Olympic gold medalist Klete Keller has not spoken to the media since SwimSwam broke the news last week that he was inside the U.S. Capitol on January 6. But according to the New York Times, he has spoken to former coaches and expressed remorse. Mark Schubert, who was Keller’s coach at USC, told the Times that he called his former swimmer after he was charged in U.S. District Court with three counts related to the Capital uprising. Keller had broken down in tears and apologized to Schubert, saying, “You’ve done so much for me, and I let you down,” according to the article.
For the last week, the swimming community has been trying to come to terms with Keller’s involvement in the uprising. How, people ask, could someone who represented his country at the highest level -at the 2000, 2004, and 2008 Olympic Games- participate in an effort to subvert the democratic process of certifying the election? And while Keller has not given any interviews, his conversation with Schubert gives us a glimpse into his thinking: “I didn’t mean for any of this to happen,” he repeated several times.
Keller has had a difficult time adjusting to life outside of the pool. He told USA Swimming in an interview in June 2018, “Within a matter of a few years, I went from Olympic gold medalist to husband, homeowner, guy with a series of sales jobs – life insurance, software, medical devices, financial products – and father of three, and I had a really difficult time accepting who I was without swimming in my life,” he said. “Swimmer had been my identity for most of my life, and then I quickly transitioned to other roles and never gave myself time to get comfortable with them. I really struggled with things. I didn’t enjoy my work, and that unhappiness and lack of identity started creeping into my marriage.” After his divorce, he experienced deep depression and spent nearly a year living out of his car. “I was paying child support for my kids and couldn’t afford a place, so I lived in my car for almost a year. I had a Ford Fusion at the time, so at 6-foot-6, it was challenging to make the room to sleep. But I made it work.”
Keller told USA Swimming he working his way back up, after having hit the bottom. He was selling commercial real estate and had hired an attorney to file for the rights to see his children, whom he had not seen for years following a bitter custody battle.
Now, he risks 15½ years in prison if he is convicted of all three counts against him: violent entry, disorderly conduct and obstructing law enforcement.
Keller turned himself in to law enforcement late last week and was released, without bail, with restrictions on his movements.