The Amateur Swimming Association of UK has relaxed its swimsuit regulations allowing women to wear loose-fitting full body outfits. This move comes after a request from the Muslim Women's Sports Foundation.
Previously, full body suits were prohibited because of their ability to decrease friction in the water and giving swimmers an advantage.
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The new guidance will only apply to amateur competitions in England. Photographs that have been published by the governing body provide examples of the type of suits that would be permissible.
The guidance states, “Swimmers wishing to swim in such a suit shall present the suit to the event referee for inspection prior to their swim.
Once the referee has been informed of a swimmer wishing to wear a suit, as described above, there is no requirement for the referee to question the swimmer further, the ASA swimming management group do not want athletes being asked why they wish to wear the suit.”
Muslim groups have applauded the move, saying it would encourage more Muslim women to participate in the sport.
Rimla Akhtar, from the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation, said, “Participation in sport amongst Muslim women is increasing at a rapid pace. It is imperative that governing bodies adapt and tailor their offerings to suit the changing landscape of sport, including those who access their sport.
"The MWSF is glad to have requested a review of competition laws in relation to full body suits by the ASA and are extremely pleased at the outcome.
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"We thank the ASA for their leadership in this matter. We look forward to continuing to work together to ensure that this ruling is also adopted at the elite level both nationally and internationally."
Chris Bostock, chairperson of the ASA said in a statement, "This is a very positive step forward for competitive swimming in England and one that we hope will encourage many more people to take part."
This article originally appeared on The Telegraph.