USA Swimming will attempt to rally international support for an immediate ban on swimsuits that extend past the shoulders and knees unless the world governing body of swimming (FINA) in the next two weeks provides a specific plan for reining in suits, USA Swimming President Jim Wood said Wednesday night.
“We need feedback from FINA right now,” Wood said.
Wood said USA Swimming would push for rule changes to restrict the high-tech suits at FINA’s annual Congress, which takes place immediately before the July 25-Aug. 2 world championships in Rome. Last November, USA Swimming submitted proposed legislation to limit the suits’ length.
Wood said it would also attempt to develop, in consultation with other nations, amendments that addressed more technical elements such as permeability and buoyancy.
“We have definitely talked to other federations about this,” Wood said. “This is not one country being against suits; this is what people universally believe… We need to put a stop to the technological [race], to get together and make changes.”
No swimsuit restrictions could go into effect before the championships, Wood said, but USA Swimming wants action well before January of next year, when FINA has promised to revisit the issue. Bylaw changes require a majority vote of the Congress’s 200-plus member nations.
FINA decided Monday not to ban any of the 136 suits it had rejected after an initial review in May, saying in a statement it could not make accurate determinations about which enhanced performance. FINA has approved 400 suits from more than two dozen manufacturers for use at the world championships despite the increasingly skeptical view of them.
Since the latest of the high-tech suits were introduced early in 2008, more than 120 world records have been set.
“Up until Monday, we thought FINA was making some progress on this issue,” Wood said. “We were very disappointed when the list came out. We think we’re back to square one on the suit issue.”
Wood said he sent FINA’s executive body—president Mustapha Larfaoui of Algeria; honorary secretary Bartolo Consolo of Italy; and treasurer Julio Maglione of Uruguay—a private communication to express USA Swimming’s dismay.
The issue has provoked an international outcry, particularly from U.S. and Australian coaches and swimmers.
“I would like to see them put something solidly in writing and ask the Congress to pass that,” Wood said. “I’d be very, very happy if they were willing to step up and take control of the situation and do it that way.”