Phelps welcomes prospective change to suit rules

ROME Sun Jul 26, 2009 4:12pm EDT

Michael Phelps of the U.S. takes the start in the men's 4 X 100m freestyle swimming final with Lyndon Ferns (bottom) of South Africa at the World Championships in Rome July 26, 2009. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

Michael Phelps of the U.S. takes the start in the men's 4 X 100m freestyle swimming final with Lyndon Ferns (bottom) of South Africa at the World Championships in Rome July 26, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Stefano Rellandini

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ROME (Reuters) - Michael Phelps welcomed proposed changes to swimsuit rules after performance-boosting costumes propelled a tidal wave of records on Sunday at the world swimming championships.

The 14-times Olympic champion said a single type of suit would bring the sport back to basics and remove the upheaval new bodysuits using polyurethane have brought to swimming.

"Swimming will actually become swimming again. We're all going to have the same exact suit. It's not going be an issue," Phelps told a news conference after his U.S. team won the 4x100 meters freestyle relay.

In a rarity for a night when world records were the norm, the U.S. team set only a meet record of three minutes, 09.21.

"It's not going to be a question of what suit we're wearing, who's wearing what," Phelps said. "We'll see what happens over the next few months. I'm excited to see what's going to happen for the future of the sport."

Relay team mate Ryan Lochte added: "I wish it went back to the old school, like banana hammocks. Jammers, I mean, I'm cool with that."

A "banana hammock" is a slang term for tight-fitting men's swimwear or underwear.

Six world records were set on the first day of the championships, causing eye-rolling from swimmers and spectators alike. FINA officials said on Friday they were ready to move back to all-textile suits and traditional briefs for men.

Critics say all-polyurethane suits trap air, aiding buoyancy. FINA officials are scheduled to meet on Tuesday to thrash out details.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson, Editing by Alison Wildey)

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