West Fargo Releases Details of ‘Weight Belt’ Investigation, Firing

West Fargo High School varsity girls’ swim coach Ronald Hehn was fired after posting a video of a swimmer with 55 pounds hanging from weight belt early this week, and the school released more details Thursday.

The school initially cited “inappropriate coaching practices” as Hehn’s reason for dismissal. In the new report, it was revealed that West Fargo Activities Director Jay DeCann received an email from an unidentified Pennsylvania coach who said Hehn’s method “would be deemed criminal if it were used as part of our student training” after watching the video.

According to Inforum.com, the swimmer in the video was a team manager who wanted to try out the technique, which he had seen the girls’ team perform in practice. School officials interviewed four team members who had done it, and came to a few conclusions.

The first of which is that the equipment was not school-issued, the second was that swimmers asked to stop, and were denied; the third is that swimmers weren’t given a rationale for the method; the fourth was that lifeguards put a stop to the task because it “appeared dangerous.”

Additionally, the report alleges that team members were “afraid” during some of the tasks. Hehn denies that lifeguards put a stop to it, calling that part of the report “completely inaccurate.”

ValleyNewsLive says that West Fargo Public Schools released further documentation that detailed unrelated allegations of Hehn’s misconduct. SwimSwam has requested, but has not seen, those documents.

Hehn told Inforum that he plans get legal help to challenge the school’s decision and is working with USA Swimming to “pen an official response to his dismissal and use of weighted techniques,” but USA Swimming says that they are not working on anything with Hehn, and that he is not a USA Swimming member.

Update: USA Swimming denies that they are working with Hehn on a statement.

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Steve Nolan

He’s working WITH USA Swimming on a statement?




Steve, I’m guessing USA Swimming is asking the same question. Like WTH are you talking about and who are you?

USA Swimming reached out and confirmed that they are not working with Hehn on anything and that he is not a member.

Justin Wright

Saw the video and I can 100% confirm that what was happening in the video not only lacked any benefits, but was legitimatly harmful.

If anything, he should just be fired for thinking that it was a good idea in the first place. Intent doesn’t matter and it especially doesn’t matter if the kids voluntarily participated, it’s just bad coaching.


Absolutely. This man should be percolated to the full extent of the laws of science!.

Dan D.



Let’s go with it. I’ve got a list of people that I’ve always felt needed percolating.

Michael Schwartz

There’s a way of achieving resistance training in swimming…there are several actually. Bucket training and parachute training both come to mind. I can even remember doing a Saturday session with one of my coaches where we swam with small weights in our hands, but the intent there was to learn to throw our arms forward and they were small, 2.5 lb disks. But this…just dangerous number 1 and reinforces bad technique number 2


Looked like the lifeguard was on board the whole time, they should be removed too for failing to notice something that could lead to an an emergency.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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