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blueseventy respond to Ironman swimwear rules changes
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Wednesday 14th April 2010


Tags  Blueseventy  |  Ironman  |  Swimskins  |  World Triathlon Corporation  |  WTC


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There has been much talk over the past few weeks about impending changes to swimming rules in relation to wetsuits and swimskins in WTC (World Triathlon Corporation) events - that's Ironman and Ironman 70.3 effectively. We have even been asked ourselves by a number of top pro athletes if we "understood" what was going on - we didn't!

Today - see full press release below - the WTC has published a press release on U.S. Rule Amendments for 2011 Season. In Ironman terms, the '2011 Season' begins on 1st September 2010, and note that at present these rules are applicable to the U.S., which would include the Kona and Clearwater World Championship events.

While there are changes to wetsuits rules, the '5 milimetre' thickness restriction should have little impact to the vast majority of UK competitors, since 5mm is also the maximum permitted thickness under British Triathlon rules, and virtually all off-the-peg suits conform to this.

However, bullet point one in relation to "100 percent textile material" would seem to suggest that the existence of swimskins in non-wetsuit races such as Hawaii is now over. The biggest impact of this would appear at first glance to be on the brands, rather than the athletes. The biggest brand in the swimskin market is almost certainly blueseventy (www.blueseventy.com), and we spoke to Marketing Manager Dean Jackson for his views on the change, which not surprisingly he calls "disappointing".

One of the interesting points raised by Ironman is the "...rule changes are consistent with rule changes adopted by swimming and triathlon’s international governing bodies, FINA", which doesn't appear to be the case, at least in full, as FINA rules specifically state that you can only wear one suit, while WTC are ruling "A race kit or trisuit may be worn underneath swimwear." Similarly for cycling, triathlon doesn't follow the UCI rules on bicycle design, which leads to a situation where for example Philip Graves can ride a Specialized Shiv TT bike, but Tour de France winner Alberto Contador can't...

We suspect, much like the recent changes to pro prize money allocation in Ironman events, further refinement of these rules may follow over the months ahead.


WTC Press Release:

World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), owners of the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 Series, announces modifications to several rules and regulations relating to the swim at U.S. races. Effective September 1, 2010, which is the start of Ironman's 2011 competition season, new rules for apparel and wetsuits will apply at all Ironman and 70.3 events in the U.S., including both World Championships. The amendments were made to further standardize rules in the Ironman/70.3 Series and ensure a fair playing field at events around the globe.

The changes will include the following:

  • Swimwear and swim apparel must be comprised of 100 percent textile material, such as nylon or lycra, and may not include rubberized material such as polyurethane or neoprene. Swimwear may not cover the neck or extend past the shoulders or knees. Swimwear may contain a zipper. A race kit or trisuit may be worn underneath swimwear.
  • Wetsuits cannot measure more than 5 millimeters thick.
  • Wetsuits may be worn in water temperatures up to and including 24.5 degrees Celsius/76.1 degrees Fahrenheit. Athletes who choose to wear a wetsuit in water temperatures exceeding 24.5 degrees C /76.1 degrees F will not be eligible for awards, including World Championship slots. Wetsuits will be prohibited in water temperatures greater than 28.8 degrees C/84 degrees F.

"Ironman recognizes the importance of showcasing the competitive element at all events. We believe these amendments place more emphasis on performance and function and less on technology, therefore staying true with the Ironman spirit," says Ironman’s Head of Officials, Jimmy Riccitello.

Ironman's rule changes are consistent with rule changes adopted by swimming and triathlon’s international governing bodies, FINA and ITU, respectively.

Dean Jackson, Marketing Manager, blueseventy:

"blueseventy has been aware for some time that the WTC was likely to follow FINA in banning technical swimwear fabrics in their US events.

"Triathlon has always been a sport that has led the way and embraced technology, some of which has subsequently been adopted in other sports such as tri bars in cycling. It's dissapointing that the sport is now seeming to take a retrograde step in banning swimskins.

"It's a remarkable step as there are so many other products that assist performance in triathlon. I'm currently with all the blueseventy sponsored TeamTBB athletes at a training camp, and the WTC decision has been met with confusion, particularly as the move isn't entirely consistent with fina.

"blueseventy already has FINA approved legal swimwear for open water swimming so we are already prepared for the rule change and swimskins will still of course be legal until 1 September in WTC events and in warm water events outside of the USA. They can also be worn at all non WTC events in the USA. We will continue to lead the way in triathlon swimwear, swimskins and wetsuits."


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