Margaret Hoelzer spoke to Associated Press offering points of view regarding the sex abuse crisis that USA Swimming is facing. She is also offering her services to help USA Swimming develop strategies to prevent it and I commend her for that; it takes a lot of courage and a lot of one's time to put your name on a policy. However, I would prefer a victim of coach abuse like Deena Deardurff who met the predator, suffered by them, and has probably reviewed it 100's of times what she could have done differently. An opportunity like this could bring some excellent ideas to the table and probably bring closure as well.
The first two sentences of the article suggests to me that Hoelzer is essentially basing her opinions on what she believes or what she was told rather than statistical data provided by an independent party and what she believes is that sex abuse within USA Swimming is no greater than any other kids activity.
I disagree; and even if I am wrong it still has to be treated as if a cancerous tumor has been detected.
No one knows the extent of sexual abuse cases within the USA Swimming ranks, which includes a superstar swimmer like a Margaret Hoelzer for many victims don't come forward. Just look at the rape statistics, domestic abuse cases or cases of incest.
To get an accurate assessment one has to ask how many of these cases were reported versus how many that were not and nobody is going to know that number.
Hence, the safest policy is to treat these cases like they a "cockroach" on the floor in or a rat in the attic. i.e. If you see or hear one, there are always dozens more. Doing damage control that seems to put the dampen the severity "put into context" is bad PR move and pisses people off.
USA Swimming has to own that they have been "asleep at the wheel" and quit diminishing this problem with phrases and statistics. They need to act FAST!
From Associated Press:
Margaret Hoelzer has mixed feelings about the sexual abuse allegations that are rocking her sport.
On the one hand, the three-time Olympic medalist doesn't believe the problem is more widespread in swimming than it is in other sports — or society in general, for that matter.
I have had three coaches send me stuff I can't print. One of which is on hold which is regarding a DA and the FBI in the King Case who had one heck of an idea!
One coach told me stories of two victims of Coach and Olympian, ***** ****, in California and how astonished he was that the families; (plural), would not file against him even when one of the kids became pregnant, they would just leave swimming all together and never returned. He referenced one famous coach who never got caught.
This is a problem, but abuse takes many forms: one coach written about in Swimming World this week did something which I find to be so macabre and offensive, I can't believe parents are not complaining. If I was a kid and was made to do this, I would never swim a 500 SCY again.
From Swimming World:
"... On Saturday, one week after the accident; [She passed away -- Tony], was Natalie's 17th birthday. Natalie's favorite race was the 500, so Coleman decided the team would do a set in honor of Natalie's birthday. The set was 17 x 500s, 17 for her age, and 500 being her favorite race. According to Coleman, her goal for the past few years has been to break the five-minute mark in that race, a goal that would remain unmet. So, Coleman challenged her teammates to do it for her. On the 17th 500, Coleman pulled his swimmers out of the water and told all of them to try to break 5 minutes for Natalie. After a long, exhausting set, one of her teammates was able to complete the challenge. Fifteen-year-old Jack Iotte finished the last 500 in a 4:58 and had met Natalie's goal for her. ..."
Maybe this commemoration wasn't a forced set but in my opinion it is not healthy. Kids who are 15-years-old are suppose to be going to graduations, concerts and dances, not funerals or doing 17x500s as a way to grieve. I suspect a sports psychologist may agree; any out there?
These topics, such as punishment sets, or grief sets have to be addressed too.