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News Round-Up: Phelps Packs A Punch

Feb 18, 2010  - Craig Lord

USA: Phelps is packing a little extra punch. In an interview with USA Today, Michael Phelps has added boxing to his programme this season. "Over the last few years, I've started lifting more and more. More power cleans. More squatting. More free-weight squats," Phelps told the paper at a promotion for one of his sponsors. I started running more recently. I'm also doing a couple of boxing exercises that work more on my core body strength but also (replicate) movements I would have in the pool." Those exercises help, he said, to improve his form, tempo and muscle memory. "You have to really use your hips and your whole body to get everything into it," said Phelps. "Your core has to be so much stronger. The only way to really get that is trying different exercises and keeping things more interesting and more exciting. That's the only way you're going to get better." The paper estimated that Phelps earns $10 million a year from endorsement contracts. Next week, the swimmer will appear in nationwide TV adverts for Under Armour. Viewers will see him doing pull-ups at a gym and working out with a kettlebell and a pegboard. The tagline on the ad is "Protect This House. I Will." Phelps told USA Today: "For me, my house is the pool. ... No one's really been able to see the behind-the-scenes things that I do to prepare myself to be the best that I can be." Except Bob, of course.

France: The very problem raised by a fair few when FINA debated what to do about masters swimming and suits has reared its head, courtesy of French sprinter Fred Bousquet. While France banned the poly booster suits last October and FINA from January 1, 2010, Bousquet, taking advantage of a USA masters rule that allows shiny suits until May 31, clocked 18.67sec, 4th best all-time, over 50 yards freestyle at a masters event in the US, while wearing the shiny numbers he became wedded to in 2009. Bousquet will be back in the world of elite racing in Europe at the Montpellier meeting from March 5-7, L'Equipe reports. On his first textile swim last autumn Bousquet was not among the vast majority of those celebrating the back-to-the-future move, instead telling the paper's Jean-Baptiste Renet: "This is a different world. When I show up for my heat wearing a speedo, half-naked behind the starting block, I am embarrassed. With my butt in the air in the ‘to your marks’ position... It is really disconcerting. I don’t feel like being at a competition at all. Before, the procedure of putting on the full-body swimsuit allowed me to close myself up in my bubble. Now I have lost all my points of reference. Our entire environment has changed." Just like it did in 2008-09. Bousquet, of course, has worn jammer-style suits and even briefs for many a long year while racing alongside the likes of Alex Popov, who wore his briefs with not a little pride. Meanwhile, three senior FINA sources shared this view on US Masters timeframe on shiny suits, which holds that FINA cannot take retrospective action: "Of course it can. There is nothing preventing retrospective action and there is provision in several places for retrospective action." Quite so - like doping sanctions, for example.

Suits: the saga wobbles on a little elsewhere too  - at regional Australian championships of late, swimmers were allowed to wear the Australian version of the Speedo FS-Pro suit by special permission of the NSW swim association. Why? Well, there were different versions of the suit made for different countries - some green and gold, some with red and white and blue and others in orange, etc etc, reflecting the national colours of Speedo-sponsored federations. But prints are not allowed and only the specific FS-Pro on the FINA approved list may be worn from now on. Trouble is - that suit is not available in sufficient numbers, and/or has not been bought by sufficient numbers of people to have taken up where the printed suits in kit bags across the world ought to have left off under FINA rules. Across the world of swimming it has become a source of consternation that swimmers are being forced to buy 2010 suits with a FINA approved label even though they have a textile suit at home that is perfectly legal in all respects other than the date of its manufacture and lack of FINA badge. One of the consequences of the malaise of the past two years. One world-class swimmer contacted SwimNews to say: "I get my suits free from my sponsor so its not a problem for me but in March and April there are lots of trials coming up and a lot of my teammates have to buy their suits but they're not allowed to wear the textile ones they had before the start of the year. They're kind of forced to buy a new suit and often it's the swimmers who don't get any funding that are having to do that. Surely they should be allowed to wear what they have?"