/ 16 June 2021

Swimming in the deep end

“We could have done better,” said Swimming Australia boss Alex Baumann yesterday as he responded to claims made over the last week of the exploitation of female athletes, including young girls. Speaking to the media late yesterday, Baumann said the organisation needed to do more to make its members aware of how to make a complaint, and they will be sent that information today. And an independent all-female panel will be convened to review claims made by 2-times silver Olympic medalist Maddie Groves that set off claims of a “toxic culture” at the top of Aussie swimming. All as the Olympic trials are unfolding in Adelaide…

WHAT HAS BEEN SAID?
Last week, 26yo Groves made explosive allegations as she withdrew from Olympic selection. Calling time on “all misogynistic perverts in sport and their boot lickers”, she said her actions were to ensure they “no longer exploit young women and girls, body shame or medically gaslight them and then expect them to represent you so you can earn your annual bonus.” Baumann said officials have been trying to contact Groves to get to the bottom of her claims, and reports this morning say she’s agreed to a meeting. Since then, former elite swimmer/academic Dr Jenny McMahon has detailed allegations of a “degrading and abusive” culture and “a trail of broken athletes and coaches when they do not conform and perform”. Note: that did not include an incident where a boy was snapped in female togs – not a punishment, just a kid who is “not worried about gender stereotypes,” his mum said.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THOSE HOPING TO GET TO TOKYO?
It’s negative attention, and Baumann said he’s worried given the Games are a bit more than a month away. And with all of our Olympic hopefuls currently vying for a spot on the team, they’ve told the media that their focus is on delivering in the pool. And the women are on fire… Ariarne Titmus is staring down an exciting contest against US champ Katie Ledecky when they get to Tokyo. Kaylee McKeown broke the world record for the 100m backstroke, and veteran Emma McKeon is also impressing. As for the men, Kyle Chalmers’ 100m freestyle turn last night rivalled his 2016 gold medal-winning time. The trials wrap up and the Olympic team will be confirmed tomorrow.

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