Swimming Australia report recommends coach quotas
SYDNEY (AP) — Swimming Australia on Friday released the findings of a report into alleged misogyny in the sport, saying the “open and frank” feedback from female participants was “difficult to read.”
The report was commissioned last June after Olympic silver medalist Maddie Groves alleged there was a misogynistic culture in swimming and then withdrew from the national trials for the Tokyo Olympics. At the time, Groves said she wanted to deliver a “lesson to all misogynistic perverts in sport and their bootlickers.”
An independent panel established to investigate the treatment of women and girls in swimming gathered information from than 150 participants, including current and former athletes, coaches, parents and administrators.
Among 46 recommendations, the report calls for the establishment of a group to promote gender equality within swimming “to address areas such as leadership opportunities for women as coaches, officials, administrators and executives.”
It recommends quotas to ensure the representation of women at the advanced and performance coaching level and calls on Swimming Australia to “never again select an all-male team” to manage national and international competitions.
The report recommends no less than two women when four or more coaches are selected, and at least one woman where there are three or fewer coaches.
The report also addressed Swimming Australia’s complaints system, calling for a character test in the selection criteria for coaches and support staff.
It demands that language used in coaching resources be “respectful towards women” in terms of describing athletes and physiques, and an end to the use of so-called skinfold tests “as a measure of body composition at any stage of a swimmer’s career.”
If the reports’ recommendations are adopted, coaches will have to undertake specific education on “female-specific health concerns.”
In a statement accompanying the release of the report, Swimming Australia apologized “unreservedly” to any athletes adversely impacted and said it is “committed to change to ensure these negative experiences are not repeated.”
Swimming Australia president Kieran Perkins said the the board acknowledged the ultimate collective responsibility and commitment in addressing the recommendations.
“The feedback was open and frank and there were experiences recounted that were difficult to read,” the statement said. “Broadly, the review found that Swimming Australia must address the coaching gender imbalance, coaching culture, education and accreditation, governance structures and the complaints process.”
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