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Officials Information
 PennDel Swimming : Officials Information
Subject Article: Penn-Del Referees - Swim Suit Guidance
 Penn-Del Referees - Swim Suit Guidance
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Posted: December-13-2019 at 6:56am | IP Logged
Author: Tom Warrick
Title: WebMaster
Group: Admin
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Penn-Del Web site:

Communicating with swimmers or coaches about possible illegal or inappropriate suits can be a very sensitive issue, especially in situations where close observation of the suit is needed.

The following information should be used as guidance on how to deal with different situations, but if in doubt, discretion should always be considered a top priority and the referee should communicate first with the coach. Remember that officials are not suit-inspectors and Referees are not expected to exam all swimmers' suits. However, referees should address issues personally observed or identified by other officials or by coaches.

If any swimmer desires to wear apparel that is not in compliance with USA Swimming Rule 102.8, the Coach should have communicated this to the Referee before the start of the meet to determine if the apparel can be worn. Examples are:

  • A swimmer who wants to wear clothing that covers the body for religious reasons should be allowed to wear such clothing as long as the clothing does not provide a competitive advantage. Wearing a full-body competitive swimsuit is not allowed. Wearing a textile bodysuit or garments that cover the legs, arms, and head that is not designed as a swimsuit under a swimsuit is allowed.
  • A young male swimmer who for modesty purposes wants to wear a T-shirt should be allowed as long as the T-shirt does not provide a competitive advantage.

If the Referee observes a swimmer with a suit that may not be legal or is not appropriate, the Referee should communicate this to the coach but not to the swimmer.

If the observation occurs before the start of a race, the question should be resolved prior to the race. If the suit is not legal and can be corrected without delaying the start of the race, the swimmer may compete. If the correction of the suit would delay the race, the swimmer should be DQ'd and not allowed to swim.

If the observation occurs after the swimmers are called onto the blocks or into the water, the race should occur and the situation resolved after the completion of the race.

There have been recent situations (not in Penn Del) where swimsuits were determined to not be appropriate. USA Swimming Rule 102.8.1.D states "Swimsuits worn for competition must be non-transparent and conform to the current concept of the appropriate." There is no clear agreement on what is meant by "appropriate", and has resulted in questions about how to deal with a situation where a suit shifts on the swimmer's body and may not provide as much coverage as designed. Any situations like this should be discussed with the coach, not the swimmer.

One example is a girl's suit that has leg openings that are cut high above the hips that shift on the girl's body during competition resulting in little coverage of the buttocks (i.e. a wedgy). If this situation is of concern it should be discussed with the coach and recommend the swimmer adjust the suit before exiting the pool. This is not a situation where any penalty should be imposed.

There are situations where it may be appropriate to communicate directly with the swimmer. Examples are:

  • A swimmer is wearing a drag suit or pair of shorts over the suit. The Referee or other official or timer can remind the swimmer to remove the shorts or drag suit just prior to the start of the race the swimmer so the swimmer does not get onto the blocks wearing the drag suit or shorts.
  • An older female swimmer who wears a suit with straps that tie in the back for warm-ups could be reminded that the suit is not legal for competition.

Just a reminder, there are no prohibitions on wearing Technical Suits for the 2019-20 season.

If a Referee is not sure how to deal with a situation, common sense applies and remember officials are here for the swimmers.

If there are any questions, please direct them to Fred Polaski through the Penn-Del website email system or directly to .

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