With swimming records falling, Italian scientists studying new swimsuits

ROME -- Those new high-tech swimsuits rewriting the sport's record books have caught the eye of scientists.

Acting on advice from the Italian swimming federation, the committee's Institute of Medicine and Science will study the relationship between the suits and the recent onslaught of world records.

Nineteen long-course and 22 short-course world records have been set this year, nearly all by swimmers wearing the space-age Speedo LZR Racer, which was designed with the help of NASA.

The project is expected to take two months, and be finished before the Beijing Olympics in August.

The Italian team, which is sponsored by Arena, has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the new suits, with coach Alberto Castagnetti calling them "technological doping."

However, swimming world governing body FINA twice this month affirmed they conform to regulations. Critics say the suits are illegally buoyant and FINA has no test for buoyancy.

Buoyancy and fluidity are among the characteristics the Italian institute will examine, along with the relationship between the suits and swimmer's mechanics.

Several suits from different manufacturers will be tested.