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Jul 8 20

Tokyo 2020 announces Paralympic Games positioning, principles and roadmap following postponement

by ZwemZa


A man views the New National Stadium, the main stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
2020 Getty Images

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) today announced the positioning, principles and roadmap to the Paralympic Games to be held in the summer of 2021.

Following the unprecedented decision to postpone the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Tokyo 2020 has held several discussions with IOC, IPC, Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Government of Japan to prepare for next year’s Games. An IOC and Tokyo 2020 joint steering committee announced the overall positioning, principles and roadmap to the Games on 10 June.

Tokyo 2020 and the IPC have since thoroughly reviewed them and updated the content of the positioning to reflect the unique values of the Paralympic Games. This updated version was presented to the IPC Governing Board on 7 July.

Tokyo 2020 will stay in close collaboration with all stakeholders while continuing to make every effort toward a successful delivery of the Games.

Jul 6 20

Alicia Blagg: British Olympic diver retires at 23 after ‘heartbreaking’ shoulder injury

by ZwemZa

Alicia Blagg (Twitter)

British Olympic diver Alicia Blagg has been forced to abandon her bid for the Tokyo Olympics and retire from the sport at 23 after a “heartbreaking” shoulder injury.

Blagg dealt with depression and anxiety after two major wrist operations and became one of Britain’s most decorated female divers.

She competed at London 2012 and Rio 2016 and won multiple European and Commonwealth medals during her career.

However, Blagg has been unable to recover from a labrum tear sustained last year.

“It’s still in so much pain and it’s time I listened to my body,” she told BBC Sport.

Blagg suffered her first major wrist injury in 2013 and despite surgery she needed cortisone injections in order to be able to compete at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

With partner Rebecca Gallantree, they produced one of the most iconic moments of the Games with cameras capturing their stunned faces after a shock victory in the 3m synchro springboard final.

“Competing at London 2012 was magical but the Commonwealth gold was the best feeling ever because we just didn’t expect it,” she said.

After the 2016 Olympics, where the pair finished fifth, Blagg moved to the USA where she had further surgery while studying criminology and sociology at the University of Miami.

In 2018 she looked in career-best form and in addition to claiming her maiden major individual international honour – with European silver – Blagg also won a host of medals in the prestigious American college sport system.

She injured her shoulder during training in May 2019 and attempted to return to diving in a bid for a third Games at Tokyo, but is still unable to lift her right arm above her head.

“In my mind I just couldn’t keep doing this,” she said.

“I openly talk about seeing a psychologist and about the medication I was on to help with my anxiety and depression because mental health is so important.

“Fighting the demons in my head is exhausting so I’m ready to let my body feel normal physically and mentally.”

After completing her undergraduate degree online – due to the coronavirus lockdown – Blagg is hoping to move to Edinburgh later in the year and study for a masters in forensic psychology with criminology.

Nick Hope | BBC Olympic sports reporter

Jul 5 20

British Sports bodies want coaching ‘loophole’ closed to protect teenagers from potential abuse

by ZwemZa

The British government is under renewed pressure to close a “loophole” in the law that allows sports coaches and other people in positions of power to have sex with 16 and 17-year-olds in their care.

Thousands of people, including MPs, have backed a campaign for the Sexual Offences Act to be extended to cover any adult that has regular and direct contact with children and is in a position of authority over them.

Sports governing bodies including British Gymnastics, Swim England and British Athletics have supported the NSPCC’s ‘Close the Loophole’ campaign.

The Ministry of Justice is expected to release the outcome of its review into the Positions of Trust Law in the coming weeks.

One survivor, who was manipulated into having sex with her swimming coach when she turned 16, has written to the Lord Chancellor calling for the legislation to be changed to protect teenagers from predatory behaviour.

Hannah* trained eight times a week, and her coach Jeff* was close to her parents’ age.

She said: “Jeff was always pushing the boundaries but staying on the right side of the line. Initially he would just give me a hug. Then one day he gave me a hug and put his hand on my bottom. Jeff spent a long time making me feel comfortable.

“This was my first sexual experience but when this relationship came tumbling down, I changed with it. I was left feeling really angry, I was a difficult person to be around. It took me a long time to trust friends and family, to let them hug me.”

She added: “The law needs to be changed to protect 16 and 17-year-olds having relationships with their coaches. If this was in place, it might have stopped Jeff taking advantage of me.”

The Sexual Offences Act does not currently apply to roles including sports coaches, faith leaders, cadet leaders, private tutors and driving instructors.

A recent NSPCC petition for this to be changed received 4,420 signatures, and the campaign has the backing of several MPs, including former sports minister Tracey Crouch.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO, said: “It’s unacceptable that gaps in our law mean that teenagers are protected from predatory behaviour in the classroom, but not on the sports pitch.

“Young people should never be expected to fend off the sexual advances of adults, and yet the loophole means that 16 and 17-year-olds have to do just that, whilst their abusers are let off the hook.”

The Ministry of Justice’s review is understood to have looked at how the law balances safeguarding vulnerable adults with the right to consent that 16 and 17-year-olds have.

A government spokesperson told BBC Sport: “Abuse of power is abhorrent and these crimes rightly carry tough sentences. We have reviewed the law in this area and will set out our plans in due course.”

*Names have been changed to protect people’s identities.

Laura Scott | BBC Sport

Jul 5 20

Rikako Ikee tapped to give speech at Olympic countdown event

by ZwemZa

Rikako Ikee Photo: REUTERS file

Rikako Ikee, the Japanese swimming star who has her sights set on the 2024 Paris Games despite her ongoing battle with leukemia, will feature in a one-year Tokyo Olympic countdown event, a source familiar with the plan said Tuesday.

The 19-year-old is expected to address Olympic athletes in a keynote speech in the July 23 closed-door event at the National Stadium, the main venue for the sporting extravaganza, the source said.

The Olympics have been postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Masanori Takaya, a spokesperson for the organizing committee, said last week, “We won’t be holding any special events that attract crowds of people.”

Ikee was discharged from the hospital in December after 10 months of treatment. She made her diagnosis public in February of last year.

Per a post on her official website and social media outlets, Ikee confirmed that she has been specifically fighting acute lymphocytic leukemia and underwent chemotherapy. In March, she posted on Instagram that she was back in the pool for the first time in 406 days.

Ikee holds multiple national records and was named the first female MVP of the Asian Games in 2018 after winning six gold medals.

Kyodo News

Jul 5 20

Rikako Ikee aiming for October return to competition

by ZwemZa

FILE PHOTO: Swimming – 2018 Asian Games – Women’s 50m Freestyle – GBK Aquatic Center, Jakarta, Indonesia – August 24, 2018 Japan’s Rikako I Reuters

Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee, who has been battling leukemia since last year, said Thursday she intends to return to competition in early October.

The 19-year-old university sophomore allowed the media to access her practice in Tokyo online, and spoke to a group of reporters for the first time since revealing her diagnosis in February 2019.

“My current goal is the Japan intercollegiate championships,” Ikee said. “I’m practicing hard under the belief there will be a tournament.”

Under the tutelage of her new coach Isamu Nishizaki, Ikee revealed she is doing much of the same training program used by 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympian Sachi Mochida and other swimmers. Ikee said she is in the pool four times a week and has weekly weight-training sessions.

“I feel like I’m getting stronger day by day,” she said.

Ikee shot to fame at the 2018 Asian Games, winning six gold medals and becoming the tournament’s first female MVP. She was discharged from the hospital in December after undergoing 10 months of treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia, and started hitting the pool again in March.

“I think my swimming ability has returned to about the level in my first or second year of junior high school,” she said.

The multiple national record-holder also reiterated her intent to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“(The Tokyo Games) were postponed for a year, and it was expected I would compete, but I’m aiming for 2024. I’m hoping to build a solid foundation since I’m no longer tied down by next year’s Olympics.”

On Saturday, Ikee turns 20, when Japanese come of age. In addition to the change in legal status, turning 20 is a celebrated cultural milestone in Japan.

“My aspiration as a 20-year-old is to compete in some kind of event, get an accurate read on my current status, and then find more and more ways to get stronger,” she said.

Kyodo News

Jul 4 20

Sam Ramsamy is the IOC’s man to solve Sascoc’s election deadlock

by ZwemZa

Sam Ramsamy’s is the IOC man to assist beleaguered Sascoc with their elections

Veteran sports administrator Sam Ramsamy has been asked by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to work closely and ensure the smooth running of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee’s (SASCOC) elections.

The 82-year-old Ramasamy’s appointment has also been endorsed by International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and by Sports Arts and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa.

While the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus was one of the key reasons Sascoc’s March 28 elections was stalled, boardroom controversies were also major contributing factors.

One of the well documented issues were the four candidates who were previously ruled out from participating in the elections, but they successfully appealed their disqualification in April.

Barry Hendricks, who was Sascoc’s acting president at the time, was accused by one member of allegedly stifling her candidacy.

Sascoc placed Hendricks on leave of absence, also in April.

About his overseeing role, Ramsamy said: “My task is to discuss issues with Sascoc’s board and its membership to effect a satisfactory and fruitful conclusion.”

The IOC’s decision to deploy Ramsamy was confirmed in a letter he received from, Thomas Bach, the organisation’s president.

“The IOC has been following the situation of Sascoc very closely over the past few months.

“In view of the ongoing situation, and in order to provide further assistance to Sascoc, the IOC has decided, with the support of the IPC, to appoint you (Ramsamy) to work closely with Sascoc and to supervise and facilitate the process leading to the elections.”

Bach said Ramsamy was appointed so that the elections could be conducted in the near future, “smoothly, in close consultation and cooperation with all the parties concerned, in particular, member federations and the country’s sports authorities’.

He believed Ramsamy was the right man for the task as he was a “highly respected personality”, with great experience worldwide in the Olympic movement, and having played similar oversight roles in similar situations.

Bach singled out Ramsamy’s role in the successful staging of the Kenya’s National Olympic Committee’s Elective General Assembly in 2017.

Mthethwa said his ministry welcomed the news of Ramsamy’s appointment after previously approaching the IOC and IPC for assistance over the Sascoc saga.

“On our side, we stand ready to cooperate with the appointed facilitator (Ramsamy) and wish him well on this important assignment,” said Mthethwa.

SUNDAY TRIBUNE

Jul 4 20

O’Connor feeling lucky to be back

by ZwemZa

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor (British Swimming)

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor echo’s the call for swimming pools to safely open for the public, whilst she talks about feeling re-energised for the postponed Tokyo Olympics.

Having experienced months out of the pool, Siobhan-Marie O’Connor was recently been able to resume training at the Loughborough National Centre following the DCMS ‘elite return to training’ guidance and is full of gratitude at the she is able to start preparing once again for the opportunity to compete at her third Olympic Games.

“Being back in training is such a great feeling! I’m already very sore and tired from a lot of the hard work that we’ve done, but it’s so good to have my normal routine back and to be around my team mates again – even with all the social distancing. I really missed my team during lockdown, and also the structure and the purpose swimming gives me each day.

“Although the upcoming competitions have been postponed, I feel happy to be back training and hopefully on the way to achieving my goals. I do feel very lucky to be back in the pool right now.”

Commenting further on the safety measures put in place, the Rio 2016 silver medallist said:

“I think we all found the new health and safety measures at the pool quite strange to begin with, simply because they weren’t what we were used to, but it’s crazy how quickly different things become your new normal. Now it is completely familiar to us, and has run very smoothly so far. I feel very safe and comfortable in the training environment and British Swimming have worked hard to make sure that we can train with minimal worry.”

Siobhan Marie O'Conner

“I feel very safe and comfortable in the training environment” – O’Connor

Having made the switch to the Loughborough National Centre in 2019, the break during lockdown was a chance to step out of that ‘bubble’ and spend time with loved ones, but equally served as a reminder of her passion for the sport.

“Away from training I feel like the lockdown has given me a different perspective on things. I think although it has been a really tough and difficult time, it has allowed me to slow down, and realise what is important. I have been able to spend much more time than I normally do with my immediate family and this was really special to me. I realised that I often get caught up in the bubble and stress of everyday life and routine, and in the future I need to remind myself not to lose sight of what’s really important to me and my loved ones.

“The time away from swimming during lockdown made me appreciate the sport so much more. I have always loved swimming – when I was a little girl and joined my first club, I fell in love with it and I would never have thought that I would be lucky enough for it to be my job one day. I always try to remind myself of this, because there are lot of tough days throughout the journey, but the time away has made me realise how I love it even more, and made me feel so grateful for the opportunity to do something I love every day. I really missed it when we went into lockdown! Although the Olympics have been postponed, I see it as an opportunity to put some things right from last season and I feel re-energised.”

Siobhan-Marie O'Conner ESC

O’Connor has shown her support for the #OpenOurPools campaign

With Swim England’s #OpenOurPools campaign receiving the support of over 50,000 signatures, Sports minister Nigel Huddleston committed to reopening leisure facilities ‘as early as possible in July’ under questioning from MP’s, whilst thanking the Home Nations for working with the sector to produce guidance on the re-opening of swimming pools.

O’Connor was quick to use her public platform to join the call for swimming to return at all participation levels, adding:

“I think the Open Our Pools campaign is hugely important. I am in a privileged position because I have been allowed back in the pool, and with that I have seen first hand that it can be safe for people to social distance and practice good hygiene in the swimming environment.

“Swimming is so important to lots of people, for their physical health and mental health, but it is also a vital life skill, and with it being summer and our beaches being open, water safety should be a priority. Swimming is one of the highest participation sports in the country, and it is a way people of all ages, from babies all the way up to the elderly, keep fit and active. I really hope we see the pools back open soon, because I know this will make a lot of people happy!”

British Swimming

Jul 4 20

Mark Schubert threatens lawsuit after attorney, survivors ask USA Swimming to ban him, seven others

by ZwemZa

Mark Schubert, pictured at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, reached a settlement in a civil suit filed by Ariana Kukors Smith in July 2019. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Former USA Swimming national team director and Olympic team coach Mark Schubert said he will file a defamation lawsuit against Bay Area attorney Robert Allard after Allard in an open letter Wednesday to USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey demanded the organization ban Schubert and seven other individuals.

Writing on behalf of sexual abuse survivors, Allard called on Hinchey to “immediately purge the organization of individuals who have either sexually abused or enabled the abuse of minor swimmers.”

Allard called for a ban of former U.S. Olympic team coaches Murray Stephens and Paul Bergen, longtime American Swimming Coaches Association director John Leonard, former USA Swimming vice president Mary Jo Swalley, and three officials with Pacific Swimming, USA Swimming’s Northern California association – Millie Nygren, Clint Benton and Steve Morselli.

Schubert, currently the Mission Viejo Nadadores head coach, Stephens, Bergen and Leonard are members of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

“There is no doubt that sexual abuse within USA Swimming can be classified as an epidemic,” Allard said. “For decades, the organization has chosen to treat the symptom instead of fixing the root cause that has led to the molestation of countless children. This needs to end – immediately.”

As per its practice, USA Swimming did not respond to a request for comment from the Orange County Register Wednesday.

In the letter to Hinchey, Allard charged that Schubert “has an established history of remaining silent and failing to take action to protect minor swimmers when presented with information about predator coaches.”

“In his capacity as National Team Director for USA Swimming in 2010, Schubert learned that Olympic coach Sean Hutchison was sexually abusing his swimmer Ariana Kukors,” the letter continued. “Schubert unconscionably decided to withhold this information until after he was fired by USA Swimming when he tried to extort his way into replacing Hutchison at the Fullerton Aquatics Swim Club (“FAST”). Schubert retaliated against well-respected swim coach Dia Rianda for complaining about predatory behavior displayed by fellow coach Bill Jewell

Schubert reached a confidential out-of-court settlement with Rianda, a former Golden West Swim Club employee, in November 2014 in her wrongful termination civil suit.

Rianda, a former Golden West coach and administrator, said she was fired by Schubert, Golden West’s head coach, in July 2012 after she continued to complain to USA Swimming officials and others about what she and other Golden West employees alleged was a pattern of inappropriate behavior by GWSC assistant coach Bill Jewell toward young female swimmers ranging from sexual comments to inappropriate touching, according to depositions, court filings, emails and other documents obtained by the Orange County Register.

In sworn depositions, police reports, memos, letters and emails obtained by the Register, young female swimmers, Jewell’s fellow coaches and other swimming officials also alleged sexually inappropriate behavior by Jewell while he coached at the Fullerton Aquatics Sports Team (FAST).

Jewell was suspended by USA Swimming for three years in 2013 for making sexually explicit comments to young female athletes and other individuals involved with the sport. Jewell, who guided the careers of a series of future Olympians and U.S. national team members, accepted the ban after waiving his right to a hearing as part of a deal in which USA Swimming agreed not to pursue charges based on alleged misconduct that took place while Jewell worked for Schubert at GWSC.

“Dia and I settled and it was supposed to be confidential so maybe we’ll get some money back now,” Schubert said. “For (Allard) to accuse me of not protecting athletes and knowing about abuse when I didn’t find out about those coaches until after the fact is false and unconscionable. I will be filing a defamation suit.”

Allard said he was confident he would prevail should Schubert file a suit against him.

“Sometimes the truth hurts,” Allard said in a text Wednesday night. “Once Coach Schubert has a chance to sit back and reflect on what he has said and done over the years, and the damage that he has caused to so many women, I hope he spends his time seeking reconciliation as opposed to wasting his time with a baseless and frivolous lawsuit.”

The letter to Hinchey alleges Schubert didn’t support Kelley Davies Currin at the University of Texas.

Davies Currin told three Longhorn coaches that she had been sexually abused between 1983 and 1986 by Rick Curl, her Maryland club coach. The abuse, Davies Currin said, began when she was 12 and Curl was 34. The Texas coaches were Longhorn men’s coach Eddie Reese, Richard Quick, then the Texas women’s coach, and Schubert, who replaced Quick as the Longhorn women’s coach. All three men would coach Team USA at multiple Olympic Games.

“When Currin confided to Schubert that she had been abused by her coach Rick Curl, Schubert’s reaction was to dismiss her from the team after determining that she was a ‘distraction,’” Allard said.

“Schubert was on the board of ASCA when that organization presented Curl with the ‘Coach of the Year’ award in 1994,” the letter also said.

Schubert said he did not vote for Curl in the 1994 election.

Davies Currin called for Schubert’s expulsion from the sport in 2013 after a Maryland court sentenced Curl, 63, whose swimmers set 10 world records, to seven years in prison for abusing Davies Currin between ages 13 and 17.

Schubert said Wednesday that Davies Currin was recruited to Texas by Quick, who died in 2009.

Schubert said Davies Currin asked him not to go to authorities about the abuse because a confidentiality clause that was part of a financial settlement she and her family had reached with Curl.

“I was appalled but she begged me not to say anything because she didn’t want to jeopardize an $80,000 settlement with Curl,” Schubert said. “I didn’t kick her off the team. She quit.”

Rumors of Curl’s abuse continued to be widespread within the sport through the 1990s and into this century.  Yet Curl’s career continued to thrive. He was named to U.S. national team staffs. Swimmers coached by Curl won medals for four countries at the 2000 Olympic Games.

Schubert said in a sworn 2013 deposition and again in an interview with the Register in 2017, that he first informed then USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus of Curl’s abuse of Davies Currin in 2007. Schubert, then the national team director and concerned about Curl’s presence at USA Swimming training camps and at USA Swimming and USOC facilities, said he later brought up the Curl-Davies Currin situation again with Wielgus and USA Swimming assistant executive director Mike Unger. Schubert also said he approached Wielgus and other top USA Swimming officials about Curl in January and July of 2010.

More than three years after Schubert said he first raised the Curl-Davies Currin issue with him, Wielgus in a May 2010 deposition was asked if he had ever received “any information about (Curl) having an inappropriate sexual contact with one of his swimmers?”

“I have never received any information about that,” Wielgus said.

Wielgus later said nothing could be done without a victim coming forward. Yet even when Davies Currin filed a claim against Curl with USA Swimming in the spring of 2011, the organization refused to take action, according to USA Swimming documents. Davies Currin’s 2011 complaint with USA Swimming included a copy of the settlement agreement signed by Curl, she said.

A year later, Curl was spotted at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials on the competition pool deck and in the arena’s VIP section wearing an official credential issued by USA Swimming.

Not only did Wielgus and the federation fail to act on Schubert’s information, USA Swimming awarded the Curl-Burke swim club, founded and owned by Curl, $40,023 in grants between 2006 and 2012, $30,425 of the funding coming after Schubert said he first told Wielgus about Curl’s abuse.

Curl was only banned for life by USA Swimming in September 2012 after an emergency hearing was called by the federation following a Washington Post story detailing Curl’s sexual abuse of Davies Currin.

World champion swimmer Ariana Kukors Smith alleged in a 2018 lawsuit that Schubert, then the U.S. national team director, was aware that U.S. Olympic and national team coach Sean Hutchison was having a sexually inappropriate relationship with her but took no action. Kukors Smith said Schubert was informed that Hutchison was spotted leaving her room at a national team training camp in Italy prior to the 2009 World Championships.

Twelve-time Olympic medalist Dara Torres told the Register in 2018 that she told USA Swimming officials during the 2009 Worlds that she saw Hutchison come out of Kukors Smith’s hotel room during the trip.

“I did say something because it was so wrong,” Torres said. “Here’s this young girl, it just seemed odd. I said something to Mark, and somebody from USA Swimming said they’d take care of it.”

Schubert told the Register in 2018 that he was not made aware of the incident until after the trip.

“And then I later found out from Dara that she caught him sneaking out of (Kukors’) room at the World Championships at 3 o’clock in the morning and I was furious about it. Because I was the head coach on that team,” Schubert said.

But Kukors Smith said Schubert confronted Hutchison in Italy.

“Sean told me that Schubert had told him that one of the swimmers had said that they saw us sneaking around to each other’s rooms. Sean was the head coach of the women’s team at this meet, so obviously had a lot of power, and my understanding was Schubert told Sean to be careful,” Kukors Smith said. “Sean passed along the message to me that we needed to be more secretive and watch our backs. I did not want to get in trouble, so I complied. We referred back to that instance often when Sean would remind me of the need for secrecy.”

Kukors Smith, the 2009 World champion in the 200-meter individual medley, alleged that Hutchison, initially her coach at King Aquatics in Washington State, began grooming her for a sexual relationship when she was 13, sexually assaulted her at 16, and continued to have a sexual relationship with her and exert control over almost every aspect of her daily life until she was 24.

The U.S. Center for SafeSport banned Hutchison from the sport for life in October 2018, more than seven years after he was cleared by a USA Swimming investigation. SafeSport found that Hutchison had engaged in sexual misconduct against Kukors Smith when she was a minor. The SafeSport investigation also found that Hutchison molested Kukors Smith, had her perform oral sex on him and took nude photos of her when she was still a minor.

USA Swimming reached an out of court with settlement with Kukors Smith in March. Schubert was released from the lawsuit in July 2019. Allard and attorneys for Kukors Smith asked the Orange County Superior Court to dismiss her suit against Schubert “with prejudice.”

Scott M Reid | The Orange County Register

Jul 4 20

Lawyer of sex abuse victims calls on USA Swimming to purge its ranks

by ZwemZa

Lawyer Robert Allard poses for a portrait at his office in San Jose, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)

A San Jose lawyer representing sexual abuse victims has called for the removal of eight individuals from USA Swimming in an open letter to the national governing body’s chief executive Tim Hinchey.

The action by Robert Allard, a partner at Corsiglia, McMahon and Allard, is the latest move to get American swimming leadership to address decades of sexual abuse of female athletes by coaches.

It comes three weeks after a half dozen women filed a series of civil lawsuits alleging USA Swimming and its officials did not do enough to stop sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of their coaches. Five of the complainants competed in the Bay Area.

“This letter is a message to them: We’re not going away. We’re going to keep at it until we are ensured that caring for children is the No. 1 priority,” Allard said in an interview.

Included among the eight individuals named in the letter were former Olympic coaches Mark Schubert, Murray Stephens and Paul Bergen. Schubert and Stephens have been named in past lawsuits for alleged coverups of sexual abuse of coaches. Bergen previously was publicly accused of abusing a 1972 Olympic gold medalist starting when she was 11 years old.

Also named in the letter that was delivered this week was Clint Benton of Concord, Millie Nygren of Pleasanton and Steve Morsilli, coach of the Pleasanton Seahawks swim club. Allard’s letter alleged the East Bay swim officials did not report complaints about one-time coach Andy King, who is serving a 40-year sentence for sexually abusing minor female swimmers.

“There is a movement to end my career and that is unjustified and unfair,” Morsilli said. “I don’t think I did anything wrong.”

Morsilli read a detailed statement to this news organization that outlined what he knew about sexual abuse complaints against King. Morsilli said 10 years after the fact he helped a former swimmer bring a letter of complaint against King to Pacific Swimming officials.

“I thought I was one of the good guys by supporting her wish to bring the issue forward,” he said. “Somehow that has been turned around and now I am being considered a bad guy. I’m really not sure how that happened.”

Nygren said in an interview that she had not seen Allard’s letter and was baffled to be named when she has little to do with the sport anymore.

Benton did not immediately respond to attempts to reach him.

USA Swimming officials also did not immediately respond to a request to respond to the letter.

The two other individuals named in the letter are John Leonard, executive director of the American Swimming Coaches Association who plans to retire this year, and Mary Jo Swalley, executive director of Southern California Swimming.

In the letter, Allard told Hinchey it was time to dismantle the “culture that has been responsible for the sexual abuse of countless minor swimmers. This needs to start with you publicly and permanently banning at a minimum” the eight individuals named.

Lawsuits filed last month represented a collective effort to get USA Swimming to purge its ranks of those previously identified as either allegedly abusing swimmers or not doing enough to stop it after learning of allegations.

The suits, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, named two former coaches from San Jose — Mitch Ivey, a one time U.S. Olympic and national team coach, and King. Also named in the suit are USA Swimming, its Southern and Northern California associations, and former U.S. national team director Everett Uchiyama, who like Ivey and King has been banned.

Some of the victims who sued had given detailed public accounts of the experiences over the years. Yet, they say, little was done to ensure the abuse wouldn’t happen to others.

Allard said in the letter to Hinchey that USA Swimming has a deeply embedded culture that “condones the criminal sexual behavior of coaches towards its underage athletes.”

In an interview, Allard said, “I’ve seen only bandaids. I haven’t seen any real change in the leadership structure. It’s time to stop picking at the scab and start figuring out where the roots of the problem are.”

Elliot Almond | The Mercury News

Jul 4 20

Australian National titles to copy Tokyo Olympics format with morning finals

by ZwemZa

Cate Campbell and the Dolphins will get a taste of Tokyo preparation with morning finals at the national championships.Credit:Getty Images

Australia’s star-studded swimming team will be given a crash course in being primed for morning finals with the country’s national championships to copy the Tokyo Games schedule next year.

Swimming Australia announced on Friday it will use next April’s national titles to replicate the Olympic format, which will require medal events to be staged in the morning and qualifiers at night under commitments to United States television behemoth NBC.

Some of the Dolphins’ biggest names have already been tailoring their training loads and mindset to be at their peak before lunchtime, a facet of their preparation they will have to work on for another 12 months after the Games were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The national championships, due to be held between April 14-18, was announced as part of a strong domestic calendar in 2021 which will include the Olympic qualifiers in Adelaide in June.

“With the prospect of international racing still up in the air leading into Tokyo, we’ve been working really closely with our state and territory associations to make sure the complete domestic calendar provides plenty of strong, quality race practice for our athletes,” Swimming Australia’s high performance chief Alex Baumann said.

“The preparation our athletes will now experience due to the challenges they’ve all faced with COVID-19 will be vastly different to their original plans, so it was imperative that we provide them with the best possible platform to reboot and adapt as they strive to achieve their goals.

“One of those measures was scheduling finals in the morning and heats at night during the Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming [Championships] in April to replicate the program our athletes will encounter at the Olympics.

“It’s going to assist in their preparation and allow them to experience the change in race scheduling just a few months out from Tokyo.”

The 2008 Games in Beijing also featured morning finals and night heats.

It is expected Australia’s best medal chances will spend 7am swims at the main pool in Tokyo before returning to the athlete’s village for breakfast. They will then return to the venue for racing.

Australia’s open water titles will be held between January 29-31 while the first opportunity for a national racing event post-coronavirus shutdowns will be November’s shortcourse titles in Melbourne.

Adam Pengilly | The Sydney Morning Herald

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