Following the path of technical racing suit banning rolled out for young swimmers within the United States, Australia and other nations, two of New Zealand’s largest regional swimming governing bodies have now issued a tech suit rule. Swimming Canterbury West Coast and Auckland Swimming are banning technical suits for swimmers aged 12 and under.
Debbie Rahurahu, the administrator at Swimming Canterbury West Coast, explains the thought process behind the clubs’ decision, saying, “The suits are designed for top flight Olympic world champion athletes … they’re not designed for 12 year olds and under with developing bodies who are competing at local club meets. (NZ Radio)
“It’s almost become a parental arms race, where parents are bowing to the pressure as well as the kids because the kids see their teammates racing in one of those suits that they’ve seen their idols racing in.”
Instead, the New Zealand clubs think that 1- an- unders should be ‘concentrating on technique, their fitness and their own abilities while growing their confidence in the water.’
Swimming West Australia announced a similar ban back in December, which went into effect May 1st. Swimming WA implemented the prohibitive rule in the interests of athlete development and retention, saying the banning the technical suits outside of specifically named competitions is another initiative to ‘remove competitive pressure on young swimmers at a crucial development phase of their swimming journey.’ Kids are allowed to wear the expensive suits at designated Australian championship meets.
In late 2017, USA Swimming commissioned the Isaac Sports Group to review various policies on tech suit use in age group swimming. The results of the review were informally made public through Board of Directors meeting minutes in March 2018, and revealed that the Age Group Committee favored some form of restriction, though the exact logistics have yet to be released.
Per SwimSwam’s latest report on the subject, USA Swimming’s Board of Directors was expected to vote earlier this month on a proposal that would ban the use of tech suits for 12-and-unders, except at high-level meets.
However, after hearing a progress report on the proposal, the board agreed to move the measure forward in the approval process without a vote. According to USA Swimming’s Chief Marketing Officer Matt Farrell, the organization’s rules of procedure do not require a board ballot on the issue.
The Age Group Committee will instead submit the proposal directly to USA Swimming’s house of delegates, which will conduct the final vote when it convenes in September.
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