Phelps coach says hi-tech swimsuits need discussion

Thu May 14, 2009 7:25pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) - Michael Phelps's coach added his voice to the growing concern over hi-tech swimsuits on Thursday, saying it is something that needs to be addressed following recent world records.

"I know the people doing that (swimming world records) are hard workers and good swimmers so I'm not saying that the athletes have not been working very hard," Bob Bowman said at the Charlotte UltraSwim meet where Phelps will swim his first race since the Beijing Olympics.

"But clearly some things have happened that are out of the range of normal improvement. So I hope that we address that somehow."

As more-and-more hi-tech suits appear on pool decks and world records tumble, the calls for some form of standardized manufacturing regulations have escalated.

The issue was pushed back into the headlines at the recent French championships in Montpellier where Olympic champion Alain Bernard set a 100m freestyle record becoming the first man to crack the 47 second barrier with 46.94.

At the heart of the controversy are new suits totally covered with polyurethane to aid buoyancy while the old suits only had polyurethane plates.

Alan Thompson, head coach of the Australian swim team, recently called on swimming's world governing body (FINA) to make a quick and binding decision on the eligibility of swimsuits.

Thompson has been invited to address FINA, as a representative of world coaches, when they meet at their headquarters in Switzerland on Monday to discuss the performance-boosting bodysuits.   Continued...

<p>Swimmer Michael Phelps (L) answers questions as his personal coach Bob Bowman looks on during a news conference at the Mecklenburg Aquatic Center in Charlotte, North Carolina May 14, 2009 . REUTERS/Chris Keane</p>