2012 Olympic silver medalist Haley Anderson will become the first swimmer, to our knowledge, to wear her Twitter handle on her cap this week at U.S. Nationals. Anderson received special permission from USA Swimming to wear her Trojan Swim Club cap with “@swimhaley” on it instead of “Anderson,” her last name.
The above photos, shared with SwimSwam by Anderson’s agent Brant Feldman, show three different versions. Feldman says that the caps still aren’t approved for international competition, but that they will be on deck at U.S. Nationals.
This move jumps in on a growing wave of social-awareness in sports, led by the pioneering Philadelphia Wings Lacrosse team who, in 2012, wore their Twitter handles on their uniforms during a game against the Buffalo Bandits.
The specific rule in the FINA rule book, which is under Bylaw 7.1.2 “Swimming Caps,” reads as follows:
Athlete’s name of a maximum size of 20cm². The athlete’s name shall be printed on the same side as the flag and country name (code). Printing the athletes’ name isn’t compulsory.
The directions are vague, and so is its definition of ‘name’. In the world of technology, arguments could be made that certain celebrities are as identifiable by their Twitter handle as the rest of us are by what’s written on our birth certificates. There are restrictions on advertising, which could arguably torpedo the idea at international meets, and there will surely be internal conversations at the IOC about opening a flood and the danger of ambush marketing via Twitter.
But for now, it’s an interesting tactic, along the lines of the Tucson Ford Dealers sponsorship allowing Ford advertising at major American swim meets.
As of Tuesday night at 7PM Pacific Time, Anderson had 5,628 Twitter followers. That number will be the test of whether this works.