Former U.S. Olympic Swimmer Klete Keller Charged Over Capitol Attack – NPR

A screenshot from the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection allegedly shows gold medalist swimmer Klete Keller wearing an Olympic jacket.

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A screenshot from the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection allegedly shows gold medalist swimmer Klete Keller wearing an Olympic jacket.

U.S. District Court

Klete Keller, the Olympic gold medalist swimmer, is facing federal charges for his alleged role in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week.

Keller faces three criminal counts, according to court documents filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia: obstructing law enforcement, knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Former Olympic swimmer Klete Keller’s Colorado driver’s license photo from 2019.

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Former Olympic swimmer Klete Keller’s Colorado driver’s license photo from 2019.

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Keller, 38, was part of U.S. Olympic teams in 2000, 2004 and 2008. He is perhaps best known for holding off Australia’s Ian Thorpe while swimming the anchor leg of the 4×200 freestyle at the 2004 Athens games to help his team win by 0.13 seconds.

That relay team also included Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.

It was not immediately clear if Keller, who resides in Colorado, has been taken into custody. The criminal complaint includes an arrest warrant.

The FBI said Keller’s jacket helped identify him. According to court documents, he was wearing a blue jacket with “USA” on the back and a “red and white Olympic patch on the front left side.”

Investigators also noted Keller’s striking height. He stands at 6 feet and 6 inches.

“PERSON 1 stands taller than a number of individuals around him and can clearly be seen as law enforcement officers repeatedly attempt to remove him and others from the Rotunda,” the charging document filed by special agent Matthew Barofsky stated.

A screenshot allegedly identifies Olympic swimmer Klete Keller in the Rotunda during the U.S. Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6. He was identified by the FBI in part because he was wearing a blue jacket with “USA” on the back.

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A screenshot allegedly identifies Olympic swimmer Klete Keller in the Rotunda during the U.S. Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6. He was identified by the FBI in part because he was wearing a blue jacket with “USA” on the back.

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Investigators said conservative news site Townhall Media posted a video of a crowd at the Capitol. Then, outlets such as SwimSwam, which follows competitive swimming, said it appeared Keller was in the video, according to the charging documents.

Federal authorities said they confirmed his identification by comparing screen shots of Keller with his driver’s license with his image from Colorado’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

USA Swimming, the U.S. governing body of competitive swimming, said in a statement to its membership Wednesday that “while we respect private individuals’ and groups’ rights to peacefully protest, we strongly condemned the unlawful actions taken by those at the Capitol last week.”

The USA Men’s 4x200m Freestyle relay team members, from left, Peter Vanderkaay, Klete Keller, Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps celebrate after winning the gold medal at the World Swimming Championships in Melbourne, Australia in 2007.

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The USA Men’s 4x200m Freestyle relay team members, from left, Peter Vanderkaay, Klete Keller, Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps celebrate after winning the gold medal at the World Swimming Championships in Melbourne, Australia in 2007.

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“It is very simple and very clear,” USA Swimming said in the statement shared with NPR. “Mr. Keller’s actions in no way represent the values or mission of USA Swimming. And while once a swimmer at the highest levels of our sport — representing the country and democracy he so willfully attacked — Mr. Keller has not been a member of this organization since 2008.”

Keller reacts after a men’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay heat during the swimming competitions in the National Aquatics Center at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

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Keller reacts after a men’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay heat during the swimming competitions in the National Aquatics Center at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Thomas Kienzle/AP

Keller won five medals during his three Olympic appearances — two gold medals, one silver and two bronze.

Read the charging documents below:

NPR’s Emily Bogle contributed to this report.

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