News

The President's Message from Bruce Stratton

12/5/2012

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.

 

USA Swimming just held the 9th annual Golden Goggles Awards and it was a tremendous success with a sellout crowd of over 800 attendees. The ceremony provided yet another example of what great athletes we have. Not only are they great in the pool, but more importantly, they are true champions out of the pool. I feel very proud to be associated with some of the finest young men and women in the world.

In conjunction with the Golden Goggles, we also had a Board of Directors meeting. Our Executive Director, Chuck Wielgus, always provides a general update to our Board of Directors for each of our meetings and I think you will find it informative. Please click here to see the entire report.

 

Club and LSC Governance Resource

At its recent meeting in New York, The USA Swimming Board of Directors authorized USA Swimming to enter into an agreement with BoardSource to provide an organizational membership for USA Swimming. BoardSource is considered the largest nonprofit governance organization in the country that offers training and resources specifically for nonprofits. A good portion of the material used to develop USA Swimming’s Club Leadership & Business Management School came from BoardSource.

Our organizational membership will allow every USA Swimming nonprofit club and every single board member in a club to become a member of BoardSource at no cost. In addition, all members of an LSC’s Board of Directors will automatically be signed up as members at no cost. The benefits of membership include:

 

• A free subscription to BoardSource electronic newsletters and electronic bi-monthly magazines, which are full of beneficial information related to club governance issues
• Participation for free in BoardSource's 101 and 201 level webinars which are offered about once a month
• Access to BoardSource's digital library of resources
• Access to the members-only resource material on the BoardSource website
• Discounts of 25% to 35% on BoardSource publications

 

In the very near future, you will receive further information about how to register and obtain the benefits of membership. We believe this will be a very valuable and beneficial resource for our clubs and LSCs and hope everyone will take full advantage of it.

 

Safe Sport Education 

Safe Sport continues to be at the very top of our list of priorities. Thanks, in large part to Safe Sport Officer Susan Woesnner and her staff, USA Swimming continues to be recognized as a leader in developing and implementing Safe Sport programs, policies, and procedures. The core of any Safe Sport program is in providing awareness and education for its athletes, parents, coaches, volunteers, and staff. Earlier this year, we made available an optional free online training course for parents. To date, we have had more than 1,200 parents take advantage of this training, which is a great start. However, with over 350,000 members in our organization, we would like to substantially increase the number of parents who take this very worthwhile course. I would ask all of you to make a special effort to let parents in the clubs with which you are affiliated know about the training and strongly encourage them to take the time to view it.

In January 2013, we will be releasing our Safe Sport Handbook. It will be provided free to every USA Swimming club and available as a .pdf on the USA Swimming website. In addition, we are in the process of completing a free online training program for swimmers designed to help them identify the warning signs of possible abuse or inappropriate conduct. We expect to roll this out in January 2013. The most important aspect of our Safe Sport program is the education and awareness at the grass roots level of our organization.

 

Elections 

We have just finished the process of appointing new committee members for the coming year and I continue to say this is one of the most difficult things I have to do. Our current rules generally provide that we appoint committee members for a four-year term on a rotating basis so approximately one-fourth of the committee members turn over each year. In addition, membership is limited to only two, four-year terms on a particular committee. This process provides for a reasonable and needed membership consistency from year-to-year while at the same time ensuring there is turnover and an opportunity for new members and new ideas on an annual basis.

Unfortunately, we always have many more applicants for committee appointments than we have positions to fill. For this upcoming year, we had almost 150 applications, but only 54 positions available. If you completed an application and were not appointed to a committee, please do not get discouraged or think you are being overlooked. It is an incredibly difficult process and not being appointed to a committee does not mean you are not qualified or not wanted. We do have a need every year for separate task forces or subcommittees and make every effort to include people who have applied for a committee position and not appointed. I have provided every committee chair with a copy of the applications received from people who were not appointed to a committee and have strongly encouraged the chairs to look for opportunities to use additional volunteers.

In making the committee appointments, I depend very heavily on input from our vice-presidents and ask them to use the following general guidelines in making recommendations for committee appointments:

 

1. It is important to balance continuing experience on a committee with allowing new volunteers to get involved;
2. Consider the geographic make-up of the committee, along with being inclusive of unrepresented or under-represented groups of our membership (i.e. gender, ethnic minorities, etc.);
3. Except in very unusual circumstances, no one should be serving on more than one committee (OIOC being an exception because it is an elected committee);
4. With limited exceptions, we should only consider people who have submitted an application, especially for any new committee members; and
5. It is important to coordinate the appointment process with the current committee chairs to identify potential new members and existing committee members who are either not active or are not making a contribution.

 

Volunteers are the backbone of our organization. The Board of Directors, staff, and I sincerely appreciate everyone who submitted an application and expressed a willingness to become involved as a volunteer. I will do my best, in coordination with the vice presidents and committee chairs, to look for opportunities to include as many volunteers as possible in the activities of the committees.

 

Final Note 

As many of you know, our Executive Director, Chuck Wielgus, has been battling cancer for the past several years. Sadly, he has had a recurrence, but there is no one more optimistic than Chuck and he is under the care of some of the best doctors in the world. As part of his treatment, he will be undergoing surgery this month and, as a result, will be out of the office for 6-8 weeks. During his absence, Mike Unger, our Assistant Executive Director, will act in his place and have the authority to lead and make all decisions that normally rest with the Executive Director. There is no one who is a stronger fighter than Chuck Wielgus and we are all very optimistic he will win this battle. Please keep Chuck and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

 

Closing 

USA Swimming has had a great year and we are all looking forward to continuing success in 2013. 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 email me. If you have any topics or questions you would like covered in a future edition, please email me at president@usaswimming.org.

In closing, please let me extend my best wishes to all of you and your families during the upcoming holiday season!

 

Bruce Stratton
USA Swimming President


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