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Antivax Olympian Is a Religious Homeschooler


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Michael Andrew is a much-hyped American swimmer whose performance in Tokyo has, however, been mostly notable for his refusal to follow safety protocols (he came in fourth and fifth in his two races). The 22-year old is one of a small percentage of athletes at this summer's Olympics who hasn't been vaccinated. He told Fox News that "I’m representing my country in multiple ways and the freedoms we have to make a decision like that." The Olympic committee is not requiring athletes to show proof of vaccination but they do say that anyone unvaccinated will be held to high standards for masking and distancing. Guess how that's going! He's refusing to wear a mask, claiming he's already made enough sacrifices to his comfort in training for his sport.

Andrew's story definitely had my fundie senses tingling, and yup! His parents, who immigrated to the U.S. from South Africa before he was born, raised him and his sister Michaela (yeesh) in a weird kind of isolation, traveling in a van for months on end to attend meets and training in a backyard pool with his father as a coach rather than joining a team or club. He made the controversial decision to go pro at 14, the youngest swimmer ever to do so, and his mom explains that she isn't worried about him forfeiting a college career as a result because "Michael doesn’t need to be inundated with sex and drugs and ideas from liberal professors." His father says "God has given Michael to us. It's my duty to build him into the best that he can ever be."

Definitely not the typical Wholesome Wear-clad fundie family -- his mom was a competitor on 'UK Gladiator' -- but he's definitely plugged into the culture and is currently a Liberty Online student. His parents seem worryingly intense, as you'll see if you read the ESPN article below. And I think his story is instructive about the way that COVID denial has become a key part of these belief systems. 

Sources:

https://slate.com/culture/2021/07/michael-andrew-olympics-swimmer-anti-vaccine-anti-mask-jerk.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/2021/06/18/michael-andrew-new-olympian-doubters-scrutiny/

https://www.espn.com/olympics/story/_/id/12750469/is-michael-andrew-next-michael-phelps

https://www.nbcolympics.com/news/meet-athletes-michael-andrew

Edited by Coconut Flan
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Oh goody, I predict he will be honoured soon by a visit from Jill Rod as she has at least one eligible daughter. Hope the Rods are ready to finally be beaten in arm-wrestling on their homebarndo turf. 

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It’s half the Olympics fault for allowing the choice in the first place. But its the US and A and Swimmers are the Olympic darlings. 

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Man from that ESPN article it sounds like they know they are burning him out and just don’t care. Sick. 

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Quote

There's a manic energy that permeates everything Team Michael does, fueled, in part, by the family's siege mentality. In 1997, Peter and Tina came to the U.S. from South Africa, three years after the end of apartheid dramatically changed the balance of power in the country. Peter talks of friends who were kidnapped, of seeing a man arrive at his family farm in Dargle with a hatchet in his head. "We lived in constant fear for our lives," Tina says. "In South Africa, you live closer to God. Your life was always threatened with violence."

Today, they still operate as if everything around them is under threat. For example, Michael was passed over last year for a spot on the U.S. Youth Olympic team competing in China. His parents thought it was because they were too revolutionary for USA Swimming. Michael simply wasn't faster than four older teenagers, a swimming official told me. And when Michael set an age-group record at the Austin Grand Prix this year and video of the swim wasn't immediately available, Tina was sure it was a conspiracy. Dinner-table conversations often turn into a list of complaints against those who have ignored them, who have dismissed them, who have failed to acknowledge Michael's greatness.

I think my eyes have permanently rolled into the back of my head. 

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I mean to be strictly fair this is actually a fundie male who has a right to be proud. He did help win a gold medal  after all. 

Edited by tabitha2
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  • Coconut Flan changed the title to Antivax Olympian Is a Religious Homeschooler
6 hours ago, dairyfreelife said:

I think my eyes have permanently rolled into the back of my head. 

I am REALLY curious to know what kind of racial politics are discussed in that home.

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10 hours ago, dairyfreelife said:

His parents thought it was because they were too revolutionary for USA Swimming.

Wow, that is quite a level of delusion they've got going there. I'd be more inclined to guess that USA Swimming looked at them and went... yeah, too hard to deal with, there are other fast swimmers... 

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While I've been fairly neutral regarding male American Olympic swimmers since Phelps retired, now I'm glad Caeleb Dressel is the likely heir (unless there is info I'm missing).

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Lochte the drunken Himbo ruined me for male swimmers. He made himself a foot note when he was a champion. 
 

 

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11 hours ago, tabitha2 said:

I mean to be strictly fair this is actually a fundie male who has a right to be proud. He did help win a gold medal  after all. 

You're right, after I posted this he was part of the relay team that took gold.

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11 hours ago, dairyfreelife said:

I think my eyes have permanently rolled into the back of my head. 

That kind of paranoia can lead to trouble. 

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I had a feeling too about this guy, the crazy, "we designed the newest, bestest way to train, you watch" MLM branding, selling focus, topped with his anti vax crap, had my fundie radar going too. Looks like more then I thought even.

Edited by tankgirl
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Obviously the weird training methods worked. Like  a broken clock I suppose even A fundie can be right twice a day ;)

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6 hours ago, tabitha2 said:

Obviously the weird training methods worked. Like  a broken clock I suppose even A fundie can be right twice a day ;)

Nah, their "training" is just to go as fast as you can for as long as you can. Which is why he blew a huge lead to come in 5th in the 200 IM. He needs a real coach.

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Possibly totally irrelevant, but as an expat I meet a lot of other expats and with exactly one exception all the white SA have been so horrifically racist I keep thinking it’s a joke and some one will jump out with a camera. But they just actually really are that way...

I dunno what’s going on with them, but I avoid white SA like the plague now. I get the same vibes from his family, maybe that is unfair but I do. 

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Wanted to make a few points from the perspective of a recently retired swimmer, not trying to defend him but:

• his family isn’t fundie. Sure, they’re a little strange, and obviously just drinking doesn’t mean anything, but I listen to a swimming podcast and his dad explicitly mentioned celebrating with champagne after he made the Olympic Team in an interview right before the thing started.

•his training method(USRPT) is legit. It actually works. Almost every coach I know, including my college coach(who produced multiple conference champions/record holders including a guy who would have made NCAAs this year for Division III had they not canceled all winter sports championships), uses it to some capacity. The problem with Michael is that he doesn’t use anything but USRPT, and doesn’t incorporate any sort of weight or strength training into his regimen and that’s why he’s not able to hold that sort of speed.

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Sounds like they are more eccentric than fundie. In any case He obviously has natural talent and drive because without that you don’t get to the Olympics, let alone chosen for hold metal relay races. He’ll need some changes to his training regime to be able to really be a factor in the future though.

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Not everyone we discuss here is strictly a religious fundamentalist - you can be "fundie" in other ways, I think. (I'm thinking of the Nauglers, here, they're not so much "Christian Fundie" as they are "a cult of their own" isolationist extremists.)

In any case, his family sounds like an insular bunch of conspiracy theorist entitled crazies, and medal or not I have NO respect for someone who not only refuses to get a vaccine to protect himself but also insists on putting others at risk by not wearing a mask. Character matters, IMO.

A bit of Olympic goodness to offset the asshole-ness of this dud: Gold medalist Tom Daley knitted in the stands and made himself a cute medal cozy.

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21 minutes ago, Alisamer said:

Not everyone we discuss here is strictly a religious fundamentalist - you can be "fundie" in other ways

And in this case they absolutely are evangelical religious fanatics -- they just may not be IFB. I have no idea what denomination they are but a lot of their eccentricities are motivated by religious fervor.

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An article quoted the dad as referring this kid's swimming as a "ministry".

That's pure fundie to me, champagne or no. 

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4 hours ago, SwimmerBoy29 said:

The problem with Michael is that he doesn’t use anything but USRPT

And that his family claims that his method is The One True Method, and that they are doing something completely off their own bat that no one else has thought of/is doing. 

And that he doesn't follow protocols designed to try and keep everyone - including him - as safe as possible during these Games. If he's not following masking protocols then you have to wonder what other things he's decided don't apply to him.

1 hour ago, anjulibai said:

An article quoted the dad as referring this kid's swimming as a "ministry".

Ah "ministry" in it's most pure form - this is our grifting gravy train and we're sticking with it.  

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