May 14, 2009 / 11:28 PM / 11 years ago

Phelps coach says hi-tech swimsuits need discussion

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.

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

“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.

“FINA is going to make the best decision they can,” said Phelps, who won a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics wearing a hi-tech LZR suit that helped trigger the supersuit debate. “I’m approaching this meet like I approach every other meet. I’ve always worn Speedo and I’m going to stick with it.”

Swimmers at the Charlotte Grand Prix downplayed the impact suits are having on performance saying results have more to do with hard work than space-age fabrics.

“Our responsibility as athletes is to wear the fastest suit we can get our hands on,” said American double-Olympic gold medalist Mark Gangloff. “But you do what you can do to swim fast, you can’t worry too much about the swim suits.”

Editing by Pritha Sarkar

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