Swimming World Presents “A Voice For the Sport: Shedding Light on the Dark Side of Swimming”

Swimming World November 2019 A Voice For the Sport Craig Lord USA Swimming GDR Doping

A Voice For the Sport:

SHEDDING LIGHT ON THE DARK SIDE OF SWIMMING

By Craig Lord

Remember, remember the 9th of November and the bonfire of falsehoods exposed with the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago this month.

On pages 20-22, we recall the “Sporting Crime of the 20th Century” and those aspects of human nature that allowed politicians to sit around a table with doctors, pharmacists and sports scientists, and agree that State Research Plan 14.25 (systematic state doping) would fuel athletes and the status of the German Democratic Republic to Olympic heights.

Instead, State Plan 14.25 fuelled cheating, lying, hatred, sorrow, a doping culture in worldwide sport; it robbed people of rightful place, recognition, status; it made victims of “winners” and “losers.” The show had to go on, but the lights went out in the lives of many athletes, coaches and parents whose stories were written as also-rans (and also-swams) along the way.

The courage of athletes and the work of researchers, whistleblowers and journalists on the way to the German doping trials of 1998-2000 revealed the toxic culture at the heart of GDR sport. Athletes were pawns in a political game—almost at any cost: club swimmers as lab rats and obligatory abortions were among offerings on the menu.

Among those not afflicted by wilful blindness, it is not hard to understand how history repeats itself and delivers timely lessons.

Look the other way and before you know it, you have a Russian doping crisis to the right, a USA Gymnastics scandal of hundreds of abuse

victims to the left. In both cases, you have sports politicians, officials and their lawyers building self-preservation into rules and codes that end up protecting them, not the athletes they serve—and most certainly not those athletes who find themselves victims of more than circumstance.

The United States is just coming to grips with a horrible history. It was the late 1980s when 1972 Olympic gold medalist Deena Deardurff told the head of the newly formed USA Swimming Corporation that, according to her, she had been abused by a swim coach when she was 11-14 years old. It was 1991 when USA Swimming set up an Abuses Committee. Within a couple of years, sources confirmed that the group had “recommended” a series of measures designed to protect athletes from a culture of abuse in swim programs.

And yet, it was in 2010 when Deardurff asserted in a public statement what she had consistently been telling people in swimming since the late 1970s—and still the “Safe Sport” program was not in place as recommended. It soon would be, alongside a catalog of coaches who, it turned out, had been banned for life. All those years…how come?

A huge question—one that USA Swimming is now being asked by federal prosecutors. At the heart of inquiries led by the FBI and the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office are allegations that USA Swimming stifled athlete sexual-abuse claims, concealed its assets and improperly reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars in rebates from its in-house insurance company, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The USA Swimming Foundation is also the subject of inquiry.

USA Swimming said that it “supports any government investigation that goes toward protecting athletes.” Its record of having supported athletes who raised the early red flags of abuse leaves much to be desired, say victims.

USA Swimming’s claim that the Deena Deardurff allegations were from a prior era under AAU control and before USA Swimming does not hold water. History shows that reunified Germany could have made the same claim, but chose to acknowledge victims from East Germany when they formed a new entity. Dirty laundry never comes clean when hidden in a closet.

Under new leadership with Tim Hinchey, USA Swimming has the opportunity to do the right thing. Will it?

Craig Lord
Editor-in-Chief
Swimming World Magazine

Check out the November issue of Swimming World, out now!

SW November 2019 Florian Wellbrock Cover 800x1070

[PHOTO CREDIT: BECCA WYANT]

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FEATURES

016 2019 OPEN WATER SWIMMERS OF THE YEAR
by David Rieder and Dan D’Addona
Female: Ana Marcela Cunha, Brazil
Male: Florian Wellbrock, Germany

018 OPEN WATER HIGHLIGHTS OF 2019
by Dan D’Addona
The open water competition at the FINA Aquatics Championships commanded the sport’s spotlight for 2019. But many more open water highlights took place this past year—from Hawaii to Florida to Europe and East Asia. Here are Swimming World’s top five.

020 DOPING FOR GOLD
by Craig Lord
The fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago in November 1989 opened the door that would eventually reveal East Germany’s systematic doping of an estimated 10,000 athletes over more than two decades.

023 MAKING A DIFFERENCE
by David Rieder
Through a constant drive for bettering herself, Simone Manuel has crafted a career for which she may eventually be remembered as the greatest American sprinter ever. But she has forever changed the sport, her impact reaching far beyond any medal she has won.

026 TAKEOFF TO TOKYO: THE SYDNEY 6
by John Lohn
At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, six American male teenagers broke through during their first Olympic foray and remained major players in the sport in the years ahead. The scenario that unfolded for Michael Phelps, Anthony Ervin, Ian Crocker, Aaron Peirsol, Klete Keller and Erik Vendt could very well remain unmatched.

030 ISHOF: SWIMMER RECOGNIZED AS ONE OF BRITISH MILITARY’S GREATEST HEROES
by Bruce Wigo
Bernard Freyberg, a New Zealander who distinguished himself both in swimming and in war, used his expertise in swimming to perform one of the most heroic acts of World War I.

COACHING

010 LESSONS WITH THE LEGENDS: DICK KIMBALL
by Michael J. Stott

014 SWIMMING TECHNIQUE CONCEPTS: STRATEGIES TO OVERCOME THE BARRIERS TO IMPROVING TECHNIQUE
by Rod Havriluk
There are many barriers that make it difficult for any swimmer to improve technique. Fortunately, there are also very effective strategies to deal with these barriers. The first step is for the swimmer to stay mentally engaged for the duration of every training session.

038 SETON SWIMMING’S SAMPLE FOR SUCCESS
by Michael J. Stott
Jim Koehr, head coach of the Seton School swimming team in Manassas, Va., has devised an ideal model for a winning high school program.

041 Q&A WITH COACH SCOTT ARMSTRONG
by Michael J. Stott

043 HOW THEY TRAIN NOAH CORBITT
by Michael J. Stott

JUNIOR SWIMMER

045 UP & COMERS: McKENNA STONE
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COLUMNS & SPECIAL SECTIONS

008 A VOICE FOR THE SPORT

009 BEYOND THE YARDS

013 THE OFFICIAL WORD

032 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

046 GUTTERTALK

048 PARTING SHOT

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