posted on August 21, 2009 03:00
Some high school sports remain for many years under the radar of the public’s passion, unless you participate or are the parent of a participant. Then some event or series of events has everyone talking. That’s how it is with high school swimming and diving.
Two decades ago, several catastrophic injuries across the country threatened interscholastic swimming until schools could deepen the starting end of the pool. The sport has operated in relative obscurity since.
The sport certainly got a boost with the unprecedented performance of Michael Phelps at the Beijing Olympics, and later got a bit of a black eye when the Olympic star behaved badly out of the pool.
Now the issue inflaming the passions of the sport’s devotees and receiving attention from the broader public is the swimsuit itself. Innovations in nontextile products have produced suits that appear to enhance performance by aiding buoyancy and angle of buoyancy, thus improving speed and increasing endurance for competitors wearing nontextile suits.
FINA, the international swimming federation, was first to take a position urging its member federations to approve a complete return to textile suits by Jan. 1, 2010. After the world championships in Rome, which received unprecedented attention because of the controversy over suits, the NCAA and US Swim both changed their rules. A few days later, the national committee for high school swimming followed suit (sorry).
On Aug. 11, in an unusual if not unprecedented move for any sport, the National Federation of State High School Associations Board of Directors accepted the national rules committee’s proposal for new rules and penalties. Leaving nothing to chance, four hours earlier that day the MHSAA Executive Committee approved the national high school committee’s proposal for immediate implementation should the National Federation Board not approve or delay the change.
Cick here for the complete changes which address layering, length of suits, materials and penalties.