A rules committee for the National Federation of State High School Associations decided Friday to recommend that non-textile suits be banned for the 2009-10 school year, but it gave the organization’s board of directors the option of outlawing long-length suits this year or next.
The board will consider the issue and announce a decision by Tuesday. No rules can go into effect without board approval.
“There’s a recommendation coming from the committee to bring our rules more in line with what is taking place in other rule codes,” said Becky Oakes, an assistant director for the NFHS.
Oakes and other members of the committee declined to elaborate on the specifics of the proposal. Rules committee member Merle Gunderson, however, said the issue that flummoxed the committee was when to impose a ban on the length of the suits.
“We’re not really sure what’s going to happen,” Gunderson said. “We gave [board members] an area they could lean one way or the other … The length, that’s the question mark. We gave them a choice of … this year or next year. It’s a real hard decision.”
Gunderson, who is from Montana, said committee members feared teams or swimmers whose seasons are about to get underway might already have purchased textile, long-length suits, assuming woven suits of any length that have been worn for years would remain legal. He said the committee was concerned with issues of cost, fairness and convenience to all of its member associations.
The NFHS has no current restrictions on suits, but officials felt compelled to consider a ban after the world swimming governing body (FINA), USA Swimming and NCAA announced plans in recent weeks to allow only waist-to-knee textile suits for males and neck-to-knee textile suits for females.
Should the NFHS decide to allow full-body textile suits this year, area swimmers might find themselves wearing one suit at high school competitions and another at club events.
But swimmers who take part in any high school meets, such as state championships, that are sanctioned by USA Swimming will have to abide by USA Swimming rules.
The rules committee, made up of 11 representatives from around the country, met for two hours by conference call Friday afternoon.
“We’re trying to get away from technical suits,” rules committee member Dan Miller of Utah said. “It was well-discussed. It wasn’t just done as a rubber stamp.”
After the NFHS board of directors makes its decision, each state association will have to decide whether to implement it.