Breckynn Willis, a member of the swim team at Dimond High School in Anchorage, Alaska, had competed in four events at a swim competition Friday.
In the statement, the school district did not name the official who disqualified Willis, but said it is moving to decertify the individual. It’s also seeking to suspend the rule, calling it “ambiguous,” according to the statement.
The ASAA overturned the disqualification because the official didn’t notify the coach about the problem with how the swimsuit fit Breckynn’s body prior to her race.
Her mother thinks it was a form of harassment
Breckynn’s mother, Meagan Kowatch, told CNN that her daughter was wearing the same swimsuit every other member on the squad wears to compete.
“It’s sexual harassment,” Kowatch said. “It shouldn’t have any place on the pool deck.”
The measure requires race officials to notify a swimmer’s coach if an individual athlete’s attire doesn’t meet suit coverage restrictions.
In light of Breckynn’s case, the Alaska School Activities Association sent a letter to swim and dive officials reminding them that rules require that they must consider whether a swimmer is intentionally rolling up their swimsuit in order to expose their buttocks before they issue any disqualifications, KTUU reports.
“We would encourage officials to give the benefit of the doubt to the athlete,” association executive director Billy Strickland told KTUU.
A diagram is debated
A diagram released by the association shows how swimsuits should fit athletes and offers guidelines for race officials to follow.
But Breckynn’s mother thinks the diagram is out of date, and suggested to CNN that her daughter’s muscular tone made it harder for the swimsuit to fit properly. It shows a “1950s” swimsuit model, Kowatch said, and didn’t reflect the reality of how modern swimsuits fit the physique of high-level athletes when they’re performing.
“They’re body-shaming teenage girls,” Kowatch said. “These are tough, strong girls.”
Was she punished for putting in the work?
Dewayne Ingram, Breckynn’s’ strength conditioning coach, told CNN that in seven years of coaching hundreds of young athletes, she was the “most improved” athlete he’d seen. Starting with a 65-pound bench press maximum, Breckynn surged to being able to lift 150 pounds after a year, putting her in the top three of all female athletes Ingram has worked with.
The swimmer’s mother said she felt calling attention to how a swimsuit fit a teenager’s body sent the wrong signal, especially when her daughter wanted to be able to enjoy the glow of just being named to the school’s homecoming court.
“Breckynn can’t get away from this,” Kowatch said.