17-year-old female swimmer was disqualified after race because of her body shape

A 17-year-old high school swimmer was disqualified after winning a 100-meter freestyle race merely because a referee deemed her swimsuit ‘immodest’, saying it was too revealing of the girl’s body, specifically her backside.

Breckynn Willis, who is a student at Diamond High School in Anchorage, Alaska, was wearing the approved and school-issued swimsuit in order to compete against Chugiak High School.

Only after winning the 100-meter race, however, the head referee urged the disqualification of the young swimmer as the girl’s swimsuit was characterized as inappropriate. The referee reportedly claimed that the swimsuit “was so far up I could see butt cheek touching butt cheek.” 

Needless to say, the rest of the swim team of Dimond High School was wearing the exact same swimwear, however, solely Willis was disqualified.

The state of Alaska follows the national high school standards which entail male swimmers to have their backside covered, as well as females to have both buttocks and breasts covered.

Image credit: National Federation of State High School Associations

Lauren Langford, an Anchorage swim coach, however, posted images of common “swimsuit uniforms” and noted that they could not fully cover a swimmer’s backside.

Image credit: Lauren Langford/The Medium

She says:

“They’re not in compliance even before they get on the body of a swimmer. Some of these brands are currently being used as team suits. If lots of girls are wearing them, and they’re cut in a way that is ‘immodest,’ why has only one swimmer been disqualified?”

Luckily, school officials supported the 17-year-old athlete, as evidenced by a statement released by the Anchorage School District (ASD) in which the decision was characterized as “heavy-handed and unnecessary”.

Dewayne Ingram, who is the Dimond High School coach, also showed his support and appealed the decision before the Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA).

It was later reported that the ASAA reversed the decision on Tuesday.

The aforementioned statement from the Anchorage School District also draws the conclusion that Ms. Willis was indeed targeted solely due to the way “a standard, school-issued” swimsuit fit her body shape.

The statement also included the following:

“We cannot tolerate discrimination of any kind, and certainly not based on body shape. This disqualification was heavy-handed and unnecessary.” 

The appeal requested that the young swimmer’s disqualification be reversed, all points be returned to the team, as well as the referee be decertified.

Dewayne Ingram, Willis’s coach, spoke about Breckynn and her sister, Dreamer, applauding their “commitment and consistency” to the sport of swimming over the span of three years.

“They’re just an inspiration that should be celebrated and applauded, not rebuked,” he said.

The Anchorage School District also commented on the young sibling athletes, saying that they are “phenomenal competitors”, while also mentioning the fact that “their hard work, determination and grit in the pool should be an inspiration to us all.”

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