John Bitter Terminated by Santa Clara Swim Club

John Bitter has been terminated as the head coach of the Santa Clara Swim Club according to a letter sent out to the team on Saturday. Bitter’s name has been removed from the ‘coaching’ section of the team’s website. Bitter had been the head coach of the club since 2006, and before that spent a decade as the associate head coach. In 2009, he was also given the title of CEO of the organization.

According to a letter sent out to the team on Saturday, Bitter has been terminated after the board of directors gathered evidence that they say “shows there has been a minimum of $600,000” of misappropriated funds.

Bitter was on the coaching staff at the 2010 USA Swimming Junior Pan Pacific Championships, has twice served on USA Swimming Select Camp staffs. As an athlete, he swam at Wash U in St. Louis and Arizona, where he was a team captain as a senior.

Bitter was the General Chair of the Pacific Swimming LSC Board of Directors from 2009 through 2017 and is a former Vice-Chair of Program Development for USA Swimming.

The team won the 2018 Far Western LC Championships earlier this summer.

Update: the full text of the letter sent to the membership, sent by Niko Meadors on behalf of the Board of  Directors, is below.

Dear Membership,

Effective today, John Bitter has been removed from the Board of Directors and will no longer be with Santa Clara Swim Club  We realize that this may come as a shock to most of you, and please understand that there were solid circumstances that led to this decision.  We are in the process of working with authorities and USA swimming [sic] has been contacted.  We have gathered evidence that shows there has been a minimum of $600,000 misappropriated funds from Santa Clara Swim Club. We are working quickly to determine the interim needs of the club and will have further announcements to the membership as possible.

We intend on holding a meeting to provide what we can on this difficult announcement in the near future.

This is a developing story. More details will be shared as they become available.


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What a shame! Interestingly, if you read the book Gold in the Water, there was a financial problems at the Santa Clara swim club back in the late 90s. If I recall the story correctly, someone (was it Bitter?) was using Masters dues to buy things, then paying it back later. The Masters team was not well organized. As the author described the story, no one was trying to steal anything, just poor management. If someone else remembers the book better please correct me. Santa Clara is one of the great teams in swimming history, I hope they work it out.

College Coach

Yeah that sounds right, both him and Jochums apparently mishandled funds. The book makes the board out to be the bad guys looking for reasons to fire an innocent Jochums and Bitter, but this makes you wonder if it hasn’t been happening all along.


Widely believed? Be careful with those sorts of accusations…they destroy reputations even if there is no proof.


Provide documentation or outcry testimony. Stand in line to face the consequences of libel and slander.


If it happened don’t back down from your statements. You don’t need documentation of rumors you heard and of inappropriate things he said.

If it didn’t happen, just say it didn’t happen.


Any comments that even intimate sexual misconduct without proof are grounds for a libel and slander suit. Strongly suggest you no longer publish unless you are in line to be sued. Shame on you.


The person who feels himself or herself to be libeled has to PROVE that the accusations are lies. That means that the subject must identify himself or herself, list the supposed lies specifically, and refute the specific lies.

Your turn.

James Bogen

To be clear about the law, a public figure is also required to prove actual malice in order to win a libel or slander lawsuit. Since this case is in the press, the public figure prong is met. Aside from that, lawyers won’t take a case like this unless they know they can make money from it. Now let’s see if Anonymous tries to threaten me.

James Bogen

A little bit of civil procedure…in this situation, if there was any libel or slander, only Mr. Bitter would have standing to sue. So unless Anonymous is Mr. Bitter, he has no standing to sue anybody who has said or printed anything that could be libel or slander.


You can’t sue me, I’m a dead philosopher.


You’ve just set yourself up for a civil suit. Good luck.


Fact check the book before you comment.

Steve Nolan

Safe to say, he’s prolly a bit…bitter…about it.

Becky D

[in Eddie Vedder voice] Can’t find a Bitter-man!








Money being pilfering by the head coach/CEO at SCSC? Really not a surprise at all…..


Was it for sure Bitter though?

$600K is a LOT to go missing. Maybe somebody else with the pursestrings had something to do with it too. Firing Bitter whether he stole the money or someone else on his staff did seems appropriate, in any case.

Team admins and managers often defraud clubs because they’ve got control of the money and the books. Just thinking it’d be hard to grab $600K overnight without somebody noticing! Even on a big famous club like SCSC.

Probably was many years of fraud in reality!

Joel Lin

My guess is the Board of Directors will have quite a chore ahead to acquit themselves from any liability. $600K is both a large sum & an amount hard to miss during the increments leading up to the total.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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