30 Jul 2009

Phelps follows up win with swimsuit swipe

7:18 pm on 30 July 2009

American swimmer Michael Phelps regained his golden touch with a record-setting triumph in the men's 200-metre butterfly at the swimming World Championships in Rome, then took a shot at the swimsuit controversy.

The 14-time Olympic gold medallist was stunned in the 200-metre freestyle on Wednesday but responded convincingly in the butterfly, leading from start to finish and winning in 1:51.51.

On Tuesday, his coach Bob Bowman said Phelps should stay out of competition until swimming's governing body, FINA, sorts out the chaos over swimsuits.

FINA has agreed to ban performance-enhancing polyurethane suits next year after a glut of world records but said the new rules may not come into effect until April or May.

Asked about staying out of future competitions, Phelps told a news conference he would abide by FINA's rules but Bowman made the decisions about where he would compete.

The new suits "have changed the sport completely. Now, it's not swimming. Now, the headlines are about who's wearing what suit," he said.

"FINA are going to make the decision, I can't make it for them. I'm going to finish the meet here and get ready for next year and for the London Olympic Games in 2012."

Australian head coach Alan Thomson said swimming had gone through a radical change in suits in a short period of time and would now go back to suits of mid-1990s design.

"As coaches, I think we need to know where we're going and swimmers need to know where they're going and not make these constant changes."

Former New Zealand national swimming coach Mark Bone says the new world records will be almost impossible to beat and FINA is to blame.

He says the super-suits are helping unheralded swimmers smash world records and he believes those records won't be broken again for at least 15 years.