Inside the feud between a pro swimmer and fitness influencer Joey Swoll

Inside the feud between a pro swimmer and fitness influencer Joey Swoll

Joey Swoll has 6.8 million TikTok followers.
Joey Swoll via TikTok

  • Fitness influencer Joey Swoll has accused a competitive swimmer of making fun of a man at the gym.
  • Swoll’s post led to hundreds of social media users directing hatred at the athlete, Nika Godun.
  • Godun responded by saying Swoll took his original video out of context.

A professional swimmer has defended herself after fitness influencer Joey Swoll accused her of making fun of a young man she recorded lifting weights at a gym.

Swoll, who has 6.8 million TikTok followers, has gone viral multiple times for suing creators who filmed people (usually men) at the gym. Swoll typically duets or stitches the creators’ videos, assessing the situation and often siding with the men in the clips. He says there’s a difference between someone who looks at a woman at the gym and a creepy person.

On June 6, Swoll made a TikTok in response to a video posted by competitive Russian swimmer Nika Godun. The clip, which Swoll appeared to have recorded from one of Godun’s now-expired Instagram stories, showed her zooming in on a young-looking man hurriedly lifting a weight while she cackled in the background.

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In his assessment of the situation, Swoll said he thought Godun was mocking the man with an “arrogant” laugh.

“Does he have bad form? Yeah, he’s just a kid,” Swoll said, suggesting Godun should have tried to teach the youngster how to lift weight properly or avoid filming him altogether.

“Filming it to tease it to post it on social media is never an option, and you’re a professional athlete. You should know better,” Swoll added.

The fitness influencer also said that he messaged Godun on Instagram to call out his behavior. She shared screenshots of messages that appeared to show Godun telling him to “lighten up” and defending the practice of “people watching” because it could be fun.

Swoll’s TikTok received a highly supportive response from commenters, who said they agreed with the influencer’s concerns.

“This is sad. Professionals in particular should set a better example,” wrote one commenter.

In the past, Swoll’s posts have prompted an apology from the creators he’s criticized, but in this case, Godun released an Instagram statement defending his actions and accusing Swoll of taking his video out of context.

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Godun wrote that he knew the youngster personally in his video, adding that it was another swimmer he chose to record because he was deliberately doing the wrong exercise while his coach wasn’t watching.

“I posted a video with a caption ‘me Monday morning’ saying I’m like this guy because I love his ‘I’m tired and I don’t give a fuck’ energy,” she wrote.

He also referenced several hateful comments he received on Instagram following Swoll’s post. She said her influencer exposed her to millions of people who turned on her “without using their brains.”

Godun’s post only seemed to draw more negativity, as thousands of commenters echoed Swoll’s initial allegations against her and said they didn’t believe her explanation for posting the post.

Godun told Insider in a statement that Swoll was “using his followers to spread hate so his videos would go viral,” adding that this was “at the expense of someone’s reputation.”

Swoll did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Swoll’s content has proven very divisive in the past, as her critical responses to other creators have previously led to these same creators receiving hateful comments. A TikToker told Insider that she became the target of doxxing and death threats after Swoll made a video about her.

Swoll’s critics say they believe her fans sometimes use the influencer’s content to spread misogynistic rhetoric, particularly in relation to videos criticizing female creators for filming men.

For more stories like this, check out the coverage from Insider’s Digital Culture team here.

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