Olympic swimmer Cate Campbell says male coaches obsessed with weight of female athletes

Olympic gold medallist Cate Campbell says female swimmers have been subjected to body shaming, with the attitude of many male coaches being “the skinnier the better”.

In a new book she has written with her sister Bronte, the champion Australian swimmer said girls were told to use smaller plates so they would eat less and were criticised in front of other swimmers if they gained any weight.

In an extract from the book to be published in the Sunday Telegraph, Campbell writes about the impact of this obsession with the weight of female swimmers.

“Weight was, and still is, always a topic of conversation on pool decks or in swim teams.

At one competition she said “all the girls were specifically told to use smaller plates at dinner so we wouldn’t overeat”.

“Swimmers in other programs were subjected to weekly weigh-ins – in front of their entire squads – and publicly admonished if they had gained even a few hundred grams.

“The general consensus from most other male coaches was: the skinnier the better.

“Some of this mindset had begun to rub off on me.”

The book, called Sister Secrets: Life Lessons from the Pool to the Podium, will be released on Tuesday.

Jodie Hawkins from Swimming Australia said the organisation will continue to work towards “developing better ways of coaching.”

“We continue to work with our network of coaches and athlete leaders on developing better ways of coaching and communicating with our athletes to enable them to perform at the highest level.”

Campbell won gold in the women’s 4x100m freestyle and medley relays at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year. She also took Bronze in the 100m freestyle.

Campbell had previously won gold with the women’s 4×100m freestyle team at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

She opened up about her struggles with mental illness in an Instagram post in October, where she revealed she was diagnosed with depression last year.

“In July 2020 I was diagnosed with depression, in June 2021 — four weeks before the start of the Tokyo Olympics, I finally admitted I needed some medical help, and I am so grateful I did,” she wrote.

“Mental health is not a sign of weakness. It does not discriminate. It is very real, and most of us will face it at some point in our lives.”