Black Swimming Association chair says FINA decision to reject caps for natural hair not what inclusion is about

The chair of the Black Swimming Association says FINA’s decision to ban swim caps created for natural hair will drive away swimmers from diverse backgrounds.

Global aquatics’ governing body FINA rejected an application from the brand SOUL CAP, which makes swimming caps that accommodate diverse hair types, to become certified for competition swimming.

BSA chair Danielle Obe says the decision is “not what inclusion is about”, and that it conflicts with the message of diversity that various sports governing bodies have been driving.

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“At the highest level, we’re then hearing that, ‘we want the sport to be inclusive and representative, we want to have people of colour in the sport but we want them to join on our terms’,” Obe told Sky Sports News.

“That really is not what inclusion is about.

“This will affect younger swimmers, up and coming, who might want to consider taking up elite swimming.

“It will affect their decision because by and large, hair is a significant barrier to aquatics for – women especially – many people of colour from our communities.

“That should be considered as a product that overcomes this barrier.”

The news comes in the wake of Alice Dearing becoming the first Black female swimmer to be selected to represent Great Britain at an Olympics, following her successful qualification bid last month.

British Swimming have told Sky Sports News they have contacted FINA to clarify their stance on this story.

In response to the banning of the caps, Swim England said in a statement: “We fully understand how swimming hats designed for Afro hair can reduce barriers to the sport for under-represented groups, including Black people.

“We would therefore like to reassure all our members and the wider swimming community that we embrace their use for participation, training and racing.

“These hats are permitted at all Swim England clubs and competitions under our auspices.

“Our chief executive, Jane Nickerson, will raise our concerns regarding the reported international situation, through the appropriate channels.”

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