August 9, 2021 - Statement from the Disability, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee
Recently, FINA banned the use of SoulCaps in competition at the 2021 Olympics. SoulCap is a swim cap designed to be used with bigger hair. The cap is specifically marketed to make the sport of swimming more inclusive and accessible to black athletes with afro hair who might otherwise find it impossible to use a swim cap.
Pacific Swimming leadership and its DDEI Committee reject the notion that equipment within competitive swimming should be regulated to a particular body type or standard. Forcing all athletes to wear swim caps made for a specific type of hair discourages black athletes, and all those with bigger hair, from participating in swimming. There is a long history of anti-Black racism in swimming and aquatic sports. Approving inclusive sportswear is just one of the many concrete steps needed to promote real change.
As an LSC, Pacific Swimming strives to cultivate a diverse, equitable, and inclusive atmosphere. The DDEI Committee regards SoulCaps as a medium to increase access to the sport of swimming at all levels, and we welcome such outside efforts made by equipment manufacturers. The USA Swimming Rules & Regulations do not indicate that caps made with consideration for voluminous hair are advantageous in competition (Article 102.8). As such, athletes in Pacific Swimming will not be penalized for the use of SoulCaps in competition. Pacific Swimming’s DDEI committee will advocate for the continued use of SoulCaps, and similar larger caps, in competition.