National Team

President's Message: Sept. 20, 2013

9/20/2013

Photo of Bruce Stratton. (Medium)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 the message with others.

We just completed the 2013 U.S. Aquatics Sports Convention, held in Anaheim, Calif., and I believe we had a very productive and informative week. All throughout the week I felt an overall sense of optimism and excitement about USA Swimming and its future. As is customary, I addressed the House of Delegates on Friday, Sept. 13 and a copy of my remarks can be found here.

State of the Sport

One of the highlights of our annual convention is the State of the Sport Report given by our Executive Director Chuck Wielgus during our House of Delegates meeting on Saturday, Sept. 14. The continuing success of USA Swimming, our athletes, and our programs during the past year, along with our opportunities for a great future, made his report especially enjoyable. You can see the complete report here.

Elections

This was an off-year for elections for President and Vice Presidents, but there were elections for four of the Zone Directors. The newly-elected or re-elected Zone Directors as members of the Board of Directors are as follows:

•    Western Zone (non-coach) – David Coddington, Pacific Northwest Swimming
•    Central Zone (coach) – David Anderson, Wisconsin Swimming *
•    Southern Zone (coach) – Tim Bauer, Gulf Swimming *
•    Eastern Zone (non-coach) – Paris Jacobs, Potomac Valley Swimming *

* - notes re-elected positions

Safe Sport

Safe Sport will always be one of our highest priorities. While we have made great strides during the past three years and our Safe Sport Program continues to be recognized as one of the premier programs of any youth-serving organization, we can always get better. To this end, we recently commissioned an independent review of our entire program. As Chuck reported in his State of the Sport address, we hope this review will accomplish two things: validate the positive aspects of our current programs and provide recommendations for how we can improve the programs going forward. The review report is expected to be completed this winter and it will be made public in early 2014.

As I continue to emphasize, education is the key to the success of our Safe Sport program. Although our non-athlete members are required to take Safe Sport education on an annual basis, we have developed two separate educational programs for athletes and parents.  These are completely voluntary, but still critical pieces of our program. I have been disappointed with the number of parents and athletes who have taken advantage of these.  We have over 400,000 members, yet only about 2,700 parents and 400 athletes have taken advantage of the free, online education programs. I encourage you to make participation in these two programs a priority and get as many of our athletes and parents as possible to participate in these two programs.

Legislation

One of the very important things that takes place at our convention is the consideration of any new rules or amendments to our existing rules and regulations. I believe two of the most important were R-12 and R-13, both of which added activities that will be considered as violations of our Code of Conduct. R-12 puts us in compliance with the Minimum Standards of Safe Sport mandated by the USOC and provides that romantic or sexual relationships between a coach and an adult athlete when that coach has coaching responsibility or a position of authority over that athlete. R-13 prohibits peer-to-peer sexual abuse. One third of all sexual abuse of children is committed by someone under the age of 18, so this legislation covers sexual abuse by a minor athlete against another minor athlete.  

Other important changes included R-8, which establishes an appeals process for a sanction or approval denied by an LSC; R-15, which replaces LSC Boards of Review with Zone Boards of Review; and R-9, which revises Sectional Championship requirements and guidelines. Please click here to see a complete list of the changes that were adopted by the House of Delegates.

Dues Increase

The House of Delegates also approved a dues increase of $2 a year for 10 years beginning in 2015.  This was vital to the continued long-term success of USA Swimming. It will allow us to maintain and improve our existing programs and services. Please click here to see a catalog of the current programs and services that are available to clubs, coaches, and athletes. Also, you can click here to see my earlier President’s Message that explained the background on why we proposed this increase.

In addition, the increase will allow us add even more programs that will be of benefit to our members. We have many ideas on the drawing board, but would like your input for any new programs or services you think are important. We solicit your suggestions and have set up a special email address, drawingboard@usaswimming.org, for you to send your ideas to us.

I want to sincerely thank the House of Delegates for their confidence in me and the Board of Directors in passing this and assure everyone we will make certain the funds are used appropriately and as promised.

Committees

This is the time of the year when we appoint new committee members and I consider it one of the most important things I have to do. Our committees and volunteers are an essential part of the success of USA Swimming. If you are interested in serving on a committee, I would encourage you to submit an application which can be found here. They are due no later than Sept. 27.

Closing

The future of USA Swimming continues to be very bright and I am very excited about the successes we will enjoy as we go forward.  We are fortunate to have the greatest athletes, the greatest coaches, the greatest volunteers, and the greatest staff of all the NGBs in the Olympic Family.

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