New suit regulations for competitive swimming

October 20, 2009 — by Serena Chan

As of October 1, the swimming world will have cleared out all technical suits to the dismay of many swimmers. The International Swimming Federation (FINA), the governing body for the sport of swimming, has held meetings all over the world to define what kind of racing suit will be allowed during competitions.

Speedo’s LZR Racer and the J01 made by Jaked are only a couple of the first-class suits that will be banned from meets. Here are the rules according to a letter sent out by Bruce W. Stratton, Chair, USA Swimming Rules & Regulations Committee:

For guys, the suit cannot extend above the navel and below the knee. For girls, it cannot cover the neck, extend past the shoulders or below the knee. For all swimmers their suit must be made of a textile material, which means no polyurethane. This plastic-like material is used to mold the swimmer’s muscles to reduce strain and to create a streamlined body. As well, no clips, zippers or other fastening devices are allowed other than the string around the waist in men’s suits.

This news triggered reactions across the globe and all over the web. It affects swimmers not only during club meets officiated by USA Swimming but also during high school meets. During CCS last spring, the majority of Saratoga’s swim team was decked out in suits that would have broken most if not every one of the above rules.

“I think this is really stupid,” said sophomore Rebecca Chen. “I just recently bought a tech suit and now I basically have to wear it every chance I get, even at lesser meets. They only gave us a couple months notice.”

But by enforcing these guidelines, FINA is trying to even out the playing field so that swimmers can’t buy their speed. Regulations are necessary when people start wondering whether it was technology or true skill that have been breaking world records lately.

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