A Maryland girls swimming team has had its county championship title retroactively stripped for one of the more bizarre retroactive punishments to come down in recent years: It was deemed that improper shaving had occurred.
That's right, improper shaving. Not shaving points mind you, but shaving of body hair. And, as it turns out, if the unnamed player implicated had only shaved a couple hours earlier, she and her teammates would still have their county title.
As reported by a number of Maryland news outlets, the Baltimore Sun and Annapolis Capital among them, the Broadneck (Md.) High girls swimming squad lost its Anne Arundel County title after it was determined that one of the team's swimmers shaved on-site just before the start of the event. National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) rules for swimming, diving and water polo stipulate that athletes can not shave before, during or after a meet once a team is on-site.
The reason why the NFHS institutes a no shaving on-site policy is to protect the swimmers themselves from possible blood transmission or, in general, doing full body shaves in high school locker rooms, which would maximize the possibility of unsafe practices like sharing razors. Still, the rule can seem quite a bit over the top when one considers generally acceptable practices for other sports; after all, no one is telling football or basketball players that they can't shave after a game or practice.
Because of the violation, Broadneck lost all points won by the swimmer implicated, dropping the Bruins from first to third place in the final standings. Severna Park (Md.) High was later declared the county champion after Broadneck's lost points were redistributed.
Meanwhile, the Annapolis Capital reported that Broadneck swimming coach Colleen Winans was suspended for the Class 4A-3A Regional Championships which were held on Saturday because of her swimmer's violation. A release from the Anne Arundel School District cited the failure of Winans' squad to abide by "the rules of the game and promote ethical relationships among coaches and players," as the reason for the discipline taken against Winans, which included the one-meet ban.
As Swimming World Magazine general manager Jason Marsteller noted in an email with Prep Rally, it's the retroactive aspect of Broadneck's punishment that may be most bizarre.
"I'm not sure I've seen much of this type of punishment within the sport," Marsteller wrote in an email. "About the only place retroactive punishments happen is in the case of positive doping tests."
Certainly doping tests and shaving seem a world apart, even if both might provide competitive advantages (doping for obvious reasons, and shaving to reduce drag for competitive swimmers).
Despite Winans absence, Broadneck returned to the top of the area standings, emerging with both a boys and girls regional title. The Bruins cruised past runners-up Severna Park by 16.5 points, with a number of Broadneck swimmers citing their coach's unfortunate and bizarre suspension as motivation to win their respective events.
"I was just going for it trying to pull ahead and do it for my coach because unfortunately she's not here," Broadneck star Lauren Fogarty told the Capital after winning the 100-yard breaststroke event to seal the Bruins' regional crown. "We got disqualified in counties and she got in trouble; so that one was for her. I wanted to make the team proud and her proud."
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