Dutch Swimming Federation Launches Investigation Into National Coach Mark Faber

The Royal Dutch Swimming Federation (KNZB) has launched an investigation into the conduct of coach Mark Faber as a number of swimmers have raised complaints against the leader of the country’s Olympic program.

Multiple European outlets have reported that a confidential letter was sent by KNZB Director Aschwin Lankwarden to swimmers, detailing allegations of misconduct against Faber that were described as “signals of dissatisfaction with elements of unacceptable behavior.”

The KNZB has submitted the allegations to the Dutch Center for SafeSport, Centrum Veilige Sport Nederland. The number of swimmers raising complaints against Faber is unknown, though it has been described as a “significant” number and at least five have been confirmed to have filed a complaint according to BNN Network.

Allegations against Faber include abuse of power, bullying and intimidation. Specific instances include him telling a young swimmer they were “too fat” and responding to criticism by clapping back at his athletes and telling them: “Know their place.”

Faber, 50, made a name for himself as the head coach of Dutch breaststroke star Arno Kamminga, who broke out with two silver medals in the men’s 100 and 200 breast at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021.

Shortly after the Games, Faber was named Dutch national head coach in the lead-up to Paris 2024, adding on to the role he already held as the leader of the High Performance Center (HPC) Amsterdam.

In addition to Kamminga, Faber is also the current head coach of Tes Schouten, who has steadily risen to the top of the heap in women’s breaststroke, winning a bronze medal at the 2023 World Championships in the women’s 200 breast and sweeping the event at last month’s World Cup series.

Faber has said he will fully cooperate with the investigation.

Part of Faber’s statement (via translation) courtesy of NOS:

“In a general sense, I would like to indicate that I find it particularly annoying that athletes have experienced dissatisfaction. In my position as KNZB head coach, I have always had the intention to let the search for (sporting) boundaries go hand in hand with pleasure in the sport. That is a search for the right balance that you have to do together. In consultation with colleagues, I strove for a positive performance climate. Every athlete who has not experienced that is one too many.

“If the research shows that athletes, at the time or afterwards, did not feel comfortable with this, I am very sorry. Of course, that was never my intention. I am always willing to enter into discussions and will do everything I can to to eliminate feelings of dissatisfaction and help to further improve the performance climate.”

Faber is reportedly still a part of the Dutch coaching staff for the 2023 European Short Course Championships despite the ongoing investigation.

The 20-member Dutch squad features a number of Faber’s swimmers from the Amsterdam HPC, including Kamminga and Schouten, with athletes from the other HPC in Eindhoven—led by coach Patrick Pearson—focusing on the 2024 LC Worlds in Doha, according to the KNZB.

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20 days ago

I don’t know about the specific accusations, but I have lots of Dutch coworkers and spend plenty of time in Amsterdam, and I can say that the Dutch are probably the most direct people in the world (Chinese close behind in second), so telling someone that they’re fat is not a surprise. Never ask a question of a Dutchperson that you don’t want a direct answer to. If you ever really want to get an honest opinion on something (like whether or not you need to lose weight, if an outfit looks good on you, if you are attractive) from someone who isn’t going to placate you to make you feel better, ask a Dutchperson.

Reply to  Aquajosh
20 days ago

If only more people were like this.

20 days ago

American swimming coaches waking up “huh, normal day in office here, you libs in Europe are snowflakes”

20 days ago

I think former Longhorn, Casper Corbeau, is training under Faber too!

20 days ago

When in your statement you lead with your annoyance at the swimmers you imply you haven’t listened to the swimmers. Coaching is about listening. No coach has all the answers, but a great coach can make athletes feel supported and confident and motivated. This statement sounds like the coach has a “my way or highway” philosophy.

Reply to  Interesting….
20 days ago

I wonder if the word “annoying” is the only possible translation – it stands out within the statement so it might be a mistranslation?

Last edited 20 days ago by Swimmer
Reply to  Swimmer
20 days ago

The best translation from the original Dutch is probably “unfortunate” or “disappointing”.

Christine Breedy
Reply to  Chachi
20 days ago

Def sounds better than ‘annoying’

20 days ago

There is more to this then meets the eye.

20 days ago

Nowadays, one should say … » have you ever considered a low-calorie diet to get rid of slight excess adipose tissue in a controlled manner and under medical supervision? »

20 days ago

Completely blown out of proportion. Maybe favouratism for his own swimmers over other swimmers, but nowhere near what this is being made out to be. “Young swimmer” was apparently already an adult, and indeed fat. This is elite swimming. If you want to reach the top, you can’t be lazy and be fat. Invest everything into it, or don’t try at all.

21 days ago

A storm in a tea cup.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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