WEST FARGO, N.D. The West Fargo School District fired head swimming coach Ronald Hehn last Friday for inappropriate coaching practices after meeting with several parents and swimmers.
Over the weekend, parents told us that Hehn attached weights to rope belts on his swimmers, and had them swim across the pool. They also say he had swimmers go 12 feet under water and had them swim back up without kicking off the rope belt of weights.
Parents go on to say that some swimmers struggled to make it back to the surface and that lifeguards had to pull some girls out of the water because of the amount of weight attached to them.
Today we talked with two former West Fargo swimmers, who have since gone on to swim at the collegiate level-- and they tell us that none of their coaches have ever used methods like Hehn's.
Danica Dutt and Hallie Peterson tell me they have swam with weights before, but the weights have never been physically attached to their bodies and could have easily been released if needed.
Neither swimmers were able to talk with us on camera today, but Dutt says that, "Going under water and swimming up with weights has never been something I've done or learned and I don't think it should be accepted, especially for non-collegiate swimmers."
And Petersen added that, "Putting any weight on your body when in water is a situation that can quickly become dangerous, even at the competitive level."
However, we talked with two former swimmers, who says they have Hehn to thank for their swimming careers beyond high school.
Beau Anderson says he doesn't think Hehn would do anything to endanger his athletes. Anderson added that the coaching practices in question against Hehn, are tactics he would have never blinked an eye at in high school or college.
"When you take those weights off, everything is going to feel so much easier than when you were swimming with the weights on. It builds strength and it builds endurance and like I said, it's normal. I might not have liked the practice when I was a swimmer, but at the end of the day that's the sport I chose. And I wouldn't have complained or got him fired," Anderson said.
West Fargo will release more documents in this case later this week.
We also learned today that Hehn was a former swim coach at Fargo South High School, as well as at Concordia College. However, we were unable to get any documents as to why he left those positions.
We also reached out to USA Swimming today, but did not hear back.