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SWIMMING

FINA's ruling doesn't clear things up much

Governing body OKs changes in suits, but time frame is up in the air.

July 29, 2009|Lisa Dillman

ROME — The white puff of smoke emerged from the FINA Bureau on Tuesday and swimming's governing body immediately proclaimed at the world championships that the sport was "evolving."

Never mind the matter of an undefined "transition" period, a continued time of uncertainty roiling the sport. New regulations were approved to limit the size of swimsuits and the makeup of the material, confining it to textile.

Yet FINA was unable to provide a definition of textile and could not state when the changes would actually take place. There was talk of April of next year, not January.

That means swimmers could still be setting world records in the soon-to-be illegal suits next winter, continuing the chaos during the U.S. Grand Prix circuit, including the short-course event in Long Beach in mid-January.

If so, it may be without Michael Phelps, who won eight gold medals in Beijing last year, if his coach Bob Bowman follows through on his threat to keep the swimmer out of competition until the suit controversy is resolved.

Suit makers seem equally confused about Tuesday's developments.

"Though last week the path FINA outlined seemed to be headed in one direction, this week it appears to be a different story," said TYR Sport founder and executive vice president Steve Furniss.

"We have heard conflicting information that originally stated body styles for men may be changed to include shoulder-to-above-the-knee-suits. As the old saying goes, we will not know where we are going until we arrive there. But even then we may not know where we are."

Speedo, however, said that the sport was getting closer to clarity on the issue.

"We applaud FINA for finally banning these buoyant wetsuits which have cast a shadow over the competition," said Speedo's senior vice president of marketing Craig Brommers. " . . . We do feel that a 100% textile-only body suit, as per 2007 world championships, would have been an appropriate solution. Despite that ruling we will now look forward to innovating within the FINA rules."

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lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX

Clocking in

World records set Tuesday at the World Swimming Championships in Rome:

MEN

Paul Biedermann, Germany: 200 freestyle final, 1:42.

Cameron Van Der Burgh, South Africa: 50 breaststroke semifinal, 26.74.

WOMEN

Federica Pellegrini, Italy: 200 freestyle semifinal, 1:53.67.

Gemma Spofforth, Britain: 100 backstroke final, 58.12.

MEET TOTALS

Men: Four.

Women: 11.

-- Lisa Dillman

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