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The Evolution of Olympic Swimwear

The main topic of conversation at the World Swimming Championships in Rome this week has been those new-fangled swimsuits. The neck-to-ankle suits, enhanced with polyurethane, and now rubber, popped onto the scene in 2000 when they were cleared for competition at the Sydney Olympic Games. A number of world records have been broken since then, prompting swimming's governing body, FINA, to ban "non-textile" suits and limit the amount of coverage — between the waist and knees for men, not past the shoulders or below the knees for women. The new standards, passed on Friday, will take effect in May 2010.

With the new ruling, who knows what we will see at the next Olympic Games? We take a look at the history of competitive swimsuits, from the teeny-tiny Speedo briefs to full-body coverage and back.

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