand and Egypt (who wore black shorts instead of the white from the first game) preceded Brazil v Belarus. Brazil wore their iconic kit while Belarus had all red. I didn’t know Manchester had so many Brazil supporters though as the stands were full of replica shirts.
Finally Group D saw the biggest shock so far in the tournament on the pitch. Japan kept their dark blue kit against Morocco, who again apparently unecessarily changed to all white. Then the big news saw Spain (playing Hondouras), reigning World and European champions, knocked out of the tournament after two defeats. In a rather acrimonious match Spain had their usual red shirts and blue shorts, while Honduras wore all white.
Thanks (again) George! Bloody good reporting.
By Brinke Guthrie
This past weekend had it’s ups and downs. On the upside, I loved the 007 intro to the Olympics. On the downside, the Giants were downright wretched in losing three at home to LA. Well, let’s pick up the pieces and proceed with another edition of Collector’s Corner, shall we?
• Primo Item Alert. Check it out- a 1960s NFL United Airlines poster.
• Nice 1970s Bucco Bruce helmet shadow box plaque.
• Fan of the old Expos? This auction is for a custom-made Expos bobblehead. Choose the numbers, skin and hair color, etc.
• PL sent in this KC Royals ticket taker shirt.
• Here’s an entire NFL iHOP helmet display board from the 1970s, and it’s missing just one helmet.
• NFL camps are open, and if you’re a Rams fan, you’ll want this vintage Rams camp shirt from Champion.
• Here’s a complete set of 1967 Heinz NFL buttons.
This new section will feature updates, lesser news, and reader submissions from the XXXth Olympiad — keep the Olympic news coming in! (Usually in the order in which I receive them — think of it as an “Olympics Ticker”.)
Just a few submissions today.
* “Lets just say Usain Bolt would smoke whoever Thomas Burke was.” (Stan Olechowski)
* One interesting detail about the U.S. women’s soccer jerseys … “Normally, the women wear the U.S. soccer crest with the two stars (symbolizing their two World Cup wins) on the chest. … But because they’re playing for the country, and not the U.S. soccer federation in the Olympics, they are sans crest. Which I still think is kind of weird.” (Adam Yarnevich)
* “I am fascinated by the Independent Olympic Athletes and how they got their gear, who arranged it or coordinated it, the situations behind the status, etc. At any rate, here is a link to pics of their uniforms, pretty sweet jacket I think!” (Ted Robertson)
#NoUniAds Campaign…Day 12
This will be a regular feature on Uni Watch until the NBA rescinds its incredibly offensive and stupid proposal to place corporate advertising on uniforms.
And now, a personal note from Paul:
It’s important that we keep making our voices heard: Call the NBA’s publicly listed phone number (212-407-8000), ask for Adam Silver’s and/or David Stern’s office), e-mail deputy commissioner Adam Silver at his his publicly listed address (email@example.com), and tweet to @NBA with the hashtag #NoUniAds. Do it now.
More of your letters to the NBA:
Ads on uniforms have no place in the NBA or any other self respecting league. In the U.S., the leagues that use jersey ads are the ones who couldn’t survive otherwise. They’re not on the same level as the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL and it shows. It’s an amateur move and will bring down the integrity of the league. There is enough advertising woven throughout the game experience from logos on the court, ads in the programs, commercials, the “Bud Light halftime show”. Pining for this little extra bit of revenue while completely disregarding the sanctity of team uniforms is a classless move.
Advertising patches on NBA uniforms? Are you serious? Advertising is already rampant in the arenas, on broadcasts and everywhere else. Is this what the Board of Governors wants the NBA to look like? Get that crap out of here. NO ADVERTISING ON UNIFORMS.
I’m going to say this flat out. If you include ads on uniforms intended for retail sale you will have lost a household of customers. I will not buy any jersey with any add or permit any other persons to buy my children jerseys with adds.
No Uniform Ads. Please. Doesn’t the league make enough from sponsorships already? Is it really about making every single dollar possible versus maintaining a tradition that jerseys are about the team, not the sponsor? Take a look at that mess of a jersey the Philadelphia Union wear, all because of a clashing sponsor logo. Why not go all out and just name the teams for sponsors, like Japanese baseball? This development is most disappointing and I hope not to see it come to fruition. I will not purchase an NBA product adorned with a sponsor logo.
Thanks for keeping the faith readers! We can stop the NBA if we can keep up the pressure.
Thanks to Tim E. O’Brien and Chris Giorgio for the image in the upper right of this section!
“Benchies” first appeared at U-W in 2008, and has been a Saturday & Sunday feature here for the past two years.
Descartes, we will recall, wrote something about that. Only better…
Click to enlarge
Uni Watch News Ticker: The Cleveland Browns will be wearing this set on September 9, 2012 at home against the Philadelphia Eagles, according to Shane Milberger. … From the “we can never have too many of these pics” department: Rick Rutherford says, “This ski cap has been mentioned many times on your site but it never gets old.” … Another look at the new Seahawks helmet covered in clear plastic (from Beau Schott). … Mound shenanigans were spotted this weekend in Arizona by Steve Dodell, who writes, “I hate mound logos…would Bob Gibson pitch on a mound with a Met logo, or immediately rub it out? Anyway, on Saturday, the Diamondbacks used this mound logo. On Sunday it was replaced with this. What is going on? Is MLB starting to tell teams to use the MLB logo? Bears watching…league logo creep?” … Tony Crespo is not sure if anyone has submitted this site before. It lets you costume make shirts for some NCAA teams, defunct pro sports franchises and even high school teams. … Rob Ullman writes, “the Penguins ECHL affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers, are gonna be sporting new sweaters this fall. It seems they’ve gone along with the Pens’ affiliate in Wilkes-Barre and adopted a jersey style that is virtually identical to the parent team. I’m not as vigorous a hater of the NHL Pens current look as a lot of other yinzers are, but there’s no way it’s worthy of being worn by three professional teams!” … Joe DeAngelis stumbled on this odd photo of the “Great One” Wayne Gretzky wearing the uniform of the Chicago Blackhawks. Apparently, he wore it celebrating Chicago hockey history at Gretzky’s most recent fantasy camp. … “The band Wilco used this poster to promote their show in Cooperstown July 28th,” says Ryan Lindemann. “Love the waistband!” … Many of you sent in E-mails regarding this perfectly awful Wyoming football camo uni. Not a single one liked it. … Uniform “fail” — Sam Belk snapped a quick picture of this during the US Youth Soccer National Championship on Saturday night. Looks like red duct tape in place of the “1” on this guy’s back. Chalk another thing up for things duct tape can be used for. … Possible new Illini football uniforms? According to Jonathan Mayer, this picture was tweeted by Coach Tim Beckman. … Thanks to Deadspin, John Muir and Dave Rakowski, we now know that the Official SEC Store Is Now Selling A “Texas A&M Bulldogs” Hat. … From the “things that cannot be unseen” file, Tim E. O’Brien writes, “So for a photo shoot for ESPN, it looked like Arian Foster was wearing a blue Nike jersey but a white Reebok jersey with swooshes on it (not the-flywire collar).” That was a unicorn, right? … Who you gonna call? SLUMPBUSTERS. Britton Thomas writes, “It looks like every Braves starter (with the exception of Tommy Hanson) is going high cuffed tonight. I’m guessing they’re doing it to try to break their Monday slump. The Braves are winless on Mondays this season.” More photos here. (Dan Murphy also noticed this.) And Nicole Haase found it’s a hit on Twitter. … Hmmm…celebrity uni gaffe? Tommy Gough notes, “in Toronto Wil Ferrell and Zack Galifinakis were visiting to promote their new movie and while they were here they visited the Hockey Hall of Fame and met with our Super Dumb-Ass Mayor. Seems Ferrell got the ol’custom jersey treatment- an LA Kings jersey with name and number. But judging by this photo, and UPSIDE DOWN number.” … Chris Fernandez got a screen grab of “Kmo without his batting gloves” vs. Texas on Monday. Took me a minute to realize he was referring to Kendrys Morales. … Speculation is the Knicks will ditch black — in the ticker yesterday there was a link to a possible new wordmark. Steve Dodell (again) went to NBA.com and this jersey is the current authentic jersey for sale…note they did ditch black, and just made the orange thicker. They don’t let you see the sides too well, but he assumes the same. The wordmark has not changed. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Beginning in 2014-2015, Manchester United’s jersey sponsor will be Chevrolet. … Nathan Wadman “Just wanted be sure you saw these.” Yowsa…how could we miss? … And finally — mistake or custom job? Here’s a screen grab of NYM catcher R. Johnson with no logo on helmet (thanks to Mike Mattison).
There you have it. Thanks to my Olympic Correspondent, David Grindem, and all the fine readers and protesters in our #NoUniAds campaign. Keep those letters going to the NBA. And if you have any olympic news, keep sending it my way. Have a great Tuesday, all.
“Aw, crap that’s not supposed to be here. Damn, I hate Mondays.”