Bodysuit ban lifted for U.S. Olympic swim trials

The new suits made by Speedo and adidas enhance speed by reducing drag  Credit: Adam Pretty/Allsport

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, July 19 (AFP) — USA Swimming's Board of Directors voted 15-6 to overturn its ban on full bodysuits at next month's U.S. Olympic trials in Indianapolis.

The measure was first imposed to ensure equality among U.S. swimmers, some of whom would not be guaranteed access to the suits that has been credited with reducing times and helping break world records.

USA Swimming's approval comes after FINA, the sport's governing body, had approved the suits for the Summer Olympics beginning in September in Sydney.

Had USA Swimming not lifted the ban, Olympic qualifiers might have been at a disadvantage in Australia.

"This was not an easy decision and there are merits to both sides of the issue, but with the U.S. Olympic Team Trials being just three weeks away, it was important to get this issue resolved," USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus said.

"By going along with FINA's approval of the use of full bodysuits in terms of what will be allowed at the Olympic Games, the Board of Directors' decision should close the door on this issue."

The Fastskin is among the controversial full bodysuits, which swimmers from other countries already are wearing in competition. The suit streamlines the swimmer and cuts down on water resistance, allowing competitors to lower their times.

In May, Dutch swimmer Inge de Bruijn, wearing a full bodysuit, broke the world record for the 100-meter butterfly by more than a second.

Wielgus indicated one of the factors may have been whether or not swimwear companies could produce enough suits to outfit the competitors at the U.S. trials, which will be held August 9-16 in Indianapolis.

"The manufacturers have committed to us they can meet the objective of every Olympic trials competitor having the opportunity to have a full bodysuit," Wielgus said.

The United States, Australia, China and Germany are expected to have strong swimming teams at the Olympics, which run from September 15-October 1.

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