Are Swimmers or Technology Swamping Speed Records?

Cascade of new world records sparks debate
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2008 6:34 AM CDT
United States' Michael Phelps starts to set a new Olympic record in a men's 200-meter butterfly semi-final at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2008.    (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – Swimming world records are going under so fast at this Olympics that some officials are questioning what's going on, the New York Times writes. Ten records have fallen in Beijing so far—four in the space of 80 minutes yesterday—causing controversy over concerns that advances in swimsuit and pool technology might deserve as much credit as the athletes.

Swimmers and coaches admit that innovations—the space-age LZR Speedo swimsuit in particular—are giving athletes a boost, but argue that determination plays a bigger role. Swimmers are staying in the sport longer, they note, and as they improve, the intense level of competition gives them a push greater than anything mere technology can provide.