I am a former age group swim coach in Alaska, and have shared the swimming pool deck with Ms. Langford. I have to say that our views and perceptions on this topic are very different. I am a former collegiate swimmer, and have been coaching swimming for the last 6 years. I have seen many different suit styles come and go through my years. The issue that Alaska swimming is having right now, has nothing to do with racism, body shaming, or sexism. It is the fact that the child being written about has not been wearing the “uniform” or swimsuit the way it was made or meant to be worn. In my opinion, it is, and has been obvious to swimmers, parents, coaches and officials that the swim suit worn by this swimmer is purposefully placed in a manner to expose more area. I have personally witnessed this swimmer’s suit and can say that it is not being worn in the intended manner. USA swimming has put guidelines in place for us to follow involving coverage of swim suits, and these guidelines have been ignored.
There are a couple of things that I think Ms. Langford failed to mention in her article. First, the fact that this swimmer had been warned on more than one occasion that even though the suit was within FINA guidelines, the placement of the suit was not. Second, where are the rights of the rest of the swimmers in this swimmers presence? It is an interesting argument that the swimmer is wearing the suit appropriately, but when photographed it becomes inappropriate. (I would like to make it clear that I in no way condone pictures of this child being taken)
I would like to put this in a different setting. Most schools have some sort of dress code that they are to abide by. Whether it be that shorts have to be a certain length, or that a hood cannot be worn up on a hoodie etc. These rules are not in place because of race, gender or body size. They are in place to keep our children safe. So when a child gets disciplined because his hood is up on his hoodie, it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s wearing a hoodie. It has to do with the fact that he’s not wearing the hoodie in accordance with the rules.
As coaches and teachers, we are required to take courses on sexual abuse, and safety of our children. I look at this situation from a couple of angles . First, it is our responsibility to keep our swimmers safe, including this swimmer. Unfortunately, we do have perverted people out there that don’t view children in the same manner that most of us do. Second, we are not focusing on the children around this swimmer. The way the swimmer is wearing her suit, exposes body parts that can make other swimmers uncomfortable. Let me reiterate that the suit is not being worn as intended, nor does it have anything to do with body type, race or gender.
In my opinion, I have several roles when parents trust me to coach their children. I am to be a role model, an example, and a moral compass. I am there to instill confidence and respect for all of the swimmers. If I, as an adult, would wear a swimsuit around children the way this swimmer does, it would be considered indecent exposure. So I ask, why do we not expect the same from this swimmer?
I want to thank and applaud the officials that finally put a stop to this, and stood up for what the guidelines require of us.