Olympic committee refuses to approve swim caps designed for natural hair


A post shared by SOUL CAP | Swim For All (@soulcapofficial)

Swimming is not a diverse sport and has remained pretty white over the years. At the Rio Olympics, Simone Manuel, a Black woman, won two gold and two silver medals in swimming, opening the doors to BIPOC representation in the sport. Soul Cap also saw an opportunity to make swimming a more inclusive sport. Soul Cap, founded in 2017, creates swim caps for African American swimmers with natural hair. They hope to make it so that Black people didn’t have to choose between taking care of their hair and swimming. Soul Cap has petitioned the FINA committee to allow their swim caps to be used in the sport. The committee decided not to certify the caps for use, stating that they were too large and don’t follow the “natural form of the head.” Below are more details from Metro via People:

The outlet states that the FINA committee said to their “best knowledge, the athletes competing at the International events never used, neither require to use, caps of such size and configuration,” adding that the caps don’t follow “the natural form of the head.”

Soul Cap, created in 2017, is a company that designs swimming caps specifically for natural hair in order for athletes to compete easily without struggling with cap size or the threat of damaging their hair. Following the decision, the company released a statement on social media explaining their disappointment in the decision and what it means for inclusivity within the sport.

“We hoped to further our work for diversity in swimming by having our swim caps certified for competition, so swimmers at any level don’t have to choose between the sport they love and their hair,” said co-founders Toks Ahmed and Michael Chapman. “For younger swimmers, feeling included and seeing yourself in a sport at a young age is crucial. FINA’s recent dismissal could discourage many younger athletes from pursuing the sport as they progress through local, county and national competitive swimming.”

The statement continued: “We feel there’s always room for improvement, but there’s only so much grassroots and small brands can do — we need the top to be receptive to positive change. A huge thanks to all who have supported us and our work so far. We don’t see this as a setback, but a chance to open up a dialogue to make a bigger difference.”

[From People]

Tell us you are racist without telling us you are racist. The FINA committee had an opportunity here to make all Olympic sports inclusive and they failed. Reading this story not even a month after the situation with Simone Biles being penalized for being a supreme athlete has really irritated me. I feel these national and international sports committees are working to exclude Black athletes in particular or punish them for excelling. We already know it is because Black athletes often dominate. This ruling doesn’t take into consideration that Black athletes need special accommodations for their hair. It’s also purposely making it difficult for Black athletes to enter a sport that has been mostly exclusive to white athletes. I feel Soul Cap should continue to push for inclusivity and continue to apply to have their caps accepted as an alternative in these competitions. At some point, I hope the FINA Committee reconsiders this ruling because it really makes them look racist and inflexible, especially with a comment like “the cap doesn’t follow the natural form of the head.” What the hell does that even mean?


A post shared by SOUL CAP | Swim For All (@soulcapofficial)


A post shared by SOUL CAP | Swim For All (@soulcapofficial)


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