Swimming Australia Responds To Maddie Groves ‘Misogynistic Perverts’ Post

2021 SWIMMING AUSTRALIA OLYMPIC TRIALS

With just days until the start of the Swimming Australia Olympic Trials, we reported how Rio silver medalist Maddie Groves had announced her withdrawal from the event. The 26-year-old had originally entered the Trials in the women’s 100m fly and 50m free, so repeating or improving upon her 200m fly silver from Rio wasn’t on the table to begin with.

“I’ve made the decision to not compete at Olympic Trials in Adelaide. I’m so grateful to feel so supported in this decision. I feel very relieved and I’m looking forward to racing at some other competitions later in the year (yeah sorry/not sorry, you haven’t got rid of me just yet!),” is what Groves originally posted on social media.

With heat sheets now posted, Groves represents the only scratch from day 1’s prelims, with her name still appearing on the heat sheets but she’s made it clear she won’t be there.

Subsequent posts from Groves pointed to a possible controversy within Swimming Australia. “Let this be a lesson to all misogynistic perverts in sport and their boot lickers – You can no longer exploit young women and girls, body shame or medically gaslight them and then expect them to represent you so you can earn your annual bonus. Time’s up”, is what Groves posted on her personal Instagram account yesterday, June 10th.

Today, June 11th, Groves posted an additional opinion as follows, “Thank you so much to everyone for all the support! I’ve really been overwhelmed by messages and I just want to thank people so much for taking the time to show they care. I wish I could say I was surprised by the sheer Appalachian Trail of stories I’ve received from people explaining why they understand my decision.”

Her post continued, “It would be a mistake for anyone to reduce my decision to a singular incident. My decision is partly because there is a pandemic on, but mostly it is the culmination of years of witnessing and benefitting from a culture that relies on people ignoring bad behavior to thrive. I need a break. If starting this conversation will save even just one young girl from something like being told to lose weight or diet not going to the Olympics will have been worth it.”

 

With no other details being made public, Swimming Australia President Kieran Perkins responded by saying, “I don’t know who she’s talking about or what the complaint is apparently meant to be.

“I actually have no evidence of that and that’s really quite concerning. In terms of the culture of our sport, that is something that really does stab at the heart of everybody involved in swimming.

“We are a sport that has generationally been diverse. Every team has always had an even number of male and female swimmers and we work extremely hard to provide an open and safe environment for everybody.

“It doesn’t mean we always get it right. There have certainly been challenges over the years. I would disagree strongly with that view.” (Yahoo)

Perkins continued,”She has at no point contacted Swimming Australia, we haven’t been able to talk to her directly and go through her concerns with her to find out what’s going on,” he said.

“I could certainly reassure her and everybody that claims like these are of the utmost importance to us and providing a safe environment for all of our participants is absolutely paramount to us.

“Unfortunately though social media posts don’t constitute any actionable claim for us. We actually need to sit down and talk to people about this.

“We would love to do that and we’d like Maddie to come and speak with us if she feels that she can.” (Yahoo)

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Coach D. Ling
3 months ago

“Unfortunately though social media posts don’t constitute any actionable claim for us. We actually need to sit down and talk to people about this.” — perhaps they should consider re-thinking this policy. This situation clearly should count as an actionable claim regardless of how it was made.

Patrick
Reply to  Coach D. Ling
3 months ago

But how can it be actionable with no specifics about who did what?

IU Swammer
Reply to  Coach D. Ling
3 months ago

I don’t think she means a social media post is never actionable, but that this post in particular doesn’t give them enough to be able to take any action.

Huh
Reply to  Coach D. Ling
3 months ago

“Sitting down and talking to people” is actually the best action for this. What else are you supposed to do with a super vague social media posts? How can you bring about change if you don’t even know what is happening?

GOMMFL
Reply to  Coach D. Ling
3 months ago

Once again, for people in the back: allegations on the internets are not actionable claims and should not be treated as such.

BearlyBreathing
3 months ago

Hot take: she realized she wasn’t ready to compete at Trials and made up an excuse not to compete.

Hswimmer
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
3 months ago

Tbh…

SCCOACH
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
3 months ago

Yeah I think that take is pretty hot take considering there are a lot of pervert coaches out there and to just assume that the athlete is using this as an excuse is pretty out of line.

SCCOACH
Reply to  SCCOACH
3 months ago

And the fact that I’m getting downvoted shows a lot about the type of people that comment on this site and exist in the swimming community.

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  SCCOACH
3 months ago

agreed with you …

SCCOACH
Reply to  ERVINFORTHEWIN
3 months ago

I assume my comment was on the political
spectrum where half the forum supports what I’m saying while the other half views it as snowflakey. Kind of sad that women speaking out against men in power is a part of this political impasse.

BearlyBreathing
Reply to  SCCOACH
3 months ago

To allege systematic abuse — and it’s unclear whether this is physical, sexual or emotional — at the hands of her coaches and ignored by SA is a big claim. Big claims require big proof. Names. Dates. Pictures. Emails. Letters. Transcripts. So far I’ve seen none of that. Just wild and vague allegations peppered with hot-button trigger words like “lewdly”, “misogynistic” and “body shaming”. Does anyone really have a definite idea what transpired? Because I sure don’t and I bet you don’t either. I know that staring was alleged. And here’s another hot take: Staring? Really?
Abuse can definitely ruin the lives of young swimmers but the knife can cut both ways. False and unsupported allegations can ruin the… Read more »

SCCOACH
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
3 months ago

If she has names but doesn’t have proof she could get into major legal trouble… and that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

I’m not even taking anyone’s side here because I’m not in Australia and I don’t know specific details, however I think criticizing her and accusing her of making things up with the vague details that we have been provided is not ok.

Last edited 3 months ago by SCCOACH
BearlyBreathing
Reply to  SCCOACH
3 months ago

I’m not in Australia either. I’m glad you and I could find some common ground.
If you don’t have proof, you don’t go shouting about it on Instagram. I wrote a whole amazingly eloquent paragraph explaining this only to delete it when I realized it didn’t need explanation.
That major legal trouble is there for a reason. If you’re going to ruin lives with accusations, you better mean it.

swimapologist
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
3 months ago

Two points:

1) In Australia, she has the burden of proof to prove that what she says is true. In the US, the burden of proof would be on the person accused of the misogyny, etc. to prove that it was false (which is much harder to do – because most people have said something mysoginistic at some point in their life, ill-hearted or not). That’s important context for a readership that is more American than anything else. This could explain why she’s not been more specific.
2) If there’s nobody named, there is no plaintiff. Nobody can prove they’ve been defamed.

BearlyBreathing
Reply to  swimapologist
3 months ago

>In the US, the burden of proof would be on the person accused of the misogyny, etc. to prove that it was false
Are you talking about in a court of law? Because that’s not correct.

SCCOACH
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
3 months ago

So if something bad happened to her, but she can’t prove it, you think she should stay quiet? That is what I’m reading.

Last edited 3 months ago by SCCOACH
BearlyBreathing
Reply to  SCCOACH
3 months ago

>stay quiet
There’s ways to make yourself heard that don’t involve Facebook.
The NGB’s protocols for reporting abuse, the national legal system, and established media organizations (print, TV, radio, internet) to name only three.

Chad
3 months ago

This is a big decision to make for her and I’m glad she felt comfortable making it. Hopefully, and only if she feels comfortable, we can get more information about what she’s experienced and who, in her eyes, is the problem so the innocent people involved with Swimming Australia don’t remain associated with all this.

LaBlom
Reply to  Chad
3 months ago

She named nobody. Worry about “innocent” should be the least of one’s concerns, I’d say.

WestCoastRefugee
3 months ago

As someone that suffered through issues in this realm as a child I say this. If you are going to make claims of this nature on social media without first notifying the proper authorities, and give no specifics that allow your NGB to take appropriate action, then you are part of the problem.

IM FAN
3 months ago

I’m actually with swimming Australia on this one. Groves made a lot of serious allegations but left them very very vague. If she and others were indeed suffering from what she alleged it would be far more productive to bring up these complaints with swimming Australia and be far more specific. Social media is definitely a useful tool for fighting such issues as it provides a platform to gain publicity, but it should be paired with real world action.

oxyswim
Reply to  IM FAN
3 months ago

That’s not unreasonable, but I also understand her approach. How many times have we seen federations/clubs/colleges cover up or ignore instances of coaches being abusive, belittling, and demeaning towards their athletes? When results are being produced, their is a willingness to accept behaviors that would not fly otherwise. We can say she should have named specific people, but doing so may have opened her up to litigation. If the people who have caused her to get to this point are in positions of high esteem or power with Swimming Australia, it may have felt to her like going through them was not a solution.

Cate Campbell and Emily Seebohm have both been open about their struggles with body image, and… Read more »

PVSFree
Reply to  oxyswim
3 months ago

Obviously there should be some investigation to see if anyone at Swimming Australia ever pressured these women to lose weight or implied that they needed to lose weight. But at the same time, I don’t think this is a specifically Australian problem. Our sport reveals people’s bodies much more than other sports where bodies are hidden under uniforms. Can’t really hide much when you’re wearing a skin tight suit or a brief. I know plenty of swimmers that have struggled with body image issues and restricting calories because of it.

Ultimately I think we need more dialogue about this in the sport. Fast swimmers all have different body types; you don’t need Dressel-esque abs to throw down.

Beverly Drangus
Reply to  PVSFree
3 months ago

I’ve been watching world class swimming for a while now, and I don’t recall seeing very many different body types. Body composition matters for performance. Food is a huge factor in controlling body composition. I think it’s well within the realm of appropriate coaching for a coach to address these things. If it turns into bullying, or a sexualized thing, or diet advice that’s not based in science, that’s a problem, but it’s a completely different problem.

A C
Reply to  Beverly Drangus
3 months ago

I see a lot of different shapes and sizes.

PVSFree
Reply to  Beverly Drangus
3 months ago

There’s a fine line to walk between telling a swimmer to eat healthy (swapping out water for soda, prioritizing fruits/veggies/lean proteins) and placing an emphasis on losing weight. I don’t want to bring up specific examples of swimmers with different body types (beyond Dressel because the man is literally a walking anatomy poster) because I don’t want to imply one is more legitimate than the other, but there are plenty of swimmers at the top level with different body types

LaBlom
3 months ago

I hope she’s doing ok!
Meanwhile, the really odd thing is that CEO would respond to a post–which contains no “actionable claim” as he notes–like this. It gives a strange defensive tone. Perhaps she has no intention of speaking with them and has reasons not to: if this is the kind of response she gets, no wonder. The “needs” of AusSwimming are quite irrelevant in my opinion.

GOMMFL
Reply to  LaBlom
3 months ago

Posting to media forces the hand of governing bodies in ways that are often, not always but often, tactically made. Can you imagine AusSwimming NOT responding to this in some way? May be more credible a critique to ask why a lower level functionary didn’t respond.

BearlyBreathing
Reply to  GOMMFL
3 months ago

>May be more credible a critique to ask why a lower level functionary didn’t respond.
Maybe they were never asked.
Also, social media isn’t real media.
Posting this story to a real media outlet would require documentation, investigation and proof.
I’ll blame SA when I get any of the above.

GOMMFL
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
3 months ago

Agree with you. I think my post may have been misconstrued…..I was commenting on LaBlom asked why the CEO was responding to the post.

Coach Macgyver
Reply to  LaBlom
3 months ago

He’s helping out by offering support without knowing exactly what happened. Owning the situation and not running from it. That’s good leadership.

LaBlom
Reply to  Coach Macgyver
3 months ago

I’d have thought good leadership would be a simple: “We have been given no specific information and no complaints have been filed. We welcome the opportunity, if Ms Groves wishes, to learn more: our thoughts are with Ms Groves and her well-being, and we support her in her choices.”

Corn Pop
Reply to  LaBlom
3 months ago

That is passive aggressive . Provide an independent qualified mediator who can oversee the next step. Australians would accept there is a problem in Olympic sports. If we do not wipe it out , we will have another generation bullied & manipulated for medals .

Last edited 3 months ago by Corn Pop
HJones
3 months ago

Look, I understand that everyone is entitled to their privacy, but I don’t understand how you could make such a serious–yet vague–allegation against an organization and then not expect people to want details/evidence before they side with you. I’m not siding with Swimming Australia here, but you also shouldn’t take Ms. Groves at face value. If she didn’t want the public prying into her situation, then she should have left her announced reasons for being absent at trials to her first IG post.

Old Retired Guy
3 months ago

I worry far more about misandrist muppetheads than I do misogynistic perverts. I’ve seen far more evidence of the former than I have of the latter, at least in recent decades.

LaBlom
Reply to  Old Retired Guy
3 months ago

Yes, Retired Guy, I truly believe you have no need to “worry” about misogynistic perverts at all. Your complete lack of concern for women at the receiving end of actions by these men, and your dismissal of actual, knowable evidence of bullying and violence by these pervert, though, is quite telling.

Old Retired Guy
Reply to  LaBlom
3 months ago

It’s okay, LaBlom. I know more than you do about these matters, I’m well-trained, and I’m harmless. Your false protestations fall on ears that dismiss your dogmatically incorrect accusations. And, of course, I’m sure that you have no need to “worry” about misandrists, at all. Well, you’d first have to look up what a misandrist is, to appreciate these conversation contributions. Cheers, LaBlom… And, oh yeah, the “these pervert” line (to be fair, you did misuse a singular subject with a plural modifier) was pure pulled-out-of-thin-air gold.

LaBlom
Reply to  Old Retired Guy
3 months ago

Excuse me, Retired Guy, if I don’t believe for a second that, in spite of your excellent “training” (whatever that would be), you know more about what women experience at the hands of “misogynistic perverts.” But sure, accuse me of not knowing what misandry means, and by all means scold me for a typo too: glad you’re able to offer such wise proportion and perspective to the issue at hand.

Old Retired Guy
Reply to  LaBlom
3 months ago

glad you’re able to offer such wise proportion and perspective to the issue at hand.”

Me too: You’re welcome.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Swim analyst, businesswoman.

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