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.”

 

In This Story

83
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of
83 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Joel
7 months ago

Just saw Cate and Bronte in an interview on Australian TV. Cate says the body shaming happened when she first made the Australian team (2008?) and hasn’t been a problem for her since then.

New Zealand
Reply to  Joel
7 months ago

Really? Because your comment directly contradicts the written words in her book, which indicate that her problem stretched on for at least several years.

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/lifestyle/stellar/cate-campbell-the-consensus-was-the-skinnier-the-better/news-story/9ed5643bbf5386dca19fc099fd20fc82

swimapologist
Reply to  New Zealand
7 months ago

I mean…

It turns out she did actually say both things.

So.

Now I don’t know what to think.

Can our Australian friends tell us what we’re to think now?

Admin
Reply to  Joel
7 months ago

This timeline becomes interesting, because there were a lot of problems in Australian swimming culture circa 2010 and a few years in either direction, depending on which issues you’re talking about. Thinking stilnox, for example.

The culture, in some ways, seems to have dramatically improved in the last few years under Baumann. Having not read the book or seen the interview that @joel is referring to, whether or not this stuff was quashed in the last few years, to me, is an important piece of the story.

Swimmer 08
Reply to  Braden Keith
7 months ago

Baumann, a Canadian, was only in the role of CEO of Swimming AUS for three months before he left, citing health reasons. So, it’s hard to see how AUS swim culture could have “improved in the last few years under Baumann.”

Admin
Reply to  Swimmer 08
7 months ago

He was the Chief Strategist in the high performance group beginning in 2017, so one would think that maybe he had some influence over the high performance part of the sport in that role:

https://swimswam.com/alex-baumann-help-lead-swimming-australia-high-performance-strategy/

Concerned
Reply to  Braden Keith
7 months ago

Baumann actually began with Swim AUS in January 2018, and thus began a period that included the allegations by Maddie Groves, Dr. Jenny McMahon and others; publicly reported allegations (denied) of bullying, weight-shaming, and “Hell Weeks” at the SPW program; the Shayna Jack and Mack Horton-Sun Yang incidents amidst World Championships 2019; the resignation of Jacco Verhaeren; the disclosures of swimmers Emily Seebohm, Leisel Jones, Grace Hull and others about eating disorders; and the need to form an independent, all-female commission to examine AUS swimming culture prior to Baumann’s departure as CEO after three months. Not exactly a stellar time period for AUS swimming.

Swammer
7 months ago

When I was swimming in a D1 program our coach had us do weekly weigh-ins and body measurements. If we gained even the slightest inch anywhere on our body, he would shame us. Women’s bodies can greatly differ in weight and inches depending on your period cycle, but our male coach knew nothing about this and would make us feel miserable about our bodies. many of us developed unhealthy eating habits to avoid the shaming, and to avoid being called to the office to be shouted at for an hour about how fat we were. I quit swimming as soon as my last college competition was done because he made me hate swimming. Thankful that swimmers like CC shines a… Read more »

Anonymoose
Reply to  Swammer
7 months ago

Thank you

bob
Reply to  Anonymoose
7 months ago

I think there is a lot of weight shaming in gymnastics, swimming etc..Not restricted to one country and not even restricted to the upper echelons of swimming.I,ve seen and heard lots of it at a club or provincial level.The coaches should be aware of diet issues of course but smart enough to know whats too much.Many of them don’t.

samulih
7 months ago

Weight is never concern to anybody! It is issue that can be discussed with utmost respect with coach, swimmer and also professional nutrionist if needed.

Usually it is not issue to most swimmers and as all the articles recently show why make it a issue as there are 1000x more pressing issue in swimmers life.

Incognito
7 months ago

Losing too much weight and bordering on anorexia ruined my swimming career. Kudos to CC for bringing up this taboo subject – too many people I know have fallen victim to the skinny narrative to the detriment of their longevity and performance in the sport.

Last edited 7 months ago by Incognito
Guerra
7 months ago

After reading this, I wouldn’t be surprised if Aussie coaches make their female swimmers wear cowbells around their neck. Pathetic!

Joel
Reply to  Guerra
7 months ago

There are a LOT of good Aussie coaches who have never made swimmers weigh in. Didn’t tar everyone with the same brush please.

Sub13
7 months ago

Wow this comment section is vile. Kind of surprised some of them haven’t been moderated. Every so often an article comes up that reminds me of the low lives lurking around here who will take any excuse to attack certain swimmers (Aussies seem to cop the brunt of it, not really surprising).

Adelaide
Reply to  Sub13
7 months ago

Only problem is, it’s an Australian woman bravely leading the charge here. I would suspect Cate is puzzled–as are many in the AUS swim community–as to how three female swimmers, all coming off of shoulder problems, combined to win six individual races in Tokyo–with one of them in late career and winning Oly sprint events in which she had never before even made a major international podium. That would depress me too. Was it all just extreme weight loss, and strength-to-weight ratios? Perhaps. But IMHO it might be worth an ASADA or ITA investigation, interview of rehab “trainers” and coaches, etc.

Sub13
Reply to  Adelaide
7 months ago

I am so confused as to what you’re trying to say? It sounds like you’re making doping accusations because you mention ASADA, but surely you would be more specific if you wanted to do that? It also sounds like you’re suggesting that Cate is implying that her teammates have done something wrong, which again is very out of left field. Cate doesn’t seem to be “puzzled” at all about her teammates’ success like you are suggesting.

Titmus winning her two golds wasn’t really a surprise. She’s been making her way towards Ledecky for a few years now, and has previous performance to back it up.

Likewise with Kaylee, she won silver in the 200 at the 2019 world champs, and… Read more »

Troyy
Reply to  Sub13
7 months ago

comment image

Joel
Reply to  Adelaide
7 months ago

What are you suggesting? That Ariarne, McKeon and McKeown are on drugs? That’s insane. They worked hard and won. McKeon for example, finally focussed on the sprints instead of the 200. Ariarne just came into her prime as did Kaylee.

Sub13
Reply to  Joel
7 months ago

People on this site will take any excuse to attack Aussies.

“Aussie swim team has been pathetic for the last decade”.

“Oh the Aussie swim trials did really well, must have been a short pool, they’ll choke at the Olympics”.

“Oh the Aussies performed at the Olympics, must be drugs”.

If someone beats you, just accuse them of doping. It’s the Ryan Murphy special lol. Commenters on this site are soooo pathetic.

CGH
Reply to  Sub13
7 months ago

Wait a second, it’s Cate Campbell making the accusations here, not people from another country, so don’t be casting aspersions on Ryan Murphy or making that analogy for mis-direction. It seem like all the negative comments about AUS female swimmers and Swimming AUS are coming from Australian female swimmers themselves. They are most likely to know the truth also. Which is why Australian swimming now has a female leader and an independent, female-led (and all-female) commission taking testimony to examine AUS swim culture.

Troyy
Reply to  CGH
7 months ago

They are talking about this comment that is very obviously insinuating that three Australian swimmers are d o p 1 n g:

https://swimswam.com/body-shaming-among-topics-in-cate-campbells-book-with-sister-bronte/#comment-997747

Used 2 Swim
Reply to  Troyy
7 months ago

I see no insinuation or accusation of “doping” or “drug use” in that comment. The comment is exactly in line and in support of the concerns expressed by Cate Campbell about AUS women swimmers being weight-shamed, and numerous AUS swimmers who have admitted eating disorders. The “practice of healthy sport” is a guiding principle of WADA/ITA’s ethics as stated in WADA’s guiding documents, so it is not out of line or biased for that commenter (or for Cate Campbell in her book) to elevate the concern over whether there may be an unhealthy training methodology being undertaken or imposed by AUS swimming culture.

Troyy
Reply to  Used 2 Swim
7 months ago

WADA’s only role is anti-doping so try again.

Troyy
Reply to  Used 2 Swim
7 months ago

comment image

Troyy
Reply to  Troyy
7 months ago

Also ITA=International T esting Agency. It’s only reason to exist is to collect d op ing samples. The insinuations are not ambiguous at all.

Sub13
Reply to  Troyy
7 months ago

This comment had zero downvotes and then when I checked it again 25 minutes later it had 13 downvotes. Someone is so passionate about hating Aussies that they’re manipulating the votes. This is hilarious 😂

Koorie
Reply to  Troyy
7 months ago

Nope, wrong. WADA’s role is also scientific research and EDUCATION related to athlete health and fair play. “The World Anti-Doping Agency offers many different tools to assist stakeholders with their education programs and help them educate target groups with suitable activities.” Also, WADA monitors TUEs. An athlete might not be doping per se, but could be inappropriately using a TUE or TUEs, let’s say hypothetically to stay thin (and certain countries may be inappropriately or inconsistently granting TUEs).

Sub13
Reply to  Used 2 Swim
7 months ago

You are delusional if you don’t think Adelaide was making do p1ng allegations

Sub13
Reply to  CGH
7 months ago

No. Not at all. That comment very clearly made allegations about the Aussie swimmers themselves that had nothing to do with anything Cate Campbell said. You are kidding yourself if you actually believe what you just wrote.

Sub13
Reply to  Joel
7 months ago

Literally all this comment says is “Australians are not do p1ng” and it’s getting downvoted. That tells you everything you need to know about the people in this comment section.

Coach Macgyver
Reply to  Sub13
7 months ago

You are getting too worked up.

Sub13
Reply to  Coach Macgyver
7 months ago

Lol I can’t wait to make an unfounded dop1ng allegation against Dressel and then you’ll see people really getting worked up.

Actually, after the ISL final I’m literally going to make this exact comment about Dressel.

“Seems a bit puzzling that someone could come off a break like that and still get match MVP. Might be worth a WADA or ITA investigation”.

And then we’ll see whether people feel like that’s implying something about him lol.

Last edited 7 months ago by Sub13
Corn Pop
Reply to  Adelaide
7 months ago

The article said CC was diagnosed before Tokyo 2021. But if you had followed Cate her mother was concerned after Rio about possible depression .

She has said several times she used to think she had to be thin , but how different is that from your average girl, teen or woman ? There used to be tv ads for ( laxative ) pills , blaring out ‘Are you too fat , too fat?”

Nothing new & never going to stop it until there is a famine or a intestinal worm epidemic.

Gheko
7 months ago

Leisel Jones said the same thing 2 yrs ago

swimfan210_
Reply to  Gheko
7 months ago

Emily Seebohm opened up about an eating disorder too earlier this year.

Incognito
Reply to  swimfan210_
7 months ago

So did Madi Wilson

Rico23
7 months ago

Funny we speak about any kind of body shaming or self appreciation when there was literally an article comparing male swimmers and who is the sexiest and who has the best abs.

Torchbearer
Reply to  Rico23
7 months ago

Literally an article in a magazine compared to an ingrained culture in a major swimming nation. Not the same thing.

About Retta Race

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.

Read More »