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Bikinis here to stay in beach volleyball

Fear not, fans of beach volleyball — or of the women who play it.

Top players say they won't be switching from the beach- and TV-friendly bikinis to the more modest uniforms approved recently by the International Volleyball Federation as a nod to countries where more modest attire is preferred.

"It's something I really feel comfortable with," said Kerri Walsh, who with Misty May-Treanor won the gold medal in Athens and Beijing while wearing the standard beach volleyball uniform: a two-piece bathing suit. "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."

Bikinis are a natural for a sand-based sport, and they've been the standard Olympic uniform since beach volleyball became an official event at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Players say they prefer the beachwear because it allows them freer movement, and the minimum of material leaves less room for sand to get into their clothing and cause chafing.