Alaska School District Investigating DQ of Female Swimmer Over Suit Fit

Alaska’s Anchorage School District is investigating the disqualification of 17-year-old female swimmer Breckynn Willis from a race she won Friday night over the fit of her suit, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

After winning the 100 free for Dimond High School, an official told Willis she was disqualified because her “swimsuit was exposing too much of her buttocks,” according to the Post. Willis, a multi-time state champion, was wearing a suit issued to her by the school, and her coach filed a protest with the official that was denied.

The call has drawn allegation of sexism, and some of racism, among the community. Lauren Langford, a coach at another local high school, told the Post that she believed that Willis being a minority race played a role in the DQ — all the girls on her team were wearing the suit, but only one swimmer was called for it. Last year, the same official had approached Willis’ younger sister about the fit of her suit as well, according to NBC affiliate KTUU.

“All of these girls are all wearing suits that are cut the same way,” Langford said. “And the only girl who gets disqualified is a mixed-race girl with rounder, curvier features.” The official who made the call has not been identified, but Annette Rohde, another official working the meet, told the Anchorage Daily News that she was shocked by her colleague’s decision: “I told her, ‘I need to know how you’re defining this, because this is going to blow up,'” Rohde said.

This wasn’t the first time Breckynn had been singled-out, either. Last year, a parent “took a photo of her backside” and shared it with other parents to point out the way female athletes were wearing their suits. The swimmer had been accused of intentional hiking her suit up.

Langford also penned a now-viral blog post on about the situation.

The district expects the coach to appeal and released a statement Monday on the situation:

“We intend to gather all the facts surrounding the disqualification so we can accurately address the matter with officials and take appropriate action to ensure fair, equitable competition and consistent application of the rules for this athlete and her peers.

Because swimming and diving suit coverage rules and regulations have been an ongoing national discussion, the Dimond High School Swim Program has made deliberate efforts over the last year to ensure athletes’ uniforms meet the regulations prescribed by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) to avoid any confusion or misinterpretation.  This year, the Dimond swim team has purchased approved, team suits for every swimmer that meet the requirements put forth by the NFHS. The disqualified athlete was wearing the approved, school-issued suit during the race.  In the first three meets this year, the Dimond swim team has had no disqualifications related to the wear of the swim uniform.

The NFHS provides the rules and regulations by which our athletic competitions are conducted.  ASD contracts with local swim clubs to conduct swim meets across the District under the rules stipulated by the NFHS.  Officials’ decisions are independent, guided by those rules.  However, we expect all referees and officials to conduct themselves in a manner that respects the dignity and rights of every student athlete regardless of the young person’s gender, body shape, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, or disability.”

The National Federation of State High School Associations, the governing body for high school athletics, has standards for swimwear, recently updated for the 2019-2020 season. It states that “females shall wear suits which cover the buttocks and breasts. In August, the organization released a memo about suit coverage and circulated an illustrated example of appropriate attire.

“What we’re attempting to do is try to define the parameters of the problem that quite frankly has been brought to us by adults who are uncomfortable being on deck with young men and young ladies who are not appropriately covered,” Sandy Searcy, director of sports for the NFHS, told KTUU.

“The goal is not to have officials focus on the backsides of male or female swimmers, but provide guidance for compliance,” KTUU said she added.

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1 year ago

Are you kidding me? Just go to Florida or any college team where all the girls hike their suits half-way up their butts.

Reply to  SwimFL
1 year ago

My old team in Florida did this so you aren’t wrong

Reply to  SwimFL
1 year ago

Obviously the official who noted the DQ and the inappropriate picture taker (as in inappropriate to take a picture of anyone’s back side) have never been to a college practice.

Reply to  Anonymous
1 year ago

Or a National level meet for that matter

Ann Guins
Reply to  SwimFL
1 year ago

SWIMFL, true

13 % Chinese person
Reply to  SwimFL
1 year ago

College vs School

Reply to  SwimFL
1 year ago

They have overturned the DQ! The girl wins after all. To the Alaska Association: please ban the official and the creepy parent who took the picture. Here is the article:

Lynne Miller
Reply to  SwimFL
1 year ago

The issue in Alaska was never about hiking suits up. Seriously.

1 year ago

Just because your suit shows your butt doesn’t mean you should get disqualified from a race!

Swim Dad
Reply to  Swimfan
1 year ago

I fully agree and wish high school rules weren’t written to say that you should be disqualified for showing your butt. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the rule says that was adopted by every state federation. As a male high school official who is also a parent of a teenage boy and girl, it’s also a rule that I don’t want to have any role in. If schools want to take it upon themselves to institute a ‘dress code’ for their team then I think that should be left to them. The gray line comes in comparing in to something like tucking your shirt in as a basketball player. The rules require that it. Can you justify that in the name… Read more »

Reply to  Swim Dad
1 year ago

No such rules in water polo. Wearing suits like that is completely normal, and no one bats an eye. Guess swim parents are a more modest bunch.

Reply to  Swimfan
1 year ago

it does if they have modesty standards.

Reply to  Meeeeee
1 year ago

A suit up a rear end is not as bad as the creeeeepy AF parent who took a photo and emailed it to other parents. That parent needs to be banned from the pool deck.

Reply to  Applesandoranges
1 year ago

Just read the Wash. Post article. The parent that took the picture of a teenage girls rear end and sent it to other parents is MALE!! That is unbelievable!!

Upset Bystander
Reply to  MarkB
1 year ago

He needs to be charge with something taking uninvited pictures of that child’s backside and spreading around. How would he like it, if someone did that to his child.

1 year ago

This is really a ridiculous rule as these suits are CUT this way! If they want it to fit in the top, and cover the bottom, then adjust the make of the suit.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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