Hitting Out at ‘Misogynistic Perverts,’ Maddie Groves Withdraws from Australian Trials

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Maddie Groves; Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Maddie Groves, who won the silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the 200-meter butterfly, has withdrawn from Australian Trials, hitting out on social media at “misogynistic perverts in sport and their boot lickers.”

Groves made the announcement first on Instagram, without reference to her concerns. (She is, however, wearing a favorite swimsuit with cartoon hands giving the middle finger.)

 

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A post shared by Maddie Groves (@mad_groves)

She then doubled down on Twitter with a message to unnamed athletic administrators that, “You can 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. Time’s UP.” She reposted that message to Instagram as well.

Groves, 26, indicated in another tweet that the incident stemmed from a comment directed at her by a coach. Swimming Australian responded with the following statement:

“Swimming Australia reached out to Maddie in December 2020 to enquire about a tweet sent by her that referenced potential abuse by someone connected with swimming. Maddie declined to provide further information nor do we have any previous complaints on record from Maddie.

“All allegations concerning child abuse or sexual misconduct are taken seriously by Swimming Australia. We consider the welfare, safety and wellbeing of children and young people as paramount, and we have a duty to make inquiries to uphold the standards of our sport.”

Swimming Australia president Kieren Perkins reiterated that no complaint had been received from Groves.

Groves won the silver medal in the 200 fly in Rio and swam in prelims for the medley relay that also took silver. She finished 17th in the 100 fly. The Brisbane native has two Commonwealth Games golds and a relay bronze from the 2015 World Championships to her name.

Mitch Larkin, who trained with Groves from 2012-16, addressed her absence at a press conference at Trials Thursday.

“We do have a pretty close connection and her well-being and of others is important to us,” Larkin said. “As a leader of the Dolphins team, I obviously have to focus on the work I have to do this week, but at the same time, her wellness and well-being is very important and I might send her a text to check in and see how she’s going.

“I know Swimming Australia have worked on some really good structure and there are plenty of people on the Dolphins team who are there to support her. We have an integrity officers and a well-being officer as well. They are certainly there if she ever wanted to reach out and express her concerns.

Since the last Olympics, Groves has endured a missed doping test that she was later cleared of by Swimming Australia and a cancer scare. Groves has swum sparingly since the pandemic began in early 2020. She was entered in two events, seeded 19th in the 100 fly and 26th in the 50 free.

In a subsequent post Friday thanking people for their support, Groves indicated that she sought to start a conversation about these issues.

“It would be a mistake for anyone to reduce my decision to a singular incident,” Groves wrote. “My decision is partly because there’s a pandemic on, but mostly it’s the culmination of years of witnessing and ‘benefitting’ from a culture that relies on people ignoring bad behaviour to thrive. I need a break.”

 

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A post shared by Maddie Groves (@mad_groves)

4 comments

  1. Megan Lee

    NB she says ‘A’ coach Not ‘Her’ coach
    Just saying

  2. Phạm Minh Triết

    Who cares? ? she looks like a kid, quitting the game when someone makes her sad.

    At least this is the good new for USA female swim team

    • avatar
      Heather MacFarlane

      I care how athletes are treated in this sport!

  3. Ryan Guerra

    Hopefully, there’s an avenue, besides lawyers, that Maddie can use to report more specifics to Swimming Australia. Unfortunately, Kieran Perkins response reminds me a little bit of the disgraced former USA Swimming head, Chuck Wielgus’ response back in 2010. Perkins needs to make it a priority immediately to talk to Maddie and resolve the issue and not stick his head in the sand, or even worse, cover it up like Wielgus and his USA Swimming board enablers did.