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More high-tech swimsuits OK'd

Three companies get approval from FINA to compete with Speedo's LZR Racer. And more might be coming.

June 05, 2008|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

The pool got a little more crowded Wednesday when additional high-tech swimsuits were green-lighted by FINA, the international governing body of swimming.

FINA, at an IOC meeting in Athens, signed off on suits from three companies: European manufacturer Arena, Adidas and Mizuno of Japan. This won't, apparently, be the final opportunity to receive FINA approval for other companies, as there will be one more chance, on June 30.

There are reports that at least two more Japanese companies, Asics and Descente, have new products in line and that Japanese Olympic swimmers will have the opportunity to try those particular suits at a meet in Tokyo, starting Friday.

The U.S. swimming trials begin June 29 in Omaha.

Speedo and TYR previously have launched their own high-tech offerings. Since mid-February, there have been 37 world records (long course and short course) by swimmers wearing the Speedo LZR Racer.

Two swimmers under contract with Nike, world-record holders Aaron Peirsol and Brendan Hansen, told The Times last month that the company gave them permission to try suits from other manufacturers, allowing them a window to do so in the month of May.

Hansen tried a Speedo LZR Racer at Santa Clara last month and said he planned on trying one from TYR as well, saying then that he wanted "to exhaust every possible option that we have."

But the suit battle on the deck and in the pool turned acrimonious last month when Huntington Beach's TYR Sport filed an antitrust lawsuit in federal court against Speedo, USA Swimming and its head coach, Mark Schubert, alleging a conspiracy to quash competition in the marketplace.

Court filings detailed numerous published reports in which Schubert said he would recommend that swimmers wear the Speedo suit at the upcoming Olympic trials. Schubert has declined to comment on the allegations.

Also named in the lawsuit was two-time Olympic silver medalist Eric Vendt, with TYR alleging breach of contract. The lawsuit accused Speedo and the other defendants of trying to lure other top swimmers away from rival companies.

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lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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