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May 19, 2008 5:09 PM

Swimsuits Lead to Lawsuits

Posted by Zach Lowe

Malebodyskin_2 Denver-based Holme Robert & Owens is representing USA Swimming, the national governing body for competitive swimming, against claims filed last week that the organization promoted a full-body Speedo swimsuit over competitors' swimwear.

The lawsuit, filed by manufacturer TYR Sport Inc., charges USA Swimming and head coach Mark Schubert of restraining competition by pushing the NASA-engineered Speedo LZR Racer.

Thirty-six of the last 40 world records have been set by swimmers wearing the $500 full-body Speedo suit. That record has led Schubert to publicly argue that swimmers wearing anything other than the LZR Racer at the Beijing Olympic games will be at a disadvantage.

Richard Young, a Holme partner in Colorado Springs--where USA Swimming is based--was out of the office and not immediately available for comment. The 219-lawyer Am Law 200 firm brought in gross revenues of $113 million in 2007, with revenue per lawyer hitting $515,000.

TYR, represented by Irvine, California's Hewitt & O'Neil, also is accusing USA Swimming of editing out the logos of Speedo competitors in photos of swimmers in the organization's official magazine, Splash.

Swimmers with sponsorship deals at other swimwear companies have openly experimented with Speedo’s racer, causing friction with TYR and other Speedo rivals, as The New York Times reported last week.

The suit is made from a special polyurethane material NASA and Speedo chose from among 60 candidates. Even the tiniest edge is crucial in swimming--less than one second separated the first and fifth place finishers in the men's 100-meter freestyle at the 2004 games in Athens.

Speedo parent company Warnaco also is named in the complaint.

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