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January 20, 2022
At the Mississippi Valley regionals swim meet Nov. 6, an official approached a West varsity swimmer and asked her to pull down her swimsuit because it revealed too much of her body.
“A swimmer told [the official] that it’s just her build, that’s how her body looks,” said varsity swimmer Olivia Taeger ’22. “The official continued to stand there and essentially harass her because the fact that her swimsuit fit her like that was making the official uncomfortable.”
According to the Swimming Officials’ Guidelines Manual, which the Iowa High School Girls Athletic Union follows, officials are allowed to disqualify swimmers if their swimsuit is deemed “non-compliant.” The manual reads, “Bring non‐compliant suit coverage violation to the attention of the coach. The competitor or coach may be notified of suit construction violations. Coaches should be reminded of what is not permitted to be worn or displayed during competition.” The manual does not specify further on the topic of uniform regulation.
Your body shouldn’t prevent you from being able to swim a legal race.”
— Olivia Taeger '22
Ella Hochstetler ’22, a swimmer also present at the regional meet, noticed that the vagueness of this rule allows for officials to abuse their power.
“There’s no measurements or anything,” Hochstetler said. “It’s completely subjective to each official, and they can be as loose or as tight [with the rule] as they want to.”
Hochstetler believes swimmers have no control over situations involving suit infractions. Additionally, a disagreement with an official can put a swimmer’s career at risk.
“You also don’t want to get into conflict with an official because if you do, that can impact the rest of your season,” Hochstetler said. “If they disqualify you, or if you get in trouble somehow with the state, it’s really not a good thing. There’s not really that much power we have on that sort of thing.”
While the swimmer was not disqualified, Taeger started a petition on Change.org to remove the coverage rule after the incident at the regional meet.
“All people are built differently. Your body shouldn’t prevent you from being able to swim a legal race,” Taeger said.
She hopes the petition will spread awareness of the situation and bring about the manual revision.
“I just don’t want other female swimmers to feel the discomfort that I felt from being on the pool deck, because you should be able to race and have fun and not worry about how you’re looking,” Taeger said.