USA Swimming Fighting to Clarify Cap Rules Ahead of Trials

  8 Braden Keith | June 08th, 2012 | Industry, News, U.S. Olympic Trials

If you’ve been receiving USA Swimming’s Olympic Trials messages (see here and here), you’ll notice that twice in two days, they’ve given seemingly too-much attention to a seemingly minor topic: swim cap design.

But that’s because of some serious chaos and confusion that have come into awareness in the past few days, as swimmers and cap manufacturers across the country have come to a realization – the USA Swimming cap rules are not the same as the USOC cap rules. As the Olympic Trials are technically a USOC event, their rules trump. Here’s a good visual summary of the USOC logo placement rules, but basically the USOC allows one manufacturer logo on the side of the caps and nothing on the front or back. The USOC also outlaws any other advertising either on a cap, or an undercap, on deck or in the pool (meaning you won’t see swimmers pull off their team caps to expose a sponsor below).

In the last few years, after spilling over from Australia, logos on the fronts and backs of caps have become more-and-more popular. This is partially due to financial reasons, and partially due to the simple fact that people just like the look.

USA Swimming rules get it – they want athletes to have the opportunity to maximize their revenue, and to make money. They want athletes to succeed financially and stay in the sport. But not the USOC (by extention of IOC rules that they are mandated to follow).

According to one high-powered Olympic Manager, who has asked to remain anonymous, “My athletes have lost 100’s of 1000’s of dollars in endorsment revenue because their partners had no visibillity at, argueably, the biggest swimming competition in the US. We couldn’t, in good faith, take their money. No swim fans would see their logo.”

The USOC explained the rules in a letter here.

USA Swimming and CMO first put out the information back in February, trying to stem the need for a rush in order to comply with the rule. Despite the best efforts of CMO Matt Farrell, who tweeted about the issue months ago, the recent releases still seem to imply that there is a lot of confusion and scrambling at the last-minute.

Ricky Berens, who in the past few months has become a poster-child for how Olympic athletes can market themselves, spoke out on the issue via Twitter, stating that “the rules…are pathetic. Why are sponsors going to endorse if they get limited/no exposure?”


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8 Comments on "USA Swimming Fighting to Clarify Cap Rules Ahead of Trials"

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The most successful, forward-thinking National Govenoring Body is USA Swimming. Back in 2010 they changed the rules so pros could add an additional corporate logo on their caps. This was done specifically with pros in mind–to empower them to earn more money to support their training. (NOTE: 99% of pro swimmers suffered when the tech suit were rule illegal. Swimwear companies didn’t have the extra suit material to logo the athletes. Many athletes saw their revenue drop.) Cost of living/training is an issue for most athletes, but big advances have taken place with USAs support. I believe this forward progression will continue, that this is just the start. I “hope” the IOC will follow, but until an organization truly representing… Read more »
John Dussliere
Well now we have our flavor of the day controversy. Shouldn’t this give relief to all the coaches that don’t read the rules in advance and prepare? Now they have something to work on and talk about. I read the rule, called my team supplier, and made an order, which they were happy to fill. i even changed up my cap design and made a new one for Trials. There are bigger things to work on in the sport, like helping our pro’s (all, not some of them) get great exposure opportunities so they can make a better living as they represent all of the work we all do. Let’s listen to the message we are sending when we react… Read more »
I’m not sure you see the conflict between saying everyone should follow the rule and that we should find ways to back up the pros financially. Such rule is in the core of the problem of pros not being able to fund themselves, because companies cannot get exposure when they are the one meet with the most coverage in the US! I agree changing the rules is the way to go, but turns out the USOC and the IOC are really not interested in athletes being able to fund themselves (they much rather starve them, so that athletes are happy with the crumbles they drop them every once in a while). Seems you have a great philosophy on how to… Read more »

This is appalling and the swimmers should protest this… Well, not the ones risking Olympic team disqualification, but the swimmers just there to gain experience and without any major chance of advancing to the semis, such as the 40 yearolds Steve and Erika, if I remember their names correctly. Wear the caps major swimmers were supposed to wear OR protest caps with messages such as “USOC kills America’s chances” or “This is where my sponsor was supposed to be” just to tell them this is not alright. Why does stupidity always win?


About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

The most common question asked about Braden Keith is "when does he sleep?" That's because Braden has, in two years in the game, become one of the most prolific writers in swimming at a level that has earned him the nickname "the machine" in some circles. He first got his feet …

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