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Swimsuits: new rules and the end of the story

Following the news feature, ‘FINA's rulings on swimsuits’ in Sports Technology 2 (1–2): 2–3 in 2009, we present the final regulations for swimwear approval.

‘From January 1st 2010 swimwear for men shall not extend above the navel nor below the knee, and for women, shall not cover the neck, extend past the shoulder, nor shall extend below knee. All swimsuits shall be made from textile materials’ [1].

The material must be a ‘textile fabric’ manufactured by ‘weaving, knitting, and/or braiding’. Any surface treatment for the purpose of coating, printing, or impregnation must not close the fabric's open mesh structure and must allow for air permeability. The material must be flat; outstanding structures such as scales are not allowed.

The minimum thickness of the material (not applicable to seams) must be equal or less than 0.8 mm (±0.1 mm), determined at a pressure of 1±0.01 kPa.

The buoyancy force of the whole suit must be equal or less equal or less than 0.5±0.1 N after folding the suit to a ball, fixing it below the grid, which is submerged by 30 mm, and attached to a force transducer. The buoyancy force is measured after applying and releasing a vacuum pressure (100 mbar).

The permeability of the material must be equal or higher than 80 l m−2 s−1 (±5%) with the fabric stretched multidirectionally by 25%.

Swimsuits must be submitted to FINA for approval.

The list of FINA-approved swimwear is available at http://www.fina.org/project/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2768&Itemid=49.

Increased permeability and reduced thickness prevent artificial buoyancy. The latter lifts the body out of the water, thereby reducing energy loss through hydrodynamic drag, and thus increasing speed, as seen in the impressive number of world records broken since 2008.

Reference

[1] FINA, 2009. FINA requirements for swimwear approval (regulation valid for swimwear to be used from January 1, 2010). Available: http://www.fina.org/project/docs/rules/SWIMWEAR_APPROVAL_from_01012010.pdf [accessed December 2009].

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