Tech Suits For 12-Under Banned by USA Swimming, Except Junior National Qualifiers

Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

USA Swimming voted to ban the use of tech suits by 12-and-younger swimmers on Saturday at the United States Aquatic Sports (USAS) Convention in Jacksonville, Florida.

The board made one amendment to the decision, to allow the use of tech suits to 12-and-younger swimmers who have qualified for the USA Junior National Championships or the National Championships.

The rule goes into effect on Sept. 1, 2020.

The use of tech suits by younger swimmers has been debated for years as coaches and officials worked to figure out what was best for youth athletes.

A technical racing swimsuit, or tech suit, is a specialized swimsuit designed with bonded/meshed seams or kinetic tape. In simpler terms, tech suits don’t even appear to have seams – coaches often tell swimmers that if they can pinch the side of their tech suit, it isn’t tight enough.

(Note:  WOVEN FABRIC – A suit with woven fabric and sewn seams that does not extend below the hips is permitted.)

(Note:  KNIT FABRIC – A suit with knit fabric and sewn seams not extending below the knees is permitted.)

On top of that, tech suits have water-repellent properties that add little textile weight and help the swimmer cut right through the water. The conforming carbon fiber cage (and other approved textiles) gives the biggest performance benefit: compression. Extreme muscle compression streamlines the body in order to reduce drag, thus leading to greater improvements in performance.

The cost of tech suits can range anywhere from $90-500. In contrast to most standard nylon or polyester swimsuits that remain functional each and every practice throughout multiple seasons, a tech suit’s compression and water-repellent properties begin to noticeably deteriorate after one or two big meets, depending on how many times it’s worn. The more times the suit is worn, the more it stretches out and the repellent properties degrade. Rather than being worn for every meet of the season, tech suits are often saved for big championship meets or when trying to qualify for one.

At the same time, however, it’s not even clear how much of a difference wearing a tech suit makes at that young of an age. The majority of studies on the drag reduction of tech suits were done using post-adolescents whose physically mature bodies likely found greater benefits from the compression the suits provide. This ambiguity makes the $300-500 entry-level fee for championship meet competition seem even more ludicrous at those ages.

USA Swimming contributed to this report.
130 Comments

130 comments

  1. Laura Fox

    I’m very interested to see how this plays out

  2. Cheryl Killilea

    Wow very interesting- James Killilea –

  3. Laura Malfitano

    Therese Fields look what popped up today

  4. Craig Meledick

    Is there a list of suits that are banned?

    • Wade Heggie

      If it has a FINA label on the hip, then it will be banned.

    • Craig Meledick

      It’s effective 2020, so no issue

  5. Mary Dunnigan Crow

    Well, that will save us all some money ! Not that my 12-year-old has ever had a “real” tech suit.ha ha

    • avatar
      Charlotte

      YingFa makes a tech suit under $50.

  6. Felicia Ross

    Amy Drueck Kingan, this is going to save you some $$$!!! Wish they’d implemented it 10 years ago!

    • Elizabeth Prince

      Not until 2020, right?? Trey and Charlie will be over 12 by then😁

    • avatar
      Charlotte

      True, most top teams dont allow 12 & Under to wear texh suits anyway.

  7. Scott Osborn

    When does this go into effect. Sucks if you’ve already spent the money and now they can’t even use it.

    • Andrew Webber

      Scott Osborn Nahhh, use them in training during fast sets, you’ll get more benefits than one hit on race day

      • avatar

        … and ruin your expensive piece of bling in one or two workouts …
        A tiny bit of extra speed may help a tiny bit with form and power, but that’s it. The one thing the top coaches agree on is this, “if my swimmers work harder than your swimmers, they will beat your swimmers.” Teeny, tiny improvements with no extra work certainly do not warrant the cost of a tech suit. Being happy, doing your best, mentally not defeating yourself and getting enough sleep (to name a few), these are things an athlete needs so they can get the work done in the pool.
        Tech Suits not on the list.

        Tech Suits are so you don’t feel stupid when you miss that National or International medal by 0.01 seconds.

    • avatar
      Melynda Wyatt

      Yep! I broke down and let my daughter get one under the condition that she understood the suit won’t help her swimming that it was up to her. At least it does not take effect until 2020, by then she won’t be able to wear it anyways. She will never make jr. Nationals championships.

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      It goes into effect in 2020. I’m sure what you bought will be used by 2020

  8. Courtney Francis Dunn

    I wish they would have allowed Sectional qualifiers to wear one.

  9. avatar
    Rod

    This doesn’t make a lot of sense and will have repercussions (demotivating swimmers from continuing to train).

    Equipment is a critical component to every sport. Should we prevent ice hockey players from getting fast skates and light pads? Same for football, baseball, ballet, you name it.

    These tech suits are especially helpful (my opinion based on experience) for the female swimmers whose body types might not be the slim and slender type.

    So if a swimmer makes a junior national cut, they can prance around at their meets in a tech suit? The referees are going to have to look up and verify times for each swimmer for each competition?

    Will be interesting to see if the numbers of young swimmers who stay long term decline over the next few years.

    • avatar
      Brad Isham

      Ironically any 12 year old who has qualified for junior nationals will know hard work is more important than the suit and only suit up two or three times a year

  10. Pamela Beach

    Oh please! It’s the swimmer, not the suit!

    • Darcy Hein

      Stacy Ruckhaber Yep…I was just taking to Nichole Hand ProszekNichole about it. Should be parent decision.

  11. Karen Carter

    Changes not effective until Sept 1 2020

  12. avatar
    Anonymous

    Finally!!!!

  13. Ali Richman

    I was under impression it was immediate. Where did you see sept 2020?

  14. Heidi Strash

    Good! Silly for young swimmers to use them anyway.

  15. Karolyn Steadman Gardner

    Long overdue!! I even think this ban should be increased to 13-14 age group.

  16. Kathy Voelker

    9/2020, individual LSCs are able to vote an earlier time.

    Tech suits are any woven suit that
    falls below mid thigh, or any length suit with bonded seams. I’m not sure how this applies to jammers? Are jammers woven?

    • Julie Tellier

      Good Question! So boys can no longer wear jammers of any kind at a meet??

    • Helen Salcedo Garcia

      Jammers are fine-
      it’s not about the cut or style of the suit, rather the material they are made of. So all Lycra suits are fine including jammers 👍🏽

    • Wade Heggie

      If it has the FINA label on the hip, then it will be banned.

  17. Frederic Robin

    I like this. Tech suit business is too much. Too expensive

  18. Daniel Rodda

    I personally think they should be banned all together. It gives an advantage to people with more money. You shouldn’t have to drop hundreds of dollars on a suit to be competitive. Just my two cents.

  19. Csongor Bibza

    Shame on you commies at USA swimming

  20. Thor Larson

    I think it’s ridiculous for a NGB to intervene or interject itself in a free market decision by telling people what they can and can’t buy for their kids. In my opinion, they should publish data on the “benefit” of these suits and let parents make their own decisions. If the data shows that a “tech” suit might improve a swimmer’s 50 or 100 by 10/100s of a second, then let the parents decide whether it’s worth spending $100s. Once parents had the data they would most likely never buy these suits. For USAS to start becoming a nanny state is ridiculous.

    • Charlotte Cusachs Bujoreanu

      Most top teams already ban them for 12&U. The studies show no advantage without the speed of a Jr. Nat or National swimmer.
      There are rules in every sport on equipment…this is no different.

    • Thor Larson

      Charlotte Cusachs Bujoreanu then leave it up to teams, or parents, or coaches, or perhaps, the most important person, the consumer. We don’t need an NGB acting as a nanny state, consumers should decide what’s best based on the data/information. Put the data front-and-center instead of an NGB deciding they know better.

    • Charlotte Cusachs Bujoreanu

      Thor Larson its a rule…and a waste of money. The smallest tech suit size is a 22 and to even work, most 12&U boys would need an 18 or 20. Too many times there are kids wearing $300-$500 suits that are too big and are actually worse than their team suit in a race.
      There are just some things younger athletes dont need, tech suits and composite bats.
      Your mentality about sports is the reason the US Soccer team didnt even make the World Cup this year. Money cant buy true talent…and neither can a tech suit for a kid under 12.

    • Thor Larson

      Charlotte Cusachs Bujoreanu but it should be the parent of the children to decide what they will and will not buy. Creating a rule to “protect” people from spending too much money is ridiculous because it assumes people are either stupid or helpless so USAS needs to make the decision for them. USAS has crossed the line and is trying to be the moral authority on parent’s spending habits. We don’t need Big Brother tell consumers what to buy with their money. If USAS were to require suit companies to but something about how “beneficial,” like “this suit has been proven to reduce drag by ‘x-amount’ resulting in ‘x-tenths’ of a second improvement over ‘x’ distance,” then the consumer would have better information to make a decision on whether to spend $100s on a suit. I do not think parents of young athletes would buy these suits if they had the facts. But give them the facts and let them decide.

    • Charlotte Cusachs Bujoreanu

      Thor Larson there are some things that should not always be consumer driven. In every successful nation there are regulations that protect people. USA swimming is taking the choice away and saving parents thousands of dollars. This is done in every sport and long overdo for swimming. Now, the swimmer, coaches and parents can concentrate on the swim. The children impacted are age group athletes…and does not affect the consumer driven society for those talented enough to wear a tech suit. If the kids and parents want their child to wear a tech suit then all they need is a Jr. Nat time. If they don’t earn that right, then a regular suit is it.

    • Thor Larson

      Charlotte Cusachs Bujoreanu we don’t need a socialist governing body. They should stay out of the business of thinking what’s best for people. It’s insulting to people and I hope it backfires on USAS

  21. avatar
    Melynda Wyatt

    I disagree with the decision. I can understand 10 and under. It is not the suit that makes the swimmer. I explained this to my daughter when I let her get one. It is my decision as to whether or not I buy one. My biggest gripe about this, at least the swimmer is modestly covered up, unlike some of these teenage girls walking around with high cut suits and basically looking like a thong. I do not want to see their asses hanging out! Why don’t they ban those suits? So now a swimmer can only wear a tech suit at jr. Nationals? I thought at least at Southeasterns since that is a high stake meet.

  22. avatar
    Thor

    I think it’s ridiculous for a NGB to intervene or interject itself in a free market decision by telling people what they can and can’t buy for their kids. In my opinion, they should publish data on the “benefit” of these suits and let parents make their own decisions. If the data shows that a “tech” suit might improve a swimmer’s 50 or 100 by 10/100s of a second, then let the parents decide whether it’s worth spending $100s. Once parents had the data they would most likely never buy these suits. For USAS to start becoming a nanny state is ridiculous.

  23. Roy E. Robertson

    I believe that these Tech suits are ruining the sport. All the old records are being matched or broken because of them. Go back to the brief suit and then watch the old records stand !

  24. Joseph Kittle

    What is the reason for the change? There is no reason to take it away. And don’t start creating a double standard for a sport that allows for all to succeed. Not every kid is going to make Junior national so that means you start telling them since they are not good enough they can’t have the fancy suit. Please don’t take the sport out of the only true sport that allows everyone to succeed.

  25. Glennon Eights

    Giannon Lisandro Eights Dylan Matthew Wouters Randy Arends Tyrine De Kort Francisco Goedgedrag

  26. Lori Antolick

    It’s like telling a little league world series player that he can’t use his best glove. It makes no sense. Why not let the parent decide if they want to spend the money?

    • Charlotte Cusachs Bujoreanu

      Because there are studies showing that they do not have a physical advantage for swimmers unless they are going a certain speed in the pool…thus the reason they allow Jr Nats and national swimmers to wear one.
      A glove is a piece of equipment not dependent on the performance of the player. But this is no different than when they banned composite bats…or full body suits for swimmers.

    • Nancy Pasternak Cunneen

      Charlotte Cusachs Bujoreanu composite bats are banned because kids can get hurt (primarily pitchers). There is still a vast cost differential. Some teams all share same bat. My sons bat is roughly $100. A friends bat was more than $200. There is also much fancier and more expensive catchers gear. This swimsuit rule is ridiculous overreach. Next they’ll be regulating goggles.

    • Charlotte Cusachs Bujoreanu

      Nancy Pasternak Cunneen its not over reach. It is based on major studies. This allows for true talent to show in the pool and not just the kids that can afford a $300 suit.
      Just look at the USA Soccer team, we didnt make the World Cup…because instead of nurturing true talent…it is about who can afford club training.
      It is USA swimming, not summer league or HS…they can decide their rules. If people dont like it, then swim AAU or YMCA (not at USA swimming affiliated meets.)
      Seeing a kid in a regular suit outperform a swimmer under 12 in a tech suit is pretty cool!
      One day they may ban tech suits for all swimmers…then it will be all about the swimmer.

      • avatar
        Roy Grannell

        Charlotte, the studies show that the tech suits do not provide an advantage at that age level of swimming, so “true talent” will show regardless. Have to disagree with this from USA Swimming. Some kids can afford private lessons and some can’t (every sport), and clearly extra lessons provide an advantage too. So are we banning private instruction or lesssons because it favors the rich?

    • Charlotte Cusachs Bujoreanu

      Nancy Pasternak Cunneen also, a Bat will last all season/years with a child..a tech suit will last one meet. So, if your child swims in SC State Champs, Sectionals, Zones, LC States…that is 4 tech suits…or $1,200-$2,000…and it doesnt matter…because puberty is a game changer…no one should want their child’s best performance to be as a 12&U.

    • Lori Antolick

      Charlotte Cusachs Bujoreanu Can you link to this major study?

    • Lori Antolick

      Charlotte Cusachs Bujoreanu I hate the “if you don’t like it, then leave” argument. Why should anyone have to leave? I think seeing a kid in a tech suit have the swim of his life is pretty darn cool as well.

    • Lori Antolick

      Charlotte Cusachs Bujoreanu They last more than one meet. The Speedo LZR pro, the lowest level suit (which you can purchase on sale for under $150) lasted my daughter an entire season. I coach my swimmers to race and love the sport. If they can use better equipment, then why not!

  27. avatar
    Glenn Messerschmitt

    I would not be surprised to see this new rule against Tech Suits, for swimmers 12 and under, challenged in court under age discrimination in a sporting activity. This lawsuit would probably originate by parents who have a highly vested interest (ie., potential future college scholarship) and very gifted child in swimming. That being said, a Tech Suit does not make you a great swimmer. It takes a lot of work and dedication. An arbitrary rule like this may only diminish interest in the sport of swimming.

  28. Priya Niralay

    I couldn’t tell if it made any difference. It’s all mental I think 🤔

  29. Nicky Owen

    Karen I just knew you would like this 👍🏼

  30. Jun Bug

    Andrew Huang

  31. avatar

    My daughter will be swimming at a D1 College next year. We star tr d buying tech suits when she was 10 for Stare and Zones. While it gave her mental confidence, I cant say it helped her swim faster. As long as she was wearing one, she felt she could compete with the top dogs at the meet. Without one, she had less confidence.. She worked too hard to not give her that equal advantage, so we bought one. It became a trap,, we had to buy one for EVERY big championship meet because they only last for a little.over one meet in top condition. Let’s be honest, there are 1 or 2 high level ath5in every age group in each state. These are the swimmers breaking state records, lappimg.otjer swimmers , 1/2 a pool length ahead of the top heat.
    They would be the ones who need a tech suit. The rest dont. Save your money, it doesn’t matter until they are 15-16 and swimming to impress college coaches. I wish we could’ve saved the moneyall these years. We buy 4-5 a year over $300 each (and that’s getting the National Swim meet discount!) Good job, dont change your decision

    • avatar

      Sorry for all typos…. didn’t have my readers on! LOL

  32. Helen Salcedo Garcia

    Swimmers that age don’t need a tech suit! I applauded this decision and only wish it was implemented earlier👍🏽 Swimmers deserve an even playing field and this eliminates class & privilege divide that tech suits created. If parents want to spend money then invest in private lessons or other things that will raise a swimmers skill level.

  33. Mackie Grady

    Amber L. Toland Tanya Grady

  34. avatar

    102.8 swimwear
    1. Design
    A-E no changes
    F. No technical suit may be worn by any 12 and under USA Swimming athlete member in competition in any sanctioned, approved or observed meet.
    (1) exceptions to the forgoing restriction are only for a meet in USA Swimming championship (ie, Sectionals, Futures, Junior Nationals, pro swim series, us open, national championship or Olympic trials) or YMCA National championship

  35. Jamie Feran

    I get sooo irritated seeing young kids in $400+ suits! This is very interesting and I wonder how well it will go?

  36. avatar
    Katie

    I agree with the ban- with the exception of sectionals. If a 12 year old qualifies and attends the meet, he/she will be swimming against 13+ year olds who have a tech suit on. I think it should include meets where here is only one (open) qualifying time

  37. Mim Siegel

    Too bad this happened after my 12 yo quit the sport 😞

  38. Ang Gold

    Should do this in the UK . Parents spending ridiculous amounts of money on suits!

  39. Jacob Turner

    Does anyone remember when swimming was just swimming? I’d like to know when they’re going to get to the bottom of over prescribed inhalers, that are basically steroids. I haven’t swam competitively since 1998, but I highly doubt these suits are as much of an issue as other things in the sport. It’s not like you have to have some sort of membership card to buy them.

  40. Gerry Tucker

    We’ve had this in Australia for a while now. Sensible decision.

  41. Julie Tellier

    So doesn’t this mean that 12 and under kids who participate in track and field should not be allowed to purchase specialty running shoes? Just standard old sneakers! And if you play baseball you can’t even try a wooden bat until 13 it’s banned, only Aluminum. No composite or carbon fiber hockey sticks, just good old wood. Youth basketball players shouldn’t get to wear high tops until age 13. Let’s ban cleats too, and specialty golf shoes, just get out there with some converse. And really kids under 13 should be banned from football and only allowed to participate in flag football. And while we are at, Let’s give every kid in America a participation trophy!

    • Nissen Troy

      Aerodynamics versus hyrdodynamics is very different like VERY different.

  42. Natalee Burgess

    Great decision, we implemented this in Australia 12 months ago. No need for that expense for 12 and under or to put that stress on children who don’t have a pair and parents who can’t afford them. At 12 and under sport needs to be inclusive not elitist.

  43. Neil Stapley

    It is what it is no point people on here complaining about it as it won’t make any difference in changing USA Swimming decision.

  44. avatar
    Mark Ulintz

    Smooth move USA swimming!! How long before you ban what type of goggles, or caps can be worn. I still have not heard one, (IMO) valid reason for the ban. If you can afford it than you should be able to wear it! If you can’t afford one, then deal with it. If there was a health issue regarding the use of Tech suits being worn by children under 12, I could see cause for the ban. But nowhere do I see that. It comes down to ” Its not fair that your child can wear that and mine can’t so it shouldn’t be allowed. That, IMO is pure Bull &@%#^!!!!

  45. Shelly Carrigan Alker

    This is not the Olympics! Seriously why in the world would you see an eight-year-old in a tech suit! We always told our daughter she had to make a qualifying times without a tech suit and then we would buy her one and she was 14 before she got her first one which was for regional championships.

  46. Shirley Mireault

    They are available for under $100…with the cost of competitive lessons this is a ridiculous ruling. It has absolutely no bearing on results by my estimation…kids this age win of lose regardless of the type of suit. It is mental.and physical preparation. The cost factor is not an issue..if you can afford fees for lessons and coaching the extra $100 will not be a problem. My swimmers paid $60 for their tech suits…and when one left hers home by mistake…she still won! 10 year old…too much interference…do they tell those kids not to buy sprints to run track in?

  47. avatar
    Anonymous

    These suits are not purchased from the same guy who jack got the beanstalk beans from! If parents want to buy for their swimmer then so be it. More regulations, great.

  48. avatar

    Wow. The anger from rich people not being able to choose how and when to indoctrinate their children into the world of privilege, entitlement and the myth of meritocracy. Seeing literally thousands of dollars at 10& under dual meets makes me wonder if any of us take seriously the parable of the sheep and the goats. When have we seen you hungry, Lord, and spent that on the much more important goal of my child’s confidence that she can drop.2 seconds on a race? This is a private group choosing to put its young people before profit and not dadgum guvment.

  49. avatar
    Rania

    Tech suit can give a fraction of 1 sec advantage if the size is right.
    My personal experience with children is that they will not tolerate the right size , will be too tight and uncomfortable!
    So we buy one size up that gives no speed advantage at all. But my little swimmer who worked so hard for hundreds of hours is thrilled on the day of competition to be wearing what looks simila to Katinka or Ledeky’s swimwear!!!
    You also have the chubby girls who hesitate in the blocks when wearing a swimsuit That does not cover her cheeks! These girls are much more comfortable in legsuits.
    A similar situation broke my heart last ywar when j swe a chibby boy who has gynecomasty (breast glandular tissue in males) , the judge asked him to take off his tshirt on the block, he did and won his race , then went yk his parents crying and told them i am quitting swimming.
    End of the day what we choose to wear should abud to the rules!! But we should have a range of freedome to choose our clothing.

  50. avatar
    Michelle

    Can we now ban girl’s bathing suits that go complyup their bottoms at competitions?

  51. avatar
    Zoya M

    this rule is not fair, maybe for 10 and under swimmers but at age 12 people still qualify for big meets and some tech suits are not the pricey. 12 year olds should be able to get a tech suit as long as the parents are okay with it.

  52. avatar
    Brandon

    nice – I already bought my 12 year old girl two of these things. Fire pit fuel?

  53. avatar

    I read this article this interesting and I’m very interested to see how this plays out.

  54. avatar
    Anonymous

    hello i disagree thatthis shold happen

Author: Daniel D'Addona

avatar
Dan D'Addona is the lead college swim writer for Swimming World. He has covered swimming at all levels since 2003, including the NCAA championships, USA nationals, Duel in the Pool and Olympic trials. He is a native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a graduate of Central Michigan University. He currently lives in Holland, Michigan, where he also is the Sports Editor at The Holland Sentinel.

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