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‘Tiger mum’ furious son shamed over girl’s swimsuit amid scrutiny of abuse in swimming

·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP</span>
Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP

A report that a teenage boy was allegedly forced by a coach to wear a women’s swimsuit as punishment has been denied by his mother, as scrutiny over swimming in Australia intensifies following allegations of abuse in the sport.

Monica Zwolsman responded to a report earlier this week that alleged her son, Soren, had been forced to wear the women’s swimmers two years ago as part of a “humiliating ritual” during a training session.

She said it had been his choice to don the swimsuit and denied there was a culture of bullying in the sport, which has found itself under intense scrutiny since allegations of misogyny emerged following a series of social media posts by the Olympic medallist Maddie Groves.

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“Everyone knows Soren,” Monica Zwolsman told Nine newspapers. “My children are raised by a single mum. They are not worried about gender stereotypes.

“Soren has gone to school wearing girls’ dresses. When he was little he walked around in dresses all the time. He doesn’t care. If there is something he likes he will wear it. They are probably his own bathers. Why would that be a problem?”

The report in the Australian newspaper carried a photo of Soren wearing the swimsuit and claimed, citing a “concerned parent” who provided the image, he had been forced to put it on after posting a slow time in training.

Monica Zwolsman said she was present at the event at Southport pool on the Gold Coast and would have called out inappropriate behaviour if she had witnessed any at the time.

“We are tiger mums. As if we are going to sit there while someone tells our children something that we know is going to upset them?” she said. “We would just fly in there and attack.”

Swimming Australia said it had been in contact with Monika Zwolsman and that the photo had been taken without permission.

“Swimming Australia has spoken to the mother of the child concerned and she is deeply upset her child has been shamed for wearing his choice of swimsuit,” SA said in a statement.

SA’s integrity committee met on Monday to discuss allegations of fat-shaming and an abusive culture in the sport, after Groves’s withdrawal from the Olympic trials and claims that there were “misogynistic perverts in the sport” triggered a furore.

The governing body in Australia is creating an all-female panel to investigate the claims and reports of wider degrading coaching practices.

Its board is meeting on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

  • Agencies contributed to this report

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