U.S. director says swimsuits good as-is

Updated: July 22, 2011, 9:05 AM ET
Associated Press

SHANGHAI -- Pool powers from the United States and Australia say they oppose further changes in swimsuit rules, amid speculation that governing body FINA could make another switch in 2013.

Since high-tech bodysuits were outlawed at the start of last year, no world records have been set in an Olympic-sized 50-meter pool, and nobody is quite sure what to expect when the pool swimming portion of the world championships open Sunday.

Men have been penalized more under the new rules, with their suits limited to jammers covering the waist down to the knees, while women's suits stretch from the shoulders to the knees.

Manufacturers want to see men's suits brought in line with the women's wear so they can restore company logos to athletes' chests.

Frank Busch, the former University of Arizona coach who took over as USA Swimming's national team director in May, doesn't see any point in changing the rules again.

"I think the general public looks at it and is like, 'What's the matter? Can't you guys get your arms around this issue?' So I think we got our arms around it and I think we need to go forward," Busch said. "I think we're good where we are."

The only world records set since January 2010 came at the short-course worlds in Dubai in December: two from American standout Ryan Lochte, plus relay victories by Russian men and Chinese women. "I'm sure the ladies who are watching male swimmers out there like to see the guys dressed the way they are now," Australia head coach Leigh Nugent said. "If they want to do some advertising why don't they let them put some tattoos on themselves -- they like doing that."

The record drought comes in sharp contrast to the 255 world marks established -- over long and short courses -- during the rubberized suit era of 2008 and 2009.

"I would like to see it stay the way it is," Nugent said. "We have to stabilize the sport and the performances. I think we're at the right place now."

FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu has acknowledged he is open to altering the rules again, although any eventual changes wouldn't happen before the sport's next general congress at the 2013 worlds in Barcelona.

FINA honorary secretary and Italian swimming federation president Paolo Barelli is another proponent of bringing men's suits in line with the women's wear.

"I think the best formula would be to go back to textile bodysuits for men also," Barelli said recently. "It's better for sponsors as well."

However, Marculescu and Barelli could be in the minority: The 2009 vote to establish the current rules finished 186-7 among the nearly 200 national swimming federations.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press