Get Set for the Conventions of Our Two Major National Sex Abuse-Enabling Swim Organizations. Wait! Which One Is Which?

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It will be a September to remember for our national youth swimming program – culminating in a hearing on the 19th by USA Swimming’s national board of review on what to do about a top coach, Rick Curl, now that we all know for sure, instead of merely suspecting, that he raped one of his athletes for years in the 1980s, starting when she was 13.

Conveniently before then – on the 11th through the 15th – there’s the Aquatic Sports Convention in Greensboro, North Carolina. Rumors are rampant that USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus, a cancer survivor, will be announcing his retirement there, or shortly thereafter.

But even before all that we have the American Swimming Coaches Association World Clinic at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, September 4th through 9th, Tuesday through Sunday.

Now don’t go getting any ideas. According to ASCA executive director John Leonard, “We do not have an organization that deals directly with children, nor is that part of our purpose in any way, shape or form.” And Leonard would know.

So I was a little surprised to come across a full schedule for the ASCA World Clinic and find it includes a meeting of the USA Swimming Steering Committee. (See; the program there may be out of date.) The committee is chaired by Richard Shoulberg, aquatics director of the Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. Shoulberg also happens to be the board president of ASCA. What a coincidence!

(Another on the USA Swimming Steering Committee: David Berkoff – he of the pithy 2010 observation, “Denying knowledge of Rick Curl, Mitch Ivey and others banging their swimmers! It’s a flat out lie,” and of effective silence ever since.)

All in all, the ASCA World Clinic features the most esteemed collection of heroes I’ve seen since the last time I rode the Hornblower to Alcatraz. The day after dual-hat chair Shoulberg’s USA Swimming Steering Committee meets, Ad’m Dusenbury of the Mission Viejo Nadadores conducts a seminar on stroke coaching. Dusenbury is the guy who was rather murkily cleared earlier this year of an allegation that he’d had an inappropriate relationship with one of his 16-year-old swimmers. See

On Thursday, Notre Dame’s Tim Welsh leads a discussion of the “Division 1 Coaching Track.” I am still trying to get Harvard, home of coach Tim Murphy, to lead a discussion on why it and other top institutions of higher learning grant release time to their coaches to serve on the slimy ASCA board. The same question – added to one about educationally suspect trade shows – will be asked of the top executives at Notre Dame and at Gregg Troy’s University of Florida and Eddie Reese’s University of Texas. (Where were you, Professor Von Shtupper, while the girl club and rec-team swimmers of America were being left vulnerable to Sandusky-style grooming and groping?)

Dick Shoulberg already has established, with scientific repeatability, that he doesn’t respond to uncomfortable questions about his historic role in swimming’s youth coach sex abuse scandal. But this blog always remains open for his and Dave Berkoff’s comments.

I did follow up, for the second time, with Shoulberg’s boss, James Connor, head of school at the Germantown Academy. I asked Connor if maybe the ante had been upped by this week’s news that a swim coach fired by Germantown 17 years ago had surfaced at a YMCA in Somerset, New Jersey, an hour to the north and east of Fort Washington.

According to Google Maps, Fort Washington is also about four hours east and slightly south of State College.


Up next: The featured speakers at the SwimAmerica Conference at the ASCA World Clinic will be none other than Rick Curl’s Australian business partners.

Irv Muchnick

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick