Speedo's controversial LZR Racer swimsuit spawned its first copycat this week, a prototype from Arena International that pushes the definition of tight-fitting fabric. With a green light for the LZR from swimming's official body, and the Summer Olympics looming large on the horizon, I think it's safe to say that the swimsuit arms race has officially begun. Known as "doping on a hangar" and the "Speedo surfboard", the LZR has hugged the bodies of 30 record-breaking swimmers since its introduction in February. Rivals complained about fairness, and the International Swimming Federation (aka FINA) scheduled a meeting with Speedo to discuss the seamless, ultrasonically bonded suit. The meeting went swimmingly, for Speedo. Not only did FINA dismiss rivals' claims, they also turned around and endorsed the suit for future pro swimming events.
In response, Arena fired off a prototype super suit of its own, complete with plastic inserts and who knows what else. "A new era in the sport kicks off today," said Christiano Portas, the head of Arena. "We can fight for ethics but we stood alone when it came to everyone saying that the word 'fabric' in the rules was just a generic term. Now we explore many other things." My money is on one of these custom-built Columbian submersibles, how about yours?