Sirens under dictatorship

Some weeks ago the Spanish world of sport was surprised about a decision difficult to understand. The trainer of the Spanish synchronized swimming, Anna Tarrés, wouldn’t continue leading the team no more. The reason that the Spanish Swimming federation claimed was that, after more than 14 years, it was time to “create new synergies”. Now one could understand the decision. Tarrés become the Spanish team one of the best of the world, although there was no tradition in Spain in this sport and swimming is the main weak point of the Spanish Olympic team.

Under Tarrés mandate, the Spanish team got 4 Olympic medals, 25 world championship medals and 25 European medals. Years ago it could seem definitively outside scope in a Sport dominated by great potencies as China, Russia, Ukraine or Japan.

The same day that de notice was known, Paola Tirados, former Spanish swimmer in Sydney, Athens and Beijing, stated that she couldn’t say anything good about Tarrés and although the team got incredible good results, the human conditions of the training weren’t the best at all. “I suffered a lot”, said about her life time under Tarrés leadership. Some Catalonian media complained about it: Tarrés is Catalonian and in the public television, TV-3, it was said that her dismissal was due to the political confrontation between Spain and Catalonia.

Even though the most media charged against the Spanish federation for taking that decision the society suspected that it could be something dark behind the shinning medals and the success of the ones known as the “Spanish sirens”.

And the suspicion was true. Yesterday 15 former swimmers that had been working with Tarrés published a letter charging against Tarrés working methods and denouncing her dictatorship of fear. Here is one of the most significant part of the letter:

“Today we decided to come together to tell our story, to give voice to all those things that until now have been hidden under the medals. We tried to denounce  bad practices to sports institutions years ago but they ignored us”.

“A good trainer must lead a team getting the respect of the team, but Tarrés chose the easy way: use the fear. She was a manipulative woman and use the exhaustion to become as a just a puppet under her command. She was just a dictator and used, threats,false promises, constraints, humiliation, harassment and manipulation”.

They also bring to light personal episodes of Tarrés calling “bitch” to a 14 years all teen, not letting to a swimmer get out of the pool to vomit, stealing Paola Tirados a medal becaouse she didn’t “deserve it” or calling “fat” to a 57kg weight girl that after that became bulimic. In brief, Anna Tarrés covered with the shinning medals an empire of fear and manipulation, played with the dreams of many young athlets by using methods that souldn’t be allowed in the world of sport. Once again, the sport show us a shadow that we are to blind to see. In fact, we usually only see success.

Here is the the full letter from the former swimmers.