The results of the study into tech suits in age group swimming commissioned by USA Swimming will be made public in early February, USA Swimming tells SwimSwam. When the study was first announced in August, USA Swimming said that a final report was due in November. Now, USA Swimming says that the results of the study, conducted by Isaac Sports Group, will be discussed at the February 3rd USA Swimming Board meeting “after some initial conversations with (the) Age Group Development Committee.”
The study was commissioned after several LSC’s, the local governing units of USA Swimming, started implementing policies to ban ‘tech suits’ for certain age groups. Among the highest profile was the hotbed of Southern California, though others like Maine and Arkansas have also implemented such bans.
When announced, USA Swimming said that among the topics covered in the report would be:
- 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
Those in favor of a ban often cite preferring to focus on technique rather than technology for swimmers at a young age, which they suspect will lead to improved long-term development. Others have also cited ‘leveling the playing field’ for different economic groups and making the sport more accessible to all.
Opponents of the ban feel that it is an overreach by USA Swimming, jumping into matters of how parents should best spend money on their children, and violating the athletes’ rights to use a suit that is approved everywhere else in the world. Swimming World Magazine publisher Brent Rutemiller even went so far as to suggest in an editorial last week that suit companies might pursue legal action against USA Swimming (which would result in them suing an organization that would pay for its defense with dollars received from, among other places, those very same suit companies).