Swimming Swimwear Rules

Swimming Swimwear Rules

In a swimming competition, athletes race against each other, trying to make it through the water faster than anybody else. Professional swimmers, especially Olympic swimmers, spend hours practicing and training to prepare themselves for their competitions. One aspect of this preparation involves choosing appropriate swimwear. In this article, we explain the basic rules that athletes must follow regarding swimwear.

Swimwear Rules

According to USA Swimming’s rulebook, swimmers can only wear one swimsuit, one pair of goggles, and up to two caps. In addition, swimmers are never allowed to wear more than two caps or more than one swimsuit (these suits can come in one or two pieces).

Swimsuit Rules

The USA Swimming rulebook specifies that athletes can only wear swimwear that abides by FINA standards for any USA-sanctioned or approved swimming competition. The rules for swimsuits vary for men and women. We detail those variations below, as well as provide other information about swimsuit rules.


Here is a list of rules regarding a swimsuit’s design:

  • Men’s swim shorts cannot go above the belly button or below the knees.
  • Women’s swimsuits cannot cover the neck, go past the shoulder, or go below the knees.
  • The Chair of the Rules & Regulations Committee sometimes allows swimmers exemptions for specific swimmers due to their religious beliefs, medical conditions, or other appropriate reasons.
  • Athletes ask for these exemptions by following rules created by the Rules & Regulations Committee. Exemptions that give a swimmer a competitive advantage are never allowed.
  • Swimwear cannot be transparent and must be appropriate.
  • Swimmers can never use clothing, swimwear, or swimming devices to give themselves a competitive edge. Anything that will boost their speed, pace, buoyancy, endurance, or anything else is prohibited.
  • Swimmers 12 and under cannot wear technical suits (suits with bonded or taped seams or woven fabric) unless participating in the Junior Nationals, U.S. Open, National Championships, and Olympic Trials.


Swimmers are allowed to wear a logo corresponding to a club, team, organization, or sponsor that they represent unless FINA rules prohibit the logo. Athletes cannot wear a logo belonging to an organization without that organization’s consent.


Swimmers are allowed to advertise, but they must follow certain rules:

  • Wearing FINA labeling and the USA Swimming logo is not considered advertising.
  • Athletes can wear up to three logos no larger than 30 centimeters on their swimsuits.
  • Athletes can wear up to three logos no larger than 20 centimeters on their caps. Wearing club logos on the cap is not considered advertising; therefore, they do not have to abide by these stipulations.
  • Athletes can wear up to three logos no larger than 6 centimeters on the spectacle frame or band of their goggles.

Some advertisements are prohibited:

  • Tobacco, nicotine, psychoactive cannabinoids, alcohol, or banned pharmaceuticals.
  • Political statements.
  • Advertising that runs counter to the vision of USA Swimming.

Swimmers that do not follow these runs can be prohibited from participating in competitions. However, if an athlete competes with swimwear that does not abide by these rules, they are not allowed to be disqualified for that reason alone.

Open Water Swimwear Rules

The sport of open-water swimming has its own rules for swimwear:

  • Devices or swimwear that boost an athlete's buoyancy or swim ability are prohibited.
  • Only two caps may be worn.
  • Except those following certain specifications, wetsuits, flotation aids, or anything that helps a swimmer stay afloat or retain body heat, other than a reasonable amount of swimmer’s grease, are not allowed.
  • Swimsuits cannot cover the neck, go past the shoulder, or go below the ankle.

In open-water swimming, wetsuits that follow certain specifications can be worn. They must conceal the torso and back but cannot extend past the neck, wrists, or ankles. The wetsuit material can be no more than five millimeters thick. The wetsuit’s outer surface cannot have outstanding shapes such as rings, loops, or circles.