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USA Swimming Provides Info on How the Dues Increase Will Be Spent -- September 19, 2002

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Sept. 19. USA Swimming has provided information on how the $4 million dues increase approved by the House of Delegates at last week's USA-S annual convention in Dallas will be spent.

The delegates overwhelmingly approved a dues increase of $15, bringing next year's dues to $40 for most members. In addition, delegates approved further increases of $1/year for each of the next ten years, which would bring in an additional $250,000 per year for the coffers in Colorado Springs. Overall, the increase comes to an estimated $71.5 million over the next 11 years.

We reported the dues increase from the convention as follows: "The $15 dues increase requested by USA-S Executive Director Chuck Wielgus was approved by a solid margin, despite the fact that neither the professional staff nor the elected leadership could, or would, explain what the money would be used for, except for 25 percent -- about $1 million -- that has been earmarked for increasing the presence of swimming on television. When Wielgus first floated the dues increase proposal, all of the funds were to have been earmarked for that purpose."

Smith-Pollaro acknowledges that Wielgus' initial intent was to use the money to increase the exposure of sswimming on television. A SwimInfo online poll found support for that use at about 56 percent. After hearing some feedback from the field, Smith-Pollaro reports, the proposal was changed to the following:

That USA Swimming member dues be raised, effective for the 2004 membership year that begins on September 1, 2003, with at least 25% of the revenues generated from this increase dedicated to each of the following three areas:
1.) Incremental programs and services for member clubs.
B.) Incremental resources to help member clubs gain greater access to existing facilities, upgrade existing facilities, and to foster the development of new facilities.
C.) Enhanced promotion of swimming, to include more and better television coverage that is consistent
with an approved long-term strategic marketing plan for USA Swimming.

The draft proposal goes on: "The remaining 25% could be put back into each of these three areas listed above (which accounts for 75%), or can be used in other ways deemed necessary by [a to-be-appointed] task force.

Noting the lack of specifics, Smith-Pollaro says: "The specifics are not yet named because Chuck felt it necessary to have those decisions made by a group
representative of our entire organization (coaches, clubs, elite athletes, club swimmers, parents, officials, staff, etc.). Our new president, Ron Van Pool, will appoint this task force."

She did not explain why the task force was not asked to prioritize spending for the entire increase.

Further information maay be found on the USA Swimming web site, www.usa-swimming.org