Tuesday, August 11, 2009

High-tech suits banned in prep swimming

High-tech swimsuits that have been linked to record performances at all levels of competition the past couple of years have been banned for high school competition, effective immediately.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Swimming and Diving Rules Committee approved changes to Rule 3-2-2 that will make the high-tech swimsuit no longer a legal suit for swimmers at the high school level. The committee's recommendations were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

Swimmers shall be limited to one swimsuit, which shall be constructed of a woven/knit textile material, permeable to water and air, constructed so as not to aid in buoyancy, and shall not contain zippers or other fastening systems.

In addition, the suit shall be constructed so that the style/shape for males shall not extend above the waist or below the top of the kneecap and for females shall not extend beyond the shoulders or below the top of the kneecap, and it shall not cover the neck.

"These high-tech suits had fundamentally altered the sport and become more similar to equipment, rather than a uniform," said Becky Oakes, NFHS assistant director and liaison to the Swimming and Diving Rules Committee.

"The rules of swimming have always prohibited the use or wearing of items that would aid in the swimmer's speed and/or buoyancy. The technical suits and styles had evolved to a point where there was little, if any, compliance with these basic rules."

The committee discussed the high-tech swimsuit issue at its meeting in March, but did not have enough factual information to take action at that time.