INTERVIEW-Swimming-Irie says racing would be fair in a G-string

TOKYO, June 1 Mon Jun 1, 2009 10:16am BST

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TOKYO, June 1 (Reuters) - Japan's world title favourite Ryosuke Irie says racing in skimpy G-strings would put a stop to the raging bodysuit row in swimming.

The 19-year-old broke the men's 200 metres backstroke world record last month but swimming's governing body FINA have yet to ratify the mark because of questions over the suit he wore.

"It would be better if all the swimmers did (wear tiny swimming trunks) but it would be tough to make them do it," Irie told Reuters on Monday.

"It's sad everyone keeps talking about the swimsuits. Mentally it was a bit upsetting for me. My swimming went to pieces and I didn't want to get in the pool for a while."

Irie's time of one minute, 52.86 seconds in Canberra wiped over a second off the previous mark set by American Ryan Lochte in last year's Beijing Olympic final.

FINA will re-examine Irie's Descente racing suit before approving the time but Japan's hottest swimmer insisted he would tear through the red tape and make the argument academic.

"They can ratify it as a world record or not," said Irie, tipped for gold at this year's world championships in Rome in July and August.

"I broke it once so I will break it again. FINA haven't ruled on it yet and the rules could change again.

"It would good though to have concrete rules in place so everyone can stick to them and we'd have a level playing field."

HI-TECH SUITS

As the race to develop the most hi-tech swimming suits escalates and world records tumble, calls have increased for standardised manufacturing regulations.

"If you break a world record now it's all about the suit," Irie said. "The technology has a part to play and can shave a few hundredths off the time but the we are the ones swimming."

Japan's multiple Olympic gold medallist Kosuke Kitajima courted controversy before last year's Beijing Games when he wore a T-shirt with the slogan: "I am the swimmer".

His blunt message to Japanese swimming officials led to the country's swimmers being given the freedom to switch to Speedo's drag-reducing LZR bodysuit in China.

American Michael Phelps wore the LZR suit when he won a record eight gold medals in Beijing but Irie has no plans to break his ties with Japan's Descente.

"I just want to break the world record again in the same suit," Irie said before this month's Japan Open.

"That will end the argument.

"It will show I'm the one posting those times and it's not just the suit."

Irie said watching Kitajima repeat his 100 and 200m breaststroke double from Athens in Beijing had given him the incentive to follow in his countryman's footsteps.

"There was a different aura around Kosuke Kitajima," said Irie. "He had this amazing inner strength. His gold medals gave Japan a huge lift. I really wanted to be like that." (Editing by John O'Brien; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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