SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.
Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers for their input on college programs wearing tech suits for dual meets:
Question: Should more college teams wear tech suits for dual meets?
- No – 65.3%
- Yes – 34.7%
Almost two-thirds of voters were opposed to college teams wearing technical suits for regular-season dual meets. The trend is a growing one in college swimming. Missouri was the most high-profile, with news breaking in October that the Tigers would suit up for every meet this season under new head coach Andy Grevers.
But they were far from the only program to utilize tech suits. Virginia nailed some big times early in the season, wearing tech suits at the Trojan Invite. The SMU Classic format meet has long been an early venue for suited swims. And we’re seeing more and more how programs are using early-season speed to build buzz around their programs during the key months of recruiting.
Most swimming fans (and many coaches) seem to fall into the traditionalist mold, opposing the use of suits, rest, or shave-downs until the post-season. But college programs are beginning to evolve, seeing the benefits of early-season speed. And we notice more and more each season how worries that a team has been “too fast too early” wind up holding no water, as the teams who are fast in September and October find ways to remain fast and get faster come February and March.
To be fair, the question didn’t specifically address the success rate of suiting up. It only asked fans if more teams should suit up. Maybe fans prefer to see early-season swims without tech suits. It’s certainly possible that when some teams suit and others don’t, fans have a hard time evaluating who looks good early in the season and who doesn’t. Swimming already has a bit of a ‘regular season’ problem, with the stakes so substantially lowered for meets outside of major, end-of-season rest events that fan interest is seriously subdued until the postseason.
There’s also a cost concern in an era of cutting swimming & diving programs at the college level. We’d suspect most teams are reusing old tech suits for the regular season, though it’s possible sponsors are kicking in more suits than in previous seasons.
On the other hand, we’re also learning more and more that challenges long-held schools of thought within swimming. We’ve talked to experts who have thoroughly disproved the notion that swimming fast early in a season automatically means a team rested and won’t perform well at the end of a season. Every year, we hear the complaints about a team swimming fast in the fall, only to see that team swim faster in March.
Suiting up has been a much more open storyline this fall, though, than it has in the past. And the narratives about suits are going to be heavily impacted by how teams like Missouri and Virginia compete at their conference meets and NCAA Championships. But don’t be surprised if we see the trend continue, with more and more teams focusing on fast swimming at multiple points during the season, rather than saving all of their advantages for the post-season.
Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Poll, which asks voters to predict the winners of the International Swimming League finale next month:
The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner