“Our board has been considering this issue and the impact it might have with our athletes for some time,” said USA Triathlon CEO Skip Gilbert. “The overall feeling is that it makes perfect sense to align with the guidelines set by our international federation and multisport enthusiasts around the world. This is a standard that is good for the athlete community and our sport overall.”
By implementing this rule change, USA Triathlon falls in line with the international standard of five millimeters recognized by the International Triathlon Union (ITU) and other National Governing Bodies.
The adoption of this rule is designed to eliminate any competitive advantage gained by enhancements in wetsuit technology in recent years. Studies have shown there is a marked and measurable performance benefit to the use of certain wetsuits, specifically added buoyancy effectively reducing passive drag. These performance benefits have led to an increased, and artificially induced, reduction in physical demand required during the swim leg of a triathlon and an increase in speed.
USAT recognizes that there may be wetsuits currently available on the market that are greater than five millimeters in thickness. Consequently, the organization has implemented a phase-in period of the rule to allow the use of wetsuits that currently do not meet the thickness requirement. This announcement of the new regulation serves as notice that the rule change will come into effect in 2013.
USAT recently solicited feedback on the wetsuit thickness issue from its certified race directors via a comprehensive survey. The majority of those surveyed supported USA Triathlon’s adoption of this rule.