Dr. Ron Karnaugh, 32, a member of the U.S. National Team, has sent a letter to his Pan Pac teammates and coaches, asking their support in his bid to leave Australia on August 28–two days early–to attend his wedding rehearsal in New Jersey. Karnaugh will have finished all of his events on August 27. As of today, Karnaugh has received about two dozen replies from teammates and coaches, all but one of them supporting him. The one dissent came from head coach Mark Schubert.
National Team Director Dennis Pursley has refused to allow Karnaugh to leave early, saying “everyone knew what thedates were last August when the team was announced, and Ron should have taken that into account when planning his wedding.” Apparently the rehearsal is taking place five days before the wedding, rather than the traditional one day, due to the Labor Day holiday.
One swimmer pointed out that USA Swimming has established precedents where another athlete was allowed to leave a major meet (the 1997 Pan Pacs) early to attend his bachelor party.
Pursley has offered to call the priest conducting the wedding to see if he would be willing to reschedule the rehearsal or perhaps have another priest conduct the rehearsal, but Karnaugh refused Pursley’s offer to intervene with the church.
“I feel it’s totally inappropriate for Dennis to get involved in my personal life,” he said. “With Dennis as National Team Director, I feel like I’m swimming for a communist dictatorship.”