Alaskan high school swimming standout Breckynn Willis have her wins reinstated after she was disqualified at a recent swim meet for a uniform violation.
The 17-year-old Willis, who is captain of her team at Dimond High School, was disqualified after a female judge said Willis’ suit was in violation of the sport’s so-called modesty rules, saying she could see “butt cheek touching butt cheek.”
The move to reverse the ruling came less than hour after the Anchorage School District announced its formal appeal on behalf of Willis. A statement by ASD said it had concluded the disqualification was "heavy-handed and unnecessary" and that its “swimmer was targeted based solely on how a standard, school-issued uniform happened to fit the shape of her body."
Aside from having Willis’ wins reinstated, the ASD is seeking to have swimming official Jill Blackstone decertified.
According to the Anchorage NBC affiliate, the Alaska School Activities Association said the district believes Blackstone has targeted Willis and her sister, a fellow teammate, in a pattern of unfair enforcement over the past year.
"ASAA has determined, the disqualification was the result of the misapplication of the rule and as a result is being overturned," the association wrote in a statement.
ASAA also said that after consulting with the National Federation of State High School Associations, it sent out a letter to all 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 buttock before they issue any disqualifications.
Willis’ disqualification met with outrage on the national level.
Medium contributor Lauren Langford penned an op-ed on the matter, saying the disqualification was part of a broader trend of policing young girls’ bodies.
“As a swim coach at another school within the district that regularly competes with Dimond High, I’ve watched this scandal divide my swimming community,” Langford wrote. “It has caused my own athletes to be needlessly self-conscious about the appearance of their bodies, which preoccupies them just as much, if not more, than the quality of their performances. What’s clear is that these girls’ bodies are being policed — not their uniforms.”
For its part, the Anchorage School District has said it will seek to “suspend with the intent to revise” the rule from the National Federation of High School Sports that defines appropriate swimwear.