Swimming official releases statement following Dimond High swimsuit controversy

Breckynn Willis in 2018

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Swimming official Jill Blackstone released the following statement following the Dimond High swimsuit controversy:

  • "Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) and the Anchorage School District (ASD) adopted and asked swim officials to enforce the National Federation of High School Sports (NFHS) rules. As meet referee, I observed an athlete who did not comply with these rules, which resulted in the required disqualification. Despite claims to the contrary by ASAA and ASD, I followed the specified protocol described in the governing NFHS rules to process the disqualification. The School District has unfairly labeled me as “heavy-handed” and “biased.” 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.
    ASD and ASAA should review rules prior to asking officials to uphold them, and impartially hear all sides when disputes arise. Due process is important for all of us."

  • Jill Blackstone

Blackstone came under fire after she disqualified swimmer Breckynn Willis over her swimsuit, alleging the suit's fit was against the sport's so-called modesty rules.

On Tuesday, Sept. 10, the Alaska School Activities Association reversed the disqualification.

ASAA Executive Director Billy Strickland said the Anchorage School District believes Blackstone has targeted Willis and her sister, a fellow teammate, in a pattern of unfair enforcement over the past year.

"She and her sister were the only athletes to receive attention as to the fit of their suits, and our assessment was that decision by the volunteer judge was discriminatory," Anchorage School District Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop said in defense of the school district's decision to return a disqualified victory, suspend the rule used to make the call, and ask that the official who made the controversial decision be excluded from future meets.

Dimond High Swim Coach Scott O'Brien also released a statement earlier this week.

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