CBS This Morning on Technical Suits

Swimming made national news this week for something other than speed. The rising cost of technical race suits is starting to turn heads. CBS This Morning reported that some parents are spending as much as 10% of their income on their children’s sports, and the attention was turned to swimming and the costs that are associated.

  • Watch the CBS segment HERE.

A technical suit costs anywhere from $100-$549. Although these suits are undeniably necessary at high levels of swimming, some LSCs are deciding that they should be reserved for swimmers over the age of 12. Southern California, Arkansas, Maine, New England, New Jersey, and South Carolina have banned the use of technical suits for swimmers under the age of 12. There is a lot of support for this movement. Coaches see this younger age group as a crucial stage where it is more important to learn to improve races by fixing technique and relying on consistency and hard work instead of using a new technical suit as a “magic pill.”

That said, when a swimmer is racing in a technical suit they have an immeasurable advantage over a swimmer who is not. A technical suits price reflects the amount of science and study that has gone into making it. “For over a decade, Arena has been developing and applying new technical features to its range of racing swimwear,” found on the description of Arena’s carbon technology, “with the aim of constantly offering swimmers a cutting edge in their performance.” The suit manages compression and flexibility when the swimmer needs it most. “The carbon thread framework locks down like a seatbelt when critical stretch levels kick in, giving maximum compression on over-extended zones, increasing support and control when and where it’s needed, and boosting performance through reduced drag, improved efficiency, and maximum power. At the same time, the stretch fabric retains its elasticity, remaining comfortable without affecting the swimmer’s mobility.” It comes at a price, but there is an advantage behind these suit’s technology.

USA Swimming hired Issac Sports Group in July 2017 to review the current policies on tech suits in age group swimming with a projected final report in November 2017. On November 29 USA Swimming told SwimSwam that the final report will be delayed until early February. Leading this study is Stu Isaac who worked for Speedo North America for 25 years and was an NCAA All-American in the 1970s. You can find a list of the elements for the conclusive report here.

The ban on technical suits on 12 and under swimmers has brought relief to a lot of parents. Swim parents may feel pressure to buy their child a $500 suit because that is what their child’s competitors are racing in. This ban is arguably supposed to level out the playing (swimming) field at the youngest level and put the focus back on learning how to race without the added distraction of a suit. The cost of technical suits has been deterring families from joining swimming in the USA and this suit ban has the potential to gain popularity across the USA and turn this statistic around.

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Kensington Park
6 years ago

I spend between $40 and $75 on these “fast suits” which I buy from swim outlet in August when everything is deeply discounted. My boys wear the new suits for the big meets and as they start to wear off their effectiveness, wear the older suits at the other meets. Our coach has now said no tech suits and I have a years worth of new suits that are going to be trashed because they aren’t allowed to wear them. Should I send them to practice in them? Nope, not allowed to practice in them either. I don’t think I spend more than anyone else on suits.

6 years ago

Good, with they should only be allowed for older kids And at higher levels

6 years ago

Call me crazy, but I’m one of the “stupid” parents whose 10 year old is in a tech suit. He has only worn it for Zones (like pretty much every other kid there) and our age group state meets. I’ve never paid more than $100 dollars for one, and until we are headed to Juniors, I likely never will. When I was growing up we had a nylon suit that we wore for most meets and a Lycra suit for the important ones. The Lycra suit eventually morphed into a paper suit and in college different suits for different events that reminded me of something Wonder Woman would wear. What I learned very young was that we wore the big… Read more »

Reply to  IUkicker
6 years ago

I also disagree that it’s the high price of a tech suit that deters people from joining swimming. It’s the time commitment & the fact that it takes really hard work & dedication (from kids AND parents). Pools are much more scarce than ball parks & soccer fields. I know plenty of people who drop tons of $ on ball bats and gloves and don’t blink at all. Swimming will never gain poplarity like mainstream sports that have a large professional following that pay big $. The chances of playing in the NFL, NBA, etc age much greater than winning an Olympic medal in swimming and MAYBE gaining some degree of fame that can translate to income.

6 years ago

“The cost of technical suits has been deterring families from joining swimming in the USA…”

I don’t disagree that the price of tech suits are out of control. However, it’s not a start up cost, and hardly deters a swimmer from getting started. Sports with protective equipment (hockey, etc.) have real start up costs. Boys can get into swimming for a $39 grab bag suit and a $12 pair of goggles.

Great article, but this line doesn’t quite belong.

6 years ago

Swimming is not an I expensive sport. Club dues exceed 2500. Travel to meets. Practice suits. Then the fastsuit. To even be competitive these are musts. Some meets are banning suits too. Good. Out of control. Every state should follow suit.

6 years ago

Here’s a thought….why dont we just have a an elite 21 and older swimming league that allows poeple to where rubber suits and be totally juiced for it? Athletes would sign an agreement to permanent barring from clean competition. Lets face it, we would all tune in to watch superheros swim like no one has swam before.

6 years ago

I am certainly on the ban side and with my experience I’d even say 14 and unders. Boys are growing and they will drop enormous amounts of time at this age. My girls also tend to drop a lot 12-13 and even 14 so instituting them at 15 I think helps motivate them as they continue to drop time and keep them in the sport longer.

Reply to  Dave
6 years ago

Dave – the reason you’ll never get 14 & unders is because at 14, swimmers are contending for spots on international teams. There would be a guaranteed lawsuit (starting with violations of the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act) in that case, and it would be a pretty open-and-shut case.

Reply to  Dave
6 years ago

I personally think this should first be handled at the coach/meet level. Certain meets should just not be suited meets (summer league is one clear example). Unfortunately, many coaches don’t put their foot down and I have never seen a meet restrict suit wear. But in a sport where .01 can make the difference in qualifying for finals, it’s hard to see one kid in a suit while another isn’t just because parents don’t have the money or choose not to spend it. 13-14 swimmers start competing against senior level swimmers so it makes sense that they start wearing suits then.

j zimmerman
6 years ago

Our girls are 12 and 14. They were encouraged to get Tech suits. They only wear them to meets. New coach came along and changed colors and everyone needs to get new suits, coats, shirts, caps. all new!! Unbelievable!

Reply to  j zimmerman
6 years ago

Of course, you would wear them at a meet… where else?

About Kierra Smith

Kierra Smith

Kierra Smith Kierra Smith is a Canadian breaststroke specialist and NCAA champion. Born Feb. 1, 1994 in Vancouver, Smith was a student-athlete at the University of Minnesota and was the 2015 200-yard breaststroke NCAA Champion with the third fastest 200 breaststroke time in NCAA history. University of Minnesota 2012-2013 As a freshman Smith made …

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