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AVP/Kojihiro Kinno
Three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings.

SALT LAKE CITY — An interesting aspect of professional beach volleyball, which is being played at Liberty Park this week, is the uniforms the athletes wear. The women wear bikinis and the men wear board shorts with no shirts.

Some might say it’s sexist or exploitive for the women to have to wear skimpy outfits while they play their sport. However, Kerri Walsh Jennings, the most prominent women’s beach volleyball player in the world, disagrees and said it’s never been a problem for her.

“When the sport was invented, the girls wore bikinis and the boys wore board shorts,’’ she said. “We’re on the beach, and when we play in Salt Lake, I assume it’s going to be very hot. To play in anything else gets in your way and affects your performance. Our suits fit us well and are comfortable playing in.’’

The mother of three said it’s more about promoting a healthy lifestyle than showing off their bodies.

“On the AVP Tour, one of the best things we do is promote a healthy lifestyle,’’ she said. “We all take good care of ourselves and work out and it’s not that we’re showing off our physiques. But it's obvious to the public as a side effect of taking care of ourselves we’re strong, healthy athletes able to compete at a high level, and I think there’s nothing but positives behind that.’’

Pro player and native Utahn Jake Gibb said some men on the European tour play in Speedos, but he said the board shorts are comfortable for most men. He also said he doesn’t see an issue with the women wearing bikinis.

“They’re uniforms,’’ he said. “Everything falls off easily, the sand, the sweat, the water. They seem like uniforms to me, not bikinis.’’