So I heard the news this morning… FINA has decided that legal suits for Masters swimmers are gonna go back in time with a retroactive decision, because really why make the decision before the due date if you don’t have to? And I mean really isn’t it obvious… the only way to get to the future of the sport is to go back in time a decade or so and try over. Boo.

So anyways, FINA (finally) decided that in the pool Masters will be held to the same suit standards as the elite crowd. That standard being textile jammers for men and short-johns for women. As things are worded on FINA’s website, there’s no mention of any compromises that USMS asked for like zippers to accommodate older, less mobile swimmers. We get the exact same rules. Personally I don’t like this decision, and I have a gut feeling that bodysuits will make a comeback in a few years and all this banning and posturing will have been a huge waste of time and money.

There’s one last major decision left in this whole mess and that’s Short Course Yards season. Here in America we don’t care much for the metric system hence SCY season. No one else in world really has much to do with yards so what we do during SCY season has no impact on FINA Masters World Records or World Top Ten Times. USMS has been hanging back waiting for FINA to actually make a decision regarding us… now that it’s finally happened it’s up to USMS to decide when we cut over to the new rules. Personally I’d like to finish 2010′s SCY season with tech suits since 1)it’s already started 2)it doesn’t do any harm to the rest of the world.

The one bright spot I saw in all of this is that FINA looks like they’re going to continue to allow body suits in open water competition. They’re going to tighten the material rules, but the suit cut is going to remain ok. This makes sense to me because more coverage give more protection from sun, jellyfish, and other things floating in the water… plus there’s no world records in open water because each swim is different each time.

I’m going to keep my eyes and ears open for anything from USMS on the issue and post it as soon as it happens! So for right now the short version is:

Body Suits + Meters = Illegal
Body Suits + Yards = Not Illegal Yet
Body Suits + Open Water = Legal

**20JAN10 UPDATE** USMS has decided to keep tech suits legal in Short Course Yards until June 1st, 2010! Read more here

7 Responses to “Suit Debacle – FINA Masters Decision Edition”

  1. Tony Austin says:

    No, tech suits may be illegal after June 2010 for open water! Again FINA can't figure out how to make a definitive statement:

    * After June 1, 2010 open water swimsuits worn in competition must comply with the FINA Criteria for Materials and Approval Procedures.

    * Until June 1, 2010, the 2009 swimsuits can be used in order to protect the athlete from sunburn, jellyfish and other natural elements and marine life

  2. Henry Halff says:

    Nice to know that jellyfish, sun, and marine life will not be problems after June 1.

  3. Rob D says:

    Am I the only person that reads it as bodysuits remaining ok after June 1st?

    "14. Swimwear:
    - Open Water: 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. Until June 2010, the 2009 models can be used in order to protect the athlete from sunburn, jellyfish etc."

    The way I understand it FINA is going to make some kind of material rules for post 1JUN10 but keep the bodysuit shape.

  4. SwimCoachTools says:

    Yeah, I definitely read it as though the length will still be ok, but the materials will be corrected. My assumption is that this was to protect Open Water swimmers who had already sunk a lot of money into suits for this season.

    It would've been nice for them to provide the same courtesy to the rest of us, but I guess for pool swimmers, the new suits are relatively inexpensive, whereas for Open Water swimmers, if they were going to have to buy another full body suit for protection, it would've been another big investment.

  5. Swimming for ME says:

    Thanks for figuring it all out. Maybe I'll stick to non-USMS open water swims. This is all getting so ridiculous. In Maine we are lucky if the water temp gets above 60 in the summer.

  6. Steve says:

    It also sounds like “for both Men and Women…nor shall extend below the ankle.” means that legskins will still be legal for the rest of the summer (until September probably). Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

    Thanks in advance


  7. Rob D says:

    Steve – USMS has since put out that in open water we shouldn’t expect any rule changes in 2010. So legskins and bodysuits should be legal for USMS open water swims all year.