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02nd Jul 2021

Swimming caps specially made for black hair have been banned from the Olympics

Ellen Fitzpatrick

The brand released a statement on Instagram.

Swimming caps that are designed specifically for black hair have been banned from the 2021 Olympics.

One black-owned line of inclusive swimming caps that are designed for Afro hair, locs, braids, and other kinds of voluminous natural hair, have been told they won’t be allowed used in competitive swimming.

Soul Cap, the brand who makes these particular caps, has been denied certification for use by the International Swimming Federation (FINA), meaning they can’t be used in the Tokyo games, according to Metro UK.

According to the brand, it was denied on the premise that to their “best knowledge, the athletes competing at the International events never used, neither require to use, caps of such size and configuration.”

They added that in the rejection, the swim caps were not allowed because the shape of them does not follow “the natural form of the head.”

Soul Cap took to Instagram after the denial was given, with founders Michael Chapman and Toks Ahmed giving a public response to the news.

It reads: “We hoped to further our work for diversity in swimming through having our caps certified for competition, so swimmers at any level don’t have to choose between the sport they love and their hair.

“We feel there’s always room for improvement, but there’s only so much grassroots and small brands can do – we need the top to be receptive to positive change. For younger swimmers, feeling included and seeing yourself in a sport at a young age is crucial.

“FINA’s recent dismissal could discourage many younger athletes from pursuing the sport as they progress through local, county, and national competitive swimming.”

Still thriving for more action and not letting this set them back, the company said the support on it has been “phenomenal”

“This isn’t just about the Olympics. This is also about the lower leagues of competition swimming — for swimmers at an age where feeling included is so pivotal in their development and goals. We don’t see this rejection as a setback, but rather a chance to open up an important dialogue and make a bigger difference.

“The response and support around this issue has been phenomenal. We hope our story highlights the lack of diversity in aquatics and drives long-term change in sporting rules.”