FINA upholds new swimsuit limits

Updated: July 28, 2009, 12:26 PM ET
Associated Press

ROME -- Swimming's governing body confirmed a ban on high-tech bodysuits Tuesday and expects to have the new regulations in place by May 2010.

The FINA bureau upheld last week's decision by its congress to restrict males to suits that go from the waist to the top of the knees, while female suits cannot go past the shoulders or beyond the knees.

"We confirmed and reconfirmed the decisions of the general congress," FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu said.

Suit materials will be restricted to "textiles," a definition of which will be determined by a scientific committee. FINA also announced specific standards for buoyancy, thickness and permeability. The complete rules will be given to swimsuit companies by Sept. 30.

"The rules will be applied in 2010. That can be April or May. It depends on the time manufacturers need to pass from polyurethane to textiles," Marculescu said.

FINA acted after dramatic leaps in technology over the past 18 months led to a complete rewriting of the record book.

At the world championships, the last for suits such as Speedo's LZR Racer and polyurethane models offered by Jaked and Arena, 11 world records were set in the first two days.

"These records in swimming have gotten to the point where they get a golf clap -- just a polite applause," said USA Swimming exec director Chuck Wielgus. "They're not as special and it just raises the expectations for the athletes."

The situation leaves some athletes at a disadvantage. Michael Phelps won a record eight gold medals at last year's Olympics in the then-revolutionary LZR. The LZR is now widely considered slower than the Arena X-Glide and Jaked 01, but Phelps still wears the Speedo for contract obligations.

"He's committed to Speedo. I don't want to speak for Michael, but I think he's tired of it all," Wielgus said.

"Sure, it has kept swimming in the news, but our concern first and foremost is the integrity of the sport," Wielgus said. "We want to see the sport get as much positive exposure as possible, but not at the expense of the sport."

And while it was expected that the new rules would go into effect Jan. 1, it appears that may be delayed until April or May.

"We are in a transition period," Marculescu said, adding that "it was not possible to solve all the issues" for this meet.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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