On October 17, 2008 USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus received an email from an Orange County parent he was all too familiar with.
Two years earlier Tracy Palmero’s allegations that U.S. national team director Everett Uchiyama began a sexual relationship with her when she was a teenager swimmer led to USA Swimming firing Uchiyama and banning him from the sport for life. But the firing and ban remained private, protected by a non-disclosure agreement USA Swimming insisted they sign, according to the Palmeros.
Joe Palmero, Tracy’s father, was emailing Wielgus in 2008 to inform him that Uchiyama was working as the director of aquatics at the Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs, just five miles from USA Swimming’s headquarters. Palmero also suspected Wielgus already knew.
It was the first in a series of emails in which Joe Palmero would eventually force USA Swimming in 2010 to publicly disclose Uchiyama was banned and list the names of other banned coaches and officials.
Until now, the Palmero family’s names have never been made public. But in interviews with the Southern California News Group, Tracy and Joe Palmero for the first time detail Uchiyama’s abuse, Wielgus and USA Swimming’s effort to keep Uchiyama’s sexual misconduct under wraps, and how they exposed the organization’s role in enabling American swimming’s culture of sexual abuse.
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