USA Swimming Releases Clarifications on the Use of Tape

by Abbie Fish 5

June 20th, 2016 Club, News

On June 13th, 2016, Jay Thomas, Chair of the Rules and Regulations Committee of USA Swimming, sent out some further clarifications on USA Swimming Rule 102.8.1E; in regards to the use of Tape.

Reminder that these clarifications do not necessarily pertain to NFHS rule 3-3-4.

The use of tape has been a subject of controversy, especially after the American 800 free relay team at the 2015 Pan Am Games was disqualified for Michael Weiss taping his fingers. The relay team was eventually reinstated, as the tape was deemed “necessary for injury.”

Article 102.8.1E states that “Any kind of tape on the body is not permitted unless approved by a Referee.” Here are a few circumstances where the use of tape is generally permitted:

  1. Wound closure and protection. Band Aids, smaller dressings, and “Butterfly” type are okay. No referee notification is required for these smaller items. If a dressing is exceptionally large and/or the tape to hold a dressing completely surrounds a major limb then the referee should be notified.
  2. Buddy taping of the fingers and toes. Keep in mind no more than two fingers or toes can be taped together at a time. It is recommended that you always notify the referee in this case. 
  3. Taping of medical alert bracelets and/or religious objects. It is recommended that you always notify the referee in this case.  
  4. Taping of medical devices (i.e. insulin pumps, ostomy bags, etc.). It is recommended that you always notify the referee in this case.

    Michael Weiss, taped fingers, stock, CJT_3207

    Michael Weiss’ taped fingers nearly earned him a DQ at the 2015 Pan Am Games. Photo Courtesy: Chris Tanouye

Here are a few circumstances in which the use of tape is never permitted:

  1. Any type of Elastic Therapeutic Tape
  2. Any type of Kinesio Tape
  3. Any other type of taping that may support the muscles, ligaments, or tendons and/or provide compression to a joint that isn’t explicitly stated above as being permitted.

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Thank you for the clarification. Enough with the kinesio tape, braces, and casts. If you’re injured, you shouldn’t be competing in a meet. Heal up and then compete!


I know that this comment is from a while ago. but i am a swimmer and i occasionally wear kt tape during competitions because i have a medical condition where my shoulders dislocate when i swim. I love swimming you probably do too so i do whatever i can to swim it hurts but i love it. I am also constantly doing physical therapy and its not a matter of heal and more of just controlling it.

Sara Crowell

See I was asking bc today an official at act swimming regionals they told me to take off the tape even though it’s meant to keep my knee cap steady. My knee cap is shifting upwards bc of my hamstring muscle. And yes my physical therapist put it on.

Abigail Fish

Thanks for reading! I am glad this article gave you some clarification!

too Curious

What is the rationale behind this? I haven’t researched – are there other sports that also bans elastic taping during competition?