Swimmer Madeline Groves Sends Message to “Misogynistic Perverts” After Withdrawing From Olympic Trials

Australian swimming star Madeline Groves slammed "perverts" within her sport, saying, "You can no longer exploit young women and girls, body shame or medically gaslight them."

By Lindsay Weinberg Jun 10, 2021 8:15 PMTags
Watch: Cody Simpson Celebrates After Qualifying for 2021 Olympic Trials

One of Australia's champion swimmers has a powerful message for all the "perverts" out there.

Madeline Groves, 26, announced this week that she will not compete at the Olympic trials in Adelaide, Australia, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In 2016, she took home two silver medals in Rio. 

She explained she "made the decision" not to compete this year, writing on Instagram, "I'm so grateful to feel so supported in this decision. I feel very relieved and I'm looking forward to racing at some other competitions later in the year (yeah sorry/not sorry, you haven't got rid of me just yet!)."

Madeline showed support for her fellow swimmers, noting that "whatever happens I genuinely think this will be one of the fastest Australian Swim Teams ever... Best of luck to everyone competing at Olympic Trials." 

But the 200-meter butterfly champ later revealed the real reason she opted out of the games this year.

On Twitter, Madeline did not hold back when accusing unnamed individuals in the sport of being exploitative.

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"Let this be a lesson to all misogynistic perverts in sport and their boot lickers," she began on Wednesday, June 9. "You can no longer exploit young women and girls, body shame or medically gaslight them and then expect them to represent you so you can earn your annual bonus." 

She added, "Time's UP." 

FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT/AFP via Getty Images

Over on Instagram, Madeline posted the message again for "emphasis," captioning her post, "Make them pervs quake in fear from the number of people supporting a statement that threatens their existence." 

Maddie has been vocal in recent months about some of her alleged negative experiences in the sport. She tweeted last November, "Can I just say, that I definitely made a complaint a few years ago about a person that works at swimming making me feel uncomfortable the way they stare at me in my togs," referring to her uniform. 

She alleged that the unnamed person may have been promoted, but then said her tweet "may have worked" at getting the problem addressed. The athlete later clarified, "We didn't really have a #metoo moment in swimming but just realising maybe it was this weirdo staring at my t-ts when I'm trying to swim." 

The next day, Maddie shared another claim, writing, "Just remembering the time a well known coach (not mine) asked me about uni and I told him one of my subjects was ‘Love, Relationships and Sex' and he said in this creepy af voice 'oh, you'd know allllllll about that.'" 

Without naming names, she said he "came up to me like 15 minutes later and apologised." Her reaction? As she wrote last year, "Like dude I'm 20 please leave me alone and don't make creepy comments to me when I'm just trying to be on the Australian Swim Team." 

Madeline has additionally shed light on the apparent culture of body shaming within the swimming community. "FYI fat people rule and can do anything," she said. "It's just that in sport you're basically shamed for going through puberty and growing boobs." 

Responding to her claims, the Swimming Australia governing body issued a statement to the BBC, explaining it reached out to Maddie in December 2020 to "enquire about a tweet sent by her that referenced potential abuse by someone connected with swimming."

The statement read, "Maddie declined to provide further information, nor do we have any previous complaints on record from Maddie," adding, "All allegations concerning child abuse or sexual misconduct are taken seriously by Swimming Australia. We consider the welfare, safety and wellbeing of children and young people as paramount, and we have a duty to make inquiries to uphold the standards of our sport."

E! News has reached out to Swimming Australia for additional comment.

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