In a surprising move, Nike announced it would allow its sponsored athletes to wear the new Speedo LZR swimsuit to compete in the Olympics.

Nike has its own high-tech hyrdro-dynamic suit called ‘Nike Swift Swim’ technology, but has decided after further testing that it’s just not as good as the Speedo stuff, apparently.

And who can really argue with results like this? Darren Rovell over at CNBC reports on the Speedo suits:

As record after record fell with swimmers wearing the Speedo LZR Racer — 48 of 52 world records have come in the suit and all nine world records set at the U.S. Trials were from swimmers wearing Speedo — more and more athletes started to believe that not wearing the suit would result in a disadvantage over their competitors who sported the brand.

Because really, how bad would it be if the favored-to-dominate American Olympic swimmers lost merely because of some backwards brand loyalty? Either way, it’s going to be a tough pill to swallow for Nike:

Nike’s market share has suffered — swimsuits are down 7 percent from 17.5 to 10.6 percent in terms of dollars this year, while Speedo sales are up 9.3 percent to 62 percent of the market, according to SportsOneSource.

Not every country is as strictly patriotic at the expense of strict brand loyalty, though. In Germany, national swim team sponsor Adidas has forbidden athletes from using the Speedo LZR suit in spite of complaints that using anything but it will put them at an immediate disadvantage.

If such a suit is clearly an advantage maker, why did the FINA (international swimming governing body) allow it to be used? Doesn’t Audi say in some of its car commercials that its traction control is sooo good that it was banned from international car races? Or am I confusing that with something else?

It will be interesting to watch the Olympics this summer (beginning August 8th) to see if all those Speedo suit wearers can live up to the hype and ‘advantage’ their suits have given them.

Am I alone on this one, or wouldn’t most of us prefer something a little more revealing, at least for the women‘s events? After all, why tamper with our natural swimsuit?

(Natalie Coughlin, Team USA, will – unfortunately – be wearing that full-body-leave-everything-to-the-imagination-power-suit)

See also: Team USA Has No Love For Adidas and These Chinese Olympic Commercial Are Intense!

What do you guys think? Is Nike right for giving way to a ‘superior’ product, or should they force their athletes to adhere to their contract brand? Choosing ‘winning’ over company profits? That’s a dangerous game, my friends.

CNBC: Nike Steps Aside For Speedo At The Olympics, July 30th, 2008