Former Swimmer Sues Germantown Academy For Alleged Abuse

A former Germantown Academy swimmer is suing the prep school for allowing what he claims was physical and mental abuse inflicted on him during the tenure of well-known coach Dick Shoulberg.

The anonymous swimmer, now an adult, is suing his former school for tolerating abuse he says came from both other swimmers and the coaching staff, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The former swimmer, named in the suit as “John Doe,” was a distance swimmer who was invited to train at Germantown Academy when he was in the eighth grade, the Inquirer reports. He says Shoulberg pitted him against another swimmer, causing that swimmer to start physically and verbally abusing Doe and eventually getting arrested and pleading guilty, according to the report.

Doe maintains that Germantown Academy swimmers had a “freshman fight club” in which underclassmen were forced to beat on each other for the amusement of upperclassmen. Doe also alleges instances of verbal abuse against multiple athletes by Shoulberg, including calling female swimmers “fat, out of shape, sluts, and tramps.”

Doe also says he went to Shoulberg to alert the coach to the abuse Doe was getting from other swimmers, but says Shoulberg didn’t take action to rectify the situation, even ordering an assistant coach to “follow orders or be fired” when he demaded Shoulberg take action, according to the Inquirer report.

Doe’s lawyer says the former swimmer ended up quitting the team and is now suffering from depression. He is suing the Germantown Academy for allegedly covering up the abuse and allowing Shoulberg to remain in his position.

Shoulberg, a well-known distance coach who spent 46 years at Germantown, came under fire in 2013, being mysteriously removed from the pool deck but publicly maintaining his innocence of any wrongdoing. Shoulberg was eventually reinstated, but then retired from his post last year. He still coaches at the Plymouth Community Center and the Mermaid Lake Swim Club, according to the Inquirer.

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From what I’ve heard about this program, complaints were inevitable. 24hour swims, etc. etc…

Sane Swim Parent

Moderator, why are you allowing “Jimmy D” to name the parent of the person in the lawsuit? Please get rid of the above comment.

ct swim fan

Can someone tell me why the accuser gets to remain anonymous, yet the accused has their name prominently featured?
Seems a bit prejudicial.

Kickboard Bandit

If I’m Germantown, I’d respond to the lawsuit by responding “We have no record of a Jon Doe ever swimming here. Furthermore, anyone who chooses to make anonymous allegations makes it impossible for Germantown to properly investigate and respond.” Might even be useful to respond that “We have anonymous witnesses who deny Mr. Doe’s allegations and assert that Mr. Doe has admitted that he would file false claims because he didn’t get put on the lead-off leg of our medley relay.”

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career of almost two decades wasn’t enough for this Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for, covering swimming at every level. He’s an …

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