ASAA to officially reevaluate swimming and diving attire modesty rule

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - A controversial rule surrounding modesty of swimming and diving athletes' attire will be officially reevaluated by the Alaska School Activities Association, the executive director of the group said Tuesday afternoon.

In a document sent out to high school principals and athletic directors, superintendents and school board members later that same evening, the ASAA wrote that it is "considering changing the Swim and Dive rules and/or consequences to swimsuit coverage," which could, according to the document, mean modifying or eliminating current rules as written under the National Federation of State High School Associations.

"In December, they'll start looking at how to best proceed," said ASAA Executive Director Billy Strickland, "but I think it would be fair of me to say the board was very much in favor of, 'this rule cannot go forward.'"

The opening for adjustments to the rule could also lead to the adoption of rules under a different national governing body, such as USA Swim and Dive, instead of the National Federation of State High School Associations, under which the ASAA currently operates.

Meagan Kowatch, the mother of Breckynn Willis, who was disqualified in September by an official who cited the rule in question, expressed some of her frustrations via email on Tuesday afternoon.

"Ultimately, kids should be able to swim without their bodies being policed," Kowatch wrote, "or having an official use part of a rule to be the moral police."

The disqualification has since been overturned and Willis' win reinstated after the Anchorage School District said it concluded the disqualification was "heavy-handed and unnecessary," and that Willis "was targeted based solely on how a standard, school-issued uniform happened to fit the shape of her body."

As per protocol, the notification provides 30 days' notice to general membership so that the board can officially evaluate the rule.

Strickland said that in the coming days, he will also be determining whether or not Jill Blackstone, the official who enforced the rule, will maintain her certification.

The next ASAA board meeting will take place on Dec. 9 and 10.

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