USA Swimming clears coach Sean Hutchison

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 14, 2011; 9:45 PM

A private investigator hired by USA Swimming found no evidence that one of its most acclaimed young coaches, Sean Hutchison, engaged in an inappropriate relationship with one of his post-graduate athletes, the organization announced Monday.

USA Swimming undertook the investigation of Hutchison, who grew up in Columbia, after rumors of a relationship became public in December.

"While it is not our policy to investigate in the absence of a formal complaint, we acted in the best interest of our athletes, coaches and organization to conduct a full investigation into this situation," said Chuck Wielgus, USA Swimming's executive director, in a statement. "Additionally, after we received the [investigator's] report, we felt it was important to correct the false rumors."

Hutchison said in December he had decided to resign his post at the Fullerton Aquatic Swim Team - the training home of Towson's Katie Hoff, Great Falls's Kate Ziegler and many of the nation's top female swimmers - after a FAST official had confronted him about an alleged relationship between him and one of his adult female swimmers.

Hutchison said at the time that the rumors were false and did not precipitate his decision to leave. USA Swimming's code of conduct forbids sexual relationships between coaches and their swimmers of any age.

The independent investigator hired by USA Swimming's general counsel concluded "there was no evidence to substantiate the existence of an inappropriate sexual or romantic relationship between Coach Hutchison and the athlete . . . This is the same conclusion reached by the investigator hired by the Fullerton Aquatic Sports Team," according to the organization.

FAST Chief Operating Officer Bill Jewell, the official that confronted Hutchison, said in December he was "not comfortable" with the rumors and had asked Hutchison to "solve the problem" but had not demanded his resignation.

Hutchison said he had long planned to create a stand-alone professional training center for elite athletes and would depart FAST as soon as he had worked out the details of a new arrangement.

Jewell declined to comment Monday. Hutchison could not immediately be reached. Two American star swimmers who competed for FAST last year, Ariana Kukors and Kara Lynn Joyce, did not indicate they were representing FAST at this weekend's grand prix in Missouri when they entered the meet, but a USA Swimming official said that was a computer glitch. Rising star Dagny Knutson, however, is representing FAST.

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