Fina, the sport’s world governing body, has approved a swimming cap designed for athletes with natural black hair, a year after it was banned from the Olympic Games.
The international Swimming federation’s decision in June last year to bar the Soul Cap from use at the Tokyo Games – a decision based in part on the cap “not following the natural form of the head” and the governing body stating that “athletes competing at the international events never used, neither require … caps of such size and configuration” – prompted outrage, with the federation apologising and promising a review of the decision.
Soul Cap was invited to reapply for a place on Fina’s approved list of competitive swimwear and on Thursday the company revealed that application had been successful.
“This result plays a huge part in our wider mission to improve inclusion in the sport,” Toks Ahmed, the co-founder of Soul Cap, told the Metro. “We’re so grateful to everyone who showed support and was part of creating this major change. As a new father and someone who didn’t learn to swim growing up, creating access for the next generation feels even more close to home.
“We’ve seen what community and collective energy can achieve, so we’re hopeful to keep knocking down more of these barriers.”
The company, which has worked in partnership with the British Olympic open water swimmer Alice Dearing, said it had been a long road to acceptance.
“For a long time, conventional swim caps have been an obstacle for swimmers with thick, curly, or volume-blessed hair,” said Soul Cap in a statement. “They can’t always find a cap that fits their hair type, and that often means that swimmers from some backgrounds end up avoiding competitions, or giving up the sport entirely.
“We want to see swimming become an accessible sport, with equipment and swimwear that lets anyone get involved and see success.”