Langford believes the student-athlete, 17-year-old Breckynn Willis, is being punished for her athletic physique - a combination of genetics and years of training to gain strength and speed.
"The rest of her team was wearing the same uniform, and she was the only one disqualified," Langford said. "It is my opinion that she has been targeted and singled out over the course of the last year."
During the 2018-19 school year, Willis' younger sister, Dreamer Kowatch, who is also a competitive swimmer, had a run-in with the same referee. The ref openly critiqued her suit's fit during a meet.
The girls' mother, Meagan Kowatch, told KTUU Monday that her fast-swimming daughters should be gaining attention for their performance and skill, not the fit of their swimsuits.
In August, the National Federation of State High School (NFHS) Associations notified coaches across the nation about a rule change that allows for the disqualification of an athlete if a uniform is not within guidelines, and a change of attire would delay the race.
The Alaska School Activities Association published the NHFS letter and accompanying resources on its website, including an illustrated graphic showing appropriate and inappropriate suit coverage for male and female athletes, under what's known as the "modesty rule."
The national organization sets the rules, and then local sporting associations have some flexibility to determine implementation according to community standards.
"There is a growing trend in high school swimming and diving of athletes wearing training and competitive suits in a manner that contradicts with the intention of their original design and manufacture," NFHS Executive Director Karissa Niehoff wrote in a memo dated August 7. "Specifically, suits are being worn in such a way as to expose the athlete’s buttocks. This issue is not gender-specific and is occurring in various states across the country."
The guidelines state suits must "be worn in the appropriate size as dictated by that manufacturer’s specifications for the athlete’s body type and shall remain unaltered. Boys shall wear suits which cover the buttocks, and girls shall wear suits which cover the buttocks and breasts."
"Before these suits even get on an athlete's body, the cut of them isn't in compliance with the modesty rule," Langford said, demonstrating the angle v-shape on the backside of women's competitive suits sold by most manufacturers.