Positivity in the Swimming Community: Why We are More Than Klete Keller

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Positivity in the Swimming Community: Why We are More Than Klete Keller

In 2016, Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, and Ryan Lochte had all become household names. They were three of many talented and hardworking swimmers who had stormed the Olympic Games and drawn a spotlight within the sport like swimming, as this seems to happen every four years.

For a lot of younger swimmers, these high-ranking athletes were idols. Kids saw these athletes work hard in and out of the pool, go to the biggest meets in the world, win gold, all with a smile on their faces. These swimmers were living the lives that every young athlete wants. Winning gold medals at the Olympics, sponsored by Speedo, being on television. The goal for many swimmers is to make it to the Olympics, so how could you not idolize these athletes? 

But because of this, these athletes, like many other people in the spotlight, are held to a certain set of standards. As role models, these famous swimmers must continue to work hard and ethically because their impact on the sport reaches wide. So, when a pro-level athlete does something horrific, it has a tremendous effect on the swimming community.

Former Olympian Charged in Capitol Attack

On January 6th, 2021, a group of militants stormed the United States Capitol as Congress was set to confirm the election of President Joe Biden. Among this gathering of insurrectionists was Klete Keller, a two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist. Keller was part of the U.S. Olympic swim team at the 2000, 2004, and 2008 Olympic Games. He is most famously known for helping Michael Phelps win gold in Athens.

Keller was one of the most recognizable insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol, as he stands six and a half feet tall. Not only was Keller easily identifiable among the group, he was also wearing his Team USA Olympic jacket. Keller is currently facing federal charges, including obstructing law enforcement, knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. 

A Disgrace to the Swimming Community

For obvious reasons, seeing Keller participate in the Capitol riots is both disappointing and disgraceful to the swimming community. To see someone who is supposed to represent our sport in a prideful and inclusive manner participate in something so hateful and vicious is beyond saddening to the swimming community. 

Our sport is a sport that is filled with love and camaraderie, and Keller’s actions contradict everything we stand for. USA Swimming has publicly come out condemning Keller’s actions, as well as stating that his actions are in no way reflective of those of USA Swimming. Keller, as well as other famous athletes, is supposed to represent our sport and be a solid role model for young swimmers. These young athletes look up to the high-achieving athletes in the swimming world, not be disappointed by their actions. 

These Olympians and professional athletes live the lives that young athletes look up to, so when finding a hero in them, they also reflect on their character and work ethic. It is important that the swimming community bands together to create a good image for our sport and the younger generation of athletes. 

Why We Are Not Klete Keller

It’s important to look at Keller’s story as a lesson. The swimming community is more than our past members’ mistakes. Our sport is full of talented, dedicated, hard-working, and deserving athletes who continue to put positivity into the sport. Swimming is a place of peace and harmony for many people and we need to work on maintaining a safe and positive atmosphere for swimmers to thrive in, and express their own beliefs as long as they don’t harm or oppress others.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Mark

    Try not to be too judgmental. The writer is already convicting Klete! I thought in this country one is deemed innocent until proven guilty!

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