British Swimming Apologizes For ‘Culture Of Fear’ Within Para Swimming

As a follow-up to a story originally reported back in March of this year, the results of an independent inquiry into allegations of bullying and an overall ‘culture of fear’ cultivated by the coaching staff of British Para Swimming have now been released.

Revealed by British Swimming this week,  the investigation found an ‘unnamed senior coach’ had used ‘abusive and derogatory’ language towards athletes’, including minors. British Paralympic Association (BPA) CEO Tim Hollingsworth stated that the investigation had revealed an ‘unacceptable’ environment. (The Guardian)

In a statement published in The Guardian, Chairman of British Swimming, Maurice Watkins, said, “On behalf of British Swimming I want to apologise to the British Para-Swimming athletes and their families who have faced unacceptable behaviours and comments. I have written to those athletes and their families I understand have been affected by this.

“In the pursuit of excellence, we recognise there have been failings in the culture and communication within British Para-Swimming. We are correcting that, recognising the need to ensure strong athlete welfare in our sport. British Swimming has in place a robust action plan, which follows a lengthy and detailed inquiry designed to make sure transparent procedures are followed and adhered to. These procedures are being widely communicated. We want to ensure a closer working relationship with the British Athletes Commission. Our goal continues to be medal-producing performances, consistent with medal targets, in a positive culture.”

Former Head Coach of British Para Swimming, Rob Greenwood, had already left his post, but his 2016 High Performance Coach of the Year award may now reportedly be retracted.

Upon hearing the findings, a British Paralympian, who wished to remain anonymous, told BBC Sport, “It’s good that it has now been recognised, but it also feels as if nothing has really happened. I don’t have much confidence things will really change.

She describes how para athletes were “screamed at” and “verbally abused and bullied” and “swimmers broken-hearted, crying their eyes out, and completely destroyed as a result of what had been said to them.

“These members of staff would talk down to the swimmers, make us feel pathetic and useless. We were traumatised and belittled. It began a year before Rio and carried on constantly,” she said.

“I didn’t suffer as much as some of the others. We won plenty of medals, but they took it too far. If we’d had less pressure and stress and targets, we’d have been happier and won even more.”

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really awful story. britain winning medals at a heavy cost to welfare. the coach has hopefully been struck off


I hope he never coaches (or is otherwise allowed to work in a position of power which he could potentially abuse) again. He might have conveniently left before they could fire him, but this can’t go unpunished. Disgusting.


Chris Fuber NPD was aware and has kept his job, his name has come out in the Times newspaper today.
Disgusting should be man enough to resign.


Anyone who supports a man who knew of these actions against any athletes needs to take a good long look in the mirror so who ever disliked this post is as guilty as those who perpetrated the bullying


Steph milward claimed to be bullied so maybe this could be the start of a mass clean out of the corruption in GB swimming.
And I hope this along with the manipulation of classification by swimmers will be brought up during the parliamentary committee hearing at the end of this month


Are you suggesting swimmers manipulate the classification process?


I have proof they do and have to help gain a better chance of winning medals.
From being told to take cold showers too 2hr sessions before being seen by classifiers and claiming they have disabilities without medical evidence.
And GB and Australia are leading the way when it comes to cheating the system, if you take a very good look at the female S8 and S9 swimmers you will find performances that begger belief and I even have copies of IPC classifiers personal e mails confirming they have helped swimmers cheat the system.


In which case, the athletes themselves have a lot to answer for. Not only the coaches…


Why are you using this dreadful business to harp on about classification again. Have some respect for these athletes who have been through such a terrible experience and risked everything by being brace enough to speak out about their treatment at the hands of British Para Swimming. This news has absolutely nothing to do with classification.


If cheating is going on, surely an opportunity to shine light on it should be maximised, no? Not withstanding Greenwood and Furber should not be permitted to work in sport at any level…


And what about the athletes who know that classification cheating is going on, whose careers have been ruined because of the cheats but are contracted to silence? They also have been abused. Of course Marks comment is relevant and of course now all areas of Para Sport needs to be scrutinised.


Yes it does have everything to do with classification as some might have been bullied into acting like their disability was worse than it was.
Those at the top knew and helped those commit IM so get of your high horse and face the facts !!!

Fake name come out and face the truth


Only a complete Vutulaki would dislike a post showing the evidence is out there
Sad sad person you must be one of those who are happy to see genuine disabled swimmers cheated out off medals


I’m not saying that the classification issue doesn’t need to be resolved or that the NGB were not complicit in supporting athletes to IM their conditions – I don’t know. You could also take the view that the athletes you’ve recently referred to – Millward, Tai and Richter (and their parents) – knew exactly what they were doing and were prepared to take this risk. All have been classed down and immediately broken world records and Tai on an upward trajectory too. Millward especially is in her 30s so must’ve known the score and has lost credibility and this will be a sad end to her career I agree classification is important and it is not only these female swimmers… Read more »


Well it’s the benefit of being adopted by a Fijian family, and maybe if you did not hide behind false names and said your real name maybe I would have not treated you like a man


My name is Estee – don’t know many men by this name #excuses


Not many women have this name from the Latin for star or those of little IQ depending on which website you look on.
I take it it is the latter after reading some of your previous posts supporting well known IM cheats


In a free society everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but in your case you seem to browbeat and verbally abuse those whose opinions don’t ‘exactly’ match yours. This is sad as you do have some legitimate arguments, but in my ‘opinion’ sometimes go about things in the wrong way. You also don’t have all the facts and seem to tar all neuro athletes with the same brush. I assume you also have no medical training from some of your comments. I do – so please don’t confuse my medical degree with your google search. You frequently put out the idea that unless you have something missing you can’t really be disabled. This sets the disability movement back massively… Read more »


Wow what can I say !!! You have a degree I take it you are heavily involved in Para swimming and have seen the evidence presented??? You questioned my rights to bring classification into this matter and then say you can’t give your opinion!! Kettle black me thinks As for medical training which by the way I do ( thanks to HMF) and with the help of many experts in both physical and neurological conditions have proven my claims. As for bullying I very much doubt it I just find those who deny the facts or come up with numerous excuses as to why these matters are allowed to go on part of the problem. Also Vutulaki has a number… Read more »


@MARK, You have indicated above you have proof of cheating? Are we able to see it?


I will send proof if you e mail me with proof of who you are!!
Some of the evidence is quite damming and those involved are desperate to see what has been passed onto the British parliamentary subcommittee and IPC
[email protected]

About Loretta Race

Loretta Race

Loretta grew up outside Toledo, OH, where she swam age group and high school. Graduating from Xavier University, she stayed in the Cincinnati, OH area and currently resides just outside the city in Northern KY.  Loretta got back into the sport of swimming via Masters and now competes and is …

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