USA Swimming HOD Passes National Tech Suit Ban; Alters Exempted Meets

A national ban on technical racing suits for 12 & unders has been passed by the House of Delegates on Friday at the USA Swimming National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida. The ban will take effect in September of 2020, which was designed to give manufacturers the opportunity to catch up and to adjust inventories ahead of the change.

One of 24 proposals being voted on by representatives of clubs and LSCs across the country, the ban passed on Saturday. The ban was passed with a change from proposal, though, specifically to the meets that are exempt from the policy (see more below).

The working definition would count suits as technical suits if they have:

  1. bonded or taped seams regardless of its fabric or silhouette, or
  2. any male or female suit with “woven fabric extending to the knee or mid-thigh” regardless of the type of seams.

The full text of the proposal that was voted on:

The ban does include exceptions for top-tier regional and national championship meets, including Junior Nationals, US Open, National Championships, and Olympic Trials. At those events, athletes are likely to be racing against older swimmers, for event titles, who would not be subjected to the ban – which would put younger swimmers at a disadvantage. However, from the original proposal, Sectionals, Futures, the Pro Swim Series, and YMCA Nationals were dropped as excepted meets, and the ban will be in effect for 12 & unders there.

Among the rationale for the change is that sectionals aren’t uniform across the US, which could lead to some 12 & unders having an advantage over others; and that Y-Nats qualifying times were too slow to be included on the list in comparison with the other remaining meets.

Update: a plethora of specifics regarding the new ban is expected to be released by USA Swimming in the coming weeks, well ahead of the ban taking effect in 2020. Among the key details is that, for the most part, suits that are “woven,” and therefore not allowed, are the suits with FINA approved tags on them. This means that most of the suits sold by the suit companies in the $75-and-down range (all cuts) will still be allowed. There are a few suits that have FINA tags that are knit and have allowable seems – in these cases, there will be a 2nd tag next to the FINA tag verifying that they are allowed for 12 & unders.

We have reached out to each of the major American suit brands to gather more specific information about their lines and how they’ll be impacted by the ban. We will provide more information as wew hear back from those brands.

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4 years ago

i disagree with this whole entire thing completely.

4 years ago

Don’t kid yourself. This is part of an attempt to distort specific rational choices people are making. If you can only wear these suits at the big meets (increasingly, they are not just the zones and sectionals, but the sponsored “series” national meets that are big business, but also pretty much optional, huge personal expense for families to travel to, etc. My 9 year old qualified for the Tyr Elite Showcase “National” Meet yesterday with a AA time. This was at the LSC level champ meet, where she wore her tech suit with taped seams (bought used on eBay, and worn only at champs), and dropped ~ 8 seconds in her 200 I.M. But her club has nobody else going.… Read more »

4 years ago

If the suit doesn’t effect anything, then why ban it if it doesn’t even help. I mean I understand how you don’t want kids to understand that the suit can help with everything. But still there isn’t any advantages if you put a $500 suit on an 8 year old, at the end of the day, its the coaches or the parent’s choice. Not USA swimming choice. I know that I’m a bit late but that’s just my opinion.

Swim mom of a 16 year old
5 years ago

I don’t have a dog in this fight, but is ridiculous. It sounds like social engineering.

How fair is it if an 11 year old or a 12 year old makes sectionals and then she or he has to compete against the older kids who get to wear their tech suits? Same problem with some of the ProAm meets. So they pick an arbitrary number of 12?

Educate parents and let them decide or let the club decide.

This a ridiculous
5 years ago

Sorry but this makes no sense at all. These 12 & under work their butts off 5-6 days a week to get to where they are at and to people saying that they are aided by these tech suit is ludicrous. This ban is driven by other factors and using cost as an excuse. The amount spending on tech suit is relatively tiny compare to equipment such as paddle,fins,tempo, snorkels, etc and all things we do as parent and coaches to help our children/student to become successful. I’ve seen practices and the ones that are not reaching their parents expectation are the ones that don’t show up regularly, get out early, and complain are about everything except themselves

5 years ago

I think a bigger issue for the 12 and unders is not whether they can wear tech suits or not, I think it’s the amount of yardage/hours they are doing in the pool. I have heard MANY stories from other parents at big meets in other states where they tell me they know of 10 year olds who are already swimming two a days, or 11 year olds training with senior national squads … isn’t that more of a concern than whether a parent chooses to spend $40 or $200 on a suit? Besides, you wouldn’t tell a 12 year old baseball player how much they’re allowed to pay for a bat.

5 years ago

If I was on the USAS board, I would have proposed a different solution: each swimmer can wear race suit twice in a season, they pick which meets. How do you enforce that? Each swimmer will get a tattoo with a bar code. When they buy race suit, cashier scans their bar code and swim suit bar code. if they wear that suit more than twice, an alarms sounds on the deck and that swimmer is chased out of the event.

Now, since my wonderful idea was not adopted, I was very happy to see the ban will be enforced, only to realize our youngest will turn 13 before it becomes effective. I fully support it. It is ridiculous to… Read more »

5 years ago

Overall, I guess what bothers me about the new ban is the lack of logical articulation of the need for it, including the lack any real data suggesting the use of tech suits is harmful. A lot has been said about the unnecessary expense – and I agree that parents are buying those suits too frequently for many kids, especially at the 10&U ranks. However, if you read the “white paper” on the topic from the AG Development Committee (which proposed the ban), you will see that the AGDC even dispels the notion that the cost of tech suits is a real factor in the overall costs of participating in swimming. Yet, in the letter that the AGDC member distributed… Read more »

Reply to  12Volt
5 years ago

Totally agree. Support for the ban is a kneejerk reaction to the silliness of little kids swimming in expensive tech suits. It IS silly, and almost everyone agrees with that, but nobody can really give a valid reason why it shouldn’t be allowed.

Reply to  Ferb
5 years ago

Well if swimmers at a young age think that a super suit can help them with their speed, then think about when they’re older and what other tools they might use

Reply to  Dave
5 years ago

So tech suits are a “gateway” drug to doping? I say that sort of tongue in cheek as I honestly get your point Dave. While I am not for the “cost” factor as a driver in this and I’m happy to read above that it wasn’t the overwhelming discussion point during the week, I do believe that there is an issue with so many trying to “buy” speed vs. work for speed. Is that a parenting decision, absolutely, is it enough of a driver for the NGB to create legislation? I certainly don’t know, but a simple google search will show similar decisions in other NGB’s.

Reply to  12Volt
5 years ago

The article posted on Friday was the opinion of an individual… not the AGDC.

Being a part of all of the discussions and panels at convention last week, less than 10% of the conversation was about cost. For me personally, cost is about .1% of the reasoning behind this. It is about the development of the individual. Developing habits, work ethic, training plans, etc; freeing swimmers from an “artificial factor” influencing results.

All 12&Unders in the US will be under one set of rules. If you can’t swim fast without it, or if you can’t coach athletes to perform without it, figure it out, work harder, train smarter, or move on.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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