Is a swimmer posing in Playboy really such a big deal that it should dominate the discussion among the swimming community? I don't think it is, but With Leather cites someone who thinks it's a very big deal:
What upsets some people like Dr. Mary Jo Kane, director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota, as she told the New York Daily News, is that "It used to be that female athletes were portrayed as wholesome, All-American girls. Now you get female athletes in GQ, Playboy and the Swimsuit issue. The result of it is coverage that is very damaging-that trivializes and marginalizes women athletes because it does not give them the respect they deserve as competent athletes."
I get what Dr. Kane is saying, but I don't agree with it. There's no reason you can't be a wholesome, All-American girl and still be attractive to men, and the fact that women with athletic bodies are considered attractive is a step forward, not a step backward.
A man saying Serena Williams is fat could be described as "coverage that is very damaging." But a man saying an Olympic swimmer is attractive is a good thing.
UPDATE 1: Watch Amanda Beard talk about Playboy with David Letterman.
UPDATE 2: High School Pole Vaulter an Internet Sensation