Outside magazine publishes story on sexual abuse within USA Swimming with updates on banned coaches

Outside magazine has published its piece about sexual abuse within USA Swimming, a piece that caused the national swimming federation to preemptively respond with a statement last week.

The story, titled “Unprotected,” appears in the December 2014 issue of Outside, and follows alleged abuse victim Anna Strzempko, who claims she was abused by her YMCA coach in 2008.

You can read the story here, but be warned that it’s fairly graphic in its depiction of the alleged assault.

Outside also added on an editor’s note that’s pretty illuminating. The magazine tracked 26 of the 108 people on USA Swimming’s public “banned list,” for those who have been banned by the federation. In a series of short blurbs, the magazine runs down what got the person banned and what their current status is. You can read that part of the story here.

USA Swimming released a statement ahead of the article’s publication, claiming that the article focused on the past without showing USA Swimming’s recent progress in dealing with the issue of sexual abuse.

“With a heavy concentration on the past, readers were not given an accurate picture of the organization’s current state,” USA Swimming President Jim Sheehan wrote.

All in all, the article serves as a sobering reminder of what can go wrong in coach-athlete relationships, an important situation to understand as USA Swimming, coaches, swimmers and parents all do their best to help the sport move past what’s been an incredibly serious issue.

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David Berkoff
9 years ago

As someone who has been kicked in the teeth from both sides over trying to change the culture of USA swimming on this topic I was interested to read this article. As an aside, I’m sorry to see that Ms Currin still blames me for not being her knight in shining armor twenty two years ago when i was a 24 year old swimmer standing up to what I saw as a wrong based upon rumors I heard. I hope she finds peace. However, personal attack aside, I liked the article. I am off the USAS board now and can speak more freely. Here are some of my thoughts.

I appreciated hearing how the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in cases… Read more »

Reply to  David Berkoff
9 years ago


Monica Strzempko
9 years ago

Thanks for all your supportive comments. The point is, our complaint is post 2012. All we wanted to do was keep the coach from hurting someone else. USA swimming has 2 matching statements from my daughter, as well as interviews with their investigator, Nancy Fischer. She spoke with Anna, my son, me , and a therapist confirming PTSD. When Anna declined to be involved in a hearing where she had to hear her tormentor’s voice, USA swimming closed the case. We got a FedEx from them in Sept 2013. They reopened the case last Spring, but we never heard from them. There certainly was no “reaching out to Anna and the family”.

Reply to  Monica Strzempko
9 years ago

So sorry this happened to your daughter and your entire family.

From Outside Magazine, “Strzempko and others have described this process – without exaggeration – as being as emotionally devastating as rape”.

I think people don’t have a clue of how emotionally devastating the PROCESS is when organizations have the resources to fight you every step of the way, or are not interested in holding people accountable. The “Silence” on the part of USA Swimming is deafening.

In the public light USA Swimming “appears” to care, but behind closed doors, they are as EVIL as ever.

9 years ago

USA Swimming needs to clean house of anyone who turned a blind eye, covered up or ignored abuse over the years. Until they do that any program they implement is tainted with the abuses of the past. They deserve the negative press, and any efforts since 2010 are meaningless until the people involved are wiped away from this great sport. I am amazed at how many names have come up in some capacity in this whole mess that touched my time swimming in the 70s and 80s.

9 years ago

Mr. Sheehan, is it possible this is coming more into the light because maybe, just maybe, USA Swimming has not been punished rightfully for its past transgressions?

Just because USA Swimming is doing better now, it really doesn’t say much given that next to nothing was done in the 80s and 90s. It doesn’t excuse the inaction and certainly doesn’t help those who suffered as a result of that neglect.

I think it is fair to say that this won’t end until those people who suffered most feel that justice has been served, so you USA Swimming should continue to expect more pieces of journalism like this in the future.

NM Coach
9 years ago


The past few times that USRPT articles have been posted…comments have been turned off.

9 years ago

This is a very important article for the current generation of swimmers, both male and female, to read and understand.

I am very surprised that some of the usual commentators haven’t commented yet. If this article was about the viability of USRPT being the best way to coach a child, there would have been many more comments by now.

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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