By Mike Watkins/Contributor | Wednesday, July 12, 2017
USA Swimming National Team Director Frank Busch describes Tim Hinchey as having chlorine in his veins.
That’s a biological phenomenon that will come in handy in Hinchey’s new role as President and CEO of USA Swimming. He begins his new journey today after spending the past six years as President of the Major League Soccer (MLS) Colorado Rapids.
A longtime swimmer – learning as a 5-year-old before joining a club at age 9 – Hinchey said he plans to take the first six months or so observing and traveling to meet members of the swimming community.
His belief is that if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
Or in the case of following many great years under the guidance of Chuck Wielgus and the staff he assembled – don’t sink it.
“My swimming career shaped who I am today, so I’m excited about this opportunity to give something back to the sport that gave me so much,” said Hinchey, who still swims Master’s and has remained active in the sport throughout his life.
“I plan to use the first six months observing and getting my arms around it all. I can’t wait to visit clubs and coaches all over the country and learn as much about the organization as I can so we can continue to grow the sport of swimming.”
While his USA Swimming adventure begins today, Hinchey has already been making the rounds by attending the Phillips 66 USA Swimming National Championships two weeks ago.
Even though it was a quick visit – in and out in 24 hours – he said he was excited to meet people, start new relationships and take in some really great swimming.
In addition to being a longtime swimmer, Hinchey brings a rich background and extensive experience to his new post – more than 20 years in professional sports in the United States and England.
He started his career in 1991 as the game-night intern with the Los Angeles Kings and from there, he worked his way into the role of Director of Strategic Alliances for Maloof Sports & Entertainment.
In this role, he developed innovative strategic plans for corporate partnerships for the Sacramento Kings, WNBA Sacramento Monarchs, WISL Sacramento Knights, ARCO Arena and Senior PGA Gold Rush Classic. His work carried him to various executive roles with the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats and New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets (relocating the team after Hurricane Katrina).
Hinchey’s introduction to soccer came in the summer of 1994 when he worked the FIFA World Cup as an Assistant Press Officer.
The father of six – Alexandria, 30; Madison, 20; Gabriella, 16; twin sons, Aidan and Brendan, 12; and Conor, 10 – arrived in Colorado in 2010 as the Rapids’ Chief Marketing Officer, and immediately oversaw substantial growth in the franchise.
A year later, he became president of the club, and under his direction, the Rapids enjoyed tremendous increase in attendance, sponsorship revenue and ticket memberships and orchestrated a first-ever jersey deal for the club.
But despite his years in basketball and soccer, Hinchey’s heart and allegiance always lay with his first love: swimming.
“I wasn’t looking for a change when the recruiter called me in April (2017) to gauge my interest in the position at USA Swimming,” said Hinchey, who swam for the Walnut Creek Swim Club as well as for his high school team before walking on at the University of California-Irvine and swimming varsity as a freshman.
“I was intrigued because of my background in swimming, but I was happy with the Rapids, so I went into the interview process knowing I had nothing to lose and everything to gain if it was a good fit.”
Along the way, Hinchey said he realized this opportunity was actually a calling – one he couldn’t deny or turn down if an offer came.
“As I went through the process, it became clear to me that this was the only job I would be willing to leave (the Rapids) for, so I pursued it honestly and trusted in my faith and my family that if it was meant to be, it would happen,” said Hinchey, the 2016 MLS Executive of the Year.
“When it did, I knew immediately it was the right move for me. USA Swimming is the best NGB in the Olympic family, and I’m honored to be part of it. I’m incredibly humbled by this opportunity.”
Walking in, Hinchey said he knows that Chuck is a very tough act to follow because of all that he and his team have done to raise swimming to unprecedented heights.
But as he did with the Rapids and every opportunity before that, Hinchey said he’s taking a learn and grow approach in his new role so he can continue to help USA Swimming grow as well.
“Chuck is a legend, and what he’s done is well-documented; he left an incredible legacy that is somewhat intimidating,” said Hinchey, who will swim at the Frances Thornton Memorial Galway Bay Swim July 22 in Galway, Ireland, before going to Worlds. “But I’m surrounded by amazing people at USA Swimming, especially Mike Unger, who I am blessed to partner together with and from whom I can listen and learn.
“I am ready to hit the road for Worlds, roll up my sleeves and depend upon my teammates at USA Swimming as I begin this next part of my life’s journey. This is a true blessing.”