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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Lian Las Pinas
3 years ago

High tech suit ban to be lifted soon – FINA

NM Official
Reply to  Lian Las Pinas
3 years ago

Since USA Swimming has to comply with FINA on just about everything, this new rule does not make sense unless FINA mandates the same rule for all countries.

12Volt
3 years ago

Does anyone yet know what is meant by “woven fabric”? Plain English reading of that would seem to include poly or Lycra, would it not?

12Volt
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

A little disconcerting though, isn’t it, that no one can readily explain the meaning of that term which is essential to the definition of tech suit?

It's ok, theres time
Reply to  12Volt
3 years ago

They have till 2020. Plenty of time to make sure they get all the fabrication details in order and blanket release all the not allowed brands/types.

JaS
Reply to  12Volt
3 years ago

That second part of the definition is troubling – my son would probably quit swimming if he has to give up jammers for briefs (I imagine there are a lot of boys – and perhaps many girls) that prefer the knee length simply due to feeling embarrassed in briefs. Most of the boys at the meets we attend swim in jammers…

He’s fast, but not qualifying for sectionals – and certainly, as a parent of 4, we aren’t springing for tech suits for our 9 year old. I’m sure that any jammers costing $20-$30 are *not* woven fabric, but how is any judge/referee able to tell among several hundred kids walking around…

Hopefully this is clarified – all my kids… Read more »

Sccoach
3 years ago

I’m ok with it. I do think they should be allowed to wear them at sectionals. It’s the main upper level senior meet that fast 12 year olds do qualify for. So yeah that’s kind of not fair that everyone at that meet can wear tech suits except the 12 year olds.

CoachSheppard
Reply to  Sccoach
3 years ago

The time standards for sectionals are not uniform across the country.

frizzaly
Reply to  CoachSheppard
3 years ago

Or create “tech suit time standards” so that any meet with qualification faster than a certain point allows 12 & unders to wear tech suits in order to add a bit of uniformity

micah
Reply to  frizzaly
3 years ago

I understand where you are coming from, but that would add another level of time standards to be managed. I personally see no problem in just including Sectionals. Easy to manage.

Justin Wright
Reply to  Sccoach
3 years ago

Maybe they could make an amendment at some point before the changes go into effect.

Something like, “If a 12&U qualifies for a certian level event, then they will be allowed to compete using a tech suit.”?

Maybe that could solve what seems to be peoples biggest complaint. Regardless, my two cents is that I don’t think many swimmers would end up in such a situation. And even if they did, how many are competitive enough at that level to the point that a tech suit would really even matter??

50free
3 years ago

Depending on the definition of “woven fabric” it almost sounds like 12yearolds are forced to wear speedos/briefs

12Volt
Reply to  50free
3 years ago

Agree. Is the definition trying to draw a distinction between knit and woven fabrics? Don’t know my fabric construction well enough, but is the spandex/poly/blended fabric that most ordinary practice jammers are made from a “knit” (not “woven”) fabric?

Old_coach_older_swimmer
Reply to  12Volt
3 years ago

It 100% reads that way. Are we actively trying to keep young boys from coming into the sport?

12Volt
Reply to  Old_coach_older_swimmer
3 years ago

Although I think this ban is silly and unnecessary for several reasons, I really have no horse in this race – my boys are each well past age 12. But, it will be interesting to see what the unintended consequences of the ban will be.

CoachSheppard
Reply to  Old_coach_older_swimmer
3 years ago

You should read the FAQ on the USA swimming website. This ban does not prohibit jammers at the 12 & Under level. The vast majority of suits are made of knit material, not woven ones. Knit is similar to a lycra practice suit, or aquablade. Woven is most techincal suits like the lzr, arena carbon, etc. hold your judgment until actual information comes out or you find the information already posted. SwimSwam should post the FAQ info so people have it, but USA Swimming and suit companies will begin an educational push in the near future to dispel this misunderstanding.

JimSwim22
Reply to  50free
3 years ago

When and knitted r 2 different types of fabric. Google it and u will see the difference. Woven fabrics can be much much tighter weaves then knitted ones.

frizzaly
Reply to  50free
3 years ago

and on the girl’s side, it sounds like seamed, legless tech suits like the arena powerskin st and the speedo lzr racer pro may still be allowed

Nswim
3 years ago

The YMCA national meet is for 12 and overs specifically. So there really isn’t a major need for the policy there, but as a y swimmer, i would feel discouraged if I couldn’t wear a tech suit at that meet already being one of the youngest there

Mark
3 years ago

The ban is effective immediately. Not September 1, 2020.

Allen
Reply to  Mark
3 years ago

Wrong…. just plain wrong

BBQ Billy
3 years ago

I suspect an enforcement nightmare is about to begin. The backlash of parents who just shelled-out big bucks for one of these suits will likely be ‘unpleasant’. I feel sorry for the local USA/LSC Officials charged with enforcement.

Justin Wright
Reply to  BBQ Billy
3 years ago

Shouldn’t be that hard. As long as clubs can effectivly communicate the change, two years is easily enough time to use tech suits that have already been bought.

It didn’t seem like that hard of an enforcment issue post-supersuit era.

Swimmom
Reply to  BBQ Billy
3 years ago

A few of the higher level teams in my children’s LSC have already implemented these rules. Thr team my children just transferred to for as long as my kids have been swimming(5yrs) 12&unders could only wear an aquablade and they have relaxed the team rules but at one time 13&older could not wear a tech suit until you earned a sectional cut. I was always amazed and impressed how fast their girls swam just wearing an aquablade at the LSC champion meet. At this age it’s not about suit. At age 11 my daughter has nothing to compress.

NM Official
Reply to  Swimmom
3 years ago

My daughter’s coach saved me a lot of $ by not allowing her to wear a knee skin until she was close to 13.

Mark
3 years ago

My bad, it takes effect September 1, 2020

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. 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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