The new FINA requirements for swimwear approval (FRSA) have been released with effect from 1 January 2017. The section that applies to wetsuits is reproduced below.
“4.2. Wetsuits for open water swimming competitions with water temperature below 20 C.
Subject to the specifications below, wetsuits are subject to the provisions applicable to swimsuits set forth above under.
4.2.1. Design (shape)
Wetsuits shall completely cover torso, back, shoulders and knees. They shall not extend beyond the neck, wrists and ankles.
Wetsuits for both men and women shall be in one piece.
4.2.3. Material (Type)
Material used for wetsuits must have thermal insulation properties9 (for example foam of polychloroprene (Neoprene) or of polyurethane or other material with similar insulating properties). The material can be multilayered, with non-water permeable layers. The material cannot contain injected gas.
Material without insulating properties cannot be used.
4.2.4. Material (measured values – layers)
Thickness: The thickness of material/s used shall be minimum 3mm and maximum 5mm.
Provided the insulating functions are not prejudiced, the Applicant may apply for lowering of the minimum thickness value in limited specific areas, if such is functionally justified to allow free swimmer’s movements. A decision in this respect is made at SAC’s discretion* and cannot be challenged.
Permeability and buoyancy are not measured.
Zippers or other fastening systems are allowed without specific limitations. They must be functional.”
* Swimwear Approval Committee
Most modern wetsuits have a range of thicknesses and are especially thin across the shoulders – typically 1/1.5mm and thus would need discretionary approval.
Any news regarding the new rules will be communicated through the usual channels.