by Irvin Muchnick and Tim Joyce
At the weekend Aquatic Sports Convention, the USA Swimming House of Delegates did pass a new ban on sexual relationships between coaches and athletes of all ages. We had reported the showdown over this vote and noted that the delegates were being asked to reverse their longstanding opposition to such measures.
The change in the voting dynamic sprang from two sources: the storm clouds hovering over swimming with an impending investigation by Congress of sex abuse in the sport, and money. Swimming World pointed out that if the legislation, known as R-12, had not passed, “it would have led to a showdown with the [United States Olympic Committee] regarding high performance funding as well as potential issues with USA Swimming continuing to be certified as the national governing body for the sport of swimming.” Sources say that, immediately, up to $4 million was at stake..
Were Congressman George Miller and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce staff impressed? We’ll soon know more, but there’s no reason not to welcome a long-overdue measure to bring swimming, on paper, up to standard with other USOC sports bodies. In our perspective of the generation-long culture of abuse and cover-up in swimming, there is still the matter of truth and reconciliation for past and ongoing crimes, as well as holding the present USA Swimming executive and board leadership accountable for these conditions and figuring out where the structure has failed America’s kid swimmers.
Speaking of the leadership, board chair Bruce Stratton called a membership dues increase, also passed at the convention, the most important deliberation of the weekend. We have to agree with Stratton: he, CEO Chuck Wielgus and their cronies need all the help they can get in fortifying the organization’s legal defense funds.