Swimming Canada Statement
Swimming Canada has been closely following the sexual exploitation case of former Ajax Swim Club coach Matt Bell.
Bell’s ongoing suspension remains unchanged following his sentencing Monday to seven months in jail, which includes the addition of his name to the national sex offender registry, and a subsequent two years probation.
Swimming Canada suspended Bell on Nov. 11, 2015, the day the organization was informed of the charges of sexual assault, sexual exploitation and four counts of luring a person under 18 years. Swimming Canada also immediately began contacting athletes and parents who had interactions with Bell in connection with Swimming Canada national teams, tours and programs. The organization has continued to maintain open lines of communication with the various levels of law enforcement, including Durham Regional Police.
Bell will be subject to a disciplinary process at a future date to be determined pending his release from prison, at which time Swimming Canada and its provincial partner Swim Ontario and the Canadian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association would apply their respective policies.
Swimming Canada will continue to work with Swim Ontario, as well as the Canadian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association, to ensure the swimming community is safe for swimmers of all ages.
“Swimming Canada is committed to providing opportunities for every individual in our sport to reach his or her potential in fitness and excellence in a safe environment,” said CEO Ahmed El-Awadi. “While this type of case is rare it is also very serious. It had a major impact on one of our members and denied her the right to that safe environment. We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that safety for all of our members.”
Swim Ontario Statement
On November 8, 2016, former Ajax Swim Club coach Matt Bell was sentenced to seven months in jail, two years probation and the addition of his name to the national sex offender registry in relation to the charges of sexual assault, sexual exploitation and four counts of luring a person under 18 years old that were placed last year.
Swimming Canada suspended Bell on November 11, 2015, the day that the organization was informed of the charges.
““Matt Bell pled guilty and is going to prison. We hope being placed on the National Sex Offender registry, the loss of his club, his dignity and stature finds him paying a punishment which surpasses that imposed on him by the courts. Our sympathies and thoughts lie only with the young swimmer who was the focus of his actions,” said Swim Ontario President Eric Martin.
Swim Ontario will continue to work with both Swimming Canada and the Canadian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association in any further disciplinary measures pending his release from prison and to help ensure that our swimming community is a safe space for all those involved in the sport.