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Charlotte swim coach charged with sexual misconduct

A longtime Charlotte youth swim coach has been charged with misdemeanor sexual misconduct and suspended by USA Swimming, the sport’s governing body.

Jamie Thomas, 54, was arrested on Sept. 18 by Opelika, Ala., police and released on $500 bond, Lee County Sheriff’s Capt. Van Jackson said Tuesday.

Thomas, the owner and head coach of New South Swimming in Charlotte since 1997, had been on leave from coaching the club since July.

After learning of Thomas’ arrest, USA Swimming requested an emergency hearing before its national review board, spokesperson Karen Linhart said. Thomas agreed to a temporary suspension of his membership pending the outcome of a full hearing, she said.

“USA Swimming takes all allegations of sexual abuse seriously and reports allegations of inappropriate conduct to the proper authorities,” Linhart said.

Thomas could not be reached for comment.

In an interview following his departure as coach in July, Thomas told the Observer he had hired a new coach and was taking a break.

“It’s personal at this point and I am just taking some time off and dealing with all of my issues and my family,” Thomas said.

Opelika police Capt. Bruce DeLong said he could not release any information about Thomas’ arrest because it involved a juvenile.

Thomas’ club of about 125 members has produced national-level swimmers. The team has five coaches and trains at Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center uptown. Last year, the team expanded to Carrington Swim Club off Rea Road in south Charlotte, according to the team’s website.

Thomas’ accolades include being named North Carolina Swimming’s Senior Coach of the Year in 2010 and receiving a certificate of excellence award from the American Swimming Coaches Association.

USA Swimming’s rules require a full disciplinary hearing within 60 days.

The organization, under scrutiny over its handling of sex abuse cases, launched its Safe Sport program in 2010 aimed at protecting athletes from abuse. It has issued lifetime bans against 68 former coaches for code of conduct violations.

Miller: 704-358-5107
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