LONDON, July 2 (Reuters) – World swimming governing body FINA announced on Friday that it would consider whether caps designed for Afro hairstyles and large hairstyles could be worn in its competitions if they did not. there was no benefit to it.
The media quoted FINA as saying that a “Soul Cap” product, designed to fit over dreadlocks, braids and afros, could not be used at the Olympics because it did not match “the natural shape of the head”.
Black swimmers are vastly outnumbered in elite swimming as the sport seeks to break down a series of socio-economic barriers.
Britain will have a black swimmer who competes in the Olympics for the first time in Tokyo with Alice Dearing qualifying for the open water marathon.
Dearing had partnered with Soul Cap to help promote greater diversity, some young black women have reportedly delayed swimming due to hair issues. The brand had criticized FINA’s reaction as disheartening.
“FINA acknowledges the comments and reactions regarding the use of ‘Soul Cap’ swim caps in FINA competitions,” the governing body said in a statement, without specifically mentioning the Olympics.
“FINA is committed to ensuring that all aquatic athletes have access to appropriate swimwear for competition where such swimwear does not confer a competitive advantage.
“FINA is currently reviewing the situation with ‘Soul Cap’ and similar products, understanding the importance of inclusiveness and representation.”
He stressed that there are no restrictions on the cap for recreational and educational purposes and said he will discuss with the manufacturer the use of the products in the FINA Development Centers, which aim to develop the potential of athletes from countries with few achievements in swimming.
“FINA expects its review of ‘Soul Cap’ and similar products to be part of broader initiatives to ensure that there are no barriers to participation in swimming, which is both a sport and a vital skill, ”he added.
The cap and goggles, along with the way the water flowing around the head interacts with the material and design of the swimsuit, are key areas of swimming technology. A looser cap would likely slow down a swimmer.
Many professional swimmers also wear an inner cap to secure the outer cap.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Ken Ferris
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