Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham
When should age group swimmers wear tech suits? In Southern California, the LSC has banned tech suits in specific situations:
“Southern California Swimming’s House of Delegates voted unanimously to prohibit the wearing of ‘Tech’ suits in Age Group competition at committee level (BRW), invitationals, dual/tri and intrasquads. ‘Tech’ suits will be permitted at Winter Age Group Invitationals (WAG), June Age Group Invitationals (JAG) and Junior Olympics (JO) meets.
The HoD also voted a ban on ‘Tech’ suits for swimmers 5-10 years old for all Southern California Swimming sanctioned meets.
The effective date for both is January 1, 2017.
The list of restricted suits may be found in the attached .pdf The list will be updated as needed.”—from the Southern California Swimming website
When I first read this new rule, I was strongly in favor of it and wrote about it here. I understand why our LSC would make this rule and I admit it used to bother me to see eight-year-olds at BRW meets wearing tech suits. It made me question whether I needed one for my young swimmer, too. I also believe too much emphasis can be placed on the “magic suit” rather than technique, going to practice regularly and effort.
I’ve heard a few other people talk about when children should wear tech suits and there doesn’t appear to be a consensus—some strongly agree—while others are against the decision. Listening to several discussions, I wonder if there should be exceptions?
One coach, who lives in an area without tech suit rules, told me that families leave their teams over suit rules. Plus, he doesn’t like playing the “suit cop” at swim meets. He lets parents and swimmers make the decision, but puts his ideals and preferences out there for everyone to know.
Another coach said he’d never dream of putting a 10-year-old in a tech suit, but then he had a young swimmer going for a NAG record. Did the swimmer get the record because of the suit? The coach said of course it wasn’t just the suit, but he believes it helped. Also, another exception would be for older age group swimmers, who don’t have JO or Sectional times. Maybe a tech suit could make the difference for them at an age group meet where they could get those cuts. But with the current SCS rules, the suits wouldn’t be allowed at BRW meets.
There are many opinions, pluses and minuses to tech suit rules. On one hand, everyone is on a level playing field and swimming is more affordable. Or, is this a decision that’s best left up to coaches, parents and swimmers—on an individual basis?
What do you think about tech suit rules for age group swimmers?
Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog: http://bleuwater.me/.