Soul Cap Petition to FINA Nears 5,000 Signatures SOUL CAP XL Credit: Soul Cap
Photo Courtesy: Soul Cap

A growing petition is asking FINA to reverse the ban on a Soul Cap swimming cap that was created to cover the hair of young Black swimmers. The petition currently has nearly 5,000 signatures.

The company makes swimming caps to fit over and protect dreadlocks, Afros, weaves, hair extensions, braids, and thick and curly hair. The company recently said that the international governing body for swimming rejected an application for their caps to be certified for use at competitions, claiming that the caps don’t follow “the natural form of the head.”

“Young black swimmers are ‘disappointed and heartbroken’ by a decision to ban a swimming cap from the Olympics that’s made to cover their hair,” said petition starter, Sabrina Thompson Mitchell. “It is 2021. No one has time to support racist and biased bans such as this.”

FINA has already received criticism and backlash for this decision, claiming racial bias, and said that they are reviewing the cap.

From FINA:

FINA is committed to ensuring that all aquatics athletes have access to appropriate swimwear for competition where this swimwear does not confer a competitive advantage. FINA is currently reviewing the situation with regards to “Soul Cap” and similar products, understanding the importance of inclusivity and representation. 

There is no restriction on “Soul Cap” swim caps for recreational and teaching purposes. FINA appreciates the efforts of “Soul Cap” and other suppliers to ensure everyone has the chance to enjoy the water. FINA will also speak with the manufacturer of the “Soul Cap” about utilising their products through the FINA Development Centres.

FINA expects to make its consideration of “Soul Cap” and similar products part of wider initiatives aimed at ensuring there are no barriers to participation in swimming, which is both a sport and a vital life skill.

Read the full petition here.

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11 months ago

Will someone ask the owners or directors of Soul Cap when their product was rejected.
Afterwhich ask them if they could have modified the cap for use at the Olympics?

If they did not make any modifications to the Cap in a year ask them why.

Also ask if the marketing strategy was to play on tensions in the world at this time or are they really interested in having a cap used at the elite level.

Also ask elite black level female swimmers if they would use the product in its current form in an important meet.

This is not a social justice issue this is a marketing strategy by a company that wants to sell their product.

11 months ago

You seem like you’re interested in finding out information, which is good, but reveal in your final sentence you’ve already made up your mind? That isn’t very logical, and you’re going to be pretty red in the face when FINA overturn their decision and Alice Dearing wears a Soul Cap in the olympics 😉 There’s so, so much I want to respond to in your message but I’ll just say this:
1. How are you supposed to modify a cap to fit the “natural” shape of the head (i.e. grip the skull) AND allow room for afro hair? These are mutually exlusive.
2. Racism is not just “tensions in the world at this time”. Racism has never gone away; we have never had a post-race utopia.
3. Even if all of your cynicism is true and this is just a marketing strategy, it is an illogical leap to say that that excludes this from being a social justice issue. The fact that mainstream brands do not cater to afro hair is a social justice issue because it is yet another barrier that works to exclude black people. Soul Cap shouldn’t have to exist because speedo should already be making afro caps. But they don’t. So it does. And whatever alleged marketing strategy it uses to allegedly promote the fact that it has to exist doesn’t make the fact that it has to exist in the first place any less of a social justice issue.

Julie Byrd
11 months ago

Why are you actively trying to exclude black people? This is racism plain and simple.

11 months ago
Reply to  Julie Byrd

I am not actively trying to exclude black people. I went beyond the headlines of what Soul Cap has been putting out in a very savvy media campaign. I asked questions and got answers about the presentation of their product and why it was rejected and their follow up actions. asked if this will prevent black persons from learning how to swim. I asked black female swimmers from the age group level to Olympic finalists about the product. They said in its current form it just covers hair, swimmers at the elite level would not use it because of the drag and they agree with FINA that in its current form Soul Cap is not for serious swimmers. It is a marketing strategy being used by a company to get maximum exposure right before the Olympics not social justice.

11 months ago

I fail to see the reason for disallowing some female swimming caps at the Olympics. The cap shown in the photograph would most likely slow the swimmer down.