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Rice Predicts "Insane" Speed For Rome Racing

Jul 23, 2009  - Craig Lord

Sshhh! Don't mention it, please don't mention it but oooohhhh - what a difference a suit makes these days. So much so that a triple Olympic champion can turn up to w world championships saying that she is not in quite the form she was in last year but she expects to break her own world records nonetheless.

After Alan Thompson, head coach to the Dolphins, had understandably pleaded with FINA to provide leadership and draw a line on suits and pleaded with the media not to torment his swimmers with constant suit questions, Stephanie Rice, triple Olympic gold medal winner in a LZR last year, revealed that she is likely to wear a Jaked in Rome when racing gets underway from Sunday.

Rice has not been too well, and while the cold and respiratory infection are all but gone now, she is unsure how the setback might affect her performance in a negative way. She's much more certain about how a suit might help her: she expects to break world records - not necessarily winning her two medley events, though - and aims to be as competitive as she can in a garment that she described as "insane".

She had tested the Jaked in training and had been up to "2sec on each 50m" faster on a timed broken swim over 200m medley. The mind boggles. The races in Rome will be telling.

Thompson knows it but said that the media had a choice, albeit a difficult one: write about suits or write about athletic performances. Not a difficult choice, in fact but an impossible one, for the media is in the same position at athletes are, courtesy of FINA's lack of leadership. 

 How to judge athletic performance when all we know is that suits are hugely significant and that they provide different benefits to different swimmers on different strokes. What we cannot do is quantify that: the who, how much, in which event are hazy indeed.

And hazy they are likely to be. "I definitely think it will take a world record in both the IMs to win," said Rice. "I'm very interested to see how quick the times are this year and hopefully I can be up there in the mix.

"Obviously a world championship is something that is a huge goal of mine and I would love to be there at some point in time. (But) I'm not sure if this is the year or in the future.

"I wanted to come into this meet being as best prepared as possible but at the same time I'm not as prepared as I was last year.

"Right now it's just a mental game but I know that racing is always a mental game."

Rice chose not to sign up to a suit maker in the midst of the current chaos and lack of leadership from FINA. That decision may have cost her thousands of dollars, but it won't leave her "handicapped" on the blocks.

Australians are, like many teams, torn on what to wear. Libby Trickett has chosen to stay loyal to Speedo even after testing the Jaked01. But Andrew Lauterstein insists the LZR is inferior and has opted to wear Jaked in Rome, possibly risking his contract with Speedo with negotiations between his management and sponsor ongoing. Talks are going on between his agents and Speedo while the likeable Lauterstein is left "crossing my fingers".

Rice too is amazed at the difference a Jaked makes. "The times I did in training were insane, amazing to be going those times and a huge confidence boost," said Rice. "Obviously that is what my choice came down to, knowing I could hold those times a lot faster than I've ever swum before. I don't want someone to stand next to me in a suit I know was quick and not have that advantage, mentally I know it would hinder my performance."