Dublin’s Irish Times is ground zero of the global story of abuse by youth swimming coaches. That is where, 20 years ago, the newspaper’s Johnny Watterson broke the story in that country. The shuttling between Ireland the United States of some of the most heinous characters in that tableaux remains a story in itself.
Later Justine McCarthy, formerly of the Irish Times and now with London’s Sunday Times, would publish the definitive and superb book, Deep Deception: Ireland’s Swimming Scandals. We discussed the book here: https://concussioninc.net/?p=6063. We interviewed McCarthy here: https://concussioninc.net/?p=6245.
Today Dave Hannigan of the Irish Times has one of the best and most comprehensive accounts of the horror on this side of the pond. See “US Swimming sexual abuse scandal continues to grow,” http://www.irishtimes.com/sport/other-sports/us-swimming-sexual-abuse-scandal-continues-to-grow-1.2060550.
Hannigan correctly notes that the numbers indicate this could be “the largest abuse scandal in the history of sport.”
The Irish Times also generously gives me the last word:
“The key reason swimming became the ‘perfect storm’ setting of youth coach sexual abuse has to do with the career cycle of female athletes in this sport,” says Irvin Muchnick, who has co-led a campaign to hold authorities to account through the website Concussion Inc.
“In track and field, by contrast, women peak a bit later, so the scandals tend to involve coaches’ inappropriate interactions with those they oversee at the collegiate and pro levels. In swimming, the common paradigm is a 30-something or older coach and the star a 13- to 16-year-old girl.
“She has just developed hips and breasts, and if she is still driven to dominate her competitors as she did when she was younger, she will need to take her training and commitment to a new level – all at the same time she is developing the body of a young woman.
“She becomes uniquely dependent – in terms of hours spent together, and both career advancement and generic male approval sought from – on an authority figure who might be oblivious to boundaries. This is where ‘grooming’ sets in.”
Here is the full quote I gave Dave Hannigan, before it got edited for space: