Swim caps made for natural Black hair have been approved for international competition, per a report from NPR. The Soul Cap is a swimming cap designed to protect thick, curly, or braided hair that is difficult to fit into traditional caps.
FINA originally rejected the Soul Cap at the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2021. At the time, FINA maintained that athletes have "never used, neither require to use, caps of such size and configuration."
In its initial rejection, FINA also stated that the Soul Cap does not follow "the natural form of the head." That is one of the organization's rules for approved swimwear.
Following last year's FINA ruling, there was a conversation about the extra hurdles for people of color in the world of swimming. FINA chose to reverse its ruling after a review, FINA Executive Director Brent Nowicki told Metro.
Alice Dearing, who became the first Black swimmer to represent Great Britain in the Olympics last year, is a Soul Cap ambassador. In a statement to NPR, Dearing said the approval of the Soul Cap is another step toward inclusivity within the world of swimming.
"I know that a lot of people value the option this cap brings them when going swimming," Dearing said. "Knowing that it is acceptable to compete in this cap at the highest level of sport sends a message that hair should not be a barrier which stops people from participating."