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

Little kid tech suit
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
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3 years ago

Excellent decision USA Swimming!

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3 years ago

I’m very interested to see how this plays out

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Reply to  Laura Fox

?

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3 years ago

Melissa Marinello you saw it coming!

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3 years ago

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

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Charlotte
3 years ago

YingFa makes a tech suit under $50.

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3 years ago

Great decision

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3 years ago

Is there a list of suits that are banned?

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3 years ago
Reply to  Craig Meledick

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

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3 years ago
Reply to  Craig Meledick

It’s effective 2020, so no issue

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3 years ago

Interesting

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3 years ago

Finally!

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3 years ago

Good decision !!

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3 years ago

The banning is a little bit late!

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3 years ago

About time!

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3 years ago

Super annoying

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3 years ago

Therese Fields look what popped up today

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3 years ago

Amelia Jaegerr

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3 years ago

Wow very interesting- James Killilea –

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Emma Grace

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3 years ago

Ryan Manchester

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Rod
3 years ago

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.

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Brad Isham
3 years ago
Reply to  Rod

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

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3 years ago

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

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3 years ago
Reply to  Scott Osborn

I’ve heard September 2020

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3 years ago
Reply to  Scott Osborn

Christian nice.

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3 years ago
Reply to  Scott Osborn

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

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3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Webber

… 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.

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3 years ago
Reply to  Scott Osborn

Andrew not me. My kids.

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Melynda Wyatt
3 years ago
Reply to  Scott Osborn

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.

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3 years ago
Reply to  Scott Osborn

The article says Sept 1st 2020.

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Anonymous
3 years ago
Reply to  Scott Osborn

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

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Good. Absolutely no need for a TECH suit under 12.

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Charlotte
3 years ago

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

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3 years ago

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

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3 years ago

Whoo Hoo!

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3 years ago

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

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3 years ago

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

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3 years ago

Darcy Hein you see this?

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3 years ago

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

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Elizabeth Prince

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3 years ago

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

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3 years ago

Oops, Trey won’t be yet….

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Anonymous
3 years ago

Finally!!!!

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3 years ago

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

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3 years ago
Reply to  Ali Richman
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3 years ago
Reply to  Ali Richman

In the article

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3 years ago
Reply to  Ali Richman

Whole article didn’t come up for me. Thanks!!!

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3 years ago

Good! Silly for young swimmers to use them anyway.

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3 years ago

Changes not effective until Sept 1 2020

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3 years ago

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?

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3 years ago
Reply to  Kathy Voelker

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

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3 years ago
Reply to  Kathy Voelker

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 ??

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3 years ago
Reply to  Kathy Voelker

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

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3 years ago

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

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

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3 years ago

They should be banned period.

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3 years ago

about time

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3 years ago

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.

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Melynda Wyatt
3 years ago

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.

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Thor
3 years ago

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.

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3 years ago

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.

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Reply to  Thor Larson

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.

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3 years ago
Reply to  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.

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Reply to  Thor Larson

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.

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3 years ago
Reply to  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.

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Reply to  Thor Larson

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.

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3 years ago
Reply to  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

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3 years ago

Shame on you commies at USA swimming

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3 years ago

Nathon Burwick

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3 years ago

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.

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3 years ago

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 !

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So happy about this!

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3 years ago

Alexis Leavell

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3 years ago

Bout time!

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Glenn Messerschmitt
3 years ago

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.

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3 years ago

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?

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Reply to  Lori Antolick

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.

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Reply to  Lori Antolick

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.

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Reply to  Lori Antolick

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.

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Roy Grannell
3 years ago

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?

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Reply to  Lori Antolick

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.

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3 years ago
Reply to  Lori Antolick

Charlotte Cusachs Bujoreanu Can you link to this major study?

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3 years ago
Reply to  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.

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3 years ago
Reply to  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!

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3 years ago

Finally Katlin Fuel

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3 years ago

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