Interpretation of USAS Rule 102.8.1E

There has been much confusion about alllowable (and not) types of tapes permitted to be worn by swimmers in competition. This has been further confused by the fact that the NFHS and NCAA rules are not in sync with FINA's (and thus USA Swimming's) rules. While we have discussed what was meant by the language in Rule 102.8.1E (especially as it relates to the use of kinesio tape), there had not been a definitive interpretation that spelled out what was allowable and, more importantly, what was not allowed by USAS rule.

A new interpreation has been provided by Jay Thomas, Chair, USAS Rules & Regulations Committee which now spells out definitively what is specifically excluded from use by swimmers in competition. Here is the interpretation...

The NCAA and NFHS have adopted rules which permit the use of tape under certain circumstances. There now appears to be some confusion regarding the application of USA Swimming Rule 102.8.1E. The following interpretation of 102.8.1.E is presented to provide clarity to the use of tape in USA Swimming competitions.

Article 102.8.1E states in part, …“Any kind of tape on the body is not permitted unless approved by the Referee.”

Common sense should prevail. The following uses of tape are generally permitted in competition:

1. Wound protection and closure. Band-Aids, dressings, ”Butterfly” type, etc. are normally permitted with no advanced notification to the Referee. When the tape to hold a dressing in place completely circles a major limb or the dressing is exceptionally large in size, advanced notification to the Referee is recommended.

2. Taping of fingers or toes. “Buddy Taping” no more than two (2) injured fingers or toes together should be permitted. Advanced notification to the Referee is recommended.

3. Tape to secure medical alert bracelets and pendants, religious objects, etc. should be permitted. Advanced notification to the Referee is recommended.

4. Tape to secure medical devices. Example – insulin pumps, ostomy bags, etc. should be permitted. Advanced notification to the Referee is required.

The following uses of tape are not permitted in competition – irrespective of whether a Doctor’s note has been presented.

1. Elastic Therapeutic Tape is never permitted.

2. Kinesio Taping is never permitted.

3. Any other taping intentioned to provide compression or support to muscles, ligaments, tendons or joints (except as stated above) is never permitted.

Should you have any questions, please contact Bob Mermelstein at