USA Swimming Hires Consulting Firm To Review Age Group Tech Suit Policies

USA Swimming has hired outside consulting firm Isaac Sports Group to review various policies on tech suit use in age group swimming, with a final report due in November.

USA Swimming officials e-mailed the federation’s staff about the review last week, noting that Stu Isaac would be heading up the review process. The given timeline has the Isaac Sports Group starting its review in July, continuing through August and September, and finally giving a preliminary report at USA Swimming’s convention in September, followed by a final report in November.

The issue of tech suits in age group swimming has flared up recently, with several major LSCs (USA Swimming’s regional governing bodies) passing rules to ban tech suits in certain age groups. Southern California was the most high profile, but the list also includes Maine and Arkansas. The issue isn’t just confined to the States, as Australia’s Swimming Victoria has also banned tech suits for athletes 11 years old and younger, and USA Swimming’s e-mail suggests similar efforts are moving forward in Oregon.

The main rationale for the bans has been economic: tech suits are a pretty sizable investment, especially for growing age groupers who may not stay the same suit size for long. The independent review is aimed at gathering information from all sides of the issue. USA Swimming’s e-mail suggests it will include interviews with “Age Group Development committee members, LSCs, coaches, staff, legal, Rules & Regulations committee, suit manufacturers, team dealers and online retailers.” It lists the following as elements of the eventual report:

  • Review of existing and proposed LSC rules, policies and actions
  • Review of a sample of swim club suit policies
  • Analysis of membership history and trends vs. tech suit timeline
  • Review of the range of suit technology and costs
  • Market analysis of tech suit use
  • Impact of any new rules on teams, swimmers, parents, coaches, manufacturers, retailers, officials
  • Impact of LSCs with differing rules (ex. swimmer from one LSC competing in another LSC)
  • Age cut-offs
  • Financial impact to parents
  • Need for a national rule vs. LSC-by-LSC
  • Legal issues
  • Evaluation of suits and/or testing

That third bullet from the bottom is especially intriguing, as it suggests USA Swimming is at least exploring the idea of a national rule either limiting or allowing tech suits at a certain level. One criticism of local LSC suit bans is that it could disadvantage swimmers in those areas competing for Junior National qualifying times or National Age Group records against swimmers from other LSCs who are still allowed to use tech suits.

Isaac himself is a former collegiate swimmer, an NCAA All-American for Michigan in the 1970s. He worked for Speedo North America for 25 years before starting the Isaac Sports Group in 2009.

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3 years ago

Hurts suit companies who can’t sponsor or pay as much with less money coming in, which means more people retire earlier or don’t go pro, bad idea

Reply to  Uberfan
3 years ago

Sorry but your comment doesn’t make any sense. You do realize that this tech suit discussion is for 12 & under athletes only, right?

Reply to  SwimFL
3 years ago

His comment, while perhaps a little of a worst case scenario, is actually in fact entirely logical. The point is with less income coming in to suit companies from younger athletes purchasing tech suits the suit companies possibly could not afford to sponsor as many pro athletes leading to less and less pro athletes as they age. Not sure if this could actually realistically happen depends on the kind of margins and profits these companies are dealing in. I have absolutely no clue about those statistics.

Reply to  SwimFL
3 years ago

What Uber means is if the suit companies lose revenue from that population segment of 12 and u. Their total revenue and margins go down and thus at least in theory the suit companies would potentially have less money to pay Pro’s with. It just simple economics!

If parents can afford $300+ a month for Club dues and on top of that meet entries, travel expenses etc I do not think they are that concerned about buying 1 or 2 tech suits a year for their kid/s.

Swim Pop
3 years ago

Ding ding ding, my daughter and I talked about it before her LC state meet last year. We stayed in a cheaper hotel and used the money for her first tech suit, not a current model, on sale for half of what this year’s model would have cost. Bought the size up on closeout this past winter for the same price as an aqua blade. It’s still in the box and waiting for her when she grows.

In the big picture, it’s a fraction of what we pay out for monthly fees, meet entries and travel.

Interesting that this story is just a few down from newly aged up 13yr old Tuggle’s incredible swims

Reply to  SwimFL
3 years ago

Hard of understanding are you? It’s really really simple, less people buying your products=less money

Reply to  Uberfan
3 years ago

I didn’t understand the grammatical issues in the original statement. I do understand that the revenue will inevitably decrease, but I doubt it will effect a suit companies ability to sponsor athletes. The major suit companies are not that fragile and they will undoubtedly find other ways to bend rules, just like they did when the full length suits were banned back in 2009.

3 years ago

USA swimming must have something better to spend its money on. Suit manufactures will get their way. Money talks.

3 years ago

Huh? This is a waste of money. What’s the point of having leadership, if they’re just going to spend the constituents’ money on stuff like this? They should be doing their own leg work and then make an informed decision based on that work.

Reply to  DrSwimPhil
3 years ago

Agreed. Why would a consulting company be able to make a better decision than the people already involved in the sport?

Reply to  DrSwimPhil
3 years ago

I heard wind of this and came here fully prepared to make the same argument. USA Swimming if becoming a pyramidal scheme to extol the families of younger swimmers to spend huge sums of money with the idea that there children will soon be Olympic caliber, all in the name of funding the national team and wasting money on ridiculous projects like this. Conquered statement is right on target … aren’t the right people already members of USA Swimming??

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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