On the afternoon of June 29, 2010, a pretty 16-year-old girl drove her car to the intersection of State Highways 116 and 117 in rural central Illinois. She parked and walked straight into the path of an oncoming tractor-trailer, taking her own life.
Sarah Burt had made the National Honor Society at Metamora Township High School and been looking forward to pharmacy school. She worked as a lifeguard for the local park district. She loved giving swimming lessons to little kids.
What brought Sarah to this pass was something she, but few others, knew: Her swim coach had groomed her for years in a “relationship” that everywhere is deemed morally repugnant and in many jurisdictions is termed statutory rape. Neither the justice system nor USA Swimming, the sport’s national governing body, would ever discipline him.
A decade later, USA Swimming is the under-covered cousin of USA Gymnastics, in terms of sexual abuse scandals. With both groups on the verge of breaking the liability sound barrier in local civil courts, USA Swimming is, additionally, the target of a federal grand jury investigation.