Swimming in Australia says poor treatment has been a problem for decades


SYDNEY (AP) – Swimming Australia says the unacceptable treatment of some swimmers has been a decade-long problem amid media reports that six former elite athletes will soon be publicizing their experiences of abuse in the sport.

Swimming Australia said in a statement on Saturday that it is “deeply concerned and understands the gravity” of new allegations of abuse within the sport after meeting with former Olympic swimmer Maddie Groves.

“We acknowledge that some members of the swimming community have experienced unacceptable behavior, some decades ago,” SA said.

The swimming association said it was unaware of the nature of the six swimmers’ claims.

Local media said the swimmers will come forward amid controversy initiated by two-time Olympic silver medalist Groves in a series of social media posts. Groves pulled out of Australia’s Olympic swimming tests, which ended nine days ago in Adelaide, claiming there were “misogynist perverts in the sport”.

Groves met with Swimming Australia President Kieren Perkins and CEO Alex Baumann on Friday to share their concerns. Perkins and Baumann are both former Olympic champions in swimming, Perkins for Australia and Baumann for Canada.

“We met with Maddie Groves and had productive discussions,” said SA. “The most important thing we’re working on right now is making sure Australia has a safe swimming community.”

Groves’ claims led to other reports of bad culture in sport, including incidents of fat shaming of female swimmers.

At the Australian exams, the two-time Olympic champion Emily Seebohm spoke of her abuse.

“A lot of people said I wouldn’t, I’m too old, I have to lose weight, I have to look different,” said Seebohm after she was selected for her fourth Olympic Games at the Tokyo Games next month.

SA has appealed to all affected swimmers to come forward and will set up an independent, all-women panel to investigate incidents of abuse.

“In the coming days we will announce the chairmanship of the independent, women-led body,” said SA. “We have proactively spoken to a number of parents and swimmers at various swimming levels and invited them to contribute to this new body.”


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