BREAKING: Arena Carbon-Pro Will Be Allowed Nationally Until June 3rd; NFHS Allows As well

According to several dealers and industry professionals who have already been informed of the decision, USA Swimming will announce today that the Arena Carbon Pro swimsuit will be allowed up until June 3rd, the day after the Santa Clara Grand Prix, which should relieve some of the strain on the company and their retailers to satisfy demands of returns or exchanges in such a short period of time, with so many large meets happening. Originally, Tuesday was set to be the last day that they were to be allowed.

Update: USMS has released a statement reaffirming that the suits will not be allowed at their meet. Read more here.

USA Swimming Rules Committee Chair Dan McAllen confirmed that times swum in these now unapproved suits would not count for FINA Records or qualifying for FINA-sanctioned meets, though they could count for US Records or US qualifying. The rationale was simple and logical: there’s still a small handful of states who haven’t swum their high school State Championship meets yet, and there’s still two Grand Prixs left, so to put everyone on an even qualifying playing field, they would make a simple, clean cut at 11:59 PM Mountain Time on June 2nd: the end of the Santa Clara Grand Prix.

In addition to those around the country at various USA Swimming meets, including the Grand Prix meet in Charlotte this coming weekend, this means that those at the CIF Southern Section Championship meet will be able to swim “USA Swimming observed” even in the models of the Arena Carbon-Pro racing suits that have had FINA approval waived, the organization reported today.

This decision comes after Arena announced yesterday that the company had waived FINA approval on three models of its Carbon-Pro line of high performance suits after discovering a part of their manufacturing process that didn’t comply with FINA regulations. (Read more about that here.)

Given that Arena leader Tim McCool told us via phone that the issue didn’t impact performance or safety, this decision will be of great relief to many, including Southern California High School swimmers. Arena has already committed to having reps on deck at both the Charlotte Grand Prix and Masters Nationals this coming weekend, but as of yesterday were still working on a solution for meeting the demands of the California High School Championship meets, Southern Section, which begin Wednesday: a meet of substantial size, and where there is a potential for National Age Group Records to be broken.

The NFHS, who has more general suit guidelines and are not bound by USA Swimming or FINA rules, released a statement today to its State Association Executive Directors and Swimming and Diving Administrators that included the following:

The identified construction problem does not impact safety or the overall performance of the athlete to create a competitive advantage. Therefore, the NFHS has taken the position, due to the nature of the defect and not all suits being non-compliant, to allow the models listed above to be used in high school competition.

As noted above though, this makes all swims in this suit legal for the purposes of the NFHS, which does not include reporting to USA Swimming, meeting qualifying standards for USA Swimming meets, or breaking national USA Swimming records in observed swims.

Arena is the official apparel sponsor for USA swimming and the title sponsor of the Grand Prix Series.

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8 years ago

Whoa that’s crazy!

Maybe they will do the same for us and our 2009 suit and allow it at World’s this summer.

Kirk Nelson
8 years ago

USMS announced the suit will NOT be allowed at Nationals, which starts on Thursday:

Reality Check
8 years ago

This is literally becoming a joke.

I suppose understand the reasoning behind why USA Swimming is allowing this (and I’m looking beyond the sponsorship $$ that Arena is paying them), but it seems like Arena just got a HUGE break.

Take this example:
I start a tennis season playing with an over-sized tennis racquet. Half way through the season someone points out that I have been using an illegal, oversize tennis racquet. Now, using USA Swimming logic, I can say to them that since I’ve already been using the over-size racquet, then I’m okay to use it through the rest of the season. I’ll just have to get a new racquet NEXT season. What?!

Reply to  Reality Check
8 years ago

Yes, but your competitors have been allowed to use the over-sized racquet all season long too…., and will be allowed to do so for the rest of this “season”….. and many high school swim/tennis families had just invested $350 to use this “racquet” for this upcoming meet (some pre-lims have already started)….. This was the right decision, for many reasons…..

Reply to  SwimDad
8 years ago

Because you care more about your $350 investment in a suit than you do about the sport. There are people that this affects on a much greater scale that a couple hundred dollars.

Imagine training like a madman for 6-8 months for the opportunity to drop two-tenths of a second and make your lifelong dreams come true. You miss the chance because you were out touched by hundredths of a second by someone who was using an unfair advantage (the Arena suit).

There is definitely an inability to see the big picture here.

Reply to  David
8 years ago

“Imagine training like a madman for 6-8 months for the opportunity to drop two-tenths of a second and make your lifelong dreams come true. You miss the chance because you were out touched by hundredths of a second by someone who was using an unfair advantage (the Arena suit).”

What is your lifelong dream? To go fast? Because you can go fast in any suit (Lochte in a speedo, Biondi in a papersuit, etc.). Or is it to win? If that’s the case, you need to reassess your goals on controllable outcomes not uncontrollable.

And yes, some elite teams are based of finishes at certain meets. And for those I guess the person who dropped the extra $350 wanted it… Read more »

Reply to  Reality Check
8 years ago

Apples and Oranges.

8 years ago

Agree 100%. A suit that has not passed Fina specifications but USA Swimming turns a blind eye and allows it anyway to help Arena?! Looks bad for USA Swimming.

Reply to  Jc23
8 years ago


Steve Nolan
8 years ago

So. Does anyone that thought the suit stuff back in ’09 was actually about like, “getting back to real swimming” and not buttloads of money still think that? Because woof.

Jeff B
8 years ago

Just noticed that there has been an update to the definition of hypocrisy to – Hypocrisy is the state of pretending to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that one does not actually have….example USA Swimming.

8 years ago

This is a complete joke and does nothing but make USA Swimming look like a shill for the new sponsor. Maybe it looks like Arena dodged a bullet but I can’t imagine personally ever buying an Arena suit again and supporting a business that let this happen. Kudos to US Masters Swimming.

In ready on Thursday to be at CIF to hear all of the suit talk.

8 years ago

Is the suit still legal at age group meets for USA swimming?

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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