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Why Did FINA Ban Swim Caps For Natural Hair At The Olympics?

Black girl Swimming

The Olympic season is approaching. The international competition is making waves in the news for their lack of diversity.

At the end of June, Metro UK reported that the International Swimming Federation (FINA) banned the use of Soul Caps in international competitions like the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. (FINA banned the use of the caps for international competitions. Yet, the caps are allowed for “recreational and teaching purposes”).

Soul Cap is a Black-owned, British swim brand. They create swim caps that can fit over Black hairstyles like locs, braids, and afros. These swim caps have encourage more Black people to swim.

Soul Cap Ad (Photo/ Amazon)

The reasoning behind FINA’s decision to ban the swim caps is due to the fit of the swim caps. According to The Guardian, FINA stated that Soul Cap does not fit “the natural form of the head”. To further justify their decision, FINA added: to their “best knowledge, athletes competing at the International events never used, neither require to use, caps of such size and configuration”.

Only July 1, Soul Cap took to Instagram to respond to FINA’s ban of their swim caps for international competition. They wrote, “FINA’s recent dismissal could discourage many younger athletes from pursuing the sport as they progress through local, county, and national competitive swimming. We hoped to further our work for diversity in swimming by having our swim caps certified for competition, so swimmers at any level don’t have to choose between the sport they love and their hair.”

FINA received public backlash for this decision. On July 2, they released a media statement announcing they are reconsidering their decision. This could be a monumental step toward diversity in competitive swimming.

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