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Page last updated at 16:27 GMT, Friday, 31 July 2009 17:27 UK

Hi-tech suits banned from January

Fina World Championships
Date: 17 July-2 August (swimming starts on 26th) Venue: Foro Italico, Rome
Coverage: Live/highlights on BBC Two, Red Button and BBC Sport website

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Report - Hi-tech swimsuits explained

Performance-enhancing, non-textile swimsuits will be banned from 1 January 2010, world swimming's governing body Fina has announced.

Fina had said the ban might not take effect until April or May, three or four months later than expected.

But it was brought forward when Olympic legend Michael Phelps threatened to withdraw until the suits were outlawed.

Twenty-nine world records were set in the first five days of the current Fina World championships in Rome.

Only two of the current world records, both men's and women's, were set before the introduction of polyurethane suits in 2008.

MATT SLATER BLOG

And, with the ban being implemented in January, it is likely that many of the current records may not be broken for many years.

The return to common textile suits, men in shorts and women in suits above the knee and to the shoulder strap, would mean world records would be almost impossible to better in the short term.

The World Swimming Federation's decision came amid calls from a number of national swimming federations for record-breaking suits to be banned.

However, the question of exactly how to define "allowable textiles" is unlikely to be determined until the next Fina bureau meeting in September or October.

"If what I have been told is spot on, it's a return to textiles. It's the only way to go," said British swimming's performance director Michael Scott.

Jackson spurred on by Adlington

Scott also backed the idea of putting an asterisk by world records that were achieved in polyurethane suits to distinguish them from records before and after their introduction.

Double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington refuses to wear one of the new, faster suits but many of her rivals, including fellow Briton Jo Jackson, will.

"I think it's a shame to be honest," the 20-year-old Adlington told BBC Sport. "Swimming always used to be a level playing field.

"I can remember watching when they were just in trunks and 100% textile suits, whereas now it's very, very different.

"The technology has just taken off in the last year, it's come from nowhere. We need to go back to putting rules in place, just to make it a fair playing field for everyone."

Adlington, the first British female swimmer to win Olympic gold for 48 years, has stuck with the Speedo LZR she wore in Beijing.

Swimming 'not level playing field' - GB coach

But she still claimed bronze in the 400m freestyle, despite being the only swimmer in the final not wearing a 100% polyurethane suit.

The LZR is a 50% polyurethane swimsuit which caused controversy in 2008 as a series of world records were set by swimmers wearing it.

Since it was unveiled in February that year, 135 long and short course world records have been broken.

Scott expects less than 50% of the British team to be wearing Speedo despite them being the team sponsors.

"Rebecca is entirely comfortable in the Speedo and she is very confident. She is totally comfortable and relaxed," he said.

Steve Parry and Karen Pickering

Parry and Pickering roadtest swimsuits (UK users only)

"Suits come down to an individual choice, they come down to body type, you also also have to look at the distance and the stroke so it's not a simplistic thing to say that suit X is not good."

But since the Olympics, a second generation 100% polyurethane swimsuit has emerged, which is said to compress muscle, add extra buoyancy and provide more forward propulsion.

Jackson, who won silver in the 400m free, used the Adidas Hydrofoil, which Britta Steffen wore when she slashed the 100m freestyle world record in June.

Trickett slams performance-enhancing swimsuits

German swimmer Steffen said the suit made her feel like a "speedboat" and felt no pain at the end of the race.

Fina rejected some of the new suits in March after complaints they trapped air around a swimmer's body, thus making them more buoyant, but the ban was lifted after manufacturers provided evidence that they did not trap air.

Australian swimming star Libby Trickett told the BBC: "It has taken the limelight from people's performances and that's not right.

"I don't think the sport should have headed in the direction it has, in terms of neoprene and polyurethane suits.

"I don't believe that is right for our sport at all and it's disappointing it's gone in that direction and it's disappointing that Fina allowed it to progress the way it did."



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see also
Jackson and Adlington win medals
26 Jul 09 |  Swimming
Foster furious over hi-tech suits
29 Jun 09 |  Swimming
Fina approves controversial suits
22 Jun 09 |  Swimming
Fina rejects record-setting suits
19 May 09 |  Swimming
Jackson claims new world record
16 Mar 09 |  Olympics
Adlington struggled with pressure
17 Mar 09 |  Olympics
Adlington storms to second gold
16 Aug 08 |  Swimming
Adlington snatches swimming gold
11 Aug 08 |  Swimming
Swimming calendar
17 Oct 00 |  Swimming


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