Soul Cap, a Black-owned brand that creates swimming caps for natural hair, was denied certification for approved Olympic swim gear.
The hats, made by the company Soul Cap, have been rejected by the International Swimming Federation (Fina) for use during the olympics, citing: “the athletes competing at the International events never used, neither require to use caps of such size and configuration,” adding the caps deviate from “the nature form of the head.”
Soul Cap, created in 2017, is a company that designs swimming caps specifically for natural hair in order for athletes to compete easily without struggling with cap size or the threat of damaging their hair. Following the decision to not be allowed at the olympics, Soul Cap released a statement explaining their disappointment and what it means for inclusivity within the sport.
“We hoped to further our work for diversity in swimming by having our swim caps certified for competition, so swimmers at any level don’t have to choose between the sport they love and their hair.”
SOUL CAP founders Toks Ahmed and Michael Chapman were understandably disappointed, calling out FINA’s “failure to acknowledge the diversity of competitive swimmers.” The duo established SOUL CAP in 2017 when they took adult swim lessons and found that they couldn’t buy caps to fit over their hair. The brand also partnered with Alice Dearing, the first Black woman to compete in swimming for Great Britain at the Olympic level.
“For younger swimmers, feeling included and seeing yourself in a sport at a young age is crucial,” Ahmed told Metro. “‘How do we achieve participation and representation in the world of competition swimmers, if the governing body stops suitable swimwear being available to those who are underrepresented?’ There’s only so much grassroots and small brands can do — we need the top to be receptive to positive change.”
On Twitter, the brand noted that they’re not considering the decision as a setback, just an opportunity to open the dialogue around inclusion in swimming.