FINA approves more swimsuits for world championships
Swimming's governing body said Monday it has approved over 100 more suits for the world championships next month, including modified versions of those worn by Frenchmen Frederick Bousquet and Alain Bernard in unofficial record-breaking races.
FINA said the approved manufacturers have modified their swimsuits to ensure that they do not create "air trapping" effects to artificially enhance speed.
FINA hopes the definitive list will restore order to the sport before the worlds begin July 26. A technological arms race was unleashed in the pool when Speedo launched its NASA-designed LZR suit 16 months ago, and since then more than 120 world records have been broken.
"To secure a level-playing field, the swimsuits approved will be available to all swimmers at the World Championships in Rome," the swimming body said in a statement. "The rules regarding shape, use of only one swimsuit and no taping will be strictly applied and controlled in the first call room."
Among those approved were modified versions of the Jaked 01 polyurethane suit worn in April by Bousquet when he swam 20.94 in the 50-metre freestyle, three days after Bernard's time of 46.94 in the 100-metre freestyle while wearing a now-acceptable Arena X-Glide.
FINA definitively approved six world records on Monday, including Dutch swimmer Marleen Veldhuis's times in the 50-metre free and 50-metre butterfly. Bousquet's time is still pending doping control results, while Bernard's was not approved as a record because the suit was unacceptable at the time, FINA said.
It said the evidence of how air trapping helps performances was complex, and that it would take time to develop controlling and testing methods for each swimsuit. It will continue to assess swimsuits as they evolve and issue new rules regarding acceptable criteria for 2010, the statement said.
Before May, when FINA approved 202 suits but rejected 146, rival manufacturers had tested the limits of the rule book while the governing body was widely criticized for failing to give clear leadership.