Swimming Suitably At The Olympics

Swimming Suitably At The Olympics

Prior to nearly 1000 swimmers entering the Olympic Village in London over the next few weeks, FINA reminded its federations, swimmers and coaches that the swimwear to be used during the 2012 London Olympic Games must be pre-approved by the FINA Swimwear Approval Commission.

Unlike in 2000 when a small number of elite athletes had custom-made full-length swimsuits made for them, or unlike in 2008 when most athletes were clamoring for the Speedo techsuits, the number of swimsuits and styles to be used in 2012 will varied.

From the traditional Speedo brand and the leading TYR and Arena brands to the upstart blueseventy, FINIS and Engine models, the swimmers will be outfitted in all kinds of attire in all kinds of color and configurations in London.

The swimsuits of the pool and open water swimmers will be visually inspected and confirmed by FINA representatives in the call room (the room where the athletes gather before parading out to the start).

According to the FINA Requirements for Swimwear Approval and the official list of the FINA Approved Swimwear, all athletes must wear swimwear that complies with the FINA BL 8 rule.

Key provisions of this rule include the following:

BL 8.2 In swimming competitions the competitor must wear only one swimsuit in one or two pieces. No additional items, like arm bands or leg bands shall be regarded as parts of a swimsuit.

BL 8.3 From January 1, 2010 swimwear for men shall not extend above the navel nor below the knee, and for women, shall not cover the neck, extend past the shoulder, nor shall extend below knee. All swimsuits shall be made from textile materials.

BL 8.4 From June 1, 2010 Open Water swimwear for both men and women shall not cover the neck, extend past the shoulder, nor shall extend below the ankle. All Open Water swimsuits shall comply with the FINA Criteria for Materials and Approval Procedures.

BL 8.5 From January 15, 2010 in Masters Pool Swimming competitions the rules BL 8.1, BL 8.2 and BL 8.3 apply. From June 1, 2010 the rule BL 8.4 applies also for the Masters Open Water competitions.

[Note to BL8.5: It is clarified that swimsuits which fulfill the shape requirement set forth in BL 8.3, respectively BL 8.4 (for Open Water Swimming) can be accepted even if they do not bear a valid FINA approval label provided they effectively and evidently fulfill the material requirements set forth in the current FINA Requirements for Swimwear Approval.

This is the case for swimsuits made of traditional permeable textile (i.e. open mesh material) material (such as cotton, Nylon, Lycra and the like) with no application of surface treatment closing the open mesh structure. In case of doubt in this respect and when notably such doubt concerns a swimsuit used at the occasion of a World record, an actual check of the swimsuit can be required from the competitor or Certifying Official and the swimsuit is to be forwarded to the FINA Office for submission to an actual control of all or parts of the requirements.]

While the swimsuits that the Olympic swimmers wear help reduce body drag, compress major muscle groups and improve swimmers’ oxygen economy, the swim caps are made to fit their head contours for maximum efficiency.

For comparison of drag efficiency in the water between swimsuits of different configurations, fit/size and materials, elite athletes occasionally use SwiMetrics to measure differences in swimming velocity while wearing different swimsuits.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones