As per The Source, The International Swimming Federation (FINA) rejects and ruled out of the Olympic Games the Black Owned British brand Soul Cap, swimming caps for men and women of color who wear locs, weaves, afros, braids, thick and curly hair. FINA previously stated, that “It (the caps) does not fit the natural form of the head, and to their best knowledge the athletes competing at the international events never used, neither require caps of such size and configuration.” The comments sparked so much criticism and outrage from the swimming community that FINA is now reviewing the situation.
In a statement, they said they understood the importance of inclusivity and representation. “Fina is committed to ensuring that all aquatics athletes have access to appropriate swimwear for competition where this swimwear does not confer a competitive advantage. FINA is currently reviewing the situation with regards to ‘Soul Cap’ and similar products, understanding the importance of inclusivity and representation.”
The ruling opened the discussion once again in the black community on why black girls don’t swim. Who mostly shy away from the sport because they usually hate the hassle of managing their hair afterwards. Most swimming caps are too small and usually never fully protect hair from the water and chlorine, which is drying and leads to damage. Danielle Obe, the founding member of the Black Swimming Association, told the Guardian the ruling underlined the inherent systemic and institutional inequalities around the sport. “We believe that it confirms a lack of diversity in (the sport),” she said. “Aquatic swimming must do better.”
In response to Fina’s decision, the founders of Soul Cap released a statement. “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,” Soul Cap co-founders Toks Ahmed and Michael Chapman wrote in a statement shared on Instagram on Wednesday.“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,” 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.” They said they feared swimmers would have to “choose between the sport they love and their hair.”