A swimming cap designed to protect afro hair has been approved by the International Swimming Federation (FINA).
The caps, which are designed and built by British company Soul Cap, were controversially banned ahead of the Tokyo Olympics due to concerns that they ‘didn’t fit the natural form of the head.’
FINA issued an apology after their ban and asked Soul Cap to reapply for approval, which was granted on Thursday.
Soul Cap called the decision ‘huge step in the right direction’ as it would help with ‘bringing inclusive swimwear into competitive swimming, and helping to bring down some of the obstacles that are keeping swimmers away from the sport.
‘But it’s not just about the Olympics and other high-profile events: It’s a decision that affects competitive swimming at every level – from triathlons and marathon swims, right down to the grassroots organisations that develop and train the next generation of elite athletes.’
Soul Cap has collaborated with Alice Dearing, who became the first female swimmer to represent team GB at the Olympics at Tokyo, w. she competed in the 10k marathon swim.
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The Black Swimming Association, which Dearing co-founded, said they ‘couldn’t be happier’ at the cap’s approval.
The 25-year-old Olympian wrote in the Guardian: ‘Reinstating the choice of what swimming cap to wear will reach far beyond the swimming pools of world championships or Olympic Games.
‘FINA’s decision will send waves around local clubs and swimming lesson programmes across the country, allowing children and adults alike to take their first strokes in the pool feeling comfortable, all while knowing that the cap they are wearing is respected at the highest level.’
‘A young girl from Blackpool who uses the cap at her club’s swimming meet, for example, will be able to do so in the confidence that if she wants to pursue the Olympic dream, her hair and choice of swimwear will not be a factor that holds her back.’
Speaking on Sky News, FINA’s executive director Brent Nowicki said: ‘I am delighted that this swim cap has joined FINA’s approved swimwear list.