FINA to review use of Afro swim cap at competition level after criticism


FINA drew heavy criticism after UK-based brand Soul Cap announced that the water sports governing body refused to approve caps designed for swimmers with “thick, curly and voluminous hair” in international competitions. The reason given was that their caps did not “follow the natural shape of the head,” Soul Cap told the BBC.

FINA on Friday acknowledged the widespread condemnation and said it understood “the importance of inclusiveness and representation.”

The statement posted on its official website read: “FINA is committed to ensuring that all aquatic athletes have access to appropriate swimwear for competition where such swimwear does not confer a competitive advantage. “

“FINA is currently reviewing the situation regarding ‘Soul Cap’ and similar products, understanding the importance of inclusiveness and representation,” he continued.

The governing body stressed that there are currently “no restrictions” on the use of Soul Cap swim caps for recreational and educational purposes.

Soul Cap founders Michael Chapman and Toks Ahmed Salawudeen said their headgear plays a vital role in promoting racial diversity in competitive swimming and that rejection of FINA will discourage young athletes from practicing this. sport.

Recent figures from Swim England show that 95% of black adults and 80% of black children in England do not swim.

“For younger swimmers, feeling included and seeing themselves in a sport at a young age is crucial,” they said in a statement shared on Soul Cap’s official Instagram page. “The recent FINA layoff may discourage many young athletes from playing the sport as they progress in local, regional and national competitive swimming.”
Alice Dearing – who had previously partnered with Soul Cap to help promote greater diversity in the sport – is set to become the first black swimmer to represent Britain at the Olympics after qualifying for the open water marathon last month.
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Responding to news of the rejection, the Black Swimming Association (BSA) said it was “extremely disappointed” with FINA’s decision, adding that it “confirms the lack of diversity in elite swimming and the lack of urgency of change “.

FINA said it “appreciates the efforts of ‘Soul Cap’ and other suppliers to ensure that everyone has the chance to enjoy the water” and intends to “speak with the manufacturer. of the “Soul Cap” of using their products through the FINA Development Centers. ”

“FINA expects its review of ‘Soul Cap’ and similar products to be part of broader initiatives to ensure that there are no barriers to participation in swimming, which is both a sport and a vital skill. ”

CNN has contacted Soul Cap and FINA for further comment.

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