Body Shaming Among Topics In Cate Campbell’s Book With Sister Bronte

On the heels of British Olympian Adam Peaty revealing the release of his first book, Australia’s Cate Campbell has a literary release of her own.

Sister Secrets: Life Lessons from the Pool to the Podium marks the 5-time Olympian’s book debut, with the freestyle ace teaming up with sister Bronte Campbell to detail the highs and lows of their prolific journey through the elite swimming.

Below is an excerpt from the 179-page read which hits both physical and digital shelves on November 16th.

‘The lane is your own private arena.
Like a pane of aqua glass spread before you.

One big breath in.
‘Take your marks.’
My front leg is shaking.
And then it begins.
Nothing left to do but fight.’

Among the subjects covered in the book is that of body shaming, with Campbell conveying that many coaches purport the idea that ‘skinnier is better.’

According to a review from The Guardian, in her experience in Australia, ‘girls were told to use smaller places so they would eat less and were criticized in front of other swimmers if they gained any weight.’

“Weight was, and still is, always a topic of conversation on pool decks or in swim teams,” says Campbell. At one competition she said “all the girls were specifically told to use smaller plates at dinner so we wouldn’t overeat.” (The Guardian)

“Swimmers in other programs were subjected to weekly weigh-ins – in front of their entire squads – and publicly admonished if they had gained even a few hundred grams.”

On an Instagram post regarding her book, Campbell says, “Bronte and I wrote this almost as a letter to our younger selves. It’s full of the lessons we have learned on our journey together, as well as a few interesting little tidbits. For example: want to know what competition day at the Olympic Games looks like? Turn to page 86. Want to here [sic] about what really happened the morning of my 100m freestyle heat in Tokyo? Turn to page 166.

“For those who aren’t big readers, there are heaps of pictures as well – a few with some horrendous childhood haircuts, they’ll make you feel better about your embarrassing childhood photos, so you’re welcome.”

Campbell raced in Tokyo at this summer’s Olympic Games, capturing gold in the women’s 4x100m free and 4x100m medley relays, in addition to bronze in the 100m free.

She posted this week on Instagram that she hasn’t had any “formal training” in over 3 months, since the Tokyo Olympics.

In the meantime, she has posted several messages regarding her mental health. In early October, C1 stated, “In July 2020 I was diagnosed with depression. In June 2021 – four weeks before the start of the Tokyo Olympics – I finally admitted I needed some medical help, and I am so grateful I did.

“I have never spoken about my battles with mental health publicly before. Mental health is not a sign of weakness. It does not discriminate. It is very real, and most of us will face it at some point in our lives.

“I wish conversations about mental health were more common – if they were, I might have sought out help earlier than I did. So I am sharing my story in the hopes it will prompt a conversation in your household, dispel a stigma, or encourage you to be a bit kinder to the person next to you.

“I still struggle to not feel shame around my mental health, so please be kind.”

 

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Turk Men I Stan
25 days ago

Ummm, I’m a male swimmer and my coaches worry about my weight. Because it’s a legitimate competitive concern.

Ever watched a football game? They “obsess” over the male athletes’ weight as well.

I agree that there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it, and we should be training coaches on the difference between those two, but claiming that a professional athlete’s weight shouldn’t matter is absolutely a false statement. Physics don’t care about your mental health.

I’m sorry Cate, but your constant negativity, your constant blame game, that’s why we didn’t vote you to the Athletes’ Commission. It’s just getting old. I love your swimming and what you do in the pool, but this barage of blame… Read more »

thunderdownunder
Reply to  Turk Men I Stan
25 days ago

Look out! Cate has never been wrong about anything, and if you disagree with her, she’s going to come at you in an editorial. “Keyboard Warrior.”

jdsmitty1
Reply to  Turk Men I Stan
25 days ago

Did you read the article? AUS Swimming promotes eating disorders for their athletes and publicly humiliates them for their weight. That’s very different from making sure athletes are physically healthy and have good relationships with their nutrition.

caeleb's leg sleeve tat
Reply to  jdsmitty1
25 days ago

that part of the article flew over original commenter’s head

Redhawk
Reply to  caeleb's leg sleeve tat
25 days ago

He never read it

swimswamsers
Reply to  jdsmitty1
25 days ago

sorta explains Australia’s struggles at big meets

caeleb's leg sleeve tat
Reply to  Turk Men I Stan
25 days ago

the point flew over your f’ing head

Dee
Reply to  Turk Men I Stan
25 days ago

The problem is that weight is treated like a concern even when it isn’t. An athlete can be clearly physically fit and swimming well and still (some) coaches will obsess over their weight and impose unnecessary and at times humiliating practices. Be aware of weight, talk about it by all means, nutritional awareness is part of being an athlete – But we do have an obsessive culture and it isn’t healthy, particularly for women and girls.

Last edited 25 days ago by Dee
Steve Nolan
Reply to  Dee
25 days ago

And if anything, there’s no way to really know what weight is an athlete’s ideal weight.

That said, I’m pretty confident the ideal weight for anyone isn’t one where that person has to end up with an eating disorder in order to get there.

Dee
Reply to  Steve Nolan
25 days ago

Indeed, not just ideal weight, but body type too.

We had this with British Gymnastics last year – Relentless public body shaming during group weigh-ins which led to gymnasts starving themselves for days on end through fear. One young woman, an Olympic medallist, retired as a result of the relentless shaming and abuse – Her coach told her she just looked fat compared to other gymnasts – Needless to say those other gymnasts hadn’t won Olympic medals, unlike the “fat” athlete.

SwimSider
Reply to  Dee
25 days ago

And you know this, how??

Dee
Reply to  SwimSider
25 days ago

Not sure which comment you’re replying to, but I presume it’s the second. A prominent and respected QC carried out a review, the Whyte review, after a landslide of abuse claims. The interim report was made public some months ago, and some gymnasts went public with their stories.

Virtus
Reply to  Turk Men I Stan
25 days ago

U weird af. “Physics don’t care about your mental health” where’s your quaintifiable proof that for every athlete a lower weight correlates to speed, the math on that is extremely complex. Not even to mention that what they were doing was essentially public shaming not nutrition goal setting

Observer
Reply to  Turk Men I Stan
25 days ago

That’s crazy because I didn’t vote on her because of that too…
And people are just becoming soft, if you’re an athlete it’s literally your freaking job to be in shape… otherwise go work in an office or somewhere else. What’s up with all this crying lately?? Everybody just loves to be a victim nowadays.

Plus Cate is a 6’1 (maybe 6’2?) extremely talented swimmer built like a goddess, how can anyone shame any part of this woman???

Last edited 25 days ago by Observer
Samboys
Reply to  Observer
25 days ago

That’s kind of the point, 90% of elite swimmers are built similar to Cate and they still get told to eat less, lose weight etc. If you put on noticeable weight and you’re demonstrably slower then sure it could be an issue, but being too thin can be just as if not more detrimental.

Just a coach
Reply to  Samboys
24 days ago

If 90% of elite swimmers are built similarly to Cate… then are they too thin? If 90% of your swimmers are built for speed, is that an issue? That’s the goal. Kinda weird how you can say “they’re mostly built like Cate” and can then say “being too thin can be an issue.” But are they? Are they slower? Their job is to be as fast as they can. Not be as fast as they can while everyone around them who’s job it is to make them fast also has to be super nice about it. This is a soft argument. If she didn’t like it, she should have chosen another job.

Samboys
Reply to  Just a coach
22 days ago

I was replying to “Plus Cate is a 6’1 (maybe 6’2?) extremely talented swimmer built like a goddess, how can anyone shame any part of this woman???” I never said Cate was too thin, only commenting that if Cate and others like her are still being told they need to lose weight then it’s possible that they will become so thin that it begins to negatively effect athletic performance.

Sub13
Reply to  Observer
25 days ago

“Everybody just loves to be a victim, it’s your job not to be fat” he says to an Olympic champion and multiple world record holder from behind his screen, likely while eating a bag of Doritos.

Observer
Reply to  Sub13
25 days ago

Love Doritos!! Had a bunch of then flying back home from Tokyo… where I swam… at the Olympic Games… … … I may or may not know what the heck I’m talking about.
Ive been “body shamed” by coaches, teammates and media before, instead of being a baby about it I just did my job.

Yeah dude… it’s on the job description when you apply to be an Olympian “be in shape”

Sub13
Reply to  Observer
25 days ago

Oh really? You swam in Tokyo? Who are you?

Did you win multiple gold medals and break a world record? Cate Campbell did 🤷🏼‍♂️

Presumably if you’re so sure that you’re doing your job properly and she is just whining, you outperformed her, right? Meaning that either you’re Caeleb Dressel, Emma McKeon, Kaylee McKeown, Ariarne Titmus or Zhang Yufei. I suspect that you’re none of those people, which kind of brings me to the conclusion that you’re full of it.

Last edited 25 days ago by Sub13
Observer
Reply to  Sub13
25 days ago

OMG, are you performance-shaming me??? How dare you?? Wait until I release my book, you’ll be in it!!
Back to my Doritos now

Sub13
Reply to  Observer
24 days ago

I don’t believe that you swam in Tokyo. I mean maybe you did and you were like a universality spot who came 6th in the 3rd 50 free heat, but it’s obvious from your attitude that you’re not anyone notable. Jealousy isn’t a good look on you.

Meow
Reply to  Turk Men I Stan
25 days ago

Jfc of course this is the first comment. This place is so clearly run for and by men.

Just a coach
Reply to  Meow
24 days ago

Cry.

Corn Pop
Reply to  Turk Men I Stan
25 days ago

This booklet is a letter to their younger selves . It looks to be set out as companion for kids ; family embarking on or in the midst of competition swimming in Australia. Do you come in under that category ? It is not inclusive to world sport & you may not be the target audience.

It is without denial that Australia has produced a massive successful bunch of girls 2001-2021 & here is one of the road maps. There are others .

Elite sport is exclusive , non diverse , binary & certainly not equal. Regarding food , sports people are privileged beyond compare but not special.as everyone ought restrict food intake . We are eating the planet… Read more »

Last edited 25 days ago by Corn Pop
caeleb's leg sleeve tat
25 days ago

god this comment section is going to be insufferable since people love to gloss over certain parts and put their opinions that they’ve pulled out of their …

Awsi Dooger
25 days ago

I noticed that Titmus gained quite a bit of weight during her two month holiday. It’s really noticeable when you look at her on the podium in Tokyo compared to some of her appearance photos in late August and into September. She appeared to have lost some of it back by the Melbourne Cup, where she had a hosting role. Titmus has said she needs more time off. This is undoubtedly one of the primary reasons…a window to eat and drink normally.

Sam B
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
25 days ago

maybe she is eating and drinking normally all the time, except that when she’s not swimming, she doesn’t burn those calories

Marklewis
25 days ago

The topic of female swimmers and their weight is a loaded one.

I wonder how female coaches like Teri McKeever handle it.

Any routine like public weigh-ins with associated commentary should be banned.

Female athletes do have a different psychology compared to male athletes when it comes to sports. They react differently to coaching and motivational techniques.

I wonder if any books or talks have been published on this topic, other than memoirs about abuse and “body shaming.”

Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
Reply to  Marklewis
25 days ago

I don’t like male athletes like to be body shamed either

Seriously
Reply to  Marklewis
25 days ago

I remember discussing the issue of weight with my coach back in the late ‘90s when I was swimming for a D1 program. My coach was an infinitely decent man, but we acknowledged that there could an issue with freshmen putting on the dreaded “15” once in school. Most of this was related to poor nutritional choices at the cafeteria, an altered sleep pattern, and alcohol consumption for some. Whatever the cause, it negatively affected performance, on which his job security rested. Tough position for him to be in, but even back then he knew that if he put his swimmers on a scale, he might as well hand in his resignation at the same time. Instead, he would ask… Read more »

caeleb’s leg sleeve tat
Reply to  Seriously
24 days ago

i stan your coach

Sam B
25 days ago

re body shaming: huge scandal broke out in Hungary for beating kids, groping young girls, body shaming, verbal and physical abuse, the coach involved had been in the news daily – well known for raising olympians for 30 years

Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
25 days ago

These comments make me concerned for how Australian swimming treats their women

Torchbearer
Reply to  Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
25 days ago

I doubt it is only Australia- it is a warning to all swim nations.

Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
Reply to  Torchbearer
25 days ago

That’s true, but I feel like we tend to comment on the weight and personal lives of aussies more (aka that one article about titmus not training since august)

Markster
25 days ago

Throughout my time in competitive swimming I definitely noticed my times were faster when I had less body fat. I imagine at the elite level it becomes very necessary to monitor.

Sub13
Reply to  Markster
25 days ago

Kyle Chalmers just broke a world record and he’s 6kg heavier than Tokyo. It’s impossible to gain 6kg of muscle of in a few months. Seems like maybe it’s not as clear cut as you’re implying.

The unoriginal Tim
Reply to  Sub13
25 days ago

From experience it definitely isnt clear cut especially at 200m plus events.

swimswamsers
Reply to  Sub13
25 days ago

That’s like thinking it rained because the sprinklers went off and the sidewalks wet.

Sub13
Reply to  swimswamsers
25 days ago

What? Can you explain your analogy a bit better. I have no idea what to you’re trying to say

Sam B
25 days ago

re body shaming: huge scandal broke out in Hungary for beating kids, gr0ping young girls, body shaming, verbal and physical abvse, the coach involved had been in the news daily – well known for raising olympians for 30 years

Corn Pop
Reply to  Sam B
25 days ago

Hungary hS never recreated the Communist successes in gymnastics . Some decent specialist men who do 1 event for years but never another Henrietta Onodi .
.

Last edited 25 days ago by Corn Pop

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Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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