Irvine - Bob
Bowman, the longtime coach of swimming superstar Michael Phelps, has
apologised for his role in "inappropriate" text messages sent in 2011 to
a former Olympic swimmer Caroline Burckle.
The Orange County Register last week reported Burckle's allegation
that she received "aggressive" sexually graphic text messages and a
voicemail from a phone belonging to Bowman in May of 2011, the year
after she retired from the sport.
Burckle, 32, told the newspaper the messages were sent by Bowman and Sean Hutchison.
Hutchison is the coach accused by former Olympian Ariana Kukors of
sexually abusing her when she was a minor, although he has said they had
a consensual relationship only after she became an adult.
"I regret the exercise of poor judgment in being involved one evening
seven years ago with inappropriate communications," Bowman said in a
statement this week.
"I promptly apologised to the person to whom the
communications were sent, and my apology was accepted.
"I have nothing further to say at this time."
According to the Register, USA Swimming's then national team director
Frank Busch wrote to Bowman in 2011 pointing out "the severity of this
situation" and saying the messages caused Burckle "significant mental
However, Bowman, best known as the coach who guided Phelps to 23
Olympic gold medals, was named to the coaching staff for the 2012
Olympic team and served as head coach of the US men's swimming team at
the 2016 Rio Games.
That's a decision that current USA Swimming chief executive Tim Hinchey said he didn't think would be made today.
"Certainly from hindsight, I don't think that's how I would have
handled the situation quite frankly," Hinchey told reporters at the US
national championships in Irvine - where Bowman was coaching the
Arizona State University team.
"Regardless of age, gender, athlete, non-athlete, no one deserves to have communications like that.
"If this happened today with one of our coaches, I can't see
appointing him to an Olympic team," added Hinchey, although he did not
specifically say that Bowman would no longer be considered for national
"From a coaching perspective, his resume speaks for itself," Hinchey said.
Hinchey testified before US Congress in May, acknowledging past abuse
suffered by "children, athletes and other participants" in swimming
He reiterated to
reporters at the US national championships in Irvine, California, on
Wednesday that USA Swimming has a "zero tolerance" policy for sexual
abuse and sexual harassment in the organisation.
"Every day I think about it, every day it matters to me," he said of
an issue that has roiled a range of sports and seen former USA
Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar imprisoned for life for abusing
hundreds of young girls and women under the guise of medical treatment.
"We need to listen to a lot of people," Hinchey said of efforts to change the culture in USA Swimming that allowed abuses.
"We've formed a working group from our board and athletes ... We're
going to listen to as many people as we possibly can to make sure we get
Hinchey confirmed that Hutchison, who is being sued by Kukors along
with USA Swimming and former national team director Mark Schubert, is no
longer a member of USA Swimming.