USA Swimming Pro Swimming Task Force Proposal Moving Forward -- May 3, 2010

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, May 3. AS Swimming World has covered in the past few months, USA Swimming president Jim Wood put together a Professional Swimming Task Force. The panel put forth a new proposal to the USA Swimming Board, and that proposal has been approved. The next step is to work the proposal into the USA Swimming budget, which will be reviewed by the executive committee in August and the House of Delegates in September.

"This has been a team effort by athletes, coaches, volunteers and USA Swimming staff to create an ambitious plan that will lead to continued international swimming success," panel co-chair Trent Staley told Swimming World. "I am very thankful for the approval of the Board but know that there is plenty of work still to be done this summer."

The plan identifies three objectives to support Pro and Post Graduate swimmers:

1. Increase Funding Opportunities
2. Deliver Valuable services
3. Create New Revenue Opportunities

Different parts of each of these objectives will be phased in in three parts in September 2010, January 2011 and at some point in 2013.

To be part of these changes, swimmers will be required to sign an Athlete Partnership Agreement (APA). The APA would require participating athletes to compete at the following events on an annual basis:

Pool Athletes
o ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships
o AT&T Short Course National Championships
o Minimum of three Grand Prix Series meets
Open Water Athletes
o Open Water 10K National Championships
o Minimum of three FINA 10K Open Water World Cup Competitions

Additionally, the APA requires participating athletes to:

o Maintain current USA Swimming membership
o Comply with FINA, IOC, WADA, USADA Doping Control Program requirements, deadlines, and whereabouts updates
o Comply with deadlines from NT staff on forms, information requests, etc.
o Attend Professional Swimming Orientation Camp in first year eligible

Along with agreeing to the following:

o Grant USA Swimming name and image to promote USA Swimming programs and events (ex. Make a Splash, Splash Bash, IMX, coaches' training videos, educational materials, etc.) and the sport of swimming
o Up to two (2) appearances per year on behalf of USA Swimming or the USA Swimming Foundation (ex. autograph signings at events, donor "meet and greets," sponsor meetings, fundraisers, etc.)
o Autograph 25 items for USA Swimming for thank you gifts, charity auctions, etc.
o Incorporate messages about growing the sport in media appearances
o Promote USA Swimming on the same level as athlete's corporate partners
o Be available to speak to the media at National and International competitions

USA Swimming will be providing various levels of support to participating athletes, including:

o Increase annual financial support from $21k to $50k
o Increase the number of athletes to receive this support from 40 to 56.
o Increase travel reimbursement per national event per athlete from $312 to $414
o Increase athlete investment plan grant funds available from $94,100 to $100k
o Drastically increase Grand Prix prize money from $20k to $75k
o Create prize money for Nationals in long course, short course and open water from $0 to $150k, $75k and $10k respectively

More support systems would also implement a whole host of services for participating athletes:
o Professional Swimming Orientation Camp – A camp in the Fall to kick off the Athlete Partnership Plan
o Speaker's Network – partner with the USOC to promote speaking opportunities for athletes.
o Financial Consulting Services – individual financial counseling and referrals.
o Legal Fund - help athletes with contracts related to sponsorships and marketing related to their swimming career.
o Image Management – training on public speaking, media and management of image.
o Sponsor Networking Opportunities – social functions at events to allow interaction with potential sponsors.
o National Team Athlete Web Portal – online resource for NT communication, grant and funding opportunities, alumni networking, etc.

Finally, USA Swimming will work towards creating new revenue opportunities for participating athletes:
o Equipment and Apparel Advertising
Propose rulebook changes to allow the following:
• 2 sponsor logo locations on suits (20 sq cm each)
• 2 sponsor logo locations on caps (20 sq cm each)
• 2 sponsor logo locations on goggles (6 sq cm each)
• 2 sponsor logo locations on warm-ups
• Body art or temporary tattoos that are advertisements or logos will not be permitted

o Athlete Integration in Corporate Opportunities
Through this plan, the Business Development Division of USA Swimming will create the following opportunities for athletes:
• A more concerted effort to incorporate athletes into sponsor deals.
• A greater focus on companies that can provide benefits to athletes (eg. career planning, online universities, food, etc.).
• Incentive bonus for athletes if they bring a successful corporate partnership to USA Swimming (note: this benefit open to all NT athletes).
• A concerted effort to create sponsor "perks" for athletes (ex. hotel discounts, cell phone service discounts, etc.).
• Merchandise opportunities TBD

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May 4, 2010 Wow, if all goes according to plan (and our yearly fees don't go from $52 to $102) this could make the 2016 Olympics Team amazing. Most of the Olympic Team not having to scrape by and focus solely on training, competing and promoting the sport? This is a huge commitment to the top, one can only hope that everyone will reap the benefits of this, like us grassroots level programs.
Submitted by: HC_HLA
May 5, 2010 More money brings more problems. I have no desire to see swimmers turn into the egotistical jerks that populate USA Track. What happened to the intrinsic reward of making an Olympic team? I'm sick of seeing the focus of swimming turn to money while those in charge ignore the real problems that are currently plaguing swimming. At the very least, there should be equally as many requirements about volunteer appearances, participation in clinics, and participation in local meets in order to get that money. Otherwise, the heart of USA Swimming; it's agegroup swimmers, get nothing out of this deal except a bigger registration fee.
Submitted by: Retired
May 5, 2010 This is awfully ambitious, and who is it going to be at the expense of? Is USA-Swimming going to go out and raise the money through sponsorship, or will they do what they do best, pass on the cost to the little guys? How much is the annual membership for swimmers and clubs going to increase this time? What about accountability for the last membership cost increase? I personally haven't seen anything change in USA-Swimming since the reg fee went up about 7 years ago except that it costs our swimmers more. USA-Swimming is run by an egotistical group of individuals that look out solely for their own self-interest, and maybe the interest of the national team at best.
Submitted by: fl_coach
May 5, 2010 Members of the panel that came up with this proposal have heard some of your issues. They wanted me to relay a few things.

They say that all of these changes actually work under the current budget. Fees will not need to be increased to fund it.

Additionally, they say that athletes that opt in for this through the APA will have some required outreach work as well.

The points we provided in this article are actually a synopsis of nearly 50 pages of content. So, we apologize if not every bit of information in the proposal is available in this article.
Submitted by: Jason Marsteller
May 5, 2010 More money, more problems? You sound like a hip hop artist. Don't know about you, but more money would not bring me more problems. Unless those problems are current bills being paid and past school loans disappearing quicker and less stress from worrying about those two things. Bring on the problems!

This is a real negative way to think about it 'retired', don't assume the worst in people, especially swimmers. I don't know about you but I have a hard time believing 50K is going to change someone like Lochte, Peirsol, Kukors, Sutton, etc.

Its not all about the money, but you can't pursue your dreams of making the Olympic Team on zero income. To think that it is not still intrinsically motivated is ridiculous because there are several ways to make more than 50K that are way easier than this. I'm sorry, you can't argue with that.

Furthermore, if they are representing their country, putting there time and effort into it, wouldn't it be nice to not have to worry about having a 1st-2nd-3rd job? Its basic compensation for the time and effort and USA Swimming is in a position to better help its representatives at the International level. These swimmers are also the face of the sport, the ones that young swimmers see on TV and are motivated by. You can't expect them to train, travel, compete for free? Because I have never seen a team, traveled to hotel, or competed at a meet that did not have a feel attached to it.

And those requirements you speak of are laid out in this article, granted there could be a few more and the likelihood of a NT member coming to Lincoln, NE to swim in our November meet is probably not going to happen. But it is a start and it is good attempt in my opinion.

Lastly, I don't think it is the same 6-12 people working on all the problems that are effecting USA Swimming. Those in charge may have ignored problems and are dealing with them now. I keep coming back to this: If we expect people to give up years of their life to our sport and our organization they need to be compensated for it. 21K a year is not enough to cover practice fees, travel fees, meet fees, food, local transportation...
Submitted by: HC_HLA
May 29, 2010 any idea how paying professional athletes impacts USAS tax status?
Submitted by: List-1
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