Is it permissible to compete in Masters events while using optical display devices such as Finis Form? (On a recent SwimSwam interview between Mel Stewart and Nathan Adrian, Mel said they were permissible in- because they did not communicate with others?)

Who clarifies whether devices like optical metric displays are permissible in Masters competition? 

  • Hi

    The Smart Goggle is AWESOME for training, but it is not permissible to use in USMS competitions. See below for a response from the USMS Rules Chair on this topic. 

    You may have seen, USMS sent this email yesterday on behalf of our partner FINIS that included the SwimSwam podcast. 

    It included this text at the bottom to clarify: Despite claims in the podcast, the FINIS Smart Goggle is a training device and is not legal to use in competitions.


    102.12.1E from the USMS Rule Book is the article that prohibits these types of goggles (FINIS Smart Goggle, FORM, etc). Technically, devices like watches are okay unless the swimmer is clearly seen to be using it to receive visual data, but there is a difference between a watch on your wrist and a device in your goggle. To a good official, it would be relatively evident if a swimmer is checking their watch for splits and using that information to aid their speed, but there's no way for an official to do the same with a smart goggle.  The device may not be used to aid the speed of the swimmer.

    Here is the rule: No swimmer is permitted to wear or use any device or substance to enhance speed, pace, buoyancy, or endurance during a race (such as webbed gloves, fins, power bands, adhesive substances, snorkels, neoprene caps, etc.). Goggles may be worn, and rubdown oil applied if not considered excessive by the referee. Medical identification items may be worn. Therapeutic elastic tape is prohibited. Any other kind of tape on the body is not permitted unless approved by the referee.

     Also here are the corresponding World Aquatic regulations, page 71.   


     15.1 For swimming competitions, Swimsuits for men shall not extend above the navel nor below the knee. For women, the swimsuit shall not cover the neck, nor extend past the shoulder, nor below knee. The Swimsuits shall be made from textile materials. 

     15.2 No swimmer shall be permitted to use or wear any device or swimsuit that may aid his/her speed, buoyancy or endurance during a competition (such as webbed gloves, flippers, fins, power bands, or adhesive substances, etc.). The use of technology and automated data collection devices is permissible for the sole purpose of collecting data. Automated devices shall not be utilised to transmit data, sounds, or signals to the swimmer and may not be used to aid their speed. Goggles may be worn. As a consequence of injury, it is permissible to tape not more than one or two fingers or toes. Any other kind of tape on the body is not permitted unless approved by the Referee or other designated person.  

  • Hmm. They way those rules are written, I’d argue that my use of optical display goggles was for “data collection” and not to enhance my speed.


  • Disagree. The use of the qualifier "sole" before "purpose of collecting" invalidates the argument. It can't be used for simultaneous feedback and data collection. The sole purpose language is to allow the use of a ring on your finger which records the biometrics, to be read later. Katie Ledecky is a spokesperson for that item.