USMS Category I and Category II Open Water Swimwear Rules

I recently reviewed the rules regarding swimwear for USMS sanctioned open water events after being included in an email with a question from Will Reeves.

Results for the Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim and the Deer Creek Open Water Marathon Swim have been separated into wetsuit and non-wetsuit divisions.  It is only fair to separate the results into two divisions since swimmers wearing wetsuits have an obvious advantage over non-wetsuit swimmers.  The USMS swimwear rules are a little more detailed and involve two categories of swimwear:  Category I and Category II.

Category I swimwear is one swimsuit in one or two pieces made of textile material.  For men, the suit cannot go above the navel or below the knee.  For women, the suit cannot cover the neck, go past the shoulder or below the knee.  Category I swimwear also includes a cap (or caps, including those made of neoprene) and goggles.  Nose plugs, ear plugs, wrist watches and grease are also approved under Category I rules.

Category II includes all types of swimwear that do not meet the Category I standards.  This includes wetsuits (which can be allowed at the discretion of the race director, when water temperatures do not exceed 78 degrees), but also swim skins, speed suits, rash guards, etc.  Category II rules for caps, goggles, etc are the same as for Category I.  The Category II rules go on to state:  Any published results or records must clearly indicate which swimmers wore  wetsuits.

While we have not had any issues regarding swimwear at GSL or Deer Creek, I think it is important to include more details regarding Category I and Category II swimwear during the registration process and check-in.  It is also important to help our volunteers and timers understand the differences between swimwear so that we can ensure that the results are separated into the correct divisions.

For complete USMS rules regarding open water events, please refer to Part 3 of the USMS Rule Book.

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