Cotterell not punished in Brian King ruling, local parents upset

Australian swim coach Denis Cotterell escaped punishment in Swimming Australia’s investigation into one of his former assistants, but the Gold Coast Bulletin reports that local parents aren’t happy with that outcome.

The investigation was for Brian King, who coached alongside Cotterell at the Miami Swimming Club. King was accused of a whole host of negative activities, including falsifying his resume to get the job at Miami and verbally abusing athletes while coaching there.

Last month, Swimming Australia suspended King from coaching for 6 months, and from coaching children for 3 years.

Now, though, parents have turned their attention to Cotterell, who they say knew about King’s verbal abuse but didn’t act on it while the two men coached together at Miami.

The Gold Coast Bulletin has the story here, reporting that parents have gotten the Australian Sports Commission involved in looking into Cotterell’s conduct during the King years.

SwimSwam’s lengthy report on King back in May touched on this issue, with the past two presidents of the Miami Swimming Club alleging that Cotterell covered for King even as complaints of abuse poured in. (You can read that full story here – the portion about Cotterell is in the third-to-last heading).

Cotterell publicly defended King when the accusations first began to heat up, telling the Daily Telegraph that the swimmers under King needed to toughen up and that the complaints against King were “trumped up.”

Swimming Australia’s CEO said in the Bulletin piece that it had addressed everything raised by its investigation, standing by its decision to suspend King but not punish Cotterell.

Swimming Australia CEO Mark Anderson said the organisation had “addressed all matters raised and had reinforced the key lessons and issues raised directly with all relevant individuals involved in the case.

“In this communication we also reinforced to all individuals the importance of the Member and Child Welfare Policies and expected behaviour.

The other major accusation floating around is that King was serving as an intermediary between Cotterell and Chinese World Record-holder Sun Yang, whom Cotterell coached. Swimming Australia forced Cotterell to officially cut ties with Sun after a failed doping test, but Sun stayed in Australia, training instead with King, leading to allegations that Cotterell was still training the Chinese distance man by proxy.

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Just not cricket

Denis Cotterell fed the narcissistic ego of Brian King and allowed him to belittle, threaten and humiliate children. At the same time Denis also allowed Brian to intimidate, lie and humiliate professional coaches and support staff. By feeding his “pet’s” ego he himself felt taller in statue! Brian is a puppet and Denis is the marionettist pulling the strings (both emotional and financial). Are Swimming Australia investigating the payments made between Denis and Brian or is this something they have also failed to consider? I personally think that the reason for the “slap on the wrist” punishment handed down is because if a thorough investigation was conducted then the finger would be pointed further up the ladder – to say… Read more »


And therein lies the crux of the matter – if the root of the tree is rotten then the fruit of the tree will be rotten as well. Shame on you SAL for being such gutless wonders.

Aussie Coach

You have to wonder that if Miami wasn’t a Podium Performance Centre, and if Cottrell didn’t have such an elite squad (Hackett, Fraser-Holmes etc), then SA might have actually done something.

It is the duty of the Head Coach to manage his Assistants, therefore Cottrell needs to have some sort of accountability here.

Gina Rhinestone

But what is it that you want now?

Btw I am all for coaches being accredited for under 11 & under 17 & then open ( plus approved juniors) . I also believe itis cruel to have kids out of bed at 4.30 am . Keep on with this & we will see more restrictions in training of children . Some will be good undoubtedly but the sport will lose control.


Gina I am the mother of the young boy from Kingston. He was 11 years old when Brian got his grubby clutches on him. For the record Brian treated my son like a piece of dirt and said things to him that a professional coach should never say to a young impressionable child. Brian bullied my son subjecting him to special treatment that other parents and swimmers also questioned. One of the witnesses was a police officer who felt the need to step in and object to the way my child, his child and others were treated. Another witness – a swim coach – who also witnessed Brian calling a 17 year old a retard and other terrible names. You… Read more »


MOTHER, I have no words to express how awful this experience must have been for you and your son. We’ve never met but I feel I know your story and your pain. I saw firsthand the way some of the victims and their families were treated at Miami. Denis bullied them and made their complaints feel insignificant. I saw the way Denis and Brian treated Alex, Raelene and the office staff and I was embarrassed by their behaviour. I was there when his wife and 2 supporters attempted to hijack the committee and I could see – as if in slow motion the train crash that was about to happen. I thought that because I wouldn’t allow my son to… Read more »

Gina Rhinestone

Firstly – you have brought up the issue of sexual abuse . I’ll swap a story . A few years ago I came across a group of young Qld swimmers who on retrospect were being groomed by a Parent who was only was convicted in 2014 .so there are likely many girls affected. One of these girls later tried to ( allegedly ) stalk & groom a young female relative of mine. From my conversations with others , much more of this goes on between older athletes – sometimes only 17+ & much younger athletes. It is not just about coaches , parents , officials . I would be happy for more aspects of coaching in swimmng to be regulated… Read more »

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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