The unsuspecting worshippers of our Olympic swimming program are a tough crowd; they dismiss every rape, every death, as an isolated incident. In order to expose a culture that goes beyond the sophomoric to the sick, beyond the sick to the criminal, you have to document the abuses exhaustively, across regions and circumstances. And it’s always useful to pivot back to the Colorado home turf of USA Swimming.
In my April ebook, PENN STATE IN THE POOL: The Cover-Up of the USA Swimming Youth Coach Sex Abuse Scandal, I documented the swift pivot of Everett Uchiyama after a past victim came forward. Uchiyama resigned from the front office and was almost immediately installed as the aquatics director at the Country Club of Colorado, just down the block in Colorado Springs. Top USA Swimming executive Pat Hogan gave Uchiyama a glowing reference for his skills as a “people person.” Of course, Hogan would know — he himself had married a girl he’d coached, once she was of age.
Maybe that’s why opportunistic would-be board of directors reformer David Berkoff was told to “blast off” with a proposal by the Rules Committee to outlaw coach-athlete relationships. This summer’s aquatics convention voted down the proposal, and as we all know, USA Swimming is deeply imbued with the principles of participatory democracy. The body overseeing the thousands of hours of interaction every year among 12,000 all-powerful coaches and 300,000 children in Lycra bathing suits will not go interfering with the private affairs of its brides and “grooms.”
As this blog outlined in the last two months, Hogan’s predecessor as USA Swimming club development director, Will Colebank, was allowed to resign Uchiyama-style after his office computer showed he was sexually baiting a young swimmer in Florida (a boy in this case). So diligent was USA Swimming in informing its own immediate community of the pedophile in its midst that Colebank soon landed as a middle school teacher right in Colorado Springs — until his own son turned him in for what became child pornography and molestation convictions.
Which brings us today to the low-comedy end of the moths-to-the-flame story of heavy breathing in the country’s swimming capital: a character named Steve Fair.
Back in May, Jeff Renwick, father of two Colorado age-group swimmers, wrote a guest column about the retaliation his family endured after he brought to the attention of their team’s head coach that a newly hired assistant had a MySpace account with vile language and images. The head coach, Steve Fair, joined the board and other parents in drumming the Renwick kids off the team. That was not too surprising, since Sean Coffey’s creepy MySpace page also celebrated his and Fair’s joint exploits in the pre-Olympic sport of “beer pong.”
Fair has left that club, the Woodmoor Waves in Monument, and is now an assistant on another team, Cheyenne Mountain Aquatics, in Colorado Springs.
Several sources tell me that Fair himself has a checkered employment history, dotted with incidents casting question both on his judgment and on USA Swimming’s passive background-check procedures. It seems that Fair worked for the Colorado Springs Department of Parks and Recreation before becoming a local club coach, and these sources say the city fired him after complaints that he was sexually harassing the female lifeguards.
In response to a query, city spokeswoman Cindy Aubrey emailed me: “The only Steven Fair that we show was hired 05/05/2003 and termed 09/01/2004. He was a seasonal worker for two years.”
Aubrey declined further comment. Fair has not responded to my email inviting his comment.