The Reuters global sports blog
G-strings, the bare-faced solution to swimming’s problems
With the row over space-age bodysuits threatening to engulf swimming, it was only a matter of time before a top athlete lent his voice to calls for a radical, no-nonsense solution.
Japan’s Ryosuke Irie reckons racing in skimpy G-strings might be the best way — indeed the only way — to ensure a level playing field before the bodysuit wars tie swimming up in so much red tape the public lose interest.
“We would be better off,” said the 19-year-old, whose recent 200 metres backstroke world record is still awaiting ratification from swimming’s governing body FINA.
“We need a set of rules people will agree to and stick to.”
Concerns over hi-tech bodysuits have muddied the waters since before last year’s Olympics when world records began tumbling after Speedo unveiled their drag-reducing LZR suit.
American Michael Phelps wore one when he won a record eight gold medals in Beijing.
Japan’s multiple Olympic champion Kosuke Kitajima, for whom Mizuno spent a small fortune to design a swordfish-inspired suit before the Games, switched to the new “cozzie” of choice after his coach called the LZR a “form of doping” such were its obvious advantages.
Mirroring Formula One’s increasing labyrinth of ever-changing rules and arguments, the finger-pointing and name-calling in swimming has become a turn-off for armchair fans since Beijing.
Irie, who smashed the men’s 200m record in Canberra last month in a Descente bodysuit not yet approved by FINA, admitted that persuading swimmers to slip into G-strings could bring a whole new set of problems but had a refreshing take on the saga.
“I’ll just break the world record again at the world champoinships,” Japan’s hottest swimmer said while categorically denying he would take the lead by stripping down to the bare necessities at next month’s Rome showpiece.
PHOTO: Ryosuke Irie of Japan reacts after winning in the men’s 200m backstroke final at the short course swimming World Cup in Berlin, Nov. 16, 2008. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz