Demand Iran Recognize Female Swimmer’s New Record


Target: Julio D. Maglione, President of the International Swimming Federation (FINA)

Goal: Require the Iranian Swimming Federation to register an Iranian female’s swimming record

Elham Asghari is an Iranian open-water swimmer who holds several national open-water swimming records. She recently broke her previous 20 km open-water swimming record in June, 2013 by completing a swim in the Caspian Sea in just over eight hours. Elham adhered to the Iranian gender segregation laws and swam in a private, women-only beach to avoid a run in with the police – which she experienced during an earlier attempt to set a record. Even though Elham wears a specially designed swimsuit to adhere to Iran’s Islamic dress code for women, Iranian officials have refused to register her record, saying that the feminine characteristics of her body were visible when she came out of the water.

Even as a repeat record-setting swimmer, Elham wears a special swimsuit she designed to fully adhere to the Islamic dress code. She says the suit hinders her performance and causes her pain, adding six kilograms to her weight in water. Still she wears it in order to pursue her lifelong dream of being an open-water swimmer. It is this suit that is being used as an excuse by Iranian swimming officials refusing to acknowledge Elham’s accomplishment.

Achieving the dream of being an open-water swimmer has been a rocky road for Elham. First of all, in Iran women are only allowed to swim in gender-segregated pools and are banned from participating in international swimming competitions. During a previous attempt to score a swimming record the Iranian police chased Elham in a boat in order to stop her from swimming. The propellers on the police boat sliced her legs and hip.

Sign this petition to urge the International Swimming Federation (FINA) to require the Iranian Swimming Federation to register Elham Asghari’s open-water swimming record. Elham is not trying to defy her culture or religion and is simply trying to pursue her dream with the utmost respect to Iranian laws and cultural beliefs. She should be acknowledged for her accomplishments accordingly.


Dear Julio D. Maglione,

Elham Asghari is the first woman to break a record in open water swimming in Iran. On June 11th, 2013 she broke the record for the crawl in the Caspian Sea. However the officials at the Ministry of Sports told her that they cannot register her record because the feminine characteristics of her body were visible when she came out of the water. Elham wears a custom-made swimsuit that adheres to the Islamic dress code for women.

I urge you to ask the Iranian Swimming Federation officials to recognize and register this swimming record in support of Elham’s accomplishment that was achieved despite the discomfort her swimsuit adds to swimming. Support Elham’s tenacity and unique victory and encourage other Iranian females to engage in the sport.


[Your Name here]

Photo credit: Wade Morgen via Flickr

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