ROME --- The manufacturers of technologically advanced swimsuits have grown so frustrated over the current mess in the pool that they are ready to take a step back in time and return to old-fashioned briefs.
Swimmers get in the pool at the world championships Sunday, and manufacturers are counting on a change in leadership at FINA, swimming's governing body, to help settle things.
"We're in charge of making technology and helping swimmers to achieve their best but right now what's happening isn't fair," said Matthew Zimmer, promotion director for Californian manufacturer TYR.
"So if my choice is between fair and briefs and unfair and what's going on right now, we're going to take briefs every day, and I think every athlete would too because this is out of control."
FINA has come under criticism for its failure to regulate the rapid advances in swimsuit technology that led to 108 world records last year and nearly 30 so far this year.
Some suits are suspected of creating air trapping effects that artificially enhance speed. Last month, FINA approved 202 suits and rejected 10 others. The move to approve modified versions of suits that were initially rejected has disappointed the United States and Australia -- the sport's two most powerful countries.
Speedo's LZR Racer, the suit responsible for most of last year's records, is now widely considered slower than Jaked's 01 and Arena's Powerskin R-Evolution.
"We're happy in this specific moment, yes, but it's still a mess," said Arena global marketing director Giuseppe Musciacchio. "It can't go on like this. These are serious problems. These suits don't work the same on every athlete and they cost a lot. I think FINA needs to take a step backward."
TYR had a suit similar to Jaked's and Arena's rejected by FINA and appealed to a French court, which last week agreed that the suits need to be retested but ruled there wasn't enough time to do so before the worlds.
"It didn't entirely solve the problem for Rome and the athletes here," Zimmer said. "We'll see if athletes take issue and stand up against what has been imposed on them in an arbitrary way."