News

President's Message: May 12, 2014

5/12/2014

Photo of Bruce Stratton. (Small)The “President’s Message” is a continuing effort on my part to keep the members of USA Swimming informed about current happenings in our sport and our organization. Please feel free to share this message with others.


The USA Swimming Board of Directors held its most recent meeting on May 3, 2014, and some importantdecisions were made that I believe will be of interest to you.

Wielgus (small)Executive Director Update

Our Executive Director, Chuck Wielgus always provides a general update to our Board of Directors for each of our meetings and, as always, I think you will find it informative. Please click here to see the entire report.


Safe Sport

As I previously reported to you, following the release of the report from the independent review of our Safe Sport program by Victor Veith, the Executive Director of the Gunderson National Child Protection Training Center, I appointed a nine-person task force to review the findings and develop an implementation plan.  The Task Force, headed by Jay Thomas, was comprised of four members of the USA Swimming Board of Directors, Safe Sport Committee Chair, Cecil Gordon, Coach Rachael Stratton-Mills (no relation), and outside expert Sandy Wurtele, a psychologist and professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Colorado and a leading scholar on the topic of abuse.

The Task Force did an exemplary job and presented its recommendations for implementation of the Veith report to the USA Swimming Board of Directors (click here to see the complete Task Force report and the initial Veith report).  I am very pleased to report that The Board unanimously adopted the recommendations from the Task Force.

This plan has a strong focus on measures that incentivize rather than mandate and we feel that this is critical to the future success of our Safe Sport efforts.  This is not just a plan for the next three to five years; it is a plan for the next 10-15 years and will enhance our already strong Safe Sport program at the local level for our 2,800 member clubs. We are listening, learning, and working hard to continuously make our Safe Sport program as strong as possible.

While some of the recommendations will be executed immediately, the Task Force’s implementation plan is mindful that some of the recommendations will take years to implement. For example, three recommendations involve new legislation that will be voted on by the USA Swimming House of Delegates at the annual convention in September. A public status update of the Task Force’s report and its implementation plan will also be shared at the September convention.

United States Sports Insurance Company (USSIC)
USSIC is the organization that has provided primary liability insurance coverage for USA Swimming, its LSCs, clubs, and members since 1988.  Because USA Swimming owns it 100%, it is known as a “captive” insurance company.  For a number of very good reasons, the company was incorporated in and operates from the country of Barbados (termed an “offshore” company).

 

It was formed at a time when it was almost impossible to obtain insurance in the open market and it allowed USA Swimming to be able to provide its own liability insurance coverage.  It has been a huge success story and has saved USA Swimming many millions of dollars during the years since its inception. As you might imagine, there are a number of changes that have taken place in the 26 years since USSIC’s inception with respect to insurance and the use of captive insurance companies. In 2014, our new Director of Risk Management, George Ward, was able to obtain liability insurance on the open market at a very attractive price and there was no longer a need to have USSIC currently provide our primary liability insurance coverage.

 

However, it still needs to remain in existence to handle any claims for occurrences prior to January 1, 2014, and will continue to operate in what is known as a “run-off” mode. Knowing these changes were going to take place, USA Swimming, together with USSIC, engaged a firm to provide an evaluation of the best way to utilize USSIC as we go forward.  The recommendation was to continue to operate USSIC, but to do so by moving it from Barbados to Washington, D.C. Although there are pluses and minus for making the move, the benefits far outweigh the negatives.  Some of the more important benefits are:

 

1. Reduction in costs for operating the company
2. The elimination of separate tax filings
3. Increased efficiencies in operating in the United States as opposed to Barbados

4. Better access to legal advice with respect to operation of the company

 

After determining there would be no adverse tax consequences to moving the company “on-shore”, the Board of Directors voted to follow the recommendation and to begin the process of moving the company to Washington, D.C. It will take several months to complete the process, but the end result will be a much more efficient and cost effective operation for USSIC and will better serve the needs of USA Swimming.

 

International Swimming Hall of Fame

Each year the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) holds a banquet and ceremony to honor selected individuals for inclusion into the Hall of Fame. This year one of the inductees is our own Chuck Wielgus!  


The description provided on the ISHOF website states, “in his role as Executive Director of USA Swimming since 1997, Chuck Wielgus has professionalized the administration and brought revolutionary changes to the organization by creating corporate partnership opportunities and media platforms for the athletes who have helped make swimming a tier one international Olympic sport. He has also defined what it means to be a Champion in Life - while courageously facing the physical and emotional challenges of living with cancer since 2006.”

This is a very nice and very well-deserved honor for Chuck.  He truly has been one of the great contributors to our sport.

Convention
Our annual convention will be held in Jacksonville, Fla., Sept. 16-20. Information and registration forms are posted on our website. This is an election year and with the exception of the Treasurer, who will have completed only one term, all of the current officers have completed two terms and are not eligible for re-election to the same position.

 

You will be electing the leaders of our sport and our organization for the next 2-4 years and I cannot emphasize enough the importance of these elections. Plan now to attend and be part of determining the future of USA Swimming.

 

Closing
It is important to me, as your president, to provide open and transparent communication to all our members. I am always available, and you should never hesitate to call or e-mail me. If you have any topics or questions you would like covered in a future edition, please contact me at president@usaswimming.org.

Bruce Stratton Signature

Bruce Stratton
USA Swimming President


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