If you're one of the 138,000 people who clicked on a picture of an attractive blonde and an alluring brunette sitting back-to-back in tight clothing last Thursday, you will know the kit our Olympians will be wearing this summer has been unveiled.

In case you missed it, here it is again.

Now it's not this blog's brief to sing the praises of major sportswear manufacturers, so if you're interested to know more about ClimaCool, ForMotion or TECHFIT POWERWEB technology, you'll have to look elsewhere.

All I will say is that we did get one early review emailed to our feedback address and I think you would file it in the underwhelmed folder.

"Is it just me or does anyone else think our Olympic strips are the most boring designs ever produced?" asked Stuart McDonald. "Can't imagine our athletes are going to feel a sense of pride wearing what is basically a white t-shirt."

Michael Phelps

Oh, I don't know Stu. I quite like the understated look. It says timeless classic, retro cool and a nightmare to keep clean to me. It also reminds me of the vest and short shorts combo I used to wear in my school sports day pomp.

But whether you agree with Stu or me, there really is only one piece of kit that counts at the 2008 Olympics and it wasn't on show at last week's Adidasfest.

That's not to say British Olympians won't be wearing it. They'll be wearing it alright - they would feel worse than naked without it...they'd feel beaten before they even started their races. And they might be right.

Since its introduction earlier this year, Speedo's LZR Racer swimsuit has broken 38 world records.

Sorry, that should be swimmers wearing the LZR Racer have broken 38 world records. But listening to the carping from those wearing anything else you would be forgiven for forgetting that a swimsuit just kind of floats without somebody inside it - even one with polyurethane panels and stitch-free seams.

One set of carpers has just got its way. The Japanese swim team have forced their federation to let them wear the cutting-edge outfit.

This decision came as a bit of a blow to the three Japanese firms - Asics, Descente and Mizuno - who would have expected that particular bit of business. The fact that the LZR Racer is made by a British-based firm with Aussie origins has also caused quite a stir in the Land of the Rising Sun.

While shares in the firm that owns the Speedo franchise in Japan, Goldwin Inc, went through the roof of the Tokyo stock exchange, the scorned suitors all tanked. So not only does the LZR break records, it moves markets.

The Japanese team's decision came after a gala (the swimming kind, not the luncheon variety) which saw 14 national records and one world best go. Swimmers wearing the controversial suit (and it is controversial) broke all but one of those national marks.

The world record that went, the 200m breaststroke, was broken by double Olympic gold medallist Kosuke Kitajima, who is sponsored by Mizuno but was wearing an LZR Racer for the two minutes 7.51 seconds it took him to cover the distance.

Two days later Kitajima confirmed he would be wearing Speedo in Beijing and all hell broke loose in the Japanese press.

You could hardly blame him given the chorus of approval for the LZR from swimmers claiming to feel sleeker and more buoyant whilst wearing it. And when Olympic legend-to-be Michael Phelps starts banging the drum (as he has, very loudly), you have to listen.

But Kitajima's coach Norimasa Hirai sounded less than pleased about his charge's costume change, perhaps because he had previously likened the LZR to a "form of doping".

By Tuesday he had softened his view to: "After the recent quick times this decision was always likely. I wouldn't say we're happy about it, it is more a sense of relief."

Hirai hasn't been the only swimming sage to compare the LZR to more pharmaceutical forms of cheating and others have talked about Speedo starting a "swimming arms race".

But the sport's governing body has given it the thumbs up, a move which has effectively told rival manufacturers, "the race has started, you better catch up".

So now every swimsuit maker in the world is attempting to get their own Nasa-designed, drag-resistant, plastic-panelled outfit to the Water Cube's starting blocks.

An official for Asics, one of the firms snubbed by Kitajima and co, told the Wall Street Journal this "was the most urgent project in our company history". And Adidas, who also supply Team GB, has been ordered by Germany's swim team to pull its fingers out.

James Goddard, Caitlin McClatchley and Liam Tancock

The reason our swimmers have not been as upset as the Japanese and Germans is British Swimming negotiated a cunning opt-out from the British Olympic Association deal - our swimmers can wear unbranded LZR Racers and not the official woollen bathing trunks.

Liam Tancock, the first Brit to break a swimming world record since 1990, was wearing you know what when he broke the 50m backstroke mark at the British Olympic Trials in April.

Speedo badge or no Speedo badge, there was no doubt as to what he was wearing, and he will not be the only Brit in a badge-less, figure-hugging outfit in Beijing.

I realise that having said it was not this blog's brief to big up kit companies, I have spent most of the last 900 words doing exactly that - but I can't remember an advance in sports clothing that has caused this much consternation in Olympic circles.

It wasn't so long ago swimmers wanted the skimpiest outfit possible and a packet of disposable razors. The sport is now going through a Formula One phase and everybody must have active suspension, if you know what I mean.

Where will this all end? Not sure. But I can guarantee there will be a lot less flesh on display in the pool than previous Games and if you're not sick of hearing about the LZR Racer now, you will be after the first week in Beijing.

Matt Slater is a BBC Sport journalist focusing on sports news. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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