To promote competitor safety and assist with competitor identification, competitors and handlers entering the water beyond knee depth shall be required to wear distinctive high visibility pink, orange, yellow, green or red coloured vests as determined by SLSA (or relevant SLS event organiser) for an event.

Competitors may be permitted to wear their own vest, or event organisers may supply vests. If SLSA supplies vests, competitors may wear their own vests only if the colour is the same colour as prescribed by the organisers and the vests meet the requirements of the SLSA Competition Sponsorship Policy 5.8 and are approved by the Competition Committee for the event.

These vests must be worn over the top of existing swimwear and, if appropriate, any personal flotation devices (with the exception of IRB Competitors – refer Section 3), protective clothing and/or wetsuits and/or R&R costumes that are worn.

Hi visibility vests worn by swimmers in events are to be sleeveless type singlets and, when worn, should extend from the neck to the midriff region. Participants in other events (including handlers) are permitted to wear different style high visibility vests (e.g. sleeved rash shirts).

Should event organisers prescribe different coloured vests and/or caps to be worn in particular events, areas or genders, to assist with safety, identification and/or judging purposes (e.g. IRB, board riding, and beach sprint/relay events) these will be supplied by SLSA for the event. In such circumstances club or team caps and/or hi visibility vests do not need to be worn under the prescribed cap or coloured vests.

(a) Competitors shall wear costumes, clothing or dress as approved by SLSA.
(b) A competitor shall be not be permitted to take part in any competition if, in the opinion of the Referee, the competitor is not properly dressed.
(c) Swimwear to be worn in all SLSA ocean competition swim legs and pool rescue competition swim legs (including special events) must comply with the following standards:

  • (i) Swimwear worn by males shall not extend above the navel or below the knee.
  • (ii) Swimwear worn by females shall not cover the neck, shoulders or arms nor extend below the knees. Two piece swimsuits that conform to this standard may also be worn.

(d) The material and construction used in swimwear to be worn in all SLSA beach competition swim legs and pool rescue events swim legs shall be:

  • (i) Only textile woven fabric(s) shall be permitted.
  • (ii) Non-woven and/or non-permeable (e.g. wetsuit type) materials shall not be permitted.
  • (iii) The material used shall have a maximum thickness of 0.8mm.
  • (iv) Other than string ties for the tops of male swimwear, the bottom and/or top of female two piece swimwear and the back of female one piece open back swimsuits, no zippers or other fastening systems shall be permitted.
  • (v) Swimwear that provides flotation, pain reduction, chemical/medical stimulation or other external stimulation or influence of any type shall be prohibited.
  • (vi) No outside application on the material shall be permitted. (Note: manufacturer brandings, club names or similar are permitted).

(e) SLSA will allow both male and female competitors to wear “modesty” swimwear made of a textile woven fabric under their swimsuit, provided that no competitive advantage is gained. Further, any modesty swimwear shall be restricted to the short style for men and the two piece style top and/or bottom for women.

(f) Upon application for religious and/or cultural diversity/medical and/or Sun Safety reasons, SLSA will consider the wearing of (non-body shaping) textile swimwear that covers a greater part of the body provided that such swimwear does not provide a competitive advantage.

(g) The Referee may authorise the wearing of wetsuits or “marine stinger suits” dependent upon weather, water or other marine conditions.

(h) Wetsuits shall be permitted in events when the water temperature is 16 degrees Celsius or less, or when the Referee determines wind chill is a factor. Water temperature measurements should be taken approximately 30 cm below the surface.

Note 1: The Referee in consultation with the Emergency Safety Management Coordinator in consultation and the Competition Committee may allow the wearing of wetsuits in water temperatures greater than 16 degrees particularly where weather and/or wind chill factors are considered a risk for participant hypothermia.
Note 2: It is highly recommended that participants wear wetsuits in events in which they are immersed in water when the water temperature is 13 degrees Celsius or less.

(i) The only wetsuits approved for use in events involving swimming events or swimming legs of events (other than the IRBs Rescue Tube Race) shall have a maximum thickness of 3.3 mm at any location on the wetsuit. Wetsuits cannot contain additional material to provide the wearer with flotation or buoyancy assistance. It is not permitted to wear more than one wetsuit (i.e. one upon the other) but one modesty textile swimsuit is permitted.

(j) Except for swimmers in events, the wearing of other protective clothing (including personal flotation devices (PFDs), shorts, long tights, calf-stockings, Lycra tops, t-shirts etc.) may be worn by individual competitors in both individual and team events, unless otherwise prescribed by these rules or the event organising authority. Where a competitor chooses to wear a PFD, it is highly recommended that the PFD meets the SLSA approved L25 Australian Standard for personal floatation devices – AS: 4758.

Note 1: Board Paddlers may wear protective clothing except that sleeves are not permitted on the arms of competitors.
Note 2: In cases where the device does not meet this standard, SLSA encourages the user to complete a risk assessment and read all relevant safety warnings and operational instructions on the product. Members should be aware that not all PFDs meet AS: 4758 and thus their effectiveness in preventing drowning is unproven. Additionally, non-compliance with the Australian Standard may mean that these devices present other potential risks e.g. poor fit, easily dislodge in surf conditions, and restrict movement and breathing.
Note 3: In all IRB training and competition it is compulsory for drivers, crew and patients to wear high visibility (conspicuous colour) SLSA approved level 50 Australian Standard (AS4758) lifejackets or Type 2 (AS1499-1996) lifejackets. (Level 50S lifejackets unless listed on the SLSA Approved Gear and Equipment List are not approved). It is not required for high visibility safety vests to be worn over the top of lifejackets. See also Section 3 of the Surf Sports Manual.

(k) In addition, the following exceptions apply to particular events:
(i) In surf boat events, the sweep oarsman may wear apparel (including wetsuits and booties) as the conditions warrant. The specifications for wetsuits shall not apply.
(ii) In IRB events competitors may wear apparel (including wetsuits, booties, gloves and hoods) in all events. The specifications for wetsuits shall not apply.
(iii) In March Past events dress shall be of consistent style and colour. Competitors may wear costumes or uniform casual wear, provided that such dress will enable teams to demonstrate to Judges the marching and technical skills prescribed for the event. The wearing of protective sun creams shall also be permitted. A Panama style hat may be worn over the top of a fastened club cap, or alternatively, a peaked cap underneath or over a fastened club cap.
(iv) In R&R events, both male and female competitors shall wear uniform dress. “Traditional” style costumes shall be permitted provided that the material (which must conform to the requirements specified in this Section) does not cover the neck or extend below the knees. In addition, other than string ties for the tops of men’s swimwear, the bottom and/or top of female two-piece swimwear, and the back of female one piece open back swimsuits, no zippers or other fastening systems shall be permitted. Teams are to wear numbered caps.
(v) In Board Riding events competitors may wear apparel (including wetsuits, booties, handwebs and hoods) as the conditions warrant. The specifications for wetsuits shall not apply.
(vi) SLSA will allow competitors in beach events to wear long tights or calf stockings.
(vii) Unless otherwise required by event organisers competitors in pool rescue competitions are exempt from wearing high visibility vests.

(l) Sunglasses or optical glasses may be worn in all events provided that any eye protection or optical glasses worn must be suitably designed for that event.

(m) The wearing of footwear shall not be permitted in beach sprint or beach flag events unless specifically allowed by the Referee due to the prevailing beach surface conditions.

(n) It is permitted to wear jewellery in all events unless particularly prohibited by entry conditions (e.g. communication watches in lifesaving events). However, competitors need to be conscious of the potential for injury in wearing some items.