by Irvin Muchnick
Brazilian-American swimming coach Alex Pussieldi, who is either retired or suspended or both, is a dynamo on social media, mostly in Portuguese but also in English; some days he posts dozens of messages. His activity a few days ago on Twitter and Instagram has some swimming insiders thinking Pussieldi was back in South Florida last weekend. But the evidence isn’t clear.
On Monday evening, Pussieldi tweeted, “Congratulations to the new FGC 50 fly SCY and for his new ride too. Thanks for the visit.” The tweet linked Pussieldi’s Instagram photo of Brazilian swimmer Thiago Sickert posing in front of a Range Rover luxury car. See http://instagram.com/p/l8jFKaQMIV/ .
At the SCY Senior Championships in Pembroke Pines on Sunday, Sickert swam a Florida Gold Coast Swimming record 21.29 seconds in the 50-yard butterfly. He was representing the new Azura Florida Aquatics club out of Davie.
Many of Pussieldi’s old rivals suspect that Azura is just a rebranding of his defunct Davie Nadadores, with Pussieldi still involved as a silent partner. The owner and head coach of Azura, Gianluca Alberani, emphatically denies the charge. “Alex Pussieldi is not affiliated or connected in any way to Azura Florida Aquatics. He was not at the Senior Meet nor was he at our home pool,” Alberani emailed me this morning.
Undoubtedly, however, the start-up Azura hit the ground running, and has done so while enjoying the identical “Caribbean pipeline” of swimmers from Brazil, Trinidad, and other points south that was so visibly utilized by the Pussieldi operation.
Concussion Inc. has been reporting on allegations of Pussieldi’s Peeping Tom videotapes of his swimmers and of the existence of videos of his sex with boys. Last year he announced his retirement from coaching when he and his Nadadores partner, Tomas Victoria, were up before the Gold Coast Swimming board of review on many counts – some say hundreds of them – of illegally importing foreign swimmers for Florida age-group meets.
Susan Woessner, USA Swimming’s director of safe sport, told one of our sources that the retired Pussieldi (now the face of Brazilian television’s Olympic swimming coverage in the run-up to the Rio ’16 Summer Games) was suspended by Florida Gold Coast, effective March 21. (Woessner doesn’t talk to us.)
On Twitter, Pussieldi thanks swimmer Sickert for “the visit,” but we don’t know where that visit was.
Again, Azura’s Alberani: “As I did not take or post the picture that you refer to, I cannot comment on that. I respect my swimmers’ private lives and as you should know, I do not have control of what takes place when the swimmers are not at the pool as a result.”
Thiago Sickert has not responded to a message sent to him via Facebook.