SWIMMING Coach apologizes for sending texts


Associated Press

IRVINE, Calif.

Bob Bowman, the longtime coach of retired 23-time Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, has acknowledged and apologized for inappropriate text messages that were sent from his cellphone to former Olympic swimmer Caroline Burckle in 2011.

At the time, Bowman was a coach for the U.S. national team, along with Sean Hutchison, who was also said to be involved in the texting.

Bowman currently coaches Arizona State’s men’s and women’s teams, and after a review by the university it said he’s been warned that similar behavior won’t be tolerated. The university said in a statement that it was unaware of the incident when Bowman was hired in 2015.

“I regret the exercise of poor judgment in being involved one evening seven years ago with inappropriate communications,” Bowman said in a statement he texted to The Associated Press on Wednesday. “I promptly apologized to the person to whom the communications were sent and my apology was accepted.”

Bowman is in Irvine this week to coach ASU swimmers competing in the U.S. national championships.

In February, former world champion swimmer Ariana Kukors accused Hutchison of sexually abusing her for years and has filed a civil suit against him, USA Swimming and former national team director Mark Schubert, among others. Hutchison has said it was a consensual relationship.

Burckle won a bronze medal as part of the U.S. 4x200-meter freestyle relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The next year she trained under Hutchison in Fullerton, California, before retiring in 2010 at age 24.

Burckle told the Southern California News Group in a recent story that the messages “were so aggressive.” Now 32, she said she is speaking out in an effort to change the culture within swimming and Olympic sports.

“For me it’s the principle of it,” Burckle told the newspaper. “It’s about giving people the respect they deserve and shouldn’t have to ask for.”

Burckle told the newspaper that she reported the incident and forwarded the texts and a voice message to then-USA Swimming national team assistant coach Jack Roach, who forwarded it to then-national team director Frank Busch, who was Bowman’s boss.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.