Masters swimming took the first step Saturday toward implementing the same ban on full-length, high-tech suits as at virtually every other level of the sport, but the issue remained far from resolved at the close of a meeting of the masters technical committee for the sport’s world governing body (FINA).
The committee decided during two days of meetings in Sweden to “recommend to the FINA Bureau that it approve the FINA swimsuit rule … for masters competition,” said Nancy Ridout, the only U.S. member of FINA’s masters technical commission, in an e-mail.
The FINA Bureau next meets in mid-January.
In August, FINA had told its member nations that its decision to ban non-textile, waist-to-knee suits for men and neck-to-knee suits for women as of Jan. 1, 2010, did not apply to masters competition. At the time, however, FINA had not received a formal recommendation from its masters technical committee.
The decision Saturday by the FINA masters committee to send the issue back to the FINA Bureau hardly clarified the matter for U.S. Masters Swimming officials, who had said they expected a concrete directive from the committee itself and were prepared to take action based on that ruling.
“We expect them to issue a ruling,” USMS Executive Director Rob Butcher said last week. “What it is going to be is anybody’s guess.”
U.S. Masters Swimming President Jeff Moxie also said last week USMS’s board of directors likely would adopt FINA’s decision regarding the suits, but it’s unclear whether USMS is in position to take any action at this point. FINA’s Bureau is not obligated to act on recommendations from its committees. Moxie did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
The USMS House of Delegates voted last week to put it in place whatever ban is eventually instituted sooner rather than later, approving an Oct. 1 implementation date rather than a July 1, 2010, date.
The USMS technical committee had recommended to FINA a ban substantially different than that adopted in elite swimming. The USMS committee recommended that men’s and women’s suits be equal in shape (neck-to-knee) and that zippers and fasteners be allowed.
Many masters swimmers, who are non-elite adults, have argued that they benefit from long suits for reasons other than speed and should not be subjected to the same restrictions as younger and elite swimmers.
Ridout communicated via a brief e-mail Saturday night and could not immediately be reached for elaboration on the recommendation.
Further updates will be provided when available.