MELBOURNE, June 15 (Reuters) - An Australian mother has denied a media report her teenage son was forced to wear a women’s swimsuit as punishment by a coach amid scrutiny of the country’s elite swimming culture in the leadup to the Olympics.
The mother of Soren Zwolsman, whose older brother Yannick is swimming in Australia’s Olympic trials in Adelaide on Tuesday, said her boy chose to wear the women’s swimsuit and was not bullied by anyone.
“Everyone knows Soren,” Monika Zwolsman told Nine Network 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?”
Australian swimming has been under the microscope since twice Olympic silver medallist Madeline Groves withdrew from the Tokyo Games trials last week, citing “mysogynistic perverts”.
The Australian newspaper published a photo of Soren Zwolsman wearing the suit and quoted a “concerned parent” saying he had been made to wear it for failing to achieve a time at training.
The paper said the photo taken two years ago exposed the “degrading and abusive culture of swimming in Australia”.
Monika Zwolsman said the photo had been misrepresented and her son, then 13, was not a victim of bullying by his coach.
Zwolsman said she was present when her son wore the bathers at Southport pool on the Gold Coast.
“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.”
Governing body Swimming Australia (SA) said the photo had been taken without the “child’s 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.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Stephen Coates