Maddie Groves

Like any good swimmer, Maddie Groves knows how to make a splash. But while the timing of her bombshell withdrawal from the Swimming Australia (SA) Olympic Trials last week ensured maximum impact, one of the many lingering questions is why it was necessary for Groves to repeat herself – and miss out on Tokyo 2021.

a person holding a camera: Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP © Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP

The two-time silver medal-winning Olympian has an entertaining and outspoken Twitter presence. In recent months she has used the platform to mock the International Olympic Committee – “Is anyone surprised at how willing [the] IOC is to risk people’s lives to make money?” – and offer commentary on RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Related: Swimming Australia says it ‘could have done better’ with complaints procedures

But late last year, her feed took a darker turn when Groves tweeted allegations of harassment and abuse within swimming. She complained of body-shaming, inappropriate sexual comments and harassment. “We didn’t really have a #metoo moment in swimming,” one tweet read, “but just realising maybe it was this weirdo staring at my tits when I’m trying to swim.”

In the week and a half since Groves withdrew on the eve of the trials, it has become painfully evident that SA failed to react to those allegations at the time. The peak body says it reached out to the swimmer; when Groves did not engage, SA took no further action.

It was not until her explosive announcement last week, where Groves called out “misogynistic perverts in sport and their boot lickers”, that SA was forced into action. Every day since the trials started last Saturday, there has been more scrutiny, more revelations and more mea culpas.


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