Sweden‘s national governing body for swimming, Svensk Simförbundet, has announced new tech suit guidelines for certain suits for swimmers 12 and under. This policy shift mirrors a 2018 decision by USA Swimming, which announced a ban on tech suits for swimmers 12 and under to be reinforced starting in 2020.
The U.S. ban included all suits with bonded or taped seams as well as any suit with “woven fabric extending to the knee or mid-thigh.” Loosely speaking, this refers to most people’s working definition of a tech suit: one with high compression and bonded seams that can lower a swimmer’s resistance in the water, help with buoyancy, and more.
According to Svensk Simförbundet’s website (and translated via Chrome), Sweden is following suit, not recommending ‘those found on FINA’s list of approved suits [that] have taped seams and fabric as with water repellent properties.’ This is more or less the same standards for the American ban.
It’s important to note that Svensk Simförbundet refers to these as ‘guidelines’ rather than ‘restrictions’ or a ‘ban.’ We have reached out to Svensk Simförbundet to clarify further.
Below are the reasons divulged for Swedish swimmers to better understand why they have made this policy change (again, translated via Chrome):
- A tech suit will not make a difference to the results of a younger swimmer. In these swimmers, good technology is a much more important component for swimming faster.
- The focus of these ages should be less on results and more on the joy of sports and competition. By buying a tech suit for young swimmers, the parent puts the focus on the result.
- The children should feel and understand that it is their own laid-back time and work that makes a difference when they compete, not the competition suit they wear.
- A tech costume costs a lot of money. We want our business to be inclusive where everyone feels joy and community. By allowing all children to compete in a competition suit that is not so expensive, we facilitate inclusion and reduce exclusion.
‘Good technology’ in the first bullet point is probably supposed to be translated as ‘good technique.’ Earlier in the news release, Svensk Simförbundet recommends that swimmers purchase cheaper suits instead (like a racing brief, perhaps) to level the competition for youngsters and keep the focus on the fundamentals of the sport.
A stipulation not present in Sweden‘s new rules, which USA Swimming has enacted, is that the ban for American 12 and unders does not include these big meets: Junior Nationals, US Open, National Championships, and Olympic Trials. It’s rare to have a 12 and under at any of these meets, but the justification lies in the advantage older swimmers with tech suits would have against any 12 and under not in a tech suit at a given national meet.