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High school swimmer disqualified over 'immodest' swimsuit

9Honey logo 9Honey 4 days ago Maddison Leach

A teen swimmer ranked one of the best in her state has been disqualified after her school-issued swimsuit was deemed immodest.

a person holding a sign posing for the camera: Breckynn Willis is a state ranked high school swim champion, but was disqualified over her suit. © KTUU Breckynn Willis is a state ranked high school swim champion, but was disqualified over her suit. Breckynn Willis, 17, is a competitive swimmer at Dimon High School in Anchorage, Alaska, and had already won her race when a referee disqualified her after deeming her swimsuit 'immodest.'

However, Willis was wearing the swimsuit her school had issued when she was disqualified. She was the only student singled out, despite the fact the rest of her team were wearing identical suits.

The teenager was disqualified for breaching the "modesty rule," which allows referees the discretion to disqualify swimmers whose attire is deemed inappropriate.

Swimsuits must adequately cover the breasts, buttocks and genitals to be considered in compliance.

Willis' suit reportedly fit all these requirements, and she had worn the same suit at three prior meets this season without issue. However, the referee claimed the suit exposed too much of her buttocks.

a close up of a logo: Guidelines state that the buttocks must be covered adequately. © KTUU Guidelines state that the buttocks must be covered adequately.

Lauren Langford, a lifelong swimmer and high school swim coach, shared the story on Medium, explaining this isn't the first time Willis has been targeted.

According to Langford, a team parent took photos of Willis' backside in her swimsuit without her knowledge or consent last year, then emailed the images out "as evidence that [Willis'] attire is immoral."

Willis' sisters have also been targeted for their swim attire, with Langford suggesting the mixed-race teens are being singled out for their curvier, fuller figures.

In fact, the referee who disqualified Willis had previously criticised her younger sister and fellow swimmer, Dreamer Kowatch, for the fit of her own swimsuit.

a woman smiling and posing for the camera: Willis' younger sister, Dreamer Kowatch (left), has also had run-ins with the referee. © KTUU Willis' younger sister, Dreamer Kowatch (left), has also had run-ins with the referee.

The girls' mother, Meagan Kowatch, wants Willis' victory reinstated and her disqualification overturned, and has requested the referee in question is kept away from her daughters' races.

Though there is currently an investigation underway into the circumstances of Willis' disqualification, Kowatch has yet to hear the outcome.

"If we find that this was an error in judgment by an official, we are going to definitely ensure that there are steps in place so that it doesn't happen again," Kersten Johnson-Struempler, Senior Director of Secondary Education for the Anchorage School District, told KTUU.

There are concerns that the disqualification has already had a major impact on the teen, and demonstrates sexism in the competitive swim environment.

Langford feels that the 'modesty rule' is unfair on young swimmers, especially girls. © KTUU Langford feels that the 'modesty rule' is unfair on young swimmers, especially girls.

Lamgford wrote that the 'modesty rule' and its enforcement has led young swimmers, especially girls, to feel "needlessly self-conscious" and is designed to police their bodies, not their uniforms.

Yet officials like Sandy Searcy, Director of Sports for the National Federation of State High School Associations, disagree.

"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," she said.

Searcy's suggestion that adult referees are "uncomfortable" around teen swimmers is concerning and has raised questions over the sexualisation of minors simply participating in their sport.

a group of people posing for the camera: Willis and Kowatch with their trainer. © KTUU Willis and Kowatch with their trainer.

"If you do not like the way that swimsuits fit on these girls' bodies then don't look; they are minors, children, and no one should be looking at them anyway," Langford wrote.

Langford added the 'modesty rule' needs rethinking as it is currently vague, and suggested that all swimsuits that are not thong or g-string styles should be permitted.

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