Monday, May 30, 2011

The facts Mr. Leonard, just the facts!

May 23rd, 2011: I posted a note on this blog with this title: "Is ASCA actually incorporated? - The 'Curb Northside ISD' blog says no way!" The primary subject of the post was whether ASCA or the American Swimming Coaches Association is actually incorporated correctly.

Evidently John Leonard was not pleased and sent off a very threatening note obviously not realizing that I do not like to be threatened. I subsequently responded within three-to four hours. You can read both our letters here: [Link]

Leonard was not happy. He even called the blogger I linked to, Sarah G., a "nut case" after berating me for slander. (So much for a lucid exchange.)

Here is John Leonard's response to my request for clarification as to what exactly was in error and/or what needed to be retracted. By the way, note his use of all capital letters for selected words. I suspect this represents shouting or perhaps he is trying to emulate William Shatner?

Mr. Austin - I apparently am not making myself clear.

You are not the Supreme Court. You are not a local court. You are not even Judge Judy.

I have ZERO reason to answer any questions you have. You're a blogger. You appear to have some mis-understanding of your role in this.

I am informing you that every material statement made by Ms. Gjerstard about the ASCA and myself is INCORRECT and SLANDEROUS. I am doing that out of courtesy.
YOU have the responsibility for what you place on your blog, despite your assertions that you're just "republishing" what someone else said. You are slandering the ASCA and myself.

If we do not have a full retraction by 6 PM EST on Friday, May 27, we will proceed with a lawsuit against you.

On your note about "looking forward to a constructive and civilized exchange with you", i would like to educate you that it is not "sick 'em Sarah". It's "Sic 'em Sarah". That's the end of any communciation between you and i.

Ms. Gjerstad has also been warned that she has until 6 PM to provide a full retraction. She is apparently "distraught" according to her blog....she should have thought about that before she started slandering people WITHOUT doing any research, homework or competent searches of State documents.

Perhaps her ignorance of what a 501-C6 is, which she is now freely admitting, might give you some pause as to the credibility of her "research".

She's a nut case. We'll find out about you in court, if we don't have a retraction by 6 PM tonight.


John Leonard

So, I write back again:

Dear Mr. Leonard:

Yes, it would be helpful if you could be more clear. You have demanded a retraction but have declined to indicate which facts in my blog you claim are false.

As you expressed in your first note I am entitled to my own opinion but “not entitled to [my] own facts”. Asserting that, “every material statement made by Ms. Gjerstard about the ASCA and myself is INCORRECT and slanderous” does not advance the process of obtaining the retraction you seek. You may choose not to answer the questions in my earlier note but your refusal to do so makes it difficult for me to comply with your demand for a retraction of what you claim are the false facts I “republished”, as opposed to comments that are opinions.

My offer still stands. Identify the facts you claim are false. If I confirm that a statement of “fact” in my blog is false, I will issue a retraction through a written posting in the very blog where the original statement appeared, i.e., “in substantially as conspicuous a manner” as the statement(s) to which you object. See California Civil Code Section 48a.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Tony Austin

So, what evidence do I have that ASCA or the American Swimming Coaches Association is not incorporated correctly? Above we have a screenshot from the Florida Department of State listing ASCA or the American Swimming Coaches Association as a 'Foreign Non Profit Corporation' doing business in the state of Florida. Next, I posted a screenshot from the 'Iowa Secretary of State' listing that the American Swimming Coaches Association corporation filing is inactive.

After doing the research, I conclude that Sarah is absolutely correct stating that the American Swimming Coaches Association corporation filing appears to be inactive in Iowa. I won't venture to make judgments on the repercussions or conclusions of what that means but it sure does sound like the American Swimming Coaches Association has some paperwork to do?

Calls to the Iowa Secretary of State office yielded the following answers: Iowa Secretary of State office 515-281-8993 - Pam was the person Sarah talked to and she confirmed the American Swimming Coaches Association corporation status terminated in 1992.

Calls to Florida yield the following answers: Fl Non-Profit Corporations (850)-245-6052 - Mary Ann was the person Sarah talk to and she confirmed the American Swimming Coaches Association foreign non-profit status is indeed located in Iowa. She suggested the Fl Dept of Revenue might be interested in the fact that his Iowa corporation has lapsed.

Now, more about Sarah: John Leonard was not only sending threatening letters to me; (two altogether), he sent six letters total to Sarah G. each one appearing more aggressive than the last finally degrading to the point of profanity. In one letter, Leonard gave Sarah an order to reprint a "retraction" that he had written for her and that Sarah was not allowed to mention that he wrote this ad hoc "retraction" or the "retraction" he wrote would be invalid. (Yeah, I found it that weird and that Orwellian.)

Letter number one:
Ms. [Sarah] Gjerstad,

I have been forwarded a copy of your blog and that of Mr. Tony Austin in Southern California, which purports to use the contents of your blog to further his campaign against the ASCA and myself.

Since I have never met you, don't know you or of you prior to this information, and have never answered any questions from you, i want to tell you the following:

1) Your blog defames the ASCA and myself. Look up the definition of internet defamation.

2) The information contained in your blog is entirely incorrect as it relates to the ASCA and SwimAmerica.

3) The ASCA is a 501-C6 corporation originally incorporated in Iowa and now duly registered for many years with
the Florida Department of Corporations with all reports and status active and complete.

4) SwimAmerica is a PROGRAM of the ASCA Council for Sport Development, a 501-C3 company conducting entirely 501-C3 purposeful activity. It was formed and is located in Florida.

5) There is no national business entity called SwimAmerica.

6) The ASCA Council hold full and complete rights to the name/logo SwimAmerica and it is copyright protected by us. We will vigourously enforce our copyright.

7) There is no such entity as " John Leonard Inc". owned by me in any state.

If you do not issue an immediate retraction, you will hear within 48 hours from our attorney's with a defamation lawsuit against you. I am providing you the courtesy of this notification directly, which is far mote than you did for me. IF you had wanted Accurate information in your campaign against NISD, you could have simply called me or emailed me and i would have given you directly the accurate information.

Now your inaccuracies have been nationally spread, it is possible that we have been materially damaged and you are in line for a lawsuit.

Fix this now, or look for the lawsuit. This constitutes reckless disregard for the truth, and damaging assault on a good organizations name.

John Leonard, ASCA

In the next letter he begins to use capital letters for selected words:
Ms. Gjerstad - you apparently are misunderstanding me. I have no reason to answer you on anything. I am communicating out of courtesy, (which you did not afford me.....) You have slandered me and our company.

I have explained to you in what manner. You either issue a STRONG retraction by 6 PM EST today, or we file suit and you can explain to a JUDGE why you would maliciously slander someone without even speaking to the principal person involved, and knowing NOTHING about how any of our organizations operate. You can either save yourself a lot of legal fees and grief, or go to court.

I will tell you out of courtesy, that no member of either ASCA or ASCA Council has ever, in the 26 years i have served at ASCA, rec'd any compensation for being on the Boards, NOR for any program or project done with us, other than speaking fees when they conduct a clinic. Your accusations are inaccurate and absurd.

by 6 PM Friday or it goes to a legal case. I am finished with being a nice guy about this. Make sure all four blogs you reference get a copy of your retraction with a copy to me to prove it.

John Leonard

And here is John Leonard beside himself regarding some sort of retraction that Sarah wrote which he found terribly anemic I suppose - gone is his professional facade but I am loving his grammar:

What you have printed on your blog is not a retraction. See my earlier deadline for a real retraction by 6 PM Friday.

There isnot and never has been an "Clerical error" by the state of Florida. YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING and in the meantime, your lies are slandering our company.

Get a real retraction out by 6 PM today, or you are going to find out what distraught really means, when the lawsuit hits you. Your behaviour is irresponsible and criminal, and I am not going to stand still for it to be spread by equally ill-informed people Does it strike you as absurd that you are writing a blog about some organization being illegitimate and you don't even know what a 501-C6 is?


Next, he takes it upon himself to suggest that Sarah write what he tells her or else - I love his opening line:

How about a simple ...

"I apologize, i did not do my research correctly or thoroughly and should never have posted information that cast incorrect accusations at the American Swimming Coaches Association, SwimAmerica or John Leonard."

and of course, if you have to tell anyone that you had to ask me how to write a retraction, it would invalidate the entire thing.

I don't like lawyers. I like to solve things between human beings. People make mistakes. I can accept a real apology. But if there is any screwing around with this, MS. Gjerstad, I WILL have a lawyer to you directly. I have had enough of people lying first and shouting bad things from the rooftops and THEN trying to say they are sorry....that's not the nature of the the internet in todays world.

6 PM with copies to all the relevant blogs that spread this filth and a copy to me of each one you send. JL

Now he plays the rhetorical question card with an ominous threat:

I assume this means that you are not issuing a retraction.

I'll be filing suit as soon as possible.


Well, that did not work so next comes the profanity card and the all capital letters for selected words to really make his threat resonate:

No, i told you what i want. Period.

No bullshit, no lengthy diatrides, no dancing. You are dead wrong, you slandered the ASCA and myself among others, and there are ZERO issues with ASCA or SwimAmerica and the IRS or State of Florida, or anyone other entity.

YOU PUBLISHED SLANDER. Get that through your head. We don't owe you explanations or answers. You owe US an apology and acknowledgement as i indicated previously. IF you don't, i will take this to court and you can tell the judge how you shouted foul first and THEN decided you didn't know what you were doing. Good luck with that.

by 6 PM today. No more communications from me to you. John Leonard

Well, that shows Sarah, huh? - It shows me too, don't you think?

Perhaps it shows the ASCA board of directors as well.. and USA Swimming... and all the coaches within the organization as what kind of leader John Leonard really is. John means business and you better do what he says or he will sue!

To be sure how upset Leonard really is, Sarah is sending a letter to the ASCA board asking the following question:

To the Officers of American Swimming Coaches Association,

Is ASCA behind the lawsuit referenced in John Leonard's email, or is this John Leonard acting individually?

Would you make a statement regarding ASCA's involvement in the lawsuit?

Sarah Gjerstad

Note to John Leonard: You are a public figure. Your organization purports to have registered as many as 10,000 coaches. You have a convention of sorts every year and you have written several articles for Swimming World Magazine, Swim News, and of course your own magazine. Therein you have tried to influence several issues that affect the sport both nationally and internationally such as tech-suits, FINA rules, and even the Fran Crippen drowning. With that said, this is why bloggers have a right to talk about what you write, how you organize, and what we observe.

So, my request still stands: Identify the facts you claim are false. If I confirm that a statement of “fact” in my blog is false, I promise I will issue a retraction through a written posting in the very blog where the original statement appeared, i.e., “in substantially as conspicuous a manner” as the statement(s) to which you object. See California Civil Code Section 48a.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

John Leonard of ASCA enters the SCAQ blog with a threatening note

I received a stern email this morning at 6:27 AM from John Leonard; (At least that is what the header on the email claimed) - I have decided I am going to share what he wrote and my response back to him:

Mr. Austin - every single representation stated by Ms.Gjerstad from San Antonio in her communication which you have reprinted and posted/distributed is incorrect.

Ms. Gjerstad has not been courteous enough to provide me with any questions or even a copy of attack on ASCA and myself.

I do not have her email.

Let me repeat, ASCA (which is a 501-C6) corporation and the ASCA Council (which is a 501-C6 corporation) are both properly registered with all paperwork in order continually for many years in the State of Florida.

If this is not retracted, I, along with ASCA, will be filing suit for slander in rapid order.

You, and every other person in this country are entitled to your own opinions of everything, including myself and ASCA. You are not entitled to your own facts, nor the ability to broadcast lies about people or entities.

I will send the same message to MS. Gjerstad, if you will provide me with her email.

thank you. John Leonard

Here is how I responded:

Dear Mr. Leonard:

I note that you are challenging the veracity of statements in Ms. Gjerstad’s blog posts, some of which may have been discussed in the SCAQ Blog. Unfortunately, in your note to me you did not identify with any specificity the representations you claim are incorrect, how they are incorrect or provide evidence to support your assertion. Please be advised that I strive to ensure that facts recited in my blog posts are accurate and, to that end, invite you to provide the support for your claim of inaccuracy and, upon verification, will post an appropriate correction.

Since we have now established direct contact I do have a question regarding ASCA’s registration in Florida. It is my understanding that a so-called 501(c)(6) entity is one afforded special tax treatment, i.e., exempt from certain federal taxes, by the Internal Revenue Service, generally described as a not-for-profit company or association, as contrasted with a commercial enterprise engaged in for profit activities that are subject to federal taxes. You have indicated that ASCA is a “corporation” that enjoys the benefits of the 501(c)(6) status but a corporation is something established under state, not federal law. The term “foreign” corporation applies, typically, to a corporation organized under the laws of one state but authorized to do business in a second state. What I am seeking to clarify is, accepting your claim that ASCA is a “corporation” operating permissibly as a “foreign” corporation in Florida, in which state is ASCA incorporated as a so-called “domestic’ corporation. The only information I have been able to ascertain is that ASCA was at one time a domestic corporation organized under the laws of the state of Iowa but appears to no longer enjoy that status. I am hoping that you can provide those facts.

In the meantime, I look forward to a constructive and civilized exchange with you, receiving facts and information not spurious threats of litigation.


Tony Austin

For information on what a 501(c)(6) non profit means, check out this link: [Link]

For info on the ASCA articles of incorporation at the Florida Department of State - Division of Corporations , here is a link that lists ASCA as a "foreign corporation": [Link]

Here is a link to the IOWA Secretary of State stating that ASCA corporation in Iowa is inactive - Type in this corp number in the appropriate search box - 54460: [Link]

I am looking forward to clarification on this matter!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Is ASCA actually incorporated? - The 'Curb Northside ISD' blog say no way!

UPDATE: 5/26/11 9:04 PM: The author of the blog post I link to below this update left a cryptic comment to a follow-up post located here: [Link]
Sarah G said...

I am the author of John Leonard has emailed me demanding an immediate retraction. I will do so within 48 hours. I can't do so now because I don't understand most of his letter and I am too distraught. To your readers: ignore my blog and any statements made using my blog as references.

This quote stands out: "...I can't do so now because I don't understand most of his letter and I am too distraught." What did John Leonard's letter state? Did he threaten her with a lawsuit as he did me as noted here: [Link] or did he correct any possible mistakes she made?

For now here are two links regarding ASCA's incorporation or lack thereof:

For info on the ASCA articles of incorporation at the Florida Department of State - Division of Corporations , here is a link that lists ASCA as a "foreign corporation": [Link]

Here is a link to the IOWA Secretary of State stating that ASCA corporation in Iowa is inactive: [Link]

I will email her and find out.

End of Update ---

Remember George block, that weenie who says FINA should be replaced and/or boycotted but replaced with a new organization he is connected with? ...

Sarah sent me a link to her blog making some startling accusations about both George Block and ASCA. I have not taken the time to validate these claims and I have to state emphatically that these are allegations and I have no idea if they are true. Sarah insists that she has done the leg work and she is making her personal opinions, observations and judgments known.

Here is some of the stuff she had to say:
"... In my blog titled Bexar County Funding of Folks Folly Aquatic Center , I mention how often the name George Block surfaces when researching why my children’s school district is spending $7M on a pool that is unsuitable for high school athletes. ..."
On the website, there is a statement

"...Northside's proposal has been endorsed by the national governing body for the sport of swimming, USA Swimming, which has promised the venue a minimum of five events per year."
I checked with Carol Birch at USA Swimming. Their organization does not guarantee any events. All organizations must bid on events

It appears that Sarah was on a roll with George and decided to look into ASCA as well. Now this allegation from a second post is explosive. In fact is profoundly explosive. I do emphasize that this is an allegation only but if true, ASCA has some paper work to do and that may include Form 990's and some tax stuff.

"... As I look closer at this, I learn that a more ubiquitous name in swimming is John Leonard. Many organizations fall under the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA), with John Leonard as Executive Director, and George Block as an officer.

ASCA is listed as a foreign corporation in Florida. Foreign, in corporation lingo, means not incorporated in the state. I originally had images of a corporation concealing their finances in Grand Cayman. It turns out John Leonard and George Block have an even better deal. Their annual reports to Florida state they are incorporated in Iowa. I checked the Iowa department of state. John Leonard registered in Iowa in 1968 but was terminated in 1992 for failure to file reports.

ASCA is not a legitimate corporation so there is no government oversight into their finances. It is not registered as an assumed name in Bexar County, and it is unlikely to be registered in any county.

This is a fictitious entity.

I confirmed ASCA status on Iowa's website and verbally with the Iowa department of state. ASCA, SwimAmerica, WSA, and possibly several other business entities seem to be doing business fraudulently.


If what Sarah states is true, I am suggesting that the IRS get involved. Sick em, Sarah!

Friday, May 20, 2011

ALCATRAZ: The TV show! - No matter how much money they pour into it doing the swim itself will be way more exciting!

So, Next month I am doing the Alcatraz Sharkfest swim and this TV trailer will part of my ramp up my emotions for the event by immersing myself in everything Alcatraz.

This series is by the guy who did the TV show,"Lost" - so UFO sort of plot lines will be featured.

And speaking of UFO technology: I'm only marginally prepared to compete at a high level this year so I bought myself a "blueseventy Reaction" for the event. The suit is so boss! I will review it soon but my first impressions are: It is lite, well made, I look good in red!

I have done this Alcatraz swim 5-times and each time I am scared. I use this fear to keep me prepared. I am a very experienced open water swimmer. I have surfed most of my life and competed in dozens of events featuring open water swims such as the Ironman in Kona, and several other races up and down the coast of California. (This is how I placed in my last open water race: Link),

Each year the S.F. bay is a different monster: tides, chop, fog, and of course cold water. It is a short swim 1.25 miles long but it is a swim where you are literally more than 1/2-mile form shore when you get to the middle of the bay and it is that sweet spot in the bay where the tides gab you and spotting is critical.

I get really nervous when I jump into water at Alcatraz but i make sure I am one of the first so my body can adjust to the cold and I can evaluate a race strategy base upon what I am seeing and feeling. I also talk to the kayak support staff asking about how nasty the tide is, the chop in the middle of the bay et.c etc. It is fun swim and a fond memory. I really recommend it for swimmers who need a formidable goal.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Michael Phelps fails to win, place or show in the 200-free in Charlotte - Could his mind-set be a factor or is all about conditioning?

We have a 6th place finish in the 200-free for Michael Phelps at the Charlotte Ultra Swim Grand Prix. Phelps best 200-free time so far in 2011 was a 1:46.27. Today's effort was a 1:49.25 which is about three-seconds off his best for this year and seven-seconds more than the WR in the event.

Phelps has fallen so fall. If Phelps would have swam in or around his best time from several weeks ago he would have had a solid 1st place finish thereby beating the field by 2-seconds-plus.

His splits were good his times were slow. Noted in an MSNBC report is an odd quote by Bob Bowman:

The intensity of his training prompted coach Bob Bowman to take a three-week hiatus to Australia ("I wasn't helping myself, Michael, or anyone else, at that point," Bowman said), returning refreshed, and in time to regroup with Phelps in North Carolina.

"Michael has experience now, and he knows this," Bowman said. "Sometimes, he knows this too much. But we have 72 days to prepare for Shanghai, and that's where the focus is."


If Bob Bowman was in Australia for three weeks and then regroups with Phelps in Charlotte, what has Michael Phelps been doing these past three weeks?

We are no longer hearing phrases like, "this was eye opening..., a wake-up call..., we have some work to do..." etc. etc. His rhetoric has now changed to "...I want to see if I still have it in the tank." [...] "Before, it came easy for me. I don't have two speeds anymore. I need to focus on the small things that I once took for granted."

This new rhetoric is troubling. Of course Phelps still has two speeds but his tank is empty and only professional dedication that matches the workload he maintained up to Beijing will "fill his tank" back up. Instead he appears to believe that this is merely an age related problem rather than a lack of an industrious workout schedule.

Apparently even Bowman is taking time off.

For the past three years I have been wet suit shopping! - I just purchased a 'blueseventy Reaction' for the 'Alcatraz Sharkfest' swim!

After reading review after review, doing analytics studies on those winning in cold water races, eyeing what the pro triathletes wore before they were signed, and even looking at both the history, and and technological output of all the companies involved, I have settled on a blueseventy Reaction.

Blueseventy has a history of winning technology: The blueseventy Helix essentially has been the suit of choice by pro triathletes till they were paid to switch. Chrissie Wellington, Julie Dibbons, Andy Potts and many more chose the b70 Helix first. That was a good enough endorsement for me.

I looked at open water swimmers who won their events with utterly no sponsorship deals in place and again the blueseventy was the front runner. Even when you looked at the history of blueseventy technology in the swimming pool again they proved their prowess with "weaponized" swimsuits that changed the whole sport. Soon Jaked, Arena, FINIS, followed their lead. Both swimming and swimmers shot onto the national radar and athletes actually made a living wage becasue of their innovation. I swam my best times ever in a blueseventy Nero.

Though the Helix is the the gold standard for open water race wear. I chose the Reaction because I will never be an elite swimmer but I still want access to the best mid range technology I can get and I trust b70 for that technology.

The photo above is Andy Potts before he was signed with TYR wearing a blueseventy Helix.

Ian Thorpe: "...I am like Lance Armstrong, Bjorn Borg and Michael Schumacher"

No trash talk just an exuberant professional who wants to race.

Translated from

Ian Thorpe , however, is well aware of what results [are] to be achieved and is well aware that like other famous athletes before him, the success will be won perhaps with more difficulty than before. "I, like Lance Armstrong, Bjorn Borg and Michael Schumacher when they returned after a long time, I'm not nervous about the results. To me [preparing for] London is a very important achievement. What are the results I can not say yet. "


Monday, May 09, 2011

Michael Phelps quote from the "Globe and Mail" about retirement

"It's weird to think about it. My mom and I joke about it all the time," ... "She says, 'I'm still not retired, and you're going to retire before you're 30." -- Michael Phelps [Link]

He is probably the only US Swimmer in history who could even do that. Even Johnny Weissmuller had to become Tarzan before he could retire.

I would also like to add that with colleges cancelling swim programs, governing bodies doing what they can to keep swimming from becoming commercialized with suit products, he may be the last one to do so as well.

US Masters Swimming reviews ten wetsuits or so at You Tube.

Best wetsuit reviews I have ever seen; about ten suits in all. Thank you USMS.

On my radar for a wetsuit purchase this month for when I do Alcatraz in June is The blueseventy Reaction, Tyr Hurricane Category 5, and a dark horse I never thought I would consider is the Ocra Sonar and/or Phantom.

With all that stated above, I do want to be clear as to which I believe is the best wetsuit available and this opinion comes from personal observation rather than wear-and-tear or personal open water use: That wetsuit, hands down is the blueseventy Helix.

Why do I say that without having tried the suit? The answer is simple: Every single pro who created enough equity in their game or gathered enough wins under their belt to finally be signed by TYR such as Andy Potts, Julie Dibens, Chrissie Wellington, Sarah Haskins, and others wore the blueseventy Helix first. I suspect most, if not all were not paid a fee to do so but rather asked the company for a suit.

With this in mind I favor the Helix but the blueseventy Helix is out of my price range and my open water season is short. Hence, the blueseventy Reaction is my number one choice right now followed by the Hurricane and/or the Orca. I will let you know which one I purchase.