Clothes make the man: France's Frederick Bousquet points to the high-tech swim suit that allowed him to make a farce of the old world record in the 50-meter freestyle. (Photo: Claude Paris / AP)
By Philip Hersh How I love it when events conspire to underscore a point made here previously. Last week, I noted the absurd mess international swimming leaders have allowed hi-tech swimsuits to create in their sport. And here is the latest evidence: Friday at the French Swimming Championships, Alain Bernard set a 100-meter world record (46.94, first under 47 seconds) in an Arena suit that apparently will no longer be legal in competition after Jan. 1, 2010. Saturday, Frederick Bousquet set a 50-meter world record (20.94, first under 21 seconds and a ridiculous .34 faster than the previous record, also set in high-tech apparel last year) in a Jaked suit that also will be illegal after Jan. 1. Both suits were covered in polyurethane panels. The international swimming federation, (whose French acronym, FINA, obviously stands for Foolish Imbeciles and Nattering Asses), has ruled that suits can include no more than 50 percent polyurethane covering after Jan. 1. And what about the world records set in them? FINA has no answer yet for that, even though there should be no question about chucking Bernard's record, since his suit had not yet received the necessary FINA approval for competition. `It's totally out of control,'' Mark Schubert, USA swimming's national team director, told me by telephone Monday. ``Now we're into speedboat driving.'' You have to give the FINA pooh-bahs credit for achieving the impossible, though: they have managed to make the sport's current world records even more meaningless than all the track and field records that stand more than a decade after evidence surfaced to show they were set by doped Eastern Bloc athletes (and some westerners who obviously were doping to keep up with the competition). The Italian coach who last year called the high-tech swimsuits ``technological doping'' was 100 percent right. ``It would be pretty unfair if a record was set in a suit that becomes illegal and was determined to give a decisive competitive advantge,'' Schubert said. ``But the saddest thing is we no longer are able to compasre generations. Swimming should be about the swimmer, not the suit.'' And while the suit may not account for all the difference in these two performances, it should be noted that Bernard swam more than a half-second slower in the final Saturday while wearing his old (and legal) suit than he had in Friday's semifinal. The most pathetic part of this aquatic farce is not only is it ruining the sport but it also is blowing up in the faces of athletes. Take backstroker Pierre Roger. His Jaked suit cracked at the start of the French Championships final, when Roger finished fifth in a time five seconds slower than the national record he set in the semifinal. That snafu cost him a place on France's team at the July World Championships. My only question now is this: how long will the International Olympic Committee sit idly by while one of the premier sports on the Olympic program becomes a laughingstock? The IOC always hides behind the mantra that each federation makes its own rules. But it was quick to intervene during the pairs skating affair in Salt Lake City, forcing the International Skating Union not only to award a second gold medal but to completely revise its judging process. The IOC needs to step in and stop an arms race that is making equipment manufacturers rich and the sport poorer. FINA has let the manufacturers set the agenda (and wouldn't you love to know about the money being tossed around sub rosa?) Of course, maybe no one at the IOC gets the irony that swimming is drowning itself in suits that make it too easy for swimmers to float.
Things heated up for Frederk Bousquest when posting nude photos of apparent French swimmer. The photos first appeared on the UK’s FM Forum with the first explicit image being posted on August 30, 2008 by a user under the alias ‘lenad441′. Readers of the thread commented wanting to see the “whole package”. “If the response gets better for this thread, i.e. more posts expressing interest, i will post even more pics…showing even more,” the poster said. When questioned about how he obtained the photos lenad441 merely replied that Frederick used his web cam.