She started swimming in the Caspian Sea, in clothes that weighed over 13 pounds, at 5:30 a.m. on June 11.
Nine hours later, Elham Sadat Asghari had swam 20 kilometers and completed a record-setting swim that the Iranian government refused to recognize, claiming the diving suit, full jacket, and headscarf she wore in the water was too revealing, according to MSN.
Iran’s sports ministry has repeatedly tried to ignore the feats of Asghari, 32, who has tried to set swimming records multiple times, but has only been recognized once, in 2008, according to France24.com.
Asghari, who started teaching swimming when she 17, prefers swimming in the sea. Most women in Iran, however, swim competitively in all-female private pools so men do not see them. Iranian women typically limit their competitions to the national level, also to avoid undue exposure.
In 2008, the Iranian government acknowledged one of Asghari’s feats, swimming 12 kilometers in open water. Asghari wore the same outfit then as she did during her latest swim, but the government deemed her wardrobe unfit just this past time.
Two years after the sports ministry recognized her record, police boats barred Asghari from trying to swim around Kish island. One of the boat’s propellers cut open Asghari’s leg and the entire incident left Asghari traumatized, according to one of Asghari’s friends.
It took months for Asghari to recover, and she almost decided to quit swimming.
Thousands of Iranians have come to the support of Asghari using social media. The Iranian sports ministry has not commented on the incident.