Swimming: Former Olympic champion Keller part of U.S. Capitol siege – reports

FILE PHOTO: Klete Keller of the US stands with his gold medal after the 200m freestyle at the Pan Pacific 2006 swimming championships in Victoria
FILE PHOTO: Klete Keller of the U.S. stands with his gold medal after the men's 200m freestyle event at the Pan Pacific 2006 swimming championships in Victoria, August 17, 2006. REUTERS/Jason Reed (CANADA)/File Photo

January 13, 2021

(Reuters) – American Klete Keller, who won two Olympic gold medals as a relay teammate of Michael Phelps, was identified as being among the Donald Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol last week, according to multiple reports.

Swimming news website SwimSwam said in a report https://swimswam.com/olympic-gold-medalist-in-us-capitol-during-clashes-video-appears-to-show that at least a dozen people within the sport identified the towering man wearing a U.S. Olympic team jacket inside the building as Keller after reviewing video and screenshots of the riot.

USA Swimming did not respond when asked whether they could confirm if Keller was part of the crowd that entered the legislative complex as lawmakers began certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s Nov. 3 election victory over Trump.

Attempts to reach Keller were unsuccessful.

A woman who answered the phone for the Colorado and Ohio-based real estate agency where Keller works told Reuters, “we are not commenting on anything right now” and then hung up.

In one of the videos, which was taken by a reporter from conservative news outlet Townhall, a man identified as Keller is seen among the crowd that police officers are trying to push toward the U.S. Capitol exits.

Keller is a five-times Olympic medalist who held off Australian great Ian Thorpe on the anchor leg of the 4x200m freestyle relay at the 2004 Athens Games to win gold for the United States.

Swimming World also said it confirmed with sources that Keller was seen at the U.S. Capitol and added that the videos do not show any violence on the part of the 38-year-old.

According to the New York Times, Keller has deleted his social media accounts, several of which the publication said had included a stream of pro-Trump messaging in recent years.

Trump exhorted thousands of supporters to march on the Capitol last Wednesday, prompting chaos in which crowds breached the building and forced the evacuation of both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

Five people, including a police officer, died as a result of the rampage.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; editing by Grant McCool)