New suits dunked by FINA
Ban to take effect after world championships
ROME - Swimming’s governing body banned record-setting bodysuits yesterday, a major step in limiting technology in the pool.
FINA has come under criticism for its failure to regulate the rapid advances in swimsuit technology that has led to 108 world records last year and nearly 30 this year.
Some suits are suspected of creating “air trapping’’ effects that artificially enhance speed.
“The most important thing is the future; the past we cannot change,’’ FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu said. “The congress has made a very big statement.’’
A US proposal to limit the amount of swimsuit coverage - between the waist and knees for men, not beyond the shoulders or below the knees for women - was overwhelmingly passed by the FINA congress, meeting in Rome during the world championships.
On Thursday, FINA classified swimsuits as a device that can aid performance; yesterday, the group set suit guidelines on coverage and material.
The new rule also says suits shall only be made from “textiles,’’ but that term has yet to be defined.
The new rules won’t take effect at these championships, where dozens of world records could be set in suits made from materials such as polyurethane.
The legislation was passed as a general rule, but then a subsequent motion from Britain to make the rules part of FINA’s bylaws was accepted, putting the matter in the hands of FINA’s bureau.
General swimming rules only come up for discussion at the FINA congress every four years, whereas the bureau meets several times each year, and can also convene on short notice.
“We didn’t disagree with the US proposal, but we wanted the flexibility to amend it as technology moves on, and we can now,’’ said David Sparkes, the chief executive of British Swimming.
USA Swimming will conform to the international standard.
“Our policy has always been to follow FINA rules,’’ said Mark Schubert, head coach and general manager of the US national team.