Thanks to a request from the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation, the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) has relaxed its swimsuit regulations meaning that Muslim women swimmers and women suffering from pre-existing medical conditions now have the right to race in loose-fitting, full-body outfits.
Rimla Akhtar, from the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation, stated that: “Participation in sport amongst Muslim women is increasing at a rapid pace. It is imperative that governing bodies adapt and tailor their offerings to suit the changing landscape of sport, including those who access their sport.”
Until now, full-body suits like those worn by Olympians have been banned, due to their performance-enhancing benefits in helping to streamline the shape of the body.
The new guidance, which only applies to amateur competitions in England, states that competitors will not be allowed to wear any suit that a competition referee believes will increase performance. However, should the swimmer choose to wear a loose fitting suit, the referee is not required to question the swimmer further, and the ASA do not want athletes being asked about their reasonings for wearing such a suit.
In a statement, Chris Bostock, chairman of the ASA sport governing board, said: “This is a very positive step forward for competitive swimming in England and one that we hope will encourage many more people to take part… By changing these rules we hope to encourage a new generation of swimmers.”