This is a post I wrote for but I’d like to share it here too…

The discussion regarding the sexual misconduct of some of the coaches involved in USA swimming  has been a topic on the pool decks and blogs around the country this week. “Policy this… USA swimming that… This direction, that direction, Do this, fix that…” That conversation went national after the airing of ABC’s 20-20 interview with Chuck Wielgus, US Swimming’s Executive Director… USA swimming, and swim coaches around the country were made to look real bad!

Before I continue, I must say that I feel that it is in no way acceptable for any one, never mind swim coaches to abuse children.  As a swimmer I know how much trust is placed in your coach as an athlete. You are dependent on their knowledge, their program, and their advice. As a coach, I know that the success or failure of an athlete ultimately lies on their shoulder but the influence of the coach is vital to the process. My coaches have been some of the most influential people in my life. So, for coaches to take advantage of their influence over swimmers sickens me to the stomach.

Having said that, I don’t think I am the only on who thinks this has been blown out of proportion a little. We are talking about 3 or 4 offenders a year being kicked out of the sport, 36 in the last ten years… Do the math – 12 000 registered USA swim coaches, 36 removed from the sport… 99.7% of USA swim coaches are good people. Good people who invest their time and effort into making us better swimmers and better people.

The first thing that came to my mind when I saw the interview was laid out very well by Katie Baker at “I’d be interested to know whether the prevalence of abuse is more marked in swimming than, say, hockey… [or school teachers], how many of those teacher-student sex stories have we come across over the years? Yet we don’t speak of a crisis at the Department of Education or interview Arne Duncan about being responsible for “a culture of sexual misconduct.”

Like I said before, I am in no way condoning the actions of the 0.3% of “bad apples” as Mike Gustafson called them. But I would like to thank the 99.7% of swim coaches who do a great job on pool decks around the country and around the world. You are helping to form young people in a sport that demands so much and sets us up for life so incredibly well.

My hope is that this issue is sorted out by USA swimming, and not in a way that is detrimental to the coaching process…

Here’s to our coaches!