FINA Swim Costume Categories and Marathon Swimmming

FlowSwimmersFlowSwimmers Polson, MontanaMember

I attempted searching on this topic before posting, but couldn't find anything recent, so I decided to post with the hope of clearing up some confusion on my part.

Can someone tell me where the suit pictured here fits?

Other than the elimination of the zipper (on the full body) and the addition of the FINA logo, are these much different than the pre-neoprene tech suits from the mid-2000s (Fastskins)?

I've participated in several races recently with these suits showing up on some very fast swimmers, and I'm not sure how they are classified, but I know that they are not being classified as wetsuits.

Can anyone clear this up for me or does it just boil down to "local rules apply" and that a RACE is different than a MSF approved marathon swim?



  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited July 2018

    Sadly, these suits are allowed in FINA open water (not pool) competition. Since USMS rules follow FINA, they are likewise allowed in USMS open water (not pool) competition.

    "For both men and women, the swimsuit shall not cover the neck, extend past the
    shoulder, nor extend below the ankles."

    Regardless of what FINA or USMS have decided or may decide in the future, swims utilizing these suits are not eligible for ratification as MSF Documented Swims.

    By comparison:

    • MSF Rules: "One swimsuit made of porous, textile material. For males, the suit must not extend below the knee or above the waist. For females it must not extend below the knee, onto the neck, or beyond the shoulder."
    • CSA: "(for both sexes) shall be of a material not offering Thermal Protection or Buoyancy and shall be Sleeveless and Legless : 'Sleeveless' shall mean the Costume must not extend beyond the end of the shoulder onto the Upper Arm; 'Legless' shall mean that the costume may not extend on to the Upper Leg below the level of the crotch."
    • CS&PF: "The swimmer may wear only one swimsuit in one or two pieces which shall not extend past the shoulder or below the knee. All swimsuits shall be made from textile materials."
    • Catalina (CCSF): " porous suit, neither of which may be designed either to retain body heat or aid in buoyancy."
    • Santa Barbara (SBCSA): "Swimsuits for Category A (marathon) swims must be porous and made from textile materials. b. Men’s swimsuits must not extend below the knees or above the navel. Jammer-style suits are permissible. c. Women’s swimsuits may be in one or two pieces, but must not cover the neck, extend past the shoulder, nor extend below the knees."
  • FlowSwimmersFlowSwimmers Polson, MontanaMember

    Much appreciated @evmo !

    Can you clarify that Catalina WOULD allow these FINA suits?

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin

    FlowSwimmers said:
    Can you clarify that Catalina WOULD allow these FINA suits?

    I can't speak authoritatively on Catalina rules, but I don't believe it is their intention that FINA style full body suits are allowed. I'd suggest asking Forrest Nelson to be sure.

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited July 2018

    Also worth noting, FINA now allow wetsuits in their pro/elite open water events, below 20C water temp (20C !!!!!!):

    Following the “Investigation Into Lower Water Temperatures For Open Water Swim Racing” done by the University of Portsmouth’s Extreme Environments Laboratory (EEL) and the decision of the FINA Bureau regarding the use of wetsuits at the FINA competitions, the following rules will apply for Open Water events starting from the 1st of January 2017:

    • The lowest possible temperature of the water should remain at 16°C - Between 16°C and 18°C, wetsuits + bathing cap are mandatory
    • Between 18°C and 20°C, wetsuits are optional
    • Over 20°C, wetsuits are not allowed.

    So basically, one of the most historically significant marathon swims, Lac Saint-Jean, is now effectively a wetsuit event.

    Great job, FINA!

  • FlowSwimmersFlowSwimmers Polson, MontanaMember

    Yeah...I can't remember the FINA race where ONE swimmer chose to not wear the "optional" wetsuit and finished dead last or didn't make the cut-time. Sad.

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