Words by Smiley Team
Swimming caps specifically designed for Afro hair have been approved for competitions at all levels.
This is particularly good news, as the swimming caps were initially banned at the Olympics in 2021.
The caps were deemed inappropriate for use in competitions by FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation, or the International Federation of Swimming) on the grounds that to their "best knowledge, the athletes competing at the international events never used, neither require to use, caps of such size and configuration".
The FINA committee went on to describe the swimming caps as inappropriate for not ‘following the natural form of the head’.
FINA later apologised for the comments, which were in response to an application by SOUL CAP to be certified for use in competitive swimming. SOUL CAP is a Black-owned business that designs and manufactures inclusive swim caps, as well as other swimwear.
The decision not to approve SOUL CAP for competitive use resulted in a much-needed conversation about diversity and inclusion in competitive sports. The incredible news that SOUL CAP has been approved for future competitions is a huge breakthrough, and will hopefully have a positive impact on all competitive sport – not just swimming.
“This result plays a huge part in our wider mission to improve inclusion in the sport,” said Toks Ahmed, the co-founder of SOUL CAP, of the news. “We’re so grateful to everyone who showed support and was part of creating this major change. As a new father and someone who didn’t learn to swim growing up, creating access for the next generation feels even more close to home.”
“We’ve seen what community and collective energy can achieve, so we’re hopeful to keep knocking down more of these barriers.”
GET INVOLVED: Support Sporting Equals, to help those who have faced racial discrimination in competitive sports access free legal aid.