Update: Minutes after posting, USA Swimming emailed SwimSwam to tell us that “the report recently went to the suit manufacturers for review and discussion.” We asked when the report would be made available to the public, and will update when we receive a response.
While USA Swimming as an organization has been battling with a renewed national focus on allegations of a cover-up of sexual abuse by member coaches, an unrelated key date has come and gone with still no report from the national governing body for aquatic sports in the U.S. The 3rd-party tech-suit study, which is originally due in November, and then promised for membership in February after “some initial conversations with (the) Age Group Development Committee” at its meeting on February 3rd, has still not been released.
The study, led by former industry-executive Stu Isaac, was to look at the issue of tech suits for young USA Swimming members, and whether or not USA Swimming should enact a national policy on the matter. Several LSCs, including Southern California, Maine, and Arkansas, have instituted local moratoriums on suits for swimmers of a certain age (usually 11 or 12 years and younger).
SwimSwam asked USA Swimming for an update on the report on March 1st, and a spokesperson said that they would check and get back to us with an update. SwimSwam checked again on March 10th, and this time did not receive a response from the organization.
USA Swimming said when the study was commissioned that the review would look at the following things:
- 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).