The allegations against former Australian swim coach John Wright continue to pile up as a group of British swimmers claimed they were abused by Wright during his time working in London.
Swim England was informed of a social media support group put together for swimmers who had trained under Wright and faced abuse, according to a report from The Daily Mail.
Swim England’s safeguarding officers have reportedly been in contact with the swimmers who claim they were harmed. None of them are known to have made claims of sexual abuse, but formed the support group due to the fact they were allegedly bullied by Wright and many of the athletes suffered emotional problems as a result.
The Daily Mail reports that Wright was employed by the Kingston Royals swim club in London for nine years despite the fact that he was convicted of assaulting a parent of a 13-year-old swimmer a decade earlier.
Wright, 78, was arrested in October 2021 facing nine counts of indecent dealing of a child and one count of common assault. At the time of the arrest, he was extradited from his home in Western Australia to Brisbane.
In February, police laid an additional 20 charges on Wright relating to indecent treatment of a child after more alleged victims came forward and made formal complaints.
The initial story of Wright’s abuse was broken by the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC), which aired a two-part documentary series back in October. The report revealed that Wright was accused of abusing swimmers Shane Lewis, Colin Marshall, Tony Blundell and Paul Shearer.
The ABC documentary prompted South African swimmer Anthony Rocchi to step forward and claim he was abused by Wright as well.
A Swim England source told The Daily Mail that the organization has had its child safety officers working on the Wright case since it was broken last year.
Wright left the Kingston Royals in August 2008, shortly after his swimmers had a successful showing at the National Championships in Sheffield. His departure was reportedly abrupt and unexpected.
One coach from a neighboring club told The Daily Mail: “I first met Wright at a club competition at Crystal Palace and got to know him reasonably well.
“He was a typical tough-nut Australian, a bit aggressive and not someone I liked that much but there was nothing to suggest he was doing the stuff he’s been charged with.
“You think you know people, but this stuff is terrible. When he left, we never found out why; he never said goodbye to any of his fellow coaches. All we knew was that he was there one minute and gone the next. Now, we wonder what might have happened.”
A Swim England statement on the matter reads:
“The welfare and wellbeing of all Swim England members is of paramount importance and we are committed to ensuring that all who take part in our activities are able to participate in an environment that safeguards them from harm.
“Swim England encourages any individual who has concerns relating to this or any other safeguarding matter to contact us. Individuals can also contact police, Crimestoppers or the NSPCC Child Protection Helpline.”
Wright is currently in custody in Brisbane. Court documents indicate he’s expected to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on May 9.