New proposals from FINA could ban the use of all costumes – and swimming hats and goggles – from competition. A committee tasked with looking at accessibility to swimming has concluded that the rising cost of technical racing costumes and their limited lifespan is making swimming competition prohibitively expensive to people from poorer communities.
“It can’t be right that your chances of winning a swimming race depend on your bank balance. The fastest person through the water should win, not the one with the most advanced swimming costume,” says a spokesperson for FINA. “Participants in the original Olympics wrestled naked. We don’t see why swimmers today shouldn’t compete today on such undisputable equal terms. The trouble with swimming costumes now is the difficulty in determine which ones provide a competitive advantage and which ones don’t. If we remove costumes completely, this uncertainty is gone.”
The new ruling would not affect recreational swimming or apply to under 18s but would be implemented in masters swimming costumes and in open water events.
“Wetsuits are even more expensive than racing costumes and making them compulsory in water temperatures below 18 degrees has effectively blocked a lot of people from open water swimming. FINA has come under a lot of criticism for its rulings on wetsuits. We now believe the easiest way to remove the controversy is for all competitors to swim as nature intended,” says the FINA report.
The draft report does not address the difficult issue of how under and over 18s would be able to compete in the same events. Under 18s currently take part in the Olympics and World Championship events and the implication is that the new ruling will in effect limit international competition to adults.
Asked why swimming hats and goggles will also be banned, FINA says that: “you would look pretty foolish if you where naked except for a hat and goggles. We think it’s far simpler to ban everything.”
The CSA, CS&PF, BLDSA and other swimming organisations are looking at the FINA report and considering its implications for their swims.
If the proposals are approved they will come into action from 1 April 2019.