On September 6, a high school swimmer in Alaska won her 100-meter freestyle heat, only to be disqualified “as soon as she got out of the water,” notes Alanna Vagianos of American news and opinion website HuffPost. The referee announced that the teenager’s one-piece swimsuit broke the modesty rule. The 17-year-old championship swimmer at Diamond High School in Anchorage, Alaska was wearing the school-issued swimsuit. The other girls in the team also sported the same swimsuit, but she was the only one disqualified.
|The swimming team who were disqualified / Photo by: Meagan Kowatch via KTUU News|
The official disqualified the high school swimmer because “she could see butt cheek touching butt cheek,” a referee who was present at the match informed Bett Brag of Alaska-based daily newspaper Anchorage Daily News. Although the official and the teen’s name were not disclosed, the latter’s disqualification sparked controversy in the Anchorage community. Some people point out that the teenage swimmer is “non-white and curvier” than her peers. Swim coach at a neighboring high school Lauren Langford wrote about it in her essay on Medium, an online publishing platform.
Via Washington D.C.’s daily newspaper The Washington Post, she says, “All of these girls are all wearing suits that are cut the same way. The only individual who was disqualified is a “mixed-race girl with rounder, curvier features.” As stated in Langford’s essay, the national standards for high school swimming and diving attire or the “modesty attire” require male and female athletes to cover their breasts, buttocks, and genitals. However, all swimmers’ suits move “while they’re competing.” Also known as “suit wedgie,” it’s inevitable and no one is going to walk around with a wedgie intentionally.
|Swimming coach Lauren Langford shows the parts of the swimsuit / Photoby: KTUU News|
On September 9, the Anchorage School District (ASD) announced that it has launched an investigation into the referee’s controversial disqualification call. ASD is currently reviewing the swimmer’s disqualification during the September 6 swim meet. It intends to gather facts to accurately address the situation with officials. ASD also plans to take appropriate action to ensure “fair, equitable competition and consistent application of the rules” for the athlete and her peers.
According to Jill Burke of local outlet KTUU, ASD confirmed that the teenager’s swimsuit complied with the district’s modesty rules. In fact, the athlete wore the same one-piece suit “three other times this season” and was never disqualified. The teen had two other sisters who are in the swim team. All three experienced body shaming in the swimming community. Langford mentioned that there were parents of other swimmers who have said “for the sake of their sons” and the mother of the three athletes should instruct her daughters to “cover up.”
The teen swimmer’s mother explains to KTUU that she wants her daughters “to be valued for their athleticism and determination,” not shamed for their bodies.
|Photo by: Bill Roth via Anchorage Daily News|