by Irvin Muchnick
The Olympic swimming establishment is under Congressional and FBI investigation. Chuck Wielgus, the executive director of USA Swimming since 1998, had to withdraw his recent scheduled induction into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in the face of a public petition by victims of sexual abuse, spearheaded by lead signatory Diana Nyad and the Women’s Sports Foundation.
Somehow, for the American Swimming Coaches Association, that cued up something a little different: a special edition of its membership magazine, just published, with the cover line THE WIELGUS LEGACY. See the cover image at http://muchnick.net/wielguscover.pdf.
ASCA is a trade association that is, if possible, even more corrupt and backward on the issue of abuse and the cover-up thereof than USA Swimming itself. Two years ago, ASCA executive director John Leonard told us, “We do not have an organization that deals directly with children, nor is that part of our purpose in any way, shape or form …” See https://concussioninc.net/?p=5862.
There is much to report and comment upon in this 30-page ASCA magazine package. Let’s get started by reproducing the full text of the letter from the editor, Leonard:
Two years ago, I asked Coach George Block (whom I consider to be my brother …) to take on the monumental task of chronicling the transcendent career of Chuck Wielgus at USA Swimming. I knew that no one could do it better. And you can only ask a brother to do something this challenging and emotionally draining.
When I first read George’s draft, I knew that it was a work that went far beyond what I had originally envisioned and I am and was so grateful for that. And thankful for the amazing Mr. Block as well. Chuck is a real person. To many of us, he’s a hero. Despite three rounds of cancer, becoming the “coach” to all of us, on how to handle challenge with grace, courage and good humor, on how to take the long view of the sport, the contributions that many make to our love, the sport of swimming.
Chuck has transformed our sport in the USA. He has also shown the world what to do in presenting our sport to the public in ways that excite people and draw them in. Predictably, the World has not yet caught on, but the folks in Lausanne at the FINA office are smart, and they will. In this piece, George shows us Chuck’s vision when he took the job at USA Swimming. He has exceeded ALL the expectations of him, to a head-shaking degree.
There aren’t enough honors, or “good enough honors” we can bestow on Chuck Wielgus, no matter what organization may try. This wonderful article by George, shows us the man as well as the legend that is Chuck Wielgus. Chuck hit home runs, triples, doubles, singles and once in a while, even struck out, like all mortals. But NEVER, has he failed to come to the plate.
When the history of swimming in the USA is viewed as a piece, there will be no one who has made a greater contribution to our good, and our progress, and our sport culture, than the Executive Director of USA Swimming, Chuck Wielgus. I am so proud, so humbled and so thrilled, and so GRATEFUL that in addition to all of that, he’s my friend, as he is to multitudes in our sport. You can’t have a better one.
NO honors exist that are good enough for this man. All we can say, is THANK YOU CHUCK.
Thank you George, for writing it out for us. God Bless both of you.