A high school swimmer in Alaska had a victory taken away Friday when she was disqualified for a uniform violation.
The girl, who competed in four races Friday for Dimond High School against Chugiak High School, was disqualified from one race, according to the Anchorage Daily News. According to an official who worked at the meet, the referee who disqualified the girl said she could see "butt cheek touching butt cheek" because of her swimsuit, the newspaper reported.
The swimmer has competed in 14 races since the high school swimming season began three weeks ago, the Daily News reported.
The referee's decision is under investigation by the Anchorage School District. The referee has not been officially identified.
"The disqualification appears to stem from a difference of opinion in the interpretation of the rules governing high school swim uniforms," the school district said in a statement. "We intend to gather all the facts surrounding the disqualification so we can accurately address the matter with officials and take appropriate action to ensure fair, equitable competition and consistent application of the rules for this athlete and her peers."
Lauren Langford, who coaches West High School in Anchorage, told The Washington Post she believes racism and sexism may have played a part in the decision.
“All of these girls are all wearing suits that are cut the same way,” Langford told the newspaper. “And the only girl who gets disqualified is a mixed-race girl with rounder, curvier features.”
Annette Rohde, who was working as an official at the dual meet, said she “froze in disbelief” when she saw the swimmer had been disqualified and questioned the referee.
"I told her, 'I need to know how you're defining this, because this is going to blow up,' '' Rohde told the Daily News.
Rohde said the official answered that the bottom of the girl's swimsuit "was so far up I could see butt cheek touching butt cheek.’’
According to the National Federation of High Schools rulebook, boys must cover their buttocks and girls must cover their buttocks and breasts, the Daily News reported.
"In a world where young girls are told at every turn that the skin they're in is not good enough for a thousand reasons, the last thing we need to do in youth athletics is add to that unhealthy dialogue," Langford wrote in a post titled "Alaska High School Swimming & Diving's Inexcusable Swimsuit Scandal." "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."
"It was so targeted. It was so intentional, and so individual," Langford told the Daily News. "She's one of three girls on the Dimond team who look like her. Everybody else is in (the) same suit, sized to fit, and yet on a team of however many girls she was the only one that got singled out?
“I was filled with so much anguish over the way these young girls have been forced to suffer.”
Langford told the Post that swimsuits sometimes ride up on swimmers unintentionally during a race.
“We have a term for it — it’s called a suit wedgie,” Langford told the newspaper. “And wedgies happen. It’s uncomfortable. No one’s going to walk around that way intentionally.
“If you’re in the water, you’re not thinking about it."
Annika Rohde, Annette Rohde’s daughter who swims for the Dimond swim team, criticized the decision.
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