USA Swimming bans high-tech suits

USA Swimming has voted to ban high-tech swim suits three months before the sport's world governing body is expected to do the same.

USA Swimming has voted to ban high-tech, full-body swim suits three months before the sport's world governing body is expected to do the same.

More than 400 delegates representing swim clubs from all 50 states at USA Swimming's annual convention in Chicago voted overwhelmingly Saturday for early implementation of a ban.

The ban goes into effect Oct. 1 and affects all suits worn in USA Swimming-sanctioned meets.

Beginning next month, suits must be made from woven fabrics, not polyurethane. And men's suits cannot extend above the navel nor below the knees, while women's suits cannot cover the neck, extend past the shoulder or below the knee.

Swimming Canada also got a jump on new suit rules. The national swim organization announced earlier this week that, effective Sept. 1, all suits worn in Swimming Canada-sanctioned competitions in the country must conform with FINA swimwear "guidelines" that come into effect Jan. 1, 2010.

High-tech suits aid buoyancy and have led to record-breaking performances — including more than 130 new world records since February. The trend began with the Speedo LZR Racer and has continued with attire produced by companies like Arena and Jaked, which have suits that are 100 per cent polyurethane.

FINA is expected to implement a ban for international competition on Jan. 1.

"Our membership has sent a clear message that it wanted this action taken sooner rather than later," USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus said. "We hope that this action will put the emphasis back where it belongs — on our athletes, their training and hard work."

The NCAA is placing restrictions on high-tech suits in college competition similar to USA Swimming's ban, while the National Federation of State High School Associations has already banned such suits in competition.