PHOENIX, Arizona, November 4. IN the November issue of Swimming World Magazine, CEO Brent Rutemiller addresses the democratic process that led to USA Swimming's increased athlete protection policies in this month's edition of A Voice for the Sport. The column is reprinted below.
It was 8:45 a.m. on a Saturday morning, Sept. 18, in Dallas, Texas when more than 1,200 people shuffled into a meeting room, appropriately named Reunion Hall, for the final session of USA Swimming's House of Delegates meeting.
The standing-room-only crowd had gathered for the final day of business to reunite its organization under a much-needed piece of legislation that would protect athletes from sexual abuse, and educate members and coaches on appropriate behaviors.
With every state in the nation represented, the democratic process "of the people, by the people, for the people" was about to be practiced. All the backroom agendas, all the cover-up talk, all the executive power become void when members vote on policy.
What took place over the next five hours can only be described as inspiring and rejuvenating.
Chuck Wielgus, the media-battered executive director of United States Swimming, gave his State of the Sport address in which he addressed the societal realities of sexual abuse and the challenges that USA Swimming is ready to meet. His message spoke of a sincere belief that USA Swimming is a model governing body for all Olympic sports within the United States and that it will overcome sexual abuse allegations as quickly as the legal process will allow the facts to come forward.
It was a difficult message, but one that had to be delivered.
Jim Wood, outgoing president of USA Swimming, stressed the importance of the day in a letter that stated, "There is nothing more important to USA Swimming than the safety and well-being of its athletes, and this convention is your opportunity to help us expand and augment our existing safeguards and input new programming that will help keep our sport as safe and healthy as it can be."
Bruce Stratton, the newly-elected president of USA Swimming, took center stage and began the process of dissecting 188 lines of text outlining and revising policies for Code of Conduct, Dispositions, Emergency Hearings, Privileges and Responsibilities of Membership, Athlete Protection Policies, Sexual Misconduct Reporting Requirements, Confidentiality and Conditions of Membership. Many of these policies—through research, task forces, meetings and discussions—were 12 months in the making.
The proposed Athlete Protection legislation was read in blocks. Each line item within a block was open for public comment. If a line item had no comment, it was approved by consensus. Commented legislative items were then open for discussion, debate and, ultimately, a separate vote.
Three public microphones were positioned throughout the room and open for any person to comment. A slow parade of voices debated every item from sentence structure to word definition until all ambiguity was stricken and replaced with meaningful, practical, enforceable policy words.
You would think that a thousand wordsmiths and editors in one room would bring the process to a screeching halt—but it did the opposite. It energized the members and gave everyone a voice. In the end, there were many winners: the athletes, the members, the coaches and USA Swimming.
The result was an Athlete Protection Policy that everyone agreed upon—one that will set the course for a safer USA Swimming environment.
Now that the wheels of democracy have completed their revolution, may the wheels of justice start turning.
What happened that day in Reunion Hall will be more impactful to USA Swimming through the years than any gold medal ever won.
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November 2010 Issue
Contents of The November issue:
7 RCP TIBURON MILE AND SPRINT CLASSIC by Jason Marsteller
8 LEAVING A LEGACY by John Lohn
In 1999, Bob Placak founded the RCP Tiburon Mile—an event that is now considered
one of the premier open water events in the world.
10 MAKING THEIR MARK by Jason Marsteller
Kristian Ipsen and Kassidy Cook were honored as NISCA's 2010 High School Divers of the Year.
13 EXPERIENCE THE JOY IN ST. CROIX by Emily Sampl
Swimming in the St. Croix Coral Reef Swim Race is as close to paradise as anything can get.
6 A VOICE for the SPORT
30 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
41 FOR THE RECORD
46 PARTING SHOT
In the Swimming Technique portion of the magazine you will find the following:
22 Q&A WITH COACH DAVE FERRIS, LONG ISLAND AQUATIC CLUB by Michael J. Stott
24 HOW THEY TRAIN: Jack Wagner by Michael J. Stott
25 LOOKING FOR THE RIGHT FIT by Michael J. Stott
There are many resources available to high school recruits as they try to decide which college is best for them.
28 THE SCIENCE OF PERFORMANCE: Resistance Training by G. John Mullen
Resistance training should be incorporated into any swimming program to enhance results.
In the SWIM portion of the magazine you will find the following:
17 THE POOL'S EDGE: Old Drill, New Twist by Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen
Here are some suggestions on how you can add a modern twist to some of your old favorite drills.
18 WORKOUT CARD: Training with AquaFit Masters (East Meadow, N.Y.) by Lisa Baumann
20 LANE LEADERS: Jackie Marr by Emily Sampl
In the Junior Swimmer portion of the magazine you will find the following:
34 AMERICAN RELAY by Judy Jacob
35 TYR AGE GROUP SWIMMER OF THE MONTH:
Katie Ladecky, Curl-Burke Swim Club (Maryland)
36 GOLDMINDS: The Engagement Factor by Wayne Goldsmith
The "Engagement Factor" is the essential element in designing training sets and swimming workouts.
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