Eva was at the most recent Senate hearing where leaders from USA Weightlifting, U.S. Figure Skating, USA Swimming, and USA Bobsled and Skeleton. Those of us advocating for change have put a lot of hope in the hearings, but there is a growing divide between the rhetorical bluster of those attending and what actually happens.
in what seems like a year ago, two high ranking USA Swimming staff members, Susan Woessner and Pat Hogan, resigned last Thursday.. Many saw this as a sign that new USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey is "cleaning house". If so, he's only started to clean one room of a mansion.
Yesterday, I spelled out a couple steps that anyone, anywhere in swimming could do to help change swimming as we know it.
Today I want to focus on the biggest reading audience of this blog, coaches. As a coach myself, I've been working hard to figure out what we can do to improve our sport break the cycle.
The first step for coaches is to admit that our culture, as it stands today, is not a good culture for athletes. A part of any solution going forward has to begin by acknowledging that we should look to athletes for leadership about how they would like coaches to be a part of their sport. Athletes must come first.
With that said, here are the start of some of the actions coaches can put pressure on USA Swimming to take.
1) Release individuals immediately from any confidentiality agreements, period. USA Swimming needs transparency and sunlight. This should include, but not be limited to, FAST, Sean Hutchison, Mark Schubert, and Everett Uchiyama. We cannot move forward with effective solutions, and the maze of confidentiality agreements is a huge barrier to true transparency within our governing body.
We need to demand this even if the response is that doing so will completely bankrupt USA Swimming. No organization is more important than the well-being of athletes in our sport.
2) USA Swimming must release the tens of thousands of pages of coach complaint files that they have. They are sitting on information that deserves a public airing and could potentially save many future athletes from abuse.
These suggestions are just a beginning of what coaches can use their power to demand. Make your demand public, or reach out directly to the people that are accountable to you within USA Swimming. Send your demand as a letter directly to USA Swimming Executive Director Tim Hinchey, or USA Swimming President Jim Sheehan.
In the coming days, I will be asking coaches to use their platforms to amplify this message and more to the power structure of USA Swimming.