Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Artificially enhanced athletes

Date:
December 14, 2011
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
Superstar swimmers and certain comic book superheroes have something unusual in common -- when they wear special suits, they gain phenomenal abilities. A first-of-its-kind study shows how now-banned technical swimsuits artificially enhanced athlete performance in 2009.

Superstar swimmers and certain comic book superheroes have something unusual in common--when they wear special suits, they gain phenomenal abilities. A first-of-its-kind study from Northwestern Medicine highlights how now-banned technical swimsuits artificially enhanced athlete performance in 2009.

Related Articles


"Our data strongly indicate that it was more than just hard work that allowed athletes to set the unprecedented 43 world records during the 2009 world championships," said Lanty O'Connor, first author of the study, published in the December 2011 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. "The swimsuits played a significant role."

Since the Fιdιration Internationale de Natation (FINA) banned the full-body, polyurethane technical swimsuits from the sport in 2010, only two world records have been set, added O'Connor, who is also the manager of simulation technologies in the department of simulation technology and immersive learning at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

The suits were suspected of reducing drag, improving buoyancy, compressing the muscles and other artificial enhancing properties, O'Connor said.

To determine the impact the swimsuits had on the dramatic performance improvements in 2009, this study analyzed publicly available race data from 1990 to 2010 and compared improvements in swimming to improvements in track and field, a similar sport.

Other considerations analyzed were improvements in training science, changes in rules and regulations, gender differences, anaerobic versus aerobic events, unique talent and membership data.

Having excluded these possibilities, O'Connor said he was only left to consider the technical swimsuits as the primary reason for the improved performances in 2009 and that the regulation of technical swimsuits is significantly linked to the overall slower swim times since the beginning of 2010.

"It would be unfair to discredit the dedication and training of these athletes and their coaches, because this certainly played a role in improved performance over the past several decades," O'Connor said. "But many, including FINA, had a strong suspicion that these suits were artificially enhancing performance. Now, nearly two years later, we have the data to show a strong correlation between the use of these suits and improved race times."

Although much focus in professional sports is given to doping, it is important to be aware of other sources of artificial enhancement, according to John Vozenilek, M.D., senior author of the study and assistant professor of emergency medicine and medical education at Feinberg.

"Our interest in how elite athletes train arises from our interest in human factors and human performance under stress," said Vozenilek, also director of simulation technology and immersive learning at Feinberg. "This piece of technical equipment appears to have created a distinct advantage for those swimmers using it. The implications of this for the athletic community are far-reaching. Human-to-machine interfaces in athletics and in other domains continue to blur distinctions between improvements in training and external enhancements."

Incredible swim performances are possible without the assistance of high-tech suits, O'Connor said, pointing to two swimmers in 2011 that each broke a record set in 2009. But those two records don't make a dent in the phenomenal number of records made in 2009, O'Connor added.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. The original article was written by Erin White. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lanty M OʼConnor, John A Vozenilek. Is It the Athlete or the Equipment? An Analysis of the Top Swim Performances from 1990 to 2010. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2011; 25 (12): 3239 DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182392c5f

Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Artificially enhanced athletes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111213092138.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2011, December 14). Artificially enhanced athletes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111213092138.htm
Northwestern University. "Artificially enhanced athletes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111213092138.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

After Sony Hack, What's Next?

After Sony Hack, What's Next?

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 19, 2014) — The hacking attack on Sony Pictures has U.S. government officials weighing their response to the cyber-attack. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) — The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) — As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins