Do We Stuffy Americans Have it All Wrong About Deck Changing?

Commentary by Steven Selthoffer
Swimming World's European Correspondent

BONN, Germany, September 14. THE Europeans think the Americans are nuts.

Stopping a deck change? It's pleasant. It's necessary. It's delightful. This is Europe.
Sometimes, the Dutch, Swedes, Finns and other northern countries don't even use a locker room!

What about the rest of the world? Are they going to fine/arrest/punish foreign athletes for doing a deck change who are training in the USA? Or other adults at the pool area not connected to the meets or practice while it goes on? What about enforcement at USA Swimming meets at U.S. military bases abroad?

What about children? Parents who have to deal with messy diapers or messy swimsuits and there is no convenient place to change them around? Can we now criminalize them too? For exposing the young children to public view? Or potential pornographic abuse? Virtually everyone has a camera in their smartphones.

This may shock USA Swimming, but, often, on any hot day, young children go naked in the pools, rivers and beaches and parks in the USA and Europe too.

And they're worried about a deck change?

Handling issues like this, without a global perspective, or even asking European federations results in a very negative backlash and is what gives the USA a PR black eye. It's not just a USA Swimming issue.

You should see the hundreds of public and country club pools around an “international” city like Washington D.C. on any hot July day. The rule will be totally unenforceable and no lifeguard or swim coach or pool manager is going to want to be involved in any number of lengthy court cases either trying to enforce it, or for failing to enforce it.

Let's set the facts straight. There has never been any protest, any major offense, any court case, any complaint against anyone (or a European or foreign swimmer) that I am aware of because of a deck change.

Trying to legitimize the issue, by citing an “offended coach” in one case from 1986 is ridiculous.

Americans need to lighten up.

I can't wait to see what parents will be criminalized for with young children running around naked at USA Swimming meets, pools, events, etc., or changing their diapers in the background away from the action. It's all in the same bucket.

The deck change proposal is totally ridiculous. They need to lighten up.

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