A movement to bring inclusivity and accessibility to swimming is breaking barriers.
The International Swimming Federation (FINA) has officially approved London-based Soul Cap, a long-hair swimming cap designed for natural hair blessed with volume, for competitive races after initially rejecting the cap’s use at the Tokyo Olympics last year, the Associated Press reported.
The news was announced by the international management organization for swimming events on Friday, adding that the Black-owned brand is now on its list of approved equipment.
“Promoting diversity and inclusivity is at the heart of FINA’s work,” executive director Brent Nowicki said in a statement, “and it is very important that all aquatic athletes have access to the appropriate swimwear.”
Founded by best friends Michael Chapman and Toks Ahmed, Soul Cap was born out of their collective desire to learn how to swim and provide a solution that existing brands do not offer. “Big hair deserves care” and so does hair with less volume, according to its website. Soul cap has just the solution, with products made from 100% premium silicone to keep locs, braids, or afro hair dry and damage-free. Sizes come in regular, XL, XXL and Junior.
Alice Dearing, the first Black female swimmer to represent Britain at the Olympics, was denied wearing a Soul Cap for the 10-kilometer marathon swim at the Tokyo Olympics. She stood on the frontlines to challenge the ban, as BLACK ENTERPRISE previously reported, and was propelled to partner with Soul Cap in creating a fresh collaboration logo for AD x SOUL CAP.
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In a blog post, Soul Cap applauded the recent FINA decision, calling it “a success that affects the entire swimming community” and a “huge step in the right direction.”
“For a long time, conventional swim caps have been an obstacle for swimmers with thick, curly, or volume-blessed hair,” the brand said. “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’re thrilled to see our caps being approved for competitive use, and we’re excited to see the future of a sport that’s becoming more inclusive for the next generation of young swimmers.”