Suits affecting credibility, says top coach

Sun Dec 28, 2008 5:03pm EST
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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The high-tech swimming suits worn when world records were lowered more than 100 times this year could be affecting the credibility of the performances, the coach of the world's fastest male and female swimmers has said.

Australia's Grant Stoelwinder, who coaches 50 and 100 meter freestyle record holders Eamon Sullivan and Libby Trickett, said he estimated the suits were improving times by 0.3 seconds a lap and new developments would only give swimmers more of an edge.

"The suits do make a difference and now we are getting to a point where some suits are starting to make a lot more of a difference," he was reported as saying in Monday's The Age newspaper.

"I don't fool myself for one second as a coach and the trouble is as coaches some people think that swimmers are improving and you have to put it at about 0.3 (seconds) per 50 (meters) with the Speedo suit on and I think some of them are even more."

World governing body FINA will hold a meeting with swimsuit developers, athletes and coaches in February to discuss the approval process for future suits.

"We have to get some control for the credibility of our athletes, we have hugely talented athletes and the suits did make them swim unbelievably fast," Stoelwinder added.

"Their credibility as athletes was being taken away because people were going 'oh, it is the suits'."

Earlier this month, Swimming Australia asked FINA to ban approval for all new suits and the use of more than one suit in competition.

(Writing by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Sonia Oxley)

<p>Austria's Mirna Jukic prepares to swim in her LZR Speedo suit in the Women's 200m Breaststroke on the fifth day of the world short course swimming championships in Manchester, England in this file image from April 13, 2008. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis</p>