When Should Your Child Wear A Tech Suit?

By Elizabeth Wickham

In Southern California, a new rule regarding tech suits at age group meets was passed. I saw some discussion about it on Facebook and one parent wanted to know why the LSC would get involved and tell us when our kids could wear a tech suit.

“Southern California Swimming’s House of Delegates voted unanimously to prohibit the wearing of ‘Tech’ suits in Age Group competition at committee level (BRW), invitationals, dual/tri and intrasquads.  ‘Tech’ suits will be permitted at Winter Age Group Invitationals (WAG), June Age Group Invitationals (JAG) and Junior Olympics (JO) meets.

The HoD also voted a ban on ‘Tech’ suits for swimmers 5-10 years old for all Southern California Swimming sanctioned meets.”

Read more on the Southern California Swimming website: https://www.socalswim.org/news/southern-california/2016/11/10/house-of-delegates-acts-to-restrict-tech-suits-for-age-group?ReturnUrl=/

Personally, I agree with these rules. I remember when my kids were in 10 and unders and one swimmer my daughter’s age got a LZR Fastskin. I thought I needed to buy one for my daughter, too. Our coach said no, and suggested a plain navy, one-piece instead. She said that she didn’t believe in young kids wearing tech suits, and in her day you didn’t get a suit unless you earned it.

Here are some thoughts about why you should wait to buy your child a tech suit, especially in the 10 and under age group:

One

It’s about technique.

A tech suit isn’t going to make or break a young swimmer. Tighter streamlines and not lifting their heads going into turns will get them faster than a suit—as well as growing and getting stronger.

Two

Enjoy the process.

If there’s too much focus on results by parents, then the enjoyment and satisfaction children experience is minimized. Buying a tech suit for a young child places an emphasis on times.

Three

It’s not the suit.

Kids should be having fun with their friends at the pool. We want them to love the sport and stay with it through college and masters. We don’t want them to believe that it’s a magic suit that earned them a time, rather than their own hard work and effort.

Four

Earning a reward.

There is something be said for waiting and letting your child earn their first fast suit. Our team has a contract with a manufacturer and our swimmers get a free suit when they get to Junior Nationals. The problem is it may take a tech suit for a teenager to earn that first Junior National time. Most of our team’s swimmers get tech suits for their big meets, whether it’s JOs or Sectionals, on their way to earning Junior National times. It makes the big meets exciting with tapering, shaving and wearing tech suits—and swimming fast.

When do you believe kids should wear tech suits? Does your LSC or team have rules on when they wear them?

Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as Elizabeth Wickhamboard member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.

AB

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boi
5 years ago

Ya I wore my first one at 14 and only because I got it for free because our team is sponsored by arena and I was the only one our team with a sectionals cut so they hooked me up with a carbon

swimtroll
Reply to  boi
5 years ago

Once kids are not going to wear tech suits there won’t be any free ones for Jun. Nat. qualifiers either. Somebody has to pay for them.

CollegeSwimmer
5 years ago

My mom had a rule about this as soon as tech suits made it big in age group swimming. I could get a tech suit when I was swimming for something bigger than our state meet, (Sectionals, Zones, or for getting times for swimming in college). Did I sometimes get beat by kids who didn’t usually beat me? Absolutely. Was that frustrating when it happened? Definitely. But look at me, surviving my troubled childhood (sarcasm intended).

Also, the biggest benefit a tech suit gives you is the muscle compression. Keyword: MUSCLE. I PROMISE your 9-year-old (or even most 14-year olds) son/daughter doesn’t have the muscle mass for the suit to do THAT much for them. Save your $300 and… Read more »

James
5 years ago

We already struggle to make swimming a more inclusive sport as it is. Putting pressure (because let’s all admit that once one kid gets a fancy suit, everyone else will want to get one as well) on parents to buy expensive swim wear at a young age just doesn’t make sense. Certainly not under 10, and probably not at any regional level competition.

Mark
Reply to  James
3 years ago

Nobody is holding a gun to their head, besides you can easily find last year’s colors online for $100. What doesn’t make sense is creating confusion by coming up with a standard different from FINA. We have a standard, stick to it. Having 10 year olds disqualified because their parents bought the wrong suit is hardly what I would call inclusive.

Canukian
5 years ago

There is nothing sadder than hearing one parent tell another that the latest super expensive tech suit is absolutely required. For a swimmer that has under two years of club experience. Who is 12 and under. Who is too short for the bottom of the legs to stop above the knees but who has a tummy that cannot be contained by the waistband.

Each time a parent (who has a child training 4x/week) comes and asks if they really have to get one of those for their child my answer is a whispered prayer of thanks for a chance to educate a parent and a resounding “NO”.

Save your money. If your child can still knock off 10… Read more »

HulkSwim
Reply to  Canukian
5 years ago

don’t whisper NO. say it.

dmswim
5 years ago

I grew up in a time when an aquablade was a tech suit, but my mom always told me I couldn’t get one as long as I was still dropping time in a regular suit. A bit of a reverse incentive, I guess, but it made sense. If I was dropping time without one, I didn’t really need one. I ended up getting my first aquablade for free when I qualified for the Zones meet anyway, but I’m glad my mom held out.

AnotherSwimDad
Reply to  dmswim
5 years ago

Aquablade is a great suit. Catch them on sale for $45-$50 and wear them well beyond their intended use. The kids find them very comfortable. Tech suits only for big prelim/final meets.

Mark
Reply to  dmswim
3 years ago

And just imagine if the Aquablade was banned? Let’s face it, virtually every suit used today would be a “tech suit” 30 years ago. Maybe we should make all the kids swim in heavy cotton suits. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? I can buy a “tech suit” for $100, maybe less if I find last year’s colors. What is the problem that is being solved here, because I see something that hurts the sport.

Hswimmer
5 years ago

You guys and gals are lucky.. My mom never bought me a tech suit. I had to buy my own. Kids are so spoiled. I would only buy my kid a tech suit 13+ if they are trying to make a cut and put in the time and work for it.

Dan
5 years ago

I am a retired swimmer with no kids, but I would not buy my kid a tech suit unless they were doing everything else that they could to get faster (I.e. going to every practice and working hard). I also wouldn’t until they were either swimming at or trying to qualify for a meet at the sectional level (or maybe trying to win a junior Olympic level meet).

A lot of it would depend on the family’s economic situation. Even if a few hundred dollars isn’t much to your family, you don’t want your kid to be that kid whose parents are buying them a faster time. On my club team, some of us used to wear drag suits… Read more »

Swimmer1
Reply to  Dan
5 years ago

Great post Dan! Love your drag suit story!

Just Another Opinion
Reply to  Dan
5 years ago

“Just to show the other kids we could beat them in a drag suit” is an interesting take on sportsmanship. I’d prefer to see meets swum without equipment handicaps in either direction.

A swimmer
Reply to  Just Another Opinion
4 years ago

Sportsmanship does not always feed the competitive fire

Swimtic
Reply to  Just Another Opinion
3 years ago

Don’t worry, I was in lane 8 wearing my drag suit and beat both you and Dan while pretending not to be tired. I then swam down my lane in the competition pool for a 25, jumped over the bulkhead and did a front 1 1/2 into lane 8 of the warm-down pool. After the meet I took Dan’s girlfriend to a movie.

Swimtic
Reply to  Dan
3 years ago

If the top layer of swimsuit isn’t ripped and faded beyond recognition, you’re not doing it right.

troy
5 years ago

I agree for the most part, but most/ if not all of the 9-10 records were done with a tech suit. So I think it would make it harder for the kids on the level of getting those records. I agree for any type of beginner, that the suit is not important, also I think technic is first for kids of all ages, however if kids at 10 are close to a record at the national level I see it as a hard thing to ban.

Paul
Reply to  troy
5 years ago

Agreed, but is a 10 and under really going to experience a difference with a tech suit? The effects it may have on a 14 year old are quite different than a lightweight less experienced ten and under. Also, for most kids it’s not about the time or records at that age, but rather learning and the experience.

Swimmer1
Reply to  Paul
5 years ago

Paul. Yes!

troy
Reply to  Swimmer1
5 years ago

I am not saying the average 4 9 year old 110 pound kid needs one the DO NOT. I am saying the ones close to the records you know the ones that are going faster at 10 then some people will ever go. The ones that do have muscles and are 5 10 for guys and 5 8 for girls. Also to comment on Anya, yes she is fast, but people know about her for that reason and while I respect her decision it is a dis advantage to her. No one is the Olympic Finals in this or the last 2 Olympics wore a slow suit…..just saying. As someone who has wore fast suits through college, but tech wastne… Read more »

SwimFL
Reply to  troy
5 years ago

A fast 9-10 year old rarely, if ever means a fast teenage or college swimmer. If you look at the NAG records and progression, those in post 2009 are generally not held by Olympians. Also, what does a NAG record mean to a 9-10 year old. Not much. Do some research and most 9-10 year olds are in the sport and working hard to either please their parents or please their coach. They are generally not putting in the hard work for themselves… why? because they don’t even know what it means to know themselves. They are 9 for goodness sakes. They have no idea what they are feeling, that’s why they are going fast, because they just go fast.… Read more »

Swimmer1
Reply to  troy
5 years ago

oh. my. It’s. Not. The suit. And let me let you in on sonething… If your child happens to be close to a national record the biggest favor you can do for him/ her is to make them wear a regular suit and tell them to focus on a better start, or better turns and I promise you that will make more of a difference than the suit! And at 10 years old that child does not need a $300 suit OR a NAG. They need encouragement for the love of the sport.
There’s a young lady named Anya Goeders. She’s 15. Finished Olympic Trials with the 3rd fastest 50 of all time in her age group. She doesn’t… Read more »

Just Another Opinion
Reply to  Swimmer1
5 years ago

Since it’s not the suit, why would the suit bother you at all? If it doesn’t affect the competition then let other people spend their money on what they like. Personally I’m in favor of this rule precisely because I am convinced the suit DOES make a difference, especially for some body types.

You can deny the benefits of compression all you want, but others obviously perceive a difference both in performance and in recovery… and not just in swimming. Look around at the use of compression sleeves in other sports. Talk to professional trainers and physical therapists. I can’t even comprehend how anyone in 2016 could still think muscle compression doesn’t make a difference to athletes.

Seriously?
Reply to  Just Another Opinion
5 years ago

It’s. A. Jammer.