A Major Victory in the Alaska Swimsuit Controversy
My Medium story uncovering the scandal attracted more attention than anyone could have imagined
In response to public outrage over a young high school swimmer’s disqualification from a race that she won last week because of how her swimsuit fit her curvier body, school officials are now reversing course. The Anchorage School District and Alaska School Activities Association announced Tuesday evening that officials have overturned the Dimond High School swimmer’s disqualification. They are also moving to strip the certifications of the volunteer official who made the call, while the underlying rule that prompted the scandal — that swimsuits meet specific standards of coverage — was taken off the books, as well.
My Medium story uncovering the scandal attracted attention in a way no one could have imagined. And though exposing the issue presented a huge personal risk — after all, as a swim coach within the same school district, I’m directly impacted by the fallout — it was the right thing to do.
The Anchorage School District made the correct decision, and everything that has come to pass since the piece was published is more optimistic than anyone could have anticipated. With the young swimmer’s victory restored, now would be a good time to reflect on the resolution.
The decision to speak out against in Friday night’s disqualification, and the simmering controversy leading up to that incendiary moment, was not motivated by a desire to vilify the official who made the call, or the people who supported them. Instead, it was an effort to stand up for that individual athlete and her peers, to give them a louder voice in their struggle, and to let them know that they are not an island in the middle of a horrible storm.
An athlete’s appearance should never be more noteworthy or garner more attention than the quality of their performance in their sport.
Let’s be clear: The referee in this incident, and those who supported their call to disqualify the swimmer, are not bad people — their hearts were probably in the right place. It’s likely they were motivated by a concern…