Alaskan HS swimmer disqualified for 'suit wedgie' after winning race

Photo: Jim Krajewski/RGJ

A Dimond High School (Anchorage, Alaska) swimmer touched the wall before any of her opponents in the 100-meter freestyle.

It was the 17-year-old’s second race of the meet. She had won the 200 IM to open her day, and would later compete in two more races.

But as Annette Rohde, an official working the meet, prepared for the teen to receive the victory, she saw the swimmer had been disqualified.

The teenage swimmer was disqualified due to what was described to the Anchorage Daily News as a uniform violation.

Rohde “froze in disbelief” and later questioned the referee. A female referee told her the bottom of the girl’s suit “was so far up I could see butt cheek touching butt cheek,” according to the ADN.

The swimmer was wearing the school-issued swimsuit, according to a statement issued by the Anchorage School District.

National Federation of High Schools rules regarding swimwear states boys must “cover their buttocks” and girls must “cover their buttocks and breasts.”

Lauren Langford, the coach at West High School (Anchorage, Alaska), wrote a scathing blog post on Medium about the disqualification, and spoke to ADN and the Washington Post about the controversy, both specifically and in general terms:

Are athletes showing too much skin? Or is this a natural part of swimming?

“We have a term for it – it’s called a suit wedgie, and if you’ve ever been a swimmer, you’ve had one,” Langford said to the ADN.

On Langford’s Medium post, she also addressed what she perceives to be a racial factor. The swimmer is mixed-race, according to Langford.

They are being targeted not because they are wearing their suits to be scandalous, thus inspiring immorality among other young people, but rather because their ample hips, tiny waists, full chests, and dark complexions look different than their willowy, thin, and mostly pallid teammates. Some will argue this has nothing to do with race, but when the same officials targeting these girls have been heard saying that so-and-so white girl also shows too much skin but has never been disqualified for a similar violation the racial facet of this issue cannot be ignored.

The swimsuits are the same for each swimmer, Langford argues, yet this girl is the only one to be called out for it — and people are blaming her for the way the suit fits her, not the decision-makers for putting her in that swimsuit.

Some have even accused the girl of hiking her swimsuit up on purpose, Langford told the Washington Post.

She wrote in her Medium post:

The issue has come so far unraveled that parents in opposition of these girls and their swimwear have been heard saying that for the sake of their sons, the mother of these young ladies should cover up her daughters. Talk about thrusting modern women back into an era in which men were never held accountable for their behavior!

Cliff Murray, a longtime swim instructor who coaches at South High School (Anchorage, Alaska), told ADN it’s typically a “case-by-base basis.”

“If you’re in a situation where your suit creeps up, somebody comes over to a coach and says ‘Hey, you’ve got an athlete who needs to adjust his or her suit,’ and they have that opportunity to fix it,” Murray said to the outlet. “And if they don’t, there are ramifications.”

This is not the first time the athlete has been subject to controversy regarding the way the swimsuit fits her.

In Sept. 2018, a team parent took pictures of teen’s backsides in swimsuits as they were preparing to race and emailed them around in an attempt to show “inappropriate” attire, according to the Medium post and a timeline of events posted onto the ASD website.

An assistant principal told the parent to stop taking those pictures, according to the ASD.

In May, new swimsuits were ordered for the team.

Dimond High School filed a protest at the meet, which was denied. The ASD statement said the coach is expected to appeal the decision.

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