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Kerri Walsh, Misty May-Treanor will stay with bikinis, thank you

Apr 9, 2012, 3:12 PM EDT

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Walsh and May-Treanor of the U.S. celebrate after winning their FIVB Beach Volleyball Grand Slam final match against China's Chen and Xi in Klagenfurt Reuters

I know that when it was announced that women were no longer required to wear bikinis in Olympic beach volleyball, a little part of you died. But take heart — at least one significant U.S. team will be sticking with the bikini. Defending gold medalists Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor are comfortable in their own skin, as they say.

“It’s something I really feel comfortable with,” Walsh told the Associated Press. “It’s something I feel empowered by, not distracted with. I’m not a sex symbol; I’m an athlete. I want to be streamlined out there.

“I think (the change) is fantastic. I don’t want anything as trivial as a uniform to keep anyone from chasing their dreams.”

And that includes the viewers.

“We’re staying in ours,” May-Treanor said. “I don’t see too many people changing. To each his own. If you get down to it, it’s about the sport and not what we’re wearing. So it’s fine, whatever anybody feels comfortable with.”

The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) says that players are now free to wear shorts and sleeved tops, the move being made to accommodate countries where bikinis would be inappropriate attire.

“Many of these countries have religious and cultural requirements, so the uniform needed to be more flexible,” FIVB spokesman Richard Baker told The Associated Press.

I think that people should be able to compete in whatever they want, as long as it doesn’t give them an unfair advantage. But when I first heard about the new policy, I wondered, what about swimming and diving? What did athletes from those countries wear before the full-body swimsuit was introduced?

I have a feeling very few volleyball athletes will be switching to shorts.