USA Swimming Announces Wetsuits Rule Change, Applies for Open Water Nationals

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

With the its Open Water National Championships coming up later this month (May 19-21), USA Swimming has announced adopted a new FINA rule involving the use of wetsuits in open water competition.

According to the new rule, wetsuits are now mandatory when water temperature is below 18 degrees Celsius (64.4 degrees Fahrenheit) and allows wetsuits as an option for any water between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit).

The decision to implement the rule came after USA Swimming found that Castaic Lake, slated to host the championships, had been recorded at temperatures within this range. When measured Tuesday morning at 9 a.m., the lake was 64 degrees.

According to a letter sent out to race competitors, Los Angeles County Lifeguards project the water temperature to fall into the range where wetsuits would be optional.

“For the Open Water Nationals 10k, 5k and Open Water Junior Nationals official water temperature will be taken 2 hours prior to the start of the race. Based on the information USA Swimming has received from the Los Angeles County Lifeguards we anticipate that the water temperature will fall between 64.4 and 68 degrees.”

USA Swimming has also shared information regarding where athletes can obtain wetsuits and described what makes a wetsuit legal for competitive use.

“Wetsuits must be between 3mm and 5mm thickness. They need to completely cover the torso, back, shoulders, and knees and shall not extend beyond the neck, wrists, or ankles. The FINA Requirements for Swimwear Approval prohibit the variation/modification or customization of the suit.”

Read the letter sent to competitors by clicking here, and read the full text of the rule change here.

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Author: David Rieder

David Rieder is a staff writer for Swimming World. He has contributed to the magazine and website since 2009, and he has covered the NCAA Championships, U.S. Nationals, Olympic Trials as well as the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and the 2017 World Championships in Budapest. He is a native of Charleston, S.C., and a 2016 graduate of Duke University.

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