Taping on Swimmers During Competition
USA Swimming is very clear that taping is “for wound closure only”, meaning a band aid for a wound or piece of tape to cover a medication port. The policy is absolutely clear regarding the use of Kinesio tape, popular with Physical Therapy treatments – it is not allowed under any circumstances.
On the USA Swimming website at http://www.usaswimming.org/_Rainbow/Documents/8b24a775-fd5c-40c5-a566-5c7bc5ddb566/FAQs%206-6-10.pdf is this clear explanation (bolding/color added for emphasis):
FAQ #8 – Taping on the Body
Question: Is any kind of tape allowed on the body during competition?
Answer: Article 102.9.1E states, “Any kind of tape on the body is not permitted unless approved by the Referee.” The intent of this rule is that no tape be allowed unless it is needed for valid medical reasons. However, regardless of any medical reason, tape should not be allowed if it will provide any kind of competitive advantage to a swimmer. For example, a bandaid applied to a cut or an open wound would be considered necessary for medical reasons, but would not provide any competitive advantage to a swimmer and therefore should be allowed. However, if a swimmer was required to tape all of his fingers together for a good and valid medical reason, it should not be allowed because regardless of the medical reason, it would provide a competitive advantage to the swimmer. One of the more common types of taping is known as kinesio taping and although there may be a valid medical reason for using it, it is considered to provide the swimmer with a competitive advantage and should not be allowed. In all cases, the use of tape can only be approved by the referee and only if it does not provide a competitive advantage to the swimmer.
Additionally, the question was posed in June 2011 to our USA Swimming National Rules & Regulations Committee Chair, Dan McAllen and here is his response:
….There has been nothing further on the kinesio tape issue in print or otherwise…. I generally try to remember to cover kinesio tape in the pre-meet meeting with coaches so that no one gets surprised. An orthopedic surgeon who regularly treats professional athletes told me that if an athlete can only compete if wearing kinesio tape that athlete has no business competing at all. (emphasis added)