Ruling which disqualified swimmer for 'revealing' swimsuit overturned after backlash

Harriet Brewis
The 17-year-old was 'singled out' for her body shape, according to a local swimming coach: Pixabay

Officials have reversed the decision to disqualify a winning high school swimmer because her swimsuit was too revealing.

Breckynn Willis, 17, was disqualified following a race against a rival school on Friday.

National high school standards state that female swimmers must have both their buttocks and breasts covered.

Ms Willis, of Diamond High School, was accused of violating these rules, despite wearing a school-issued costume.

But Alaska's governing body for high school sports has now overturned the ruling following backlash over the issue.

America's National Federation of State High School Association released strict 'modesty' guidelines for swimming costumes last month (Pixabay)

The local education authority, Anchorage School District, said the 17-year-old had been discriminated against for her body shape.

It said Ms Willis had been targeted “solely on how a standard school-issued uniform happened to fit the shape of her body,” and said her disqualification from the race was "heavy-handed and unnecessary.”

The Alaska School Activities Association agreed that the disqualification had been unfair, and ruled that it should be quashed.

It said in a statement: “The disqualification was made in error and is being overturned.

“All team and individual points shall be restored to both the individual swimmer and the Dimond High School Swim team."

In a follow-up statement, Anchorage School District, condemned the national swimsuit coverage rule as “ambiguous” and said it would be suspending its use of it.

“It allows the potential for bias to influence officials' decisions,” it said.

In August, the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS) introduced a rule change which permits the disqualification of an athlete for not conforming to uniform guidelines.

NFHS executive director Karissa Niehoff said there was a “growing trend” in high school swimming and diving for athletes to wear swimsuits “in a manner that contradicts the intention of their original design.”

"Specifically, suits are being worn in such a way as to expose the athlete's buttocks,” she said. "This issue is not gender-specific and is occurring in various states across the country.”

Swim coach Lauren Langford, who works at a competing high school, said Ms Willis had been punished for her athletic physique, a combination of genetics and years of training to gain strength and speed.

"The rest of her team was wearing the same uniform, and she was the only one disqualified," Ms Langford said. "It is my opinion that she has been targeted and singled out over the course of the last year."

She explained that the cut of most competitive suits was not in compliance with the NHFS’s modesty rule, noting a V-shape angle on the backside of women's competitive costumes sold by most manufacturers.

"Before these suits even get on an athlete's body, the cut of them isn't in compliance with the modesty rule," Ms Langford said.

Ms Langford said the renewed emphasis on modesty was well-intended but had got out of hand, especially given the vague nature of the rule.

"It does not state that that coverage of the buttocks needs to be full coverage," Langford said.

"That's something that we have gotten carried away with. If we are going to police this rule and if it's not a thong or a G-string, then it is in compliance."