Wedgie-gate: School district reverses disqualification of swimmer, returns points



The Anchorage School District reviewed the Sept. 6 disqualification of a Dimond High School swimmer whose swim suit revealed perhaps too much for one referee who was officiating the swim meet last week.

The district interviewed several people who were at the swim meet between Dimond and Chugiak High Schools last week, and concluded that the swimmer was discriminated against because of the shape of her body. According to one account, the swimmer is very shapely, not willowy, and she was wearing a suit issued to her by the school. It showed a lot of buttocks, more than what the rules may allow.

[Read: Swimsuit edition: Too tiny a suit or modified to a show more skin?]

“The Anchorage School District has concluded that our swimmer was targeted based solely on how a standard, school-issued uniform happened to fit the shape of her body.  We cannot tolerate discrimination of any kind, and certainly not based on body shape.  This disqualification was heavy-handed and unnecessary,” the district announced in a press release.

The Dimond High School coach forwarded his appeal of the swimmer’s disqualification to the District which presented the appeal to the Alaska School Activities Association on behalf of the team. 

The District seeks to:

  • Reverse the swimmer disqualification
  • Return all points to the team
  • Decertify the official
  • Suspend, with the intent to revise, the NFHS suit coverage rule, as it is ambiguous and allows the potential for bias to influence officials’ decisions.

“We owe it to our student athletes to provide a fair and consistent atmosphere in which they can train and compete to their fullest potential.  ASD will not tolerate any actions that discriminate, target, or otherwise create an unsafe or inequitable environment for its student athletes,” the district wrote. 

“These young athletes are phenomenal competitors and their hard work, determination and grit in the pool should be an inspiration to us all.  We wish our Dimond Lynx the best of luck in their meet this weekend.”

The case drew national attention, including a brief report on NBC News with Lester Holt on Tuesday.

The disqualification appears to have stemmed from an official’s interpretation of rules governing high school swim uniforms.

Immediately after the disqualification, the Dimond HS swim coach filed a protest with the official to contest the decision.

The coach’s protest was quickly denied at the meet, and he appealed it to the district.

“Because swimming and diving suit coverage rules and regulations have been an ongoing national discussion, the Dimond High School Swim Program has made deliberate efforts over the last year to ensure athletes’ uniforms meet the regulations prescribed by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) to avoid any confusion or misinterpretation,” the district wrote.

“This year, the Dimond swim team has purchased approved, team suits for every swimmer that meet the requirements put forth by the NFHS. The disqualified athlete was wearing the approved, school-issued suit during the race.  In the first three meets this year, the Dimond swim team has had no disqualifications related to the wear of the swim uniform.”

The district explained that the NFHS sets the rules and regulations by which athletic competitions are conducted, and officials make decisions guided by those rules.

“However, we expect all referees and officials to conduct themselves in a manner that respects the dignity and rights of every student athlete regardless of the young person’s gender, body shape, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, or disability,” the district wrote.

“We owe it to our student athletes to provide a fair and consistent atmosphere in which they can train and compete to their fullest potential.  ASD will not tolerate actions by its coaches, students, staff, or community members that discriminate, target, or otherwise create an unsafe or inequitable environment for its student athletes.”


    • Go to You Tube and find the Olympic final in any women’s swimming event and you’ll see the women are wearing suits which could be described as “more modest.” But it’s not for modesty but rather for speed. The newer designs are made by Speedo, Tyr, and Arena, the same manufacturers the schools are supplying to the kids. So there is a solution. Faster suits that show less.

  1. “The district explained that the NFHS sets the rules and regulations by which athletic competitions are conducted, and officials make decisions guided by those rules.”

    So far, so good…

    Then comes the “however” part which is political correctness run amuck.

    The ASD is saying that political correctness is the rule that will control all others.

    • It is exactly that JMark. Political correctness run amuck for sure and ASD is out of line taking it upon themselves to determine the outcome of a ruling based on a national rule in a book that the athletic association they are under is requiring their volunteer officials to uphold. They are cutting their own throats as those of us who are fellow volunteers alongside Mrs. Blackstone are now questioning whether we want to volunteer so much of our own free time when we too could be skewered by the media in the same manner and thrown under the proverbial bus school district to whom we are giving our time. And in all of this, where is ASAA? Billy Strickland, Executive Director of ASAA? Are you going to come to the defense of your volunteer officials whom have worked so tirelessly for you?

      • After reading the latest on this in the ADN, it is getting worse and worse. ASD seeks decertification of the official for “discriminating” in applying the rule. The evidence on this is opaque. I see a smear against an official for enforcing a rule. If ASAA decertifies the official, I would not be surprised to see swim officials quit en mass. Beyond that, I do not see where this goes, except to note that NO official will enforce ANY rule on suit coverage in Anchorage going forward. This sure does not feel like progress.

        • And it appears that things are getting still worse: According to a news report on Channel 11, as I heard it, the swim official has NOT been interviewed by ASD. Someone correct this if it is not true. Yet, the ASD has concluded the official was biased and unlawfully discriminated in this matter. If this is how the ASD conducts an investigation, I hope they have really, really good lawyers.

          • From the statement of the swim official, as published on the Channel 11 website: “During the last six days, neither ASAA nor ASD has asked for an explanation from me about the events that led to the disqualification or asked me if I had a defense to the accusations that have been leveled at me.” Maybe to be on the safe side, Superintendent Bishop should think about retaining a lawyer to represent herself. Where is the due diligence, let alone the common decency?

  2. Why is it that media personalities of today tend to pass the same low interest stories back and forth like hobos sharing a bottle of cheap wine?
    Is investigative journalism dead in the era of government surveillance?
    When was the last time an anonymous source was contacted for information?
    I for one would like to know more about the Iditarod musher who is currently being charged with rape…yet most media outlets are choosing to not cover this story.
    This is the true journalistic injustice that turns a blind eye to sexual assault while promoting stories that distract the “sheeple” from the more serious issues at hand.

    • Will we ever know the true intent of this 17-year old high school girl? It could have been a totally innocent moment, caught up with her victory. Or, it could have been her objective intent to haul out of the pool with the lower part of the suit hidden between fleshy cheeks, knowing that a stir would be caused, and a news sensation about to erupt. What do her skinny, shapeless, swimmer teammates say?

    • I could not agree more Steve. I was fortunate to hear Robby Robinson, former editor of the Boston Globe Searchlight investigative reporting team, and memorialized in the movie Searchlight, speak at a luncheon last year. He hails from the era of, gasp, investigative reporting….. ok, to be fair, Suzanne does a good job of investigating as also Craig Medred. One quote that has so stuck in my head that Mr. Robinson made was,

      “A good investigative reporter walks down the center isle and shoots out both sides.”

      Everyone struggles with their biases. That cannot be helped but true investigation is exhaustive to the whole story. Not just bits and pieces.

      Its pretty sad too that today is the anniversary of 9/11 yet KTUU breaking news headline this morning was the swim suit issue.

      • Sure. Like Carl Bernstein at the Washington Post and his partner……….investigating for a hit piece on Nixon? But Bill and Hillary Clinton seem to get a pass by mainstream journalism and investigative reporting. You definitely meant that kind of journalism, correct…..Liz?

      • Elizabeth,
        I agree that we need a more bipartisan approach to journalism in America.
        As Governor Dunleavy has declared a “War on Crime”…I feel more attention should be directed at those accused and arrested on violent crimes…especially Rape.
        A quick search online shows that the former Iditarod musher (Perzechino) was held in a Philippine prison since April…
        His Extradition Case was BIG news in the Philippines since this past Spring.
        Why no attention in Alaska until Kyle Hopkins did a story with ProPublica last week?
        This man was a handler for Mitch Seavey’s kennel for several years and raced the Iditarod in 2004.
        Perzechino was active in the sled dog race scene until 2009.
        Many unanswered questions as to why a rape kit sits on the shelf for nearly 20 years in Alaska allowing these types of individuals to go out and abuse more people and potentially animals as well.
        Many FBI studies show that people who abuse animals are much more likely to abuse humans.
        Alaska needs to stay vigilant and reporters must do their fair share to help us shine a light on this rampant crisis of sexual abuse on women.

  3. This mess is the result of a new ruling handed down by the National Federation of High School Sports last year. I have been a stroke and turn official for 15 plus years and have worked along side Jill Blackstone more times than I can count. She is professional, dedicated, fair, and has put in countless hours as a volunteer – officiating meets, facilitating meets, and even coaching. This is not about her, it is about NFHS. When this ruling entered the rule book last year, it was a cumbersome subjective albatross. It still is and ASAA has been wrestling with it, even issuing a guideline statement of sorts to swim officials at the start of this season, that from my perspective still is a bit vague.

    Swimsuits are sized for women primarily using three measurements, loop, chest, hips. Girls are always seeking to get suits as tight as possible in an effort to cut even 100ths of a second from their times. Sometimes this does go overboard and I can assure you I have witnessed many a way too tight suit, so tight I’m not sure how the swimmer could even manage their strokes. There is no information on who does the sizing for Dimond High School’s team suits, how the particular swimmer was sized, etc. I have already heard that there was a warning issued, in general to this particular team. The coaches were already approached, and the issue was indeed, as the title of Suzanne’s article states above, a “wedgie” situation….. and thong suits are not regulation.

    With that said, again this is about the rule. It is also about the sport of swimming where all of the officials you see on deck are unpaid volunteers. They put in countless hours studying swimming, and volunteering. It is hard work and they are called to uphold the rules in the book they are to abide by, whether it be USA Swimming, or NFHS. Mrs. Blackstone has officiated for 20 years or so and if she were “racist” it would have emerged long before now. She is not. When you are officiating there is not time to even notice such attributes that would denote race of any kind. You are focused on stroke, turn, speed, yes, suits, caps, all things you are drilled on ad-nauseum from the rule book.

    Lastly, this ruling – Section 3-3 Article 2, is a problem and that is where the focus should lie. Not on the volunteer, unpaid, official volunteering so our kids can swim, who is simply doing his or her best to run the meet. Bad calls happen, discrepancies happen, disagreements happen and calls can be challenged and reconsidered and even reversed. Do it and move on. It is not a capital offense. The media has made the proverbial mole hill into a mountain and created a mess, that the mindless masses, that resemble medieval hordes, grab onto, chanting their vitriol viciously and crying for stoning and lynching, yet they don’t even know what is really going on. Pretty frightening actually.

    • “Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper” – George Orwell. I’m a reporter and also a former swimmer. Your post is on the money. However, I would like to add that the suits currently being worn at the highest levels of competition eliminate the problem. It’s not just the media that blew this out of proportion. All sorts of fringe elements saw it as a chance to push their agenda. “Women of color have always been body shamed by whitey” etc.

    • She unilaterally dq’d the athlete and has a history of targeting her sister. She has family ties Chugiak. She”s also an evangelical. Nuff said. She should have left her morality police badge at home that day.

  4. Whatever. If this girl want’s the shove her suit up between her ass, and camel-toe the hell out of everyone so be it. It’s show a lack of cander and class in my opinion. Save it for the beach, not the pool.

    • Pure and simple…..a publicity stunt to get Dimond HS some attention, and get more people to watch swim meets…..which are as fun to watch as badminton tournaments.

      • You’re out to lunch. I love swim meets because I used to swim. You sound like more of a pro wrestling kind of guy. The folding chairs and all that. Badminton is also cool to watch, particularly the Asian variety where they strike the shuttlecock with their feet rather than a racket.

  5. In the light of investigative reporting, and with a rule that appears to be not clear, why would the officiant approach the coach or swimmer and say pull the swim suit out of your butt. Swim suit wedgies happen all the time in swimming. The kid must have been excited coming out of the pool and wasn’t even aware which means the intent was not to show her butt. But, we don’t know if the referee did that or not. Why wouldn’t she?
    Also, doing my own research, I found out the Jill Blackstone’s children swim at a competing school. Could there have been some internal thought to disqualify Dimond in favor of where her kids swim? Her kids swim team isn’t doing that well this year. Also, maybe Jill Blackstone is super conservative, and her judgement isn’t the same as another. However, since the kid did not go change into a different swimsuit, based on Jill’s judgement, why was she still allowed to compete. If it’s because she pulled the suit out of her bottom, why wasn’t the comment (as earlier suggested) mentioned to the kid to begin with as a warning since all of you who volunteer are saying the rules are so vague. I don’t think this is vilifying anyone unless internally she thinks she did something wrong. If Jill didn’t, then it doesn’t matter. I agree facts are left out. Fact is, the same exact within reg bathing suit won’t fit different girls the same way, you can still uphold the rules by showing compassion to the kids and coaches by saying something to them in the exact moment. Then it would be handled instead of someone trying to be right. The rules say nothing about butt cleavage and all the female kids do not have their bottoms covered the way the photos suggest for them too. So why single one out?

  6. Parents were just pissed the swimmer was just better than their kids…. and picked on the sisters. happens all the time in every sport. Find a reason to eliminate the best so their kid and they can feel good about themselves.

    • I doubt that’s it. I believe an ill fitting suit is not an excuse for nudity. The school (coach) is at faulty for not issuing a correct sized suit. These aren’t a 1 size fits most kind of thing. They make them bigger. If the girl adjusted her suits fit to accommodate her amble bottom, then that’s on her.

  7. Jill Blackstone has it in for the sisters. Since volunteering as a referee is so taxing (according to a previous poster), and she’s done it for 20 years, she should graciously retire.

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