At the annual United States Aquatic Sports Convention, one year in the late 1990s, a prominent Indianapolis sports lawyer named Jack Swarbrick first warned USA Swimming, the sport’s national governing body, that it had better prepare itself for the sexual abuse issue.
Today Swarbrick is best known as the athletic director at the University of Notre Dame, which has had to deal with its own problems surrounding sexual assaults by football players. He has also been an adviser to USA Gymnastics, whose various scandals — most notably the hundreds of molestations of young athletes by Dr. Larry Nassar, who landed in prison for life — have given it a somewhat higher profile on this issue than USA Swimming.
But if the challenges of swimming have come with fewer front-page headlines despite its much larger footprint on daily American life, swimming is nonetheless battling scores of claims in courts across the country that coaches preyed on underage athletes. USA Swimming also reportedly finds itself the subject of a federal grand jury investigation for allegations of insurance fraud, concealing its assets and covering up abuse cases.