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Tuesday, May 23, 2000
Aussies drop swimsuits for magazine

  SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- The traditional Australian brief swimsuit was discarded by several Olympic hopefuls to demonstrate their naked ambition in Black and White magazine's Olympic Dream series.

  The "Sydney Dream" edition, launched Tuesday, features 29 athletes, including 1,500-meter swimming world champion Grant Hackett, pole vaulter Tatiana Grigorieva, sprinter Tania Van Heer and triathlete Loretta Harrop.

  The "Atlanta Dream" edition, launched before the 1996 summer Olympics, created a stir, with the first print run selling out within hours and total sales exceeding 50,000.

  Last year, the national women's soccer team generated unprecedented publicity in Australia by releasing the Matildas calendar, which featured several players posing naked.

  Publisher Studio Magazines increased the "Sydney Dream" print run to 100,000, confident that having the Sept. 15-Oct. 1 Olympics in Sydney will boost sales.

  Almost half of the athletes featured participate in sports contested in the pool or on the beach, including beach volleyballers, divers, the Australian men's water polo team and synchronized swimmers.

  Black and White editor Karen-Jane Eyre said about 50 athletes were approached, and most had no problem posing naked.

  "Generally speaking, athletes are not shy -- they're proud of their bodies," she said.

  Hackett, who posed inside a fish tank, described the photo shoot as "one of the hardest things I've ever had to do."

  "Not many things compare with training -- but this was a huge challenge," said the 20-year-old Hackett. "For a start, walking around nude was really weird. I'm not someone who is 100 percent comfortable with it."

  Hackett complained of looking "like a prune" after submerging himself in cold water for 20 minutes and having to hold his breath under water for 30 seconds at a time.

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