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:
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