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Alaska Teen Swimmer's Win That Was Disqualified over Swimsuit 'Wedgie' Has Been Reinstated

Claudine Varela
Sep 18, 2019
07:40 A.M.
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A Black student from Alaska was accused of going against the swimsuit modesty rule. This led an official of a swim meet to disqualify her from the competition. But recent developments reveal that the ruling was overturned.

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Last week, Breckynn Willis competed at a swim meet for the Diamond High School team and won. However, she was later disqualified due to the fit of her swimsuit. Because she was curvy, her swimsuit had a way of rolling up to a wedgie and exposing too much of her buttocks.

An official at the meet found this inappropriate and against the competition’s modesty guidelines so he moved to disqualify the 17-year-old. But after deliberating the motion, the Anchorage School District announced that Willis’ disqualification had been overturned.

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THE REVERSAL OF THE DISQUALIFICATION

According to a statement by the school district, it was determined that “the disqualification was the result of the misapplication of the rule.” As such, “all team and individual points shall be restored to both the individual swimmer and the Diamond High School Swim team.”

The statement also vowed to review the guidelines in order to “eliminate any ambiguity” so swimmers could compete in a fair environment.

In an August memo about the growing trend of swimmers wearing revealing swimsuits, officials were required to notify the coach if they deemed a swimsuit inappropriate prior to the meet. This wasn’t what happened in Willis’ case.

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WILLIS' MOTHER'S SENTIMENTS

Willis’ mother, Meagan Kowatch spoke to CNN and aired out her thoughts on her daughter’s disqualification.

"It's sexual harassment," she said. "It shouldn't have any place on the pool deck."

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She also believed it was unfair to single out her daughter who was wearing the same swimsuit the rest of her teammates were wearing. Hers just happened to fit differently.

“You can’t make a call like that just because you don’t like the way the suit is sitting on their body.”

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ANOTHER REASON FOR THE DISQUALIFICATION TO BE OVERTURNED

Meanwhile, the Alaska School Activities Association said that it overturned the disqualification because the official didn’t notify the problem with the swimsuit before the competition.

In an August memo about the growing trend of swimmers wearing revealing swimsuits, officials were required to notify the coach if they deemed a swimsuit inappropriate prior to the meet. This wasn’t what happened in Willis’ case. The complaint was made after she competed.

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The association’s director, Billy Strickland also advised officials to use their better judgment in the future and give the swimmers the benefit of the doubt because their suits may have rolled up unintentionally.

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MORE ISSUES RAISED SURROUNDING WILLIS' CASE

Willis' case has drawn a lot of attention from interested parties who saw various issues stemming from her story.

“...if children are in the same swimsuit, we’re no longer judging the swimsuit – we’re judging the body.”

Volunteer swim official Annette Rohde whose daughter was also on the swim team called out the official who disqualified Willis for his "ridiculous" decision.

“You can’t make a call like that just because you don’t like the way the suit is sitting on their body,” she told Time. She described the disqualification ruling as a result of a “grey area” on the rule book.

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The rules suggest that girls’ swimsuits should “cover buttocks and breasts” with a diagram that establishes what is considered appropriate or not.

However, some believe the rules are not clear-cut because a portion of the buttocks have a tendency to be exposed especially when the uniforms shift while swimming.

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In another perspective, swim coach Lauren Langford wrote on Medium that placing focus on the way a swimsuit fits the wearer may result in body shaming.

National official Joey Caterinichio agrees and says, “if children are in the same swimsuit, we’re no longer judging the swimsuit – we’re judging the body.”

In light of the controversy, the school district decided that Willis’ disqualification was a form of discrimination which was “heavy-handed and unnecessary” and vowed not to tolerate incidences like this in the future.

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