Shouts From The Stands: A Letter To Klete Keller

by SwimSwam Contributors 76

January 23rd, 2021 Opinion

SwimSwam welcomes reader submissions about all topics aquatic, and if it’s well-written and well-thought, we might just post it under our “Shouts from the Stands” series. We don’t necessarily endorse the content of the Shouts from the Stands posts, and the opinions remain those of their authors. If you have thoughts to share, please send [email protected]

This “Shouts from the Stands” submission comes from Ben Fisher, a four-year swimming at UC Santa Barbara.

Dear Klete Keller,

I wanted to let you know that you are not alone, nor unique, but you do have a gift to share.

I don’t sympathize with your political views or recent decisions. But I do feel compassion and optimism for your path.

I have spoken to several Olympians and Division I swimmers and a lot of us had a challenging time adapting to civilian life. It’s a lot like kids who have too much sugar and grow addicted to the feel good chemicals. Swimmers become addicted to the chemicals our bodies release when we swim. Something similar happens to surfers, which we don’t hear about until stories of someone like Andy Irons come out. Perhaps you are the Andy Irons of swimming today, except you have an opportunity for redemption in your lifetime.

Like many drugs, I think swimming is therapeutic when applied appropriately and as part of a well-rounded treatment. Competitive swimmers basically experience a mild overdose at least once a day six days a week. It’s been equated to having a similar effect that a drug does. If you’re not into drugs, imagine feeling so warm and good in your body that you can’t do anything but smile at the wall while feeling as happy as ever. That’s what it feels like after a hard swimming practice. Nothing matters. When you’re numbed out like that you don’t really have the chance or reason to develop mind and spirit resilience.

But at some point most of us have to grow up and cannot sustain both the life of an athlete and the life of a normal functioning adult. It is at that point when a swimmer must face their shadow, because they can’t fall back on feeling amazing but must move directly through moments of discomfort. For me, it took a decade of a lot of hard work to develop the resilience to face my own shadow with my shields down and begin the path to my best self.

Some of us (myself included) require moments of crisis to really step up and make the changes our mind and soul require. It would appear the same is true for you, Klete. If this moment is your bottom, relax and let life live through you so you can float back up to the surface, take a deep breath and contribute to a better world.

You will have your day in court. But you will also have your opportunity for redemption. Perhaps your story can be the catalyst for a real conversation on the criticality of developing the next generation of swimmers into more resilient, well-rounded individuals. Just as you would treat an overused muscle with exercises to balance out the muscle groups and stabilize the moving parts ,so should they treat somatic swimmers who self-medicate with feel good hormones. It’s wonderful for our bodies to feel great, but to avoid an over-reliance on the inherently temporary physicality of this moment, a robust training routine in stillness of mind and a connection to something larger than ourselves are essential. I am not talking religion as the tool for the soul necessarily, but more so connectedness and purpose.

Just as no one wanted to talk about concussions or off-the-field violence in football or drug use in surfing, no one wants to talk about emotional resilience in swimmers. Your story is being told in the press as if you are a lone wolf. But I am here to say that we are part of the same pack. We are not the same, but we have traveled a very similar road. While most swimmers I know may not have lived in their vehicles, they certainly have suffered to learn many lessons the hard way. I can also say that several people I know and respect have fallen down what I would call the Right Wing Internet Rabbit Hole which I assume you have also found yourself within.

Study your path but don’t let your decisions haunt you. Let them feed your growth and improvement. Let them fuel you to contribute to healing those you have hurt, and helping those you can help. You have made mistakes and there will likely be more cost to pay beyond what has already happened.

I would also ask that the general public, the swimming community and your own friends and family allow justice to take its course but to not play judge and jury. There is a tremendously rich opportunity here if we avoid placing Klete on a shame island and realize we have work to do to heal and prepare for a better future. We must do better to support one another and help us all develop into a more compassionate, more well-rounded community.

Klete, may you see your own light and shine it upon the Earth so that future generations can do better than we have been able to so far.

With great hopes for your future,

Ben

ABOUT BEN FISHER

Ben Fisher swam four years at UCSB and for most of his life was primarily a swimmer. After a decade of tripping over his own soul trying to work in the corporate sector, he now spends his days working in trees.

76
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of
76 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Soooooo
1 month ago

Minorities have been shot and killed for much less than what Klete Keller and his fellow terrorist did at the capitol.

Meeeeeee
Reply to  Soooooo
1 month ago

As have non-minorities

Viking Man
Reply to  Meeeeeee
1 month ago

So I think what you’re admitting is that there is a problem with the police? Can I see some ID?

Clownley Honks
Reply to  Soooooo
1 month ago

Capitol police shot and killed an unarmed protestor and you’re here talking about how their privilege protects them
Give me a break

Soooooo
Reply to  Clownley Honks
1 month ago

Capitol police shot and killed someone who was illegally in the capitol. Once they entered the capitol i would no longer consider it a protest.

WestCoastRefugee
Reply to  Soooooo
1 month ago

That’s not how use of force laws work. You can’t apply deadly force against an unarmed person regardless of how much you despise what they are doing. It doesn’t matter if it is the US Capitol building or your family room.

Viking Man
Reply to  WestCoastRefugee
1 month ago

I’m pretty sure the rules of engagement are a little bit different when the mob had already beaten, gassed, and spit on police. When the mob is one opened door or broken window away from the people who you are supposed to protect, I would believe that stopping them with any means necessary is completely within the rules of engagement.

Benjamin Rogers
Reply to  WestCoastRefugee
1 month ago

Actually in your house castle doctrine applies. Abbitt was executed in cold blood.

Annie
Reply to  Soooooo
1 month ago

They shouldn’t have busted windows or acted like crazed killing machines. No one knew if they were armed or not. I’m surprised more didn’t end up like her. Is she’d stayed outside protesting she’d still be alive. It’s no one’s fault but her own

Benjamin Rogers
Reply to  Annie
1 month ago

So when blm broke in buildings they should have been shot? They’re still rioting destroying and being released without charges

Viking Man
Reply to  Clownley Honks
1 month ago

Don’t confuse the word “protestor” with word “traitor/insurrectionist” please.

Benjamin Rogers
Reply to  Viking Man
1 month ago

He is a protester

Viking Man
Reply to  Benjamin Rogers
1 month ago

and someone who was breaking and entering.

Questionable
Reply to  Viking Man
1 month ago

Yeah all that burning of buildings, bombing of federal buildings, execution of politically different people and destruction of national statues really makes me reconsider if those “protests” all year long werent actually traitorous and insurrectionist.

Thanks for opening my eyes.

Viking Man
Reply to  Questionable
1 month ago

Again. Whataboutism and False Equivalency. Social Injustice protests vs. Overthrowing a Democracy can’t be treated the same. Destruction of property in both instances should be. But social injustice protests were not actively trying to stop a democratic process. Your eyes are still closed as well as your ears and your brain.

Middle of the road
Reply to  Viking Man
1 month ago

What some call social injustice, others call it rioting. Same thing, destruction. Let’s get our semantics straight.

Viking Man
Reply to  Middle of the road
1 month ago

Wasn’t trying to condone rioting…just saying trying to overturn a legal election and protesting police brutality are two very different things. Do you know what I mean?

Zaq
1 month ago

Once they crossed the line from holding constitutionally protected right to hold placards to storming the Capital they became criminals and should have been shot. That being said this “open letter” is condescending. Klete seemingly already had his life back on track, he made a terrible choice and I hope will be prosecuted with the others to the fullest extent of the law. His poor decision making had nothing to do with transitioning from world class athlete to average Joe. Had he remained on the Capital Steps he would have been another American exercising his right to protest. Treating him like this is some sort of intervention smacks of self-righteousness because obviously if he has a different view of yours… Read more »

Meeeeeee
Reply to  Zaq
1 month ago

You are absolutely heartless. Should have been shot? All criminals should be shot in your opinion? In today’s era of too much violence that is a sick thought from your mind. Suggest you get help. Thankfully the Capitol police didn’t include you.

Hiswimcoach
Reply to  Meeeeeee
1 month ago

Zaq probably likes the joe Biden crime bill as well. Lock up as many non violent offenders as possible. Some
Might even call that bill racist.

Viking Man
Reply to  Hiswimcoach
1 month ago

Pretty sure Joe biden had zero to do with the capitol Trump riot. Not sure how he fits into this conversation unless you’re making an effort and a lame false equivalency.

PGA Tour Commissioner
Reply to  Hiswimcoach
1 month ago

Shamelessness must be your super power. After a year+ of posting nonsense which has been debunked again and again here you are trying to distract once more. Klete and others went to DC to overturn an election and murder people. We all saw it, it’s on video

Hiswimcoach
Reply to  PGA Tour Commissioner
1 month ago

You saw a video of Klete trying to murder someone? Please share it.

PGA Tour Commissioner
Reply to  Hiswimcoach
1 month ago

The group he was with smart guy. Your QAnon buddies seem to relish the opportunity to hang Pence, what does “trust the plan” mean now that your world view has been smashed to pieces and Ron Watkins is on to the next grift?

Here are some facts for you:

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/thirteen-charged-federal-court-following-riot-united-states-capitol

https://youtu.be/I41mGs6NExI

Zaq
Reply to  Meeeeeee
1 month ago

No, the people who stormed the Capital were not petty criminals they were actively involved in an insurrection of the US Government. Had they stood on the Capital steps and protested they are completely protected under the Constitution. They crossed the line literally and figuratively.

WestCoastRefugee
Reply to  Zaq
1 month ago

Are we going to shoot the left leaning protestors that storm government buildings as well? I mean if we are moving in that direction shouldn’t we be equal opportunity, or do they get a pass? Heck, just the other day left leaning protestors stormed a city hall in WA State and the mayor had to be evacuated…but that’s an ok protest right?

Last edited 1 month ago by WestCoastRefugee
DistanceSwimmer
Reply to  WestCoastRefugee
1 month ago

First of all, you don’t know whether they were left leaning, and secondly, they left when they were ordered to leave. I think that is a stark distinction from the Capitol mob.

WestCoastRefugee
Reply to  DistanceSwimmer
1 month ago

You are missing the point. The protestors broke into the courthouse and the OP said that action should lead to the protestors being shot. So I refer back to my original question…do they get a pass? Both protests were unarmed. Both protests led to individuals breaking into a government building, as well as a elected official(s) having to leave. As of today, only one led to criminal charges and deaths.

And BTW, quit being obtuse. Violent protestors fighting for homeless rights in WA state? You think they were republicans? You also know that there are literally dozens of other examples as well.

Viking Man
Reply to  WestCoastRefugee
1 month ago

DS did not miss the point. You did. False equivalency.

DistanceSwimmer
Reply to  WestCoastRefugee
1 month ago

Umm I don’t know about the capitol protest being unarmed. When the crazies came out of the woodwork they brought their AK-47s too.

Viking Man
Reply to  WestCoastRefugee
1 month ago

Did they attack the police? Were they there to stop the peaceful transfer of power? Lame false equivalency.

Zaq
Reply to  WestCoastRefugee
1 month ago

If they stormed the Capital yes. I don’t differentiate between political views only the actions that folks take.

PeatyPiper
Reply to  Zaq
1 month ago

Regardless of your opinion of Klete, or anyone else involved in insurrection or protests, saying people “should have been shot” is disgusting and frankly you should be ashamed of yourself.
If you wanted to highlight the hypocrisy of the way authorities handled the insurrection as opposed to the protests over racial injustice last year, the sensible avenue would have been to condemn the hard-handed nature the protests were dealt with versus the comparatively lax way the storming of the Capitol was handled.
Suggesting that the solution to violence is using violence in return is idiotic and will just perpetuate misery.

Irish Ringer
Reply to  Zaq
1 month ago

I guess Zaq hasn’t heard of due process?

Zaq
Reply to  Irish Ringer
1 month ago

The folks who stormed the Capital presented a clear and present danger, due process doesn’t apply.

Deshaun
Reply to  Zaq
1 month ago

I don’t agree with everything you said but 100% this is condescending and self-righteous.

SwammaJammaDingDong
Reply to  Zaq
1 month ago

Sounds like Zaq overdosed on MSNBC. Liberals have been storming capital buildings for a generation and I don’t recall the vitriol directed at them from the left. While I don’t agree with anyone storming any capital building, I also don’t think they should be shot like perfect citizen Zaq does. The letter was a well thought out interpretation of the events and their direct impact to the broader mental challenges swimmers face when entering the “real world”. It was a terrific take for a college kid.

PGA Tour Commissioner
Reply to  SwammaJammaDingDong
1 month ago

Sounds like you overdosed on alternative facts from the right wing media echo chamber. These conservative kkkooks have been told they were heroes and patriots for decades, they are fools. They stormed the US capital and wanted to murder legislators in addition to trying to overturn a legitimate election. Klete was one of them. Something very similar just happened in Michigan where they tried to kidnap the governor. These are crimes. Drumpf lost by 8 million votes, it wasn’t particularly close. There are not both sides to this issue. What happened to “elections have consequences snowflake” and “f* your feelings?” Just like the pivot to fiscal austerity and unity. It’s standards for thee and not for me.

XH2O
Reply to  PGA Tour Commissioner
1 month ago

You are projecting.

PGA Tour Commissioner
Reply to  XH2O
1 month ago

No I don’t want to murder legislators or overturn legit elections. Try again and bring some receipts this time

Zaq
Reply to  Zaq
1 month ago

The point of my comment was the author’s letter is quite condescending, if only Klete would share the author’s progressive world view he would find salvation. No, Klete appears to have had his life back on track before this event, mind you regardless of any of our personal beliefs he had a right to protest outside of the Capital building in a peaceful manner. The moment the protesters stormed the Capital it went from a protest to insurrection of the US Government. I don’t care if the protestors were Trump supporters, Biden supporters, Bernie supporters or Barnie the freeking purple dinosaur supporters they should have opened fire on them. I believe this didn’t happen in a vacuum and the rioting… Read more »

PeatyPiper
Reply to  Zaq
1 month ago

They should have opened fire on them? Are you for real? You need to come live in Europe for a bit and observe how it’s possible to police and enforce the law without gunning people down.

Zaq
Reply to  PeatyPiper
1 month ago

I lived overseas for many years, no government would tolerate an insurrection storming it’s Capital.

IU Swammer
1 month ago

I have little sympathy for him related to his involvement in the Capitol riot/insurrection. However, I do sympathize with the chemical imbalance problem that comes with the end of a competitive swimming career. Whether endorphins or simple hypoxic euphoria, swimming provides swimmers with some great feelings on a daily basis. Even on recovery days, that feeling of physical exhaustion is a high. I’m 7 years out of collegiate swimming, and I still haven’t adjusted.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  IU Swammer
1 month ago

By “chemical imbalance problem,” do you mean adulthood?

Swim&Polo Dad
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 month ago

Talk to me about a “chemical imbalance problem”. I’ve a 14 year old daughter with raging hormones facing her 11th month of a lockdown.

yourteammate
Reply to  Swim&Polo Dad
1 month ago

Can someone explain this weird alt-right meme where fathers come on the internet and talk about their teenage daughters and personal things like their horomones? I’ve seen that a few times in these comments and can’t make sense of it.

IU Swammer
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 month ago

I mean something like depression, but not necessarily depression. For me, there’s a difference between being down and missing being high, which comes naturally and frequently in high-level training.

Viking Man
Reply to  IU Swammer
1 month ago

How about lack of ethics and character? What do you do when you’re removed from your bubble and are no longer special. Anyone with character will be fine. People without character will break into the capital and attempt to subvert democratic processes.