Iranian Woman Denied Swimming Record; Claims Because of Her “Femininity”

In late June, we received a Facebook message on the official SwimSwam Facebook page about an Iranian woman who had been denied a swimming record because her swimsuit, though complying with the country’s Islamic Law, showed her feminine features as she exited the water.

Elham Asghari, Iranian Open Water Swimmer (Image courtesy of youtube capture)

Elham Asghari, Iranian Open Water Swimmer (Image courtesy of youtube capture)

We attempted at the time to respond to the message, but got no response, and with few details on the incident (no name, no reference to pool or open water, or the specific swim), the case got cold in a hurry.

That is until this week, The Daily Mail in the U.K. posted their report.

Elham Asghari swam a 20km course across the Caspian Sea in roughly 9 hours, and though she wore a heavy, loose-fitting suit complete with head covering, Iranian officials have apparently denied her record swim, according to her.

‘They said no matter how Islamic my swimming gear, it was unacceptable,’ she told the Guardian earlier this year. ‘They said the feminine features of my body were showing as I came out of water.’
She says that her swim distance has been lowered to 15 kilometers, and when she protested that they accepted 18km, but wouldn’t budge on 20 kilometers, the distance that she says she has swum.
She says that in previous open water swims, she was blocked by police boats.
This controversy comes as the new Iranian leadership has pledged to be more progressive with their female citizens. In the interest of balance, there has been no evidence presented that verifies the 20 kilometer claim, either.

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Not surprised. They may be Shia, but the Iranian religious police are cut from the same cloth as the Saudi Mutaween, who frown on women wearing seatbelts in cars because the shoulder strap emphasizes the fact that they have breasts. (So, what they are saying is, you should die in a crash from preventable injuries rather than subject some poor guy to seeing a strap in the valley of your cleavage.) There was a woman swimming breaststroke in a hijab and loose top and pants at my pool a couple of weeks ago. Her daughter was dressed similarly and doing a respectable fly. Now THAT is a drag suit. But it showed how much they wanted to swim, so more… Read more »

The End of Days...

Geez, next thing you know these women will start asking for things like, “education” or “jobs” or “rights”. That government needs change course and nip this thing right in the bud. God only knows what women would do with all this new found freedom. It will be total anarchy, men losing control of the world and rendered as mere, well, you know where this is going…


The swim community and governing bodies should take a stand. No major competitions allowed in any country that imposes such midievel rules on women. That to me would include the UAE and other supposedly “modern” regions of the middle east. They can enjoy their religious intolerance in complete isolation from the rest of the world.


totally agree with u !

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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