ROME, ITALY At the World Swimming Championships in Rome today, German Paul Biedermann finished more than a second ahead of 14-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps of America to win the 200-meter freestyle. It was the first time in four years that Phelps came in second at a major international competition.
It turns out it was Biedermann's swimsuit, not swimming ability, that got the best of Phelps.
Earlier this week Biedermann broke Ian Thorpe's once-untouchable world record in the 400-meter freestyle. Wearing his Arena Astro-Glide suit, Bidermann has trimmed off entire seconds in a sport where a gain of mere tenths of a second is considered a major achievement. He attributes his success to the Arena Astro-Glide suit that he says improves his time by two seconds. A FINA ban on such suits during competition goes into effect next year.
After the race, Phelps said, "I will say that next year swimming will be swimming again. You're going to have to do all the work and there's not going to be a suit that does it for you."