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FINA Exec Backs Congress; By "May 2010"

Jul 28, 2009  - Craig Lord

The FINA executive has backed Congress and will return swimming to the swimmers by returning to textile suits and by killing off the bodysuit in 2010. That's the good news. The bad news: it may be "April or May" before the rule is enforced so that suit makers have time to turn around production lines. See FINA Statement at the foot of this article for details.

The main points:

  • 1. Textile-only (definition to de delivered by experts to suit makers by Sept 30, 2009)
  • 2. Uniform permeability throughout
  • 3. Precise following of what Congress called for
  • 4. No Zippers or fasteners to be used on swimmers suits.
  • No impregnation of any kind; no coatings
  • Buoyancy limit to be set at 0.5 Newtons as interim measure before eventually moving to a 0 Newton 0 tolerance
  • Thickness of material down from 1mm to 0.8mm (with further changes if needed)

Australia and Britain have taken an isolated stance in order to appease their sponsor, Speedo: they want to keep leggings until September 2010. That will not happen. 

Julio Maglione, FINA president, and Cornel Marculescu, executive director of FINA, said that the Bureau will respect the wishes of Congress but the detail of the rules to be enforced "no later than April and certainly no later than May" 2010 would be discussed by a panel of "experts", none selected as yet, that will be led by Prof Jan-Anders Manson of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

Marculescu said that the "science" would be sought so that parameters could be set. Suit makers needed time to adjust. But the Bureau intended to deliver on the promise "April or May, no later than May", said Marculsecu.

Speedo, TYR, Arena have all indicated that they will comply and can do so, if needs be, relatively swiftly. The problem with "May 2010" is this: will the madness of Rome continue until then, with all the winter meets in between? Will the next Australian summer be swamped by mad suits? Will FINA's latest delay, for whatever reason, create more confusion and doubt among swimmers and coaches and federations?

A clean cut is what is called for - and the sooner the better. An interim measure between now and May 2010 would be easy for the Bureau to write into by-law: textile-only from September 30, as per the FINA constitution: 60 days after Congress. 

If the detail of the profile of a suit must wait, the material used must not. Get rid of the shiny plastic fantastic now. It is killing the sport, as witnessed in Rome over the past three days.

It seems that many key suit makers can turn their lines around. Perhaps Jaked cannot. Is that who we are waiting for. We hope not, after the circus we have witnessed here in Rome.


The statement in full:

On its first meeting held today in Rome (ITA), the 2009-2013 FINA Bureau fully complied with the decision of the FINA Congress, held on July 24, 2009 related with the procedure concerning swimwear approval. As it was also decided by the Congress, these rules are now By-Laws rules, which allow the Bureau to further control, update and correct any deviation to the process or to proceed with any necessary adjustment related to the development of the swimsuit technology. 

The FINA Bureau decisions on swimsuits include: 

MATERIAL “ The material of the swimsuits will definitively be constituted only by textile fabric(s). The definition of “textile” will be made by a group of scientific experts chosen by FINA and led by Prof. Jan-Anders Manson, from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne (SUI). This definition will be available to manufacturers by no later than September  30, 2009. The first definition of “textile” to be further confirmed by this group is: “Material consisting of, natural and/or synthetic, individual and non consolidated yarns used to constitute a fabric by weaving, knitting, and/or braiding.” 

SHAPE “ For men, the swimsuit shall not extend above the navel nor below the knee, and for women, shall not cover the neck, extend past the shoulder, nor extend below knee. 

Furthermore, no zippers or other fastening system is allowed. 

USE “ In the regulation approved by the Congress, the swimmer can only wear one swimsuit and no taping is allowed. 

TESTS “ Only measurable scientific tests will be performed within the frame of the swimwear approval procedure. For thickness, the 1mm limit will be adjusted to 0.8mm, for buoyancy the present value of 1 Newton will be reduced to 0.5 (FINA will even consider the limit of 0 Newton), and for permeability the material(s) used must have at any point a value of more than 80l/m2/second. Permeability values are measured on material with a standard multidirectional stretch of 25%. These parameters will be further considered by the above mentioned scientific group. 

CONSISTENCY “ Swimsuits effectively manufactured and used shall correspond to and be fully consistent with submitted samples. Any modification before use (including impregnation) is prohibited. Moreover, there shall be no variation/modification for individual swimmers. 

APPLICATION “ Considering the time needed for manufacturers to produce their swimsuits, the submission dates and the implementation of the rules are applicable from 2010 only in Swimming competitions.