Clowning around can end in tears

PRANK calling, knick knocking and initiation ceremonies.

This is not a grade 4 camp. It is a list of some of the behaviour at the Australian Olympic swimming team’s preparation camp in Manchester.

Members of the ill-fated 4x100 metre freestyle relay team apparently took it upon themselves to devise a frat-style induction ritual on a so-called bonding night.

They (allegedly) encouraged younger Australian swim team members to take the sleeping tablet, Stilnox.

To me, that sounds the lamest bonding night ever. 

A group of people falling asleep for hours. 


After their newly initiated prey were dreaming sweet dreams of Olympic glory, apparently the six-man team went on a dorm-room rampage.

Some of the more mature behaviour of the fully grown men included prank calling and knick-knocking. 

Don’t get me wrong. I loved a prank call back in the day. 

A particular friend of mine and I used to come home every day after school, eat some two-minute noodles and dial random numbers into the phone. 

We would wait until someone picked up, sing the Pizza Hut delivery song and then hang up really quickly. 

If we got an answering machine, we used to leave a rousing rendition of I just called to say I love you. 

On reflection, I’m not quite sure what we got out of these quick phone calls. 

We got neither a response nor a reaction most of the time. 

Only occasionally would someone dial the number back and tell us they were going to tell our parents.

However, I would like to point out I was about 13 years old at this point in my life – 16 years max. 

Well, maybe I still do it now but I’m not an elite sportsperson.

Another rather alarming claim hit pretty close to home to me as well. 

Allegations abound that two male swimmers kept the body hair they shaved off before competition and scattered it on the beds and in the bags of other swimmers.

This reminds me of a housemate I had in England. 

One day I came home to find him in our living room in a maroon bath robe, sitting on our couch, stroking his chin. 

It was ominous. 

He then proceeded to tell me that he had made his body entirely hairless. 

I was unsure how to respond to this, but I believe I managed to splutter out something along the lines of, “Good on you”. 

What he failed to tell me, and what I worked out about 20 seconds later, is that the aforementioned hair was left all around the bathroom. And he chose to leave it like that. Because he, quote, “wanted me to see it”.

It’s unconfirmed, but I believe he was an Australian swimming team mentor in London.

Out of all of this, it is no wonder the Australian swimming team only took home one gold medal in the pool.

It doesn’t surprise me to hear some members of the team were overjoyed when the freestyle team bombed out and failed to win a medal.

Now swimming heavyweights Kieren Perkins and Tim Ford are about to hold an inquiry into the allegations. 

It seems a little ridiculous that 20-something-year-old men need an official review to tell them that knick-knocking is childish.

Then again, next time if you pick up the phone and someone’s singing the Pizza Hut song, you know it’s probably me.


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