By Phillip Whitten
COLORADO SPRINGS-USA Swimming's Board of Directors voted 15-6 yesterday to lift the ban on full bodysuits for the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Swimming. All suits which meet FINA and USA Swimming rules will be allowed at the
Trials, Aug. 9-16, in Indianapolis.
"In light of recent developments, the board decided to review its ban of the full bodysuits," said Chuck Wielgus, USA Swimming Executive Director. "In
the last week, we have been in contact with the major swimsuit manufacturers to determine if and how they can meet the demands of all the competitors who
will be at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. The manufacturers have committed to us they can meet the objective of every Olympic Trials competitor having the
opportunity to have a full body suit."
The reversal of the June 22 decision that banned the hi-tech bodysuits for the Trials came as no surprise to observers, and was received positively by most of the leading swim suit manufacturers in the United States.
Stu Isaac, Vice President of Team sales and Sports Promotion for Speedo, the nation’s leading manufacturer of competitive swimwear, commented: "We are pleased with (USA Swimming’s) decision to allow new body suits at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Swim Trials. As we have maintained over the past few months, Speedo was and will be able to provide access to the Speedo ‘Fastskin,’ including the full-body style, to all athletes participating in the Trials."
TYR, which had threatened a lawsuit and had agreed to binding arbitration in a hearing scheduled for today before the American Arbitration Association, isssued a statement saying it was "extremely pleased with this turn of events. "The United States
Swimming's bodysuit ban was unreasonable and inappropriate," said Chris Wilmoth, public relations manager for the second largest swim suit manufacturer in the U.S., "so it is very satisfying to have been the catalyst that resulted in the reversal
of a very bad decision."
Adidas America, which reiterated its offer to supply its bodysuit free of charge to all competitors, was also pleased by the decision. "We feel the decision is in the best interests of the U.S. swimmers and will ensure that they are in the best possible position to win in Sydney," commented Paul Ehrlich, the company’s general counsel.
NIKE, however, was less enthusiastic. "We were prepared either way the decision went to provide suits for our sponsored teams and athletes," said Carrie Bates, NIKE’s sports marketing manager. She added, however, that when the original decision banning the suits was handed down on June 22, NIKE "shifted production to suits that would be allowed. Last night’s decision leaves us with only a few days to shift production again."
NIKE, she said, was developing its own internal strategy to deal with USA Swimming’s reversal of the bodysuit ban.