Alabama Swim Coach Suspended 1 Year By USA Swimming

Derrick “Tom” Fraenkel, a swim coach at the Valley Area Swim Academy in Valley, Alabama, has been given a 1-year suspension by USA Swimming. His suspension officially began on April 16th, 2018 and will end on April 16th, 2019.

Two sections of the USA Swimming Code of Conduct were cited: 304.3.4 and 305.1. Those two sections are cited below:

304.3.4 – The following shall be considered violations of the USA Swimming Code of Conduct…Violation of any of the Athlete Protection Policies set forth in Article 305

305.1 – Inappropriate touching between an athlete and an adult non-athlete member or Participating Non-Member (as defined in 401.1) is prohibited, including, but not limited to, excessive touching, hugging, kissing, and having an athlete sit on a non-family member adult’s lap

While no criminal charges that we could find have been filed against Fraenkle, an individual identifying as Fraenkle left the comment below on an article on on March 10th, 2018. In the comment, Fraenkel says that he was “banned for life” (he wasn’t) for “simply hugging their swimmers in front of their parents.”

Fraenkel claims that he was reported by a young female coach who was attempting to get his program driven out of the City of Valley Sportsplex community center. NAIA member Point University also practices at the Sportsplex facility.

Assuming a standard month-long appeal period that comment would’ve been left about a week before a decision was made on his punishment.

Fraenkel’s comment is below:

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this is a complete joke

…unless there is more to the story.

But if hugging a swimmer gets a year ban I can snap some photos at a swim meet and get half the coaches on deck suspended.


“… I can snap some photos at a swim meet and get half the coaches on deck suspended. …” SCCOACH
You are a dangerous person to have around. Why would you do it?


I was just making a point that hugging is still common. I tell my swimmers straight up to not touch me.


It makes you look in my eyes like Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms. She also isn’t allowed to be touched. But, you know, things happen sometimes..even with The Queen. 😀 Please, don’t punish your swimmers for innocent mistake.

College Coach

So has USA Swimming gone from completely ignoring these types of allegations to just banning/suspending people without investigating at all? Maybe a little transparency would help

Coach Mike 1952

Maybe a LOT actually!


Whats the old saying? “Innocent until proven guilty”
Given our current society “Guilty until proven innocent,” but probably not even then. Reputations/careers/families can be ruined by a simple false claim.
Not defending or accusing this coach one way or another, but people need to tread lightly when it comes to accusing, just as coaches and other people in positions of any kind authority need to tread lightly.


I guess I’m about to go turn in every coach I’ve had for the horrible act of hugging me.

Becky D

The act of EXCESSIVELY hugging you.


Please define

Becky D

50FREE was making a joke. I attempted to expand on that (and failed).

This topic is all very unsettling. Not just that there are predators in our midst, but that coaches and swimmers cannot express innocent and sincere affection for fear of being accused of something unseemly. I think we’re all losing something here. It’s as if we’re all bobbing in a tub of bleach in order to stay “safe.”

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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