FINA approves the use of caps for afro hair in competition

FINA announced in July last year that it was looking into whether the Soul Cap product, which fits over dreadlocks, braids and afros, could be used when there were no benefits from using it.

The decision came after some media reports quoted FINA as saying the cap could not be used at last year’s Tokyo Olympics because it did not “fit the natural shape of the head”.

“I am delighted that this swim cap has been included in FINA’s list of approved swimwear,” Brent Nowicki, FINA Executive Director, told Reuters. “This announcement follows … a review and discussion of the cap design that was finalized between FINA and Soul Cap last year.

“Promoting diversity and inclusivity is at the core of FINA’s work and it is very important that all water sports enthusiasts have access to appropriate swimwear.”

Manufacturer Soul Cap welcomed FINA’s decision to add the cap to the list of approved swimwear from September 1st.

“It’s been a long road getting here, with many ups and downs along the way,” reads a statement on its website.

“But the truth is, we couldn’t have done it without you. So from everyone here at Soul Cap, we want to say thank you to all of you in the swim community for coming together to share your voices and raise awareness about accessibility and inclusion in the sport.”

Black swimmers are outnumbered in elite swimming, a sport that seeks to break down socioeconomic barriers.

British Olympian Alice Dearing, who is black, had teamed up with Soul Cap to encourage greater diversity, with some young black women reportedly stopping swimming because of hair problems.