WEST FARGO - A swimming coach whose training methods are at the center of a controversy involving the West Fargo girls swim team has issued a response.
On Sept. 14, Ronald Hehn was fired as the girls swimming and diving coach at West Fargo High School, after he posted a Facebook video of a student manager attempting a training method Hehn had implemented, in which he was asked to swim 25 yards in the deep end with weights hanging from his waist. (See video above).
The manager was attempting a training method team swimmers had attempted earlier in the day.
Hehn said the method was taken from a speech recently given by Sam Freas, a head swimming coach at Oklahoma Baptist University and a former president of the College Swim Coaches Association.
Freas, however, says his methods, which he's been using for more than 20 years, were implemented incorrectly. He said the training system was to be used more like resistance training, comparing it to baseball players using weights on their bats during batting practice.
"I've never used hanging weights," Freas said. "My system is nothing like (what he did)."
Freas added that such training should never be done in the deep end of the pool and if any weight were to be use, it should be "15 pounds at most."
Hehn denied he implemented the system improperly.
"It's cutting-edge training," he said. "He's retracting to save his own job and not putting himself under public scrutiny. I get that. I wouldn't want anyone else to go through what I've been through."
Hehn also raised concerns over the water quality of the pool at the Hulbert Aquatic Center, the team's home pool, which he says was shut down following a particularly difficult early season practice.
"Girls were complaining of sore throats and coughing," Hehn said. "The pool is being mismanaged and people want to keep their jobs. I put them on blast on social media, so they somehow spun it."
Hehn also provided a chemical report he says was conducted by lifeguard Carson Keller, one of his assistant coaches. In the report, it is stated that the pool had a pH level of 8.4. According to the Fargo Cass Public Health Aquatic Facility Water Testing Policy, pH "must test within a range of 6.5-8.0."
A representative for the Fargo Health Department said records indicating any pool closings at the Hulbert Aquatic Center were not available Friday, but expected to have them by early next week.