I read on https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/jul/02/swimming-caps-for-natural-black-hair-ruled-out-of-olympic-games-alice-dearing (mirror):

International Swimming Federation rejects use of Soul Cap, saying it does not ‘fit the natural form of the head’. Swimming caps designed for natural black hair created by a black-owned brand will not be allowed at the Olympics.

Was the proposed swimming caps designed by Soul Cap for natural black hair rejected by the International Swimming Federation on the grounds that it provides some unfair performance, or simply because of how it looks like? If the latter, why would the International Swimming Federation care about how a swimming cap looks like?

1 Answer 1


FINA have had regulations since 2017 (or maybe earlier) which specify that

The shape [of the cap] shall follow the natural form of the head

(Section 4.3.1) You can see reason for this - they don't want caps which do in fact give a dynamic advantage (see teardrop-shaped helmets for time trial cyclists, etc). If you are being excessively pedantic, you could argue that the Soul Cap does not follow the natural form of the head as voluminous hair itself does not follow the natural form of the head; therefore it is in breach of the regulations and should be banned.

This argument is (in my never humble opinion) a very silly argument for FINA to be making. The Soul Cap is clearly within the spirit of the rules and FINA should have found a way to allow it.

(Update as of September 2022: FINA found a way; the Soul Cap is now competition legal)

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