O'Neill worried about sharkskin suit

Australia's Susie O'Neill is concerned that if she breaks swimming's oldest world record wearing one of the controversial "sharkskin" suits it may diminish her achievement.

O'Neill has spent years trying to eclipse American Mary T. Meagher's 200-meter butterfly world mark of 2 minutes, 5.96 seconds set in 1981 and has been just 0.57 seconds away from it - closer than any other swimmer.

"I feel like my training's pointing more towards it (breaking the world record) than it ever has," O'Neill said Wednesday.

But the 26-year-old said earlier she was in a dilemma about whether to wear one of the new high-tech suits at the Olympic trials in May and later at the Games.

"I've been training really well. If I stand up and break the world record, everybody's going to think it's the suit," the Olympic gold medalist said.

"That's my biggest problem. Should Iaring them, I might get beaten if I don't wear it."

O'Neill, who has been involved in testing the suits for Speedo, said she was convinced they improved a swimmer's times.

"It definitely makes you go faster," she said.

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has asked for a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after president John Coates became concerned about whether the swimsuits are legal.

Both O'Neill and world 1,500-meter freestyle champion Grant Hackett said they would opt against wearing the suits at the Olympics or the Australian trials if the CAS ruled against them.

"I don't want to risk any chance of being disqualified at the Olympics or even the Olympic trials," Hackett said.

"If there's a 5 or 10 percent doubt in the suit and there is a chance of disqualification if one of your rivals don't wear the suit and they put a protest in, it's not going to be worth it."

Speedo marketers say some athletes have indicated an overall performance benefit of three percent wearing the suits.

That would slash Hackett's time in the 1,500 meters by about 26 seconds, taking him well under Australian Kieren Perkins' world record of 14:41.66.

But Hackett played down those times on Wednesday.

"I would say that's pretty ridiculous," the 19-year-old said. "I know the suit doesn't make that sort of difference.

"I'd like to think if I do go underneath that world record, I could definitely do it without the suit."

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