Lausanne, Switzerland - Swimming's governing body Fina has released a list of approved swimwear, following an 18 May meeting of its commission in charge of assessing the latest types of polymer-reinforced clothing for swimmers.
The Fina commission reviewed 348 swimsuits from 21 manufacturers and Fina's Executive approved 202 swimsuits, rejected 10 "for not passing the tests of buoyancy and/or thickness," and sent 136 suits back to the manufacturers to be modified in accordance with 'Dubai Charter' rule 3.1 c).
The 136 suits referred back to their makers, "don't fulfil the requirement stating that 'swimsuit material shall not be constructed to or include elements/systems which create air/water trapping effects during use'," said Fina.
Manufacturers now have 30 days (until 19 June 2009) to resubmit the same swimsuit for Fina approval.
Swimming has been mired in controversy about swimsuit technology since new suits using panels of polyurethane and polychloroprene polymers and aramid fibres were launched early last year. World and Olympic swimming records continue to be smashed meeting by meeting by swimmers wearing such suits, which aid buoyancy and are water repellent.
The sport has been accused of 'technological doping," but perhaps more significantly the suits are rather expensive - up to $500 for a Speedo LZR Elite Racer or a Jaked J01-FML design. Adding to the expense, some of the newer designs are reported to tear after a few uses. Such expense means that competitive swimming becomes more elitist, restricted to those who can afford it.
Since the first of the new suits, Speedo's bonded LZR with polyurethane panels, was introduced last year, other manufacturers have introduced one-piece suits, reportedly made of all-polyurethane, such as the Italian Jaked 01 worn recently by French swimmer Frederick Bousquet and Arena's X-Glide used by France's Alain Bernard. Both swimmers set unofficial world records in April wearing the suits.
Press reports point out that such suits may soon be ruled out by Fina, which has indicated that in future it will not approve suits with more than 50 percent non-permeable material.
But since Fina only listed approved suits, and did not specify which types it had rejected completely, and which have been sent back for modification, it is not clear what suits have been rejected out of hand.
Nevertheless many commentators are hoping that the Fina ruling will put the focus back on the swimming, and away from the debate of whether the suit maketh the man, or in this case the record holder.
Perhaps this blog extract (http://theswimster.wordpress.com) by the swimmingster puts some of this controversy into perspective: "We can reveal exclusively that the swimsuit to beat in five years will ... generate a special gas plasma over its surfaces to repel water molecules and create virtually frictionless swimming. The suit, costing $250 000, will be worn by the first human to break 25 seconds for the 100m Free." All the Swimster can say to Fina is "bring on the brave new world!"
A list of the approved swimsuits (valid to 31 Dec 2009) can be found at www.fina.org
PIC: Approved by Fina -- the Speedo LZR Racer