A swimming cap for long curly hair may still be allowed at the Tokyo Olympics. The spirit cap, designed specifically to be worn over an afro or dreadlocks hairstyle, was initially rejected by the FINA because official swimming caps had to “follow the natural shape of the head”. After protesting the racial demand, Fina announced that she would reevaluate the hat.
The Spirit Cap made headlines after swimmer Alice Deering became the first black British swimmer to qualify for the Olympics. The hat is permitted within the British Swimming Association. Before entering the games, she was told that she would have to use a different hat, one that required her to trim her natural curls. The British Black Swimmers Association immediately objected, denouncing the lack of inclusiveness and diversity within the international federation.
Fina said she is committed to “ensure access to appropriate swimwear for all athletes as long as it does not provide an unfair advantage.” The union says it wants to speak to the British producer of Soul Cap to see if a collaboration is possible within Fina’s training centers. The FA said it would allow a swimming cap anyway, regardless of the outcome of the FINA assessment. In a statement, the FA said: “Swimming caps designed for afro hair lower the barrier for marginalized groups to participate in sport, including blacks.” In the UK, about 30 percent of white children swim, among black children just under 20 percent.
Photo: Instagram / Soul Cap