USA Swimming Is Reviewing The Price Impact of Technical Swim Suits On Age Group Competitions

Many Local Swim Committees (LSCs) in the United States are reviewing rules on the use of technical swim suits in age group competitions.  Arkansas, Maine, Oregon and Southern California are in various stages of reviewing their policies.  The main reason is that these suits can cost as much as $500 per suit versus traditional fabric suits that cost much less. The rising costs are being seen as a deterrent to families joining USA Swimming.

“The benefit, or perceived benefit, of these suits is driving swimmers and parents to feel like they ‘need’ these suits to compete”, according to a memo circulated within USA Swimming.

As various LSCs pass legislation with restrictions, it could impact the entire sport and industry. Differing rules from each LSC could create a level of complexity unprecedented in the sport.  USA Swimming has engaged an outside consultant to conduct a review of the trend and will provide options for the Age Group Development Committee at the USAS Convention in September and potentially the USA Swimming Board of Directors.

According to the memo the following action items have been implemented with a final report due in November of this year:

The scope of this review will include research and personal interviews across the industry, including Age Group Development committee members, LSCs, coaches, staff, legal, Rules & Regulations committee, suit manufacturers, team dealers and online retailers. This report will not advocate a particular position, but rather provide an objective report and present options for consideration for Age Group Development. Elements of the report include an analysis of how it would impact the following:

    • Review of existing and proposed LSC rules, policies and actions

    • Review of a sample of swim club suit policies

    • Analysis of membership history and trends vs. tech suit timeline

    • Review of the range of suit technology and costs

    • Market analysis of tech suit use

    • Impact of any new rules on teams, swimmers, parents, coaches, manufacturers, retailers, officials

    • Impact of LSCs with differing rules (ex. swimmer from one LSC competing in another LSC)

    • Age cut-offs

    • Financial impact to parents

    • Need for a national rule vs. LSC-by-LSC

    • Legal issues

    • Evaluation of suits and/or testing

 

87 Comments

87 comments

  1. Connie Wolf Shaw

    They should. It’s not necessary for young age groups to wear these in competition.

    • Nina Isabel

      It’s the parents choice to buy a tech suit or not, nobody is forcing them to do so. If you’re a mediocre swimmer, not even a tech suit will change that.

  2. Ed Lower

    Maybe it’s not the tech suits. My son is 13 still has not worn one and been swimming year round since he was 8. Maybe the expenses are the $15 facility fee; $4 travel fee; $5 to $8 per event fee (with 125 kids per event) and the over $100 per night hotel fee(2 nights) + eating out. The tech suit is a CHOICE these meet fees are not, other than choosing not to swim meets.

    • Penny Johnson

      I totally agree with you Ed. The meets themselves are way too expensive! Lance only has one bc he made the GA zone team. Only wears an aqua blade for states and a practice suit for all other meets. He and Haley haven’t really expressed a want for the expensive tech suits. But I think it should be up to the parents if they want to spend the money or not. I think it’s a waste before 13 but that’s my coach/parent opinion

    • Teenica Grant

      I agree Ed. I have 3 swimming and it is now becoming a “rich mans sport” unfortunately.

    • Daniel Caudle

      excellent point Ed. These other expenses are a nightmare. I don’t have kids but the nickel and dime routine of all these other expenses you mentioned, add up in a hurry.

    • Joanne Wilson Brady

      When our oldest swam year round, his coach would not allow just any member of the swim team to wear the tech suits. She was looking out for them because of the cost. I thought she was doing a great thing.

    • John Eberly

      when I swam the team had boards and fins etc. Now each swimmer must have those, plus a whole lot more “personal” items required! What happened to just a swim suit?

    • Jonna Waller

      Penny Johnson 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 our club had a policy of no tech suits until the swimmer turned 13 until just this past year. Now the swimmer has a choice IF it is a championship meet. Other than that, it’s our team suit. No exceptions.

  3. Merry Burns

    Swimming is making itself into a rich kids sport

  4. Richard Stern

    I’m sorry. This is just insane. I get that some of us think it’s insane for the kids to wear the suits at 8/u champs but in the end it’s the parents choice.

  5. Sean Abbey

    The lost revenue the manufactures will have will hurt the sport. Not only are there very few swimmers making a living off the sport, the ones that make a good living is absurdly small. Taking money out of the pot for sponsorships can’t be good for the sport. Not to mention look at the sponsors on the pages of USA swimming. I don’t think you would ever see the NFL hurt the pockets of its sponsors. Look at the cost of children’s sports. Swimming is a drop in the bucket compared to most.

    • Madeline Sheblessy

      This is false. Stick to stats of other sport. You’re incorrect. While here are not many “professional swimmers” There are MORE THAN ENOUGH athlete still in tech suits 10 and under is just a small percentage. I don’t know your knowledge base but it’s not swimming….

    • Sean Abbey

      Really so the sample I will give is just of one meet for a city championship just this past weekend. In the age groups of 11-12, 9-10 and 8u there were well over 100 suits being worn. From $100 dollar skins to $479 tyr avictors. Average that out at a modest $200 and that is $20,000 in lost revenue from one small event. At a recent Flags champioship every child was in a suit I’ll bet there was upwards of $50,000 I. Suits at this meet. I don’t know if you realize this but most of these companies minus Speedo aren’t as large as most would believe. Having run retail for many years these are substantial hits for a company and I’m giving two small examples. Btw yes I do know quite a bit about swimming and running companies and the impact this will have.

    • Sean Abbey

      The best part of this comment is someone saying my knowledge base isn’t swimming. Everyone who knows me just fell out of their seats laughing. My swim tribe doesn’t call me swimmings rainman for no reason.

  6. Chantel Jarrett Burton

    We have never paid $500 if you look you can find great quality suits for much less than 500 . It all about choice .

  7. Csongor Bibza

    USA Swimming – keep your hands off my kids clothes – none of your business

    • Madeline Sheblessy

      As a coach, I stand behind USA swimming. You cannot buy victory and you cannot buy sportsmanship, buts both make you better when EARNED. Don’t take that away from your kids.

    • Csongor Bibza

      We don’t live in the USSSR – if it is legal let them use it. If FINA outlaws, than that’s a different story.

    • Madeline Sheblessy

      Csongor Bibza why is that a different story? FINA is not the USA’s governing body its USA swimming and they are built in the principals of fairness, read the contract you signed as a family of a year round swimmer . Don’t make this sport about money. Let it be about talent. Phelps wasn’t breaking 10 and under records in tech suits… Many American athletes agree like, Sabir Muhammad who disapproves… help teach your child good sportsmanship and that they have to put in the work to succeed this will teach your child to be a good person first,and bought success is not true success.
      Additionally, this isn’t the “USSSR” but keeping 10 and unders out of tech suits is the least communist thing happening in the United States right now. Remember that country was accused of doping.. 🤷🏻‍♀️I’m just saying

    • David Moreno

      It is their business…..you are entering their world not the other way around.

    • Madeline Sheblessy

      David Moreno yes, it’s like a state law that exists inside a federal government. 🤷🏻‍♀️ it’s a good rule and as a coach/owner and LSC board member, I support it

  8. Kristine Murphy Grim

    It’s about time! Swimming is an expensive sport already. It is ridiculous that coaches require families to purchase these suits (unsubsidized) to swim in certain “competitive” groups.
    This culture of win at all costs is subverting the lessons of personal accomplishment, perseverance, hard work.

    • Madeline Sheblessy

      As a coach, I scold families that purchase tech suits for kids under 13.

  9. Elizabeth Hinely

    Tell me about these sports that have no expensive goodies to buy….

  10. Stephanie Carpenter

    Young kids do not need tech suits. Honestly no one needs them. Their swim skills alone should get them where they want to be. They should not be required. Swimming is getting more and more expensive. But, if you want your child to have one it should be a choice, not a requirement.

    • Madeline Sheblessy

      First world record was set is a wool suit without lane lines. There is a reason the full body suit was and… it’s all a matter of time

  11. Sterling Ralph

    There will always be a way to pay to be faster. If it’s not tech suits, it’s private coaching, better equipment, etc. While it sucks, and a common reaction is to say tech suits should be banned for age groupers, it doesn’t solve anything and will just result in lower revenue for the manufacturers, affecting the sport as a whole.

  12. avatar
    Reyna

    I think it’s not required to wear them. But if the parents and the swimmers decision to buy and wear them then let them. It’s not your money their spending and tech suit always help them go a lil faster. If family can’t afford it then they don’t need to buy them and let other people that can afford to buy them for their kids.

  13. Madeline Sheblessy

    No tech suits 12 and under! As a coach, It is our job to teach and empower… as coaches it is necessary to teach the skills to be the best. Tech suits come later after the hard work! If I cannot do it without a suit Youngblood you are cheating yourself out of true victory.

    • David Moreno

      I agree . I would even say not until they are 16 yrs old.

    • Madeline Sheblessy

      David Moreno oh that’s interesting… how would you address high school?

    • David Moreno

      Madeline Sheblessy that is a tough one because they have that same mentality of winning at all costs. I honestly feel a teens bodies that are obviously still maturing through those years are not ready for a high tech suit. Those suits were meant for adults in mind when they were created. Am I wrong about that?

    • Rick Giambastini

      David Moreno it’s a tough issue. Part of it is psychological. We waited until HS championships of freshman year.

    • David Moreno

      Rick Giambastini I agree w the mentality part of it. I remember buying new goggles because they were used by Olympians and dropping time but then the next meet reality set in and I realized it was not about the goggles. The sooner I realized It was about technique. But those suits are meant to be worn for a short time not all day squeezing a growing body.

    • Madeline Sheblessy

      David Moreno if
      We
      Truly believe an athlete should perform forever we have to push it correctly. If a child gets fast the coach is showing their skill combined with the talent of the athlete. There are very few “micheal phelps” types. My HS team was successful until it came to champs and I think the fast suits played a big part. 17YO Boys swimming 21.7 fly and being scolded for not suiting up, by rewarded for ‘finally going under 22.00’ I feel win at all costs just poisons the water hole…

    • Madeline Sheblessy

      Rick Giambastini exactly, age group kids will come back in sept and all be inches taller because in resting they got to grow! What a concept…

    • David Moreno

      Madeline Sheblessy I do agree the percentage of phelps or ledecky is very small. Hopefully USA swimming will guide age group kids. Being a early childhood educator it’s all about educating the Parents more then the kids. Some parents feel the more expensive the suit is the faster my child will go and parents who were never swimmers are the hardest to convince.

  14. Johnny Karnofsky

    Until you are at an elite level, you don’t need a tech suit…. just saying…

  15. Mike McCoulf

    There is no need for a special suit the suit doesn’t swim the swimmer does… practice technique and training don’t spend money on a suit til a coach tells you to

  16. Ansley C. Barnett

    Or….. Parents just say no? My daughter is just as fast asother girls wearing these suits. No, I don’t think putting her in a suit that costs more than $80 is going to make her faster.

  17. Kate McCann

    I am glad this is being taken in to consideration. It creates the haves and have nots which allows people to purchase better times. My kids don’t swim USA – just a casual club team In the middle of nowhere, but the pressure is there to have the suits, private lessons, and whatever else. Swimmers successes are there’s alone and should not be attributed to stuff. The virtues that swimming teaches – dedication, hard work, focus … – are due to human interaction. Bottom line for me personally – that suit is not keeping my kid out of a D1 school or the Olympics so just swim and have fun. I know because I have succumbed to the pressure of buying the suit and I was annoyed that my swimmer attributed her success to her suit and not her hard work.

  18. Holly Gunn Rossiter

    Are they going to review how many private swim lessons a swimmer has during the swim season? That’s the real expense that gives an age group swimmer an edge over other swimmers not the suit. Some swimmers can’t afford private swim lessons. This whole topic is a slippery slope and I hope they allow swimmers to wear technical suits for championships meets. The swimmers like wearing them just like they like private swim lesson. Also, my daughter feels more comfortable swimming in a tech suite during the big meets because it covers more skin while some swimmers feel more comfortable in a traditional swim suit.

  19. Eddie Ring

    I’m from the paper suit era. We thought those were expensive back in the 1990s. Kids don’t need to be wearing tech suits unless maybe they are contending for a national record or the like. And it certainly shouldn’t be a requirement to be in these suits. For the average swimmer it’s not going to make a lick of difference. Parents will buy them because they think it might make a difference. It’s just like the kid on the baseball team with the spanking new $500 Easton Mako bat. And there’s always a kid from a family of 8 kids with his older brothers hand-me-down beat up bat that can out hit every kid in the league.

  20. Elizabeth Cromwell Austin

    I remember when my son went to AG as a 13 yr old in Boston and about 95% of the competitors were wearing $100-$500+ tech suits while he was wearing a fusion. I don’t believe Tech suits were as widely worn at the 12&u AG meets (I think that has changed) While I convinced him it’s the swimmer, not the suit and he ended up having an amazing meet… I couldn’t help but feel he was at a disadvantage because he wasn’t wearing an expensive top of the line tech suit.

  21. avatar
    Colleen Hartigan

    I am mixed on the issue of tech suits. My 12 year old really wanted one. She had a goal of qualifying for JOs. We told her we would buy her a tech suit if she qualified so She could use it at the meet. She made it, so we bought her a suit on sale through Speedo for $39. She is so thin it made no difference in her time, but she was excited to have one and it cost less than her practice suit. While I do think parents should have a say in this, I think the new Maine LSC rule stating no tech suits for 10 and unders and 11-12 can only use them for championship meets is a reasonable compromise.

  22. Jonna Waller

    If the swimmer wants to wear it and the parents can afford it, who is USA Swimming to tell them they can’t wear it? Is this another “everyone gets their fair share scenario”? This is political bull s**t.

  23. avatar

    I wouldn’t mind not having to buy tech suits, but I can’t help thinking that the extra cost of regulation and enforcement would drive club fees higher and more than offset the savings on the suits.
    It is crazy how expensive this sport gets. I earn six figures, and I’m pretty sure we’re the lowest income family on my son’s Zone’s team this year.

  24. Rob Richardson

    Our team policy is to wear a black suit from any company – everyone has a different body type so they should wear what works for them. Zero pressure from our coaches to wear a tech suit. As a club team President with 5 kids, swimming isn’t more expensive than most other sports.

  25. avatar

    Our 10-year-old daughter just swam 1:09:77 in a relay in an old school suit – she does have a tech suit which she received as a gift from the family. It is her best at this stage and it goes to show that the suit does not make the swimmer. She is asthmatic and we prefer the old school suits as she can dress dry between events – i.e. as per pediatrician instructions, we keep her chest dry while she waits for the next event especially in winter. Keeping her dry is making a difference to her chest. So even though she does have a tech suit, we will not replace it but rather move back to old school suits.

  26. Sarah Gillott

    I watched one lad win the regionals (east mids) in a pair of £10 speedo budgie smugglers he must have been 14… shows you you don’t have to fork out for these suits/jammers. It does make a difference don’t get me wrong but it’s 10ths and 100ths, the main difference though imo is mind over matter, they think they can swim better in them.

  27. Faith Wysochanski Noll

    Tech suits are helpful for teen girls & adult women for obvious reasons. I see no point in them for younger kids, and I have a hard time seeing boys gain great advantage from them.. At the last age group champs I attended, the young girls’ suits appeared to not even fit properly. USA Swimming is an expensive league. Age group zones is a travel meet so that costs at least $500 for travel, room, and board alone. Locally, universities hold meets which are attended by kids from states hundreds of miles away. There are warm ups, t shirts, and gear to buy for teams and Zones. Kids go to camps far from home, some of which are advertised in USA Swim’s magazine and cost hundreds of dollars. USA clubs are more than twice the cost of the other swim clubs around here, even ones that swim all year. Every meet costs entry fees, many include a “per swimmer fee” for what purpose I cannot tell. There are a lot of costs to USA swimming. Banning tech suits for under 12 is a good idea because there appears little necessity of the suit for that age group and adds unnecessary cost to an otherwise expensive sport. However, USA Swim might consider ways to lower their own costs rather than only Speedo and Arena profit.

  28. Stephanie Miller Mindlin

    Anyone that says swimming is an expensive sport has obviously not had much experience with other children’s sports and activities.

  29. Jennifer Todd Tesseneer

    Kevin Tesseneer. Ummmm🤔. I bet parents of other sports will agree their kids sport is expensive too.

  30. Susan Williamson

    Our coach doesn’t even allow tech suits on this age…and our team is ranked second in our state. It’s not the suits. It’s technique and training that makes the difference.

    See ya at states!

  31. Edwin Bonilla

    Racing swimsuits are about 400 dollars and that cannot be possible.

  32. avatar
    John McLeod

    I can see it now…. 14 year old kid wearing $600 worth of gear still gets DQed for a back-to-breast turn. All the money in the world is not going to replace hard work and good coaching.

  33. David Moreno

    My son will not have a tech suit until he is over 16 yrs old. Not because of its price but because he is physically not ready for that type of suit. No age group swimmer should be allowed to wear those suits. Even if you are 13 yrs old because many teens bodies are still growing during those years.

  34. Heather Raley

    Danielle Karbonik Cirincione, Lauren Elizabeth, is this our Caitlin?!?! It’s definitely NBAC, they just removed the logo from the caps.

    • Heather Raley

      Our Piranha made Swimming World! 🙂

    • Lauren Elizabeth

      Heather Raley i hope her mom knows about this! I’ll try to find her on Facebook and if not email her!

  35. Kathy Marsh

    My 12 year old has had two different coaches encourage her to get a tech suit to swim faster ☹️

  36. Karolyn Steadman Gardner

    I don’t like the Tech suit for the younger kids. Before high school or college, it is ridiculous. But now with so many investing in them, it becomes hard for younger kids. It is a mental issue for them if they don’t have one for an important meet if most of the other kids do have them. Please restrict them. This is a fleecing of the swim community.

  37. Jerry McLain

    My 8 year old daughter swam her latest races in a $20 suit on sale from Swim outlet. I told her it was a tech suit. She wore it to our LSC’s championship meet last weekend and dropped time in every event. It must be the suit. Personally speaking if a parent wants to drop $500 on their child’s swim suit that’s their business. Who is USA Swimming or the associated LSC to say otherwise. Don’t they have more important things to do?

  38. avatar
    Marisa

    It shouldnt be age based but meet based. Sectionals should be the lowest level meet that the suit is utilized.

  39. avatar

    These swim companies are taking money out of the pockets of coaches. Many kids spend as much as on the team fees as they do suits. That money should stay in the localality to support the sport, not some corporation. I also can’t understand spending 500 on suits that don’t last long either, especially on a young child. These companies are ripping people off. My old fastskins 1 and 2 lasted a whole year or more if you took care of them.

Author: Brent Rutemiller

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