Elham Sadat Asghari wears a diving suit, a long jacket and a headscarf when swimming.
An Iranian woman has taken on a difficult challenge: to swim as long as possible in open waters, where she has to wear a diving suit, a full jacket, and a headscarf. However, this was still not enough for the sports authorities, who she claims told her they could not record her latest swim because her outfit was too revealing.
In Iran, women swimmers usually compete in all-female pools, and only at the national level, not abroad, to avoid being seen by men. Professional swimmer Elham Sadat Asghari, however, prefers swimming in the sea, and has repeatedly asked the authorities to certify her attempts at breaking her own records, which they did just once, in 2008.
She told Iranian media that on June 11, she swam 20 kilometres in the Caspian Sea, near the northern city of Noshahr. However, she explained that representatives from Iran’s sports ministry tried to knock her distance down by two kilometres, and in the end decided not to officially recognise her feat at all due to the fact that her figure was “visible” when she came out of the water. The sports ministry has not made any statements on this incident, and has not as of yet replied to requests for comment.
In the past week, thousands of Iranians have voiced their support for Asghari on Facebook. In the video below, subtitled in English by her fans, she thanks them for this.
Video courtesy of Farvartish Rezvaniyeh.
“I don’t see how she could cover her body any more that she already does”
Mandana (not her real name) is a person close to Asghari.
She began swimming at age 5. She’s 32 now, and has been teaching swimming for 15 years, since she was just 17. In 2008, she set her first sea swimming record in a 12 kilometre swim, which was officially recognised by the sports ministry. She was wearing the same swimming outfit then as now.Her problems began in 2010, when she decided to swim around Kish island in three days. A representative for the sports ministry came to watch. Elham had only swum 5 kilometres when out of nowhere, police boats rammed into her and those accompanying her. The shock seriously hurt one of her legs, and her hip was lacerated by boat propellers. [FRANCE 24 could not independently verify these claims.] If her father hadn’t helped her, she surely would have drowned.After this, Elham was in a bad place. Her injuries healed, but emotionally, she was a mess. She decided to say goodbye to swimming. But those of us close to her encouraged her to swim again. After undergoing therapy, she began to practice anew. For a long time, she swam 5 kilometres every night and ran 12 kilometres every day.Swimming in the Caspian sea.On June 11, she swam from 5:30 am to 2:30 pm, going back and forth along a private, women-only beach to avoid any potential run-ins with police boats. All this for nothing, since the sports authorities refused to acknowledge her feat in the end.Elham’s swimming attire wears 6 kilos! And because the suit she wears is designed for diving, not surface swimming, it causes very painful chafing. I really don’t see how she could cover her body any more that she already does.