The Vise Tightens on Mark Schubert

Yesterday, Scott Reid of the Orange County Register/SCNG published a flurry of pieces on notorious swim coach Mark Schubert.

The longest one, which features some quotes from Schubert himself, begins with the title "Mark Schubert is a legend..." before asking the question that is the core of why Schubert is no legend. He doesn't belong in any of the multiple hall of fames he currently resides. 

No amount of competitive "results" can cement your legend when you fail so completely ethically and morally. Worse than the initial mistakes his how he has continually tried to miscast himself as the hero in stories where he is quite obviously not.

Reid's piece highlights a few of these. The most recent was with the most high profile case of the moment, Sean Hutchison abusing Ariana Kukors Smith. Reid's article includes an account of how Schubert became aware that Hutchison was in Kukors room after hours.

Crucially, instead of "blowing the whistle", he warned Hutchison. This happened before Schubert chose Hutchison to lead the "Center of Excellence" at Fullerton. So tell me what is more likely, that Schubert did everything in his power to protect Kukors, or that he acted selfishly and kept the information on Hutchison for his own use?

Perhaps more chilling is the account that Reid gets from Kelley Currin, who bravely came forward and got Rick Curl put behind bars for sexually abusing her from age 13. Currin told her college coach, Mark Schubert, about the abuse. Listen to what Currin had to say about his response:

"When he learned that I was abused and was suffering both mentally and physically, Coach Schubert’s reaction was to remove me from all UT swimming programs,” Currin said. “I was deemed a distraction and therefore expendable. Coach Schubert tossed me aside like a piece of trash."

Schubert has responses to some of the above, which you should read in the SCNG piece, if that interests you. It is notable, however, that Schubert claims to later have waged a campaign against Curl when he was working at USA Swimming.

In response to my series of blogs about him, Schubert responded directly once on facebook. I won't quote that either here, except that it offered to talk if I would "treat [him] fairly", but in the same breath accused me of being a "mouthpiece" for attorneys Allard and Little.

It's very telling that Mark Schubert has picked Wielgus, a dead man, as the sole other witness to his courageous fight against sexual abuse in swimming. If Schubert were so incensed about Curl, and Kellie Currin was so mistaken, where was he when Rick Curl was named ASCA coach of the year in 1994? On the ASCA Board of Course. Likewise when Rick Curl became the president of ASCA in 2003.

Notable in relation to the above story, up until recent memory Curl was still listed as an honoree for ASCA coach of the year but has since been scrubbed and now it stands "honor removed" from 1994.

Don't worry though! You can still find excerpts from all the great talks that Curl gave at ASCA clinics, like this one!

Here Curl gives out some of that "legendary" coaching wisdom:

"Also one of the benefits was there were no bathrooms so that in order to go to the bathroom you had a 1000 yard sprint to the next building to go to the bathroom"

Awesome! As Scott Reid's article points out, Schubert continues to :"look forward". In a way I don't blame him, there is so much horrible stuff in his past it would be quite difficult to look that way. 

Schubert is not a crusader, fighting the Rick Curl's of the swimming world. He was possibly one of the most influential swim coaches in the world from the 1970s through the 2000s. He didn't fight the culture, he is the culture.

Schubert may not have abused any young swimmers himself, but he pioneered the smirking condescension that most of their stories received and still do. He was the mentor of Scott MacFarland, giving him his big boost early in his coaching career at Mission Viejo (something the current version of Mission Viejo would very much like you to forget).

The most telling new piece of information that came out of Reid's series concerns Ad'm Dusenbury, who was banned for life in 2013 and coached at Mission Viejo. There was talk of adding Dusenbury to the Golden West staff in 2011, and Schubert called him for an interview.

He asked Dusenbury straight up about the fact that he was abusing a young girl on Mission Viejo. Dusenbury broke down. Crucially, Schubert had this information two years before Dusenbury was banned for life.

Perhaps life will go on as it always has, with Schubert dissembling and cobbling together enough support in the swimming community to continue his quest. Things do feel a bit different these days. Many people expressed surprise after my first post about him that Schubert didn't summon a thunderbolt and smite me on the spot.

Perhaps he doesn't have any thunderbolts anymore.