Updated September 12
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, September 11. CONTRARY to some of the discussions going around the swimming community this week, the NCAA has elected to reverse its high tech swimsuit ban voted on earlier this summer.
After another meeting of the swimming committee this week, the NCAA will now allow all suits approved by FINA for competition, but reserves the right to revisit the situation as more scientific information is found regarding the newer suits.
Currently, the NCAA states that "the committee [previously] discussed whether these suits provided an advantage for the swimmer that could be defined as illegal assistance…the committee recently determined that without any concrete evidence to the contrary, these new-technology suits will be deemed compliant for all intercollegiate competition."
Reading between the lines, there is still the chance that when the newer swimsuits undergo neutral, scientific testing to be defined as enhancing performance, that the NCAA could reinstate the moratorium.
Swimming World obtained an early look at the memo going out to NCAA members regarding the move. Here is a reprint of the complete memo:
TO: Directors of Athletics, Conference Commissioners and Head Men's and
Women's Swimming and Diving Coaches of NCAA Institutions that
Sponsor Swimming and Diving.
FROM: Tracy Huth, chair
NCAA Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Committee
Sue Petersen Lubow, secretary-rules editor
NCAA Swimming and Diving Committee.
SUBJECT: New-Technology Swim Suits.
The NCAA Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Committee has decided to allow all new-technology suits approved by FINA (the international governing body for swimming) to be worn in intercollegiate competition including NCAA championships. The committee did not allow the new suits to be worn for the 2008 championships this past March.
At its July annual meeting, the committee discussed whether these suits provided an advantage for the swimmer that could be defined as illegal assistance. At the time of the annual meeting, the committee did not have any scientific evidence on this matter. The committee recently determined that without any concrete evidence to the contrary, these new-technology suits will be deemed compliant for all intercollegiate competition.
The committee will continue to monitor and stay abreast of this topic and reserves the right to change or modify its determination on this matter, as warranted in its discretion by future developments. The committee also will seek to collaborate with FINA and USA swimming on this matter, as well as on other issues of importance to the swimming and diving community.
cc: Selected NCAA Staff Members
The American Swimming Coaches Association and the College Swimming Coaches Association of America have since responded to the NCAA's 180 turn on the issue.
ASCA Executive Director John Leonard
It is a typically conservative, scared-of-the-wind decision by a bunch of lawyers and completely the wrong decision for our sport. And it likely will cost us a couple more college programs who can't afford another $13-15,000 budget item. Disgraceful.
CSCAA Executive Director Phil Whitten
The NCAA's decision comes as no surprise given, for example, just the issue of policing who is wearing which suit at meets all around the world.
Still, at a minimum, we would like to have seen the NCAA address the cost issue. As things stand now, it is those schools with limited budgets – particularly in Divisions II and III — that are most likely to be impacted by this decision.
We would like to see the major swim suit manufacturers — Speedo, TYR, Nike, Aqua Zone, Diana and adidas, among others — find ways to reduce prices significantly.
In the long run, the world swimming community must demand that FINA establish reasonable standards for "flotation" and "performance-enhancing" — both of which are proscribed by FINA, as well as USA Swimming and the NCAA – and appoint and fund an independent testing company to test all new suits before they are permitted to be used in competition. Right now, FINA is the only governing body that does not have an independent testing and evaluation process in place,