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The Swimming Can Stay, the Suits May Have to Go.
FINA, the governing body for international competitive swimming, voted last week to ban the full-body polyurethane suits that made a big splash in the 2008 Summer Olympic games. The world intently watched Michael Phelps wind up with his distinctive arm flail stretch---donning a suit that hugged his body from neck to toe---go on to win a record-breaking 8 Olympic gold medals at Beijing's Water Cube last August. And though his Speedo-brand suit was made partly of polyurethane, using a technology developed by NASA, full polyurethane suits have also emerged and have been attributed to shaving off precious milliseconds from swim times.
It's all been enough to raise FINA's eyebrows.
In a vote on Friday, 158 countries supported a proposal requiring competition suits to be made of a textile fabric and limiting the amount of coverage a suit can have. The proposal requires final approval by the FINA Bureau before it is signed into swimming law later this week. Though it will affect what swimmers wear and viewers see at the next Olympic Games, the proposal has not changed the status quo of swim attire at the World Championships which kicked off in Italy over the weekend.
And what does swimming's wonder boy have to say about the possible change? "A swimsuit is a swimsuit", Phelps said in a statement, "I think it's going to be good."
We'll find out how the FINA Bureau weighs in when they make their full decision on July 28th.