I first need to say to the survivor, I'm sorry. There are no words of empathy that can salve the pain that you must be going through; the pain that was so violently forced upon you and the pain that resides so deep that only you can hear its voice. Even the whispers are so deep, yet they are waves like a tsunami taking over your soul; a paralysis to which only you are a party. One that I know only too well.
As a two-time Olympic swimmer, a three-time NCAA national team champion, and a survivor of coach-athlete sexual abuse, I have fought both publicly and behind the scenes to address sexual abuse in sport through Safe4Athletes. While I knew my sport had monsters, I was naive to think that they were mostly on the pool deck. This was despite the fact that many of my Olympic friends were sexually abused by male elite swimmers, in some instances already celebrated Olympians.
I'm sorry that I failed you. I'm sorry that my fight didn't reach the monster that crossed your path.
I prided myself on thinking that swimmers were good people. I was wrong. I'm sorry that I have learned how wrong I was at the expense of your violence. I have let you down. For that I'm sorry.
All this raises so many questions. How was a monster like Brock Turner living in the sport of swimming, especially in a program that is supposed to address and educate a safe sport environment? While I have seen improvement in some areas, I have also witnessed a complete disrespect for having to adhere to an ethical standard by the swimmers themselves.
There appears to be a culture amongst the swimmers that seems to have completely pushed the pendulum the other way. This is a culture that bands together to protect one another blindly; a culture that thrives on being wrong in numbers, therefore no one has done harm, if we all do harm. This is a logic that has created monsters like Brock Turner thriving in the sport. All of this has been based on the fallacy that their lives are more important than YOURS.
The coach of Brock Turner, Stanford University, and every swimmer on that team should be ashamed of themselves for dancing with this monster. All of you spent six plus hours a day with "him", you knew him and you didn't say anything. You had the training, you had the information, you did nothing. You thought it didn't matter. It was nothing. You spent zero time thinking about how this could affect another human being. Zero.
Every single person who has been involved in the sport of swimming, every coach, every swimmer, every teammate, every person who has stood on that pool deck, and every staff member of USA Swimming should be ashamed that the sport of swimming created such a person.
Sport is meant to create a person of character. It is meant to show the world that you are a dedicated, hard working, and upstanding human being. All Brock Turner has shown us is that we are a bunch of thoughtless narcissists who don't care about another person and each unto himself. That is not what it's meant to be like.
Unless we can change our culture and step away from the masses to protect those who don't even know that they need protecting, we have all failed.
I encourage you all to speak up, report, address concerns no matter how small. Let's not fail another person. The burden of pain and suffering is too great for one person.
It is our responsibility to change.