SA swimmers can ‘suit’ up

2008-07-30 00:00

THE SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) have finally cleared South African swimmers to use high-tech swimsuits.

Sascoc made it clear yesterday that the swimmers will not be disadvantaged by the new suits being used during the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games.

Chef de Mission for Team South Africa, Hajera Kajee, said from their base camp in Korea that the swimmers may choose the technical attire for their competition, based on their needs.

The decision is based on a ruling by the IOC, which states the national Olympic committee has the “sole and exclusive authority to prescribe and determine the clothing and uniforms to be worn, and the equipment to be used, by the members of their delegations on the occasion of the Olympic Games”.

“There have been a couple of news articles this week claiming athletes must wear only a certain brand of attire during the Games. We have discussed the matter with Swimming South Africa (SSA) and have agreed that the IOC and NOC rules will apply in this instance.”

This means the swimmers keen to suit up in the new world-record- breaking Speedo LZR suit will have the opportunity to do so. A number of swimmers, though, have performed well in the new Arena suit and may well stay with the same suit. Unless the swimmers have raced in the Speedo LZR before, it could be to their detriment to change suits this close to a major competition like the Olympic Games.

However, both Roland Schoeman and Ryk Neethling expressed their interest in the LZR during the Olympic trials in Durban in April. Both felt that “the suit makes up to 0,4sec difference over 50 metres.”

The difficulty for the two SA sprinters, though, is that they are sponsored by Arena. Schoeman, tackling the 50m freestyle as his only individual event in which fractions of a second separate the eight finalists, the world champion may well be considering his options.

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