Brammer, C., & Stager, J. (2013). Swimsuit constraints favored women at the 2012 Olympic swim competition. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 45(5), Supplement abstract number 1763.

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Relative to 2008, this analysis determined if women performed differently than men during the 2012 Olympic swim competition following new suit design constraints. The top eight times from the menís and womenís finals of Olympic swimming events from 2008 and 2012 were obtained from the public domain. A two-way mixed design ANOVA was used to test the interaction between gender and Olympic year for swim performance, with Olympic year as the within-subjects factor. For both men and women, performances for each event in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic swimming meets were compared.

There was a significant gender by year interaction. Simple effect analysis showed the women were significantly faster in 2012 than in 2008, whereas the men were no different. Eight of thirteen women's events in 2012 were significantly faster than in 2008. The remaining five events were not different. For the men, only two of thirteen events were significantly faster in 2012 than in 2008. Seven of thirteen events were not different, and four of thirteen were actually slower.

Implication. Relative to the 2008 Games, female swimmers outperformed males in London. Given a performance bias observed in 2008, it was expected, as a result of new suit constraints that performances would not improve in London. However, the women continued to improve on historical performances while the men did not. The rule change could have imposed a greater constraint on performances of men relative to women.

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