Breckynn Willis, a student at Dimond High School in Anchorage, Alaska, wore the approved, school-issued swimsuit to compete in a competition against Chugiak High School.
After winning the 100m race, however, the head referee disqualified the student, reportedly claiming that the girl’s swimsuit “was so far up I could see butt cheek touching butt cheek.’’
The rest of the Dimond High School swim team were wearing the same swimsuit, but Willis was the only student disqualified.
School officials have stood firm beside the young athlete. In a statement released by the Anchorage School District, the decision was described as “heavy-handed and unnecessary”.
“The Anchorage School District has concluded that our swimmer was targeted based solely on how a standard, school-issued uniform happened to fit the shape of her body.
“We cannot tolerate discrimination of any kind, and certainly not based on body shape,” it read.
Dewayne Ingram, the Dimond High School coach, spoke of Breckynn and her younger sister, Dreamer’s, commitment to the sport, commending their “commitment and consistency” over a three year period.
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“They’re just an inspiration that should be celebrated and applauded, not rebuked,” he said.
On Wednesday, Ingram forwarded his appeal to the District which presented the appeal to the Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) on behalf of the team.
Their requests include that Willis’ disqualification be reversed, that all points be returned to the team, that the official be decertified and that the current NFHS suit coverage rule be suspended due to its ambiguity and potential for bias in influencing official’s decisions.
The Anchorage School District described the young athletes are “phenomenal competitors”, adding that “their hard work, determination and grit in the pool should be an inspiration to us all.
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Alaska follows national high school standards that call for male swimmers to have their buttocks covered and for girls to have both their buttocks and breasts covered.
Lauren Langford, a swim coach for the neighbouring West High School team, told NBC that she had heard people say that the girls had “got what they deserved” and that “they got what was coming to them”, comments which have had a negative impact on the athletes.
“It is my opinion that she [Willis] has been targeted and singled out over the last year,” she said.
The Independent has contacted Dimond High School for comment.