Canada’s Artistic Swimming Coach on Leave Amid Allegations

The head coach of Canada’s nationwide inventive swimming crew will take a private go away pending the outcomes of a disciplinary listening to into whether or not he created a poisonous coaching atmosphere for athletes, The Canadian Press reported, quoting Canada’s inventive swimming group.

The coach, Gabor Szauder, got here underneath scrutiny after athletes complained that he berated them about their weight and made sexist, racist and psychologically dangerous remarks. He has not responded to a number of requests for remark from The Times.

Canada Artistic Swimming, which oversees the game previously referred to as synchronized swimming, investigated final fall and reported that there was not adequate proof to take away him as coach.
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Athletes disagreed, with some arguing that Szauder’s hiring added to a historical past of abusive teaching in Canada’s federation over a number of years. Earlier this month, 5 former swimmers filed a lawsuit against the organization, saying it failed to supply a secure and respectful coaching atmosphere.

Since then, Canada Artistic Swimming has launched a number of statements on steps it has taken since 2016 to enhance the remedy of its athletes. The group stated it’s dedicated to offering “safe and healthy” coaching for all of its swimmers.

“We are a broken family,” Jackie Buckingham, the chief government for Canada’s federation, stated in a video statement posted on March 18. “I speak to the whole national organization when I say that we are truly sorry for this.”

Buckingham added that the group would bear an unbiased evaluation of its practices over the previous seven years and make the consequence “public to all stakeholders.”

“We are confident that this will clear the doubts over our intentions and the changes we have made and are making, and will reinstate trust in the organization and its leaders,” she stated.

Gabriella Brisson, one of many 5 former swimmers who filed the lawsuit, stated that the evaluation would fall brief given the federation’s historical past of hiring leaders who make use of abusive ways.

“When Jackie Buckingham says she can ‘only speak about the past seven years,’ I see that as proof that she’s incapable of making the changes necessary to push our sport in the direction it needs to go,” Brisson wrote in a press release to The Times on Thursday. “She had seven years to enact change, and she failed us. In the same way that she continues to fail athletes today.”

The turmoil in Canadian inventive swimming comes amid a broader reckoning within the sport, with athletes all over the world complaining of harsh coaches who’ve pushed them to panic assaults, consuming issues and left them with long-term psychological and bodily accidents. More than 100 athletes spoke to The Times or posted on social media accounts about what they regard as abuses.

Artistic swimming combines parts of dance, swimming and gymnastics. Swimmers — who’re principally ladies — carry out routines which can be judged on synchronicity, magnificence and problem, factoring look into the scores. Coaches have shamed swimmers about their weight, withheld meals or pressed their our bodies into uncomfortable or injurious positions, athletes stated.

FINA, the worldwide governing physique for aquatic sports activities, together with inventive swimming, stated in an e-mail that it could additionally assess widespread claims of mistreatment of athletes. A spokesman stated that the group would look into questions raised by final month’s article and create avenues for the prevention of and training about harassment.

In Canada, Szauder will await the outcomes of the group’s disciplinary panel. Before he was employed to steer the crew in 2018, he was accused of utilizing unduly harsh strategies whereas teaching in Slovakia from 2013 to 2018.

“To replace Gabor with a coach with a clean track record would count as a step in the right direction,” Brisson stated.

“Changing culture is much bigger than changing leaders,” Buckingham stated. “I am sure some people will disagree, but I believe the people who are living this experience now — athletes, staff, coaches and volunteers — are the best ones to lead us out of it.”

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