“Safety and security don’t just happen; they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.” Nelson Mandela
USA Swimming is committed to fostering a fun, healthy, and safe sport environment for all its members. We all must recognize that the safety of swimmers lies with all those involved in the sport and is not the sole responsibility of any one person at the club, LSC, or national level. This means that everyone—national office, coaches, officials, parents, and athletes—is essential to creating a culture where all forms of misconduct are intolerable and eliminated as soon as possible.
The Safe Sport program has a wealth of resources, policies, best practices, tools, and procedures to help empower you to create and maintain a healthy and safe environment for your athletes. The program follows six guiding principles:
1. USA Swimming believes that every member should have a safe, healthy, and fun sport environment.
2. USA Swimming believes that every young person should be protected from abuse and safe from harm.
3. USA Swimming believes that all non-athlete members share a collective responsibility to protect our membership.
4. USA Swimming will make available training for all members to increase awareness and understanding of athlete protection policies and best practices. USA Swimming will provide a process for members to recognize and respond to any Safe Sport issues that arise.
5. USA Swimming will provide resources, information, and guidance on Safe Sport related issues to all members, including coaches, parents, and athletes.
6. USA Swimming will treat all allegations of abuse or concerns regarding athlete safety seriously and will respond appropriately and as prescribed by USA Swimming Rules and Regulations.
USA Swimming Best Practice Guidelines
1. Parents should be encouraged to appropriately support their child’s swimming experience.
2. All swimming practices should be open to observation by parents.
3. Two-deep leadership: One coach member and at least one other adult who is not in the water should be present at all practices and other sanctioned club activities whenever at least one athlete is present. Clubs and coaches should evaluate their seasonal plans and map out how to best accomplish this strongly recommended guideline.
4. Open and observable environment: An open and observable environment should be maintained for all interactions between adults and athletes. Private, or one-on-one situations, should be avoided unless they are open and observable. Common sense should be used to move a meeting to an open and observable location if the meeting inadvertently begins in private.
5. Coaches should not invite or have an athlete(s) to their home without the permission of the athlete’s guardian.
6. During team travel, when doing room checks, attending team meetings, and/or other activities, two-deep leadership and open and observable environments should be maintained.
7. Athletes should not ride in a coach’s vehicle without another adult present who is the same gender as the athlete, unless prior parental permission is obtained.
8. During overnight team travel, if athletes are paired with other athletes, they shall be of the same gender and should be a similar age. Where athletes are ages 13 and over, chaperones and/or team managers would ideally stay in nearby rooms. When athletes are age 12 and under, chaperones and/or team managers may stay with athletes. Where chaperones/team managers are staying in a room with athletes, they should be the same gender as the athlete and written consent should be given by the athlete’s parents or legal guardians.
9. When only one athlete and one coach travel to a competition, the coach and athlete should establish a “buddy” club to associate with during the competition and when away from the venue.
10. Communications between non-athlete adult members and athletes should not include any topic or language that is sexual or inappropriate in nature.
11. Non-athlete adult members should respect the privacy of athletes in situations such as changing of clothes, showering, etc. Non-athlete adult members should protect their own privacy in similar situations.
12. Relationships of a peer-to-peer nature with any athletes should be avoided by adults. For example, coaches should avoid sharing their own personal problems with athletes.
13. Coaches and other non-athlete adult members should avoid horseplay and roughhousing with athletes.
14. When a coach touches an athlete as part of instruction, the coach should do so in direct view of others and inform the athlete of what he/she is doing prior to the initial contact. Touching athletes should be minimized outside the boundaries of what is considered normal instruction. Appropriate interaction would include high fives, fist bumps, side-to-side hugs, and handshakes.
15. Coaches should not initiate contact with or accept supervisory responsibility for athletes outside club programs and activities
USA Swimming is committed to fostering a fun, healthy and safe environment for all of its members. For that reason, there is a detailed Code of Conduct in place. The rules, policies, reporting structure, education and tools are intended to serve the membership to help maintain a safe environment.
Ohio Department of Health Video
Electronic Communication Policy (pdf)Download
Media Release (docx)Download
Action Plan to Address Bullying (pdf)Download
Lindsay's Law Handout (pdf)Download
Lindsay's Law Signature Form (pdf)Download
Parent Code of Conduct (pdf)Download
Athlete Code of Conduct (pdf)Download
Coach Code of Conduct (pdf)Download
WHERE TO START WITH MY CONCERN
When making the decision to report a concern you have, it can often feel intimidating and overwhelming. Please use these guidelines to help you on the first step “Where do I report?” Please use the provided links which will additionally help you get in touch with the appropriate people.
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. If you are not sure who to contact with a concern please contact Safe Sport Staff at the National Office and we will be sure to talk through your concern, answer your questions and connect you with the correct people.
If you concern deals with any of the following:
If your concern deals with any of the following:
Please contact Liz Hahn firstname.lastname@example.org at the National Office or complete the online reporting form.
If your concern deals with any of the following:
Please make a report through your Zone Board of Review by referencing our Zone Directors List
If your concern deals with any of the following:
Please make a report to your team. We have provided a proposed letter of correspondence to assist you in beginning this process.
MANDATORY REPORTING RULE
SEXUAL MISCONDUCT REPORTING REQUIREMENTS
.1 It is every member’s responsibility to promptly report any incident regarding sexual misconduct by a member as described in Article 304.3.8 to USA Swimming’s Director of Safe Sport. Reporting must occur when an individual has firsthand knowledge of misconduct or where specific and credible information has been received from a victim or knowledgeable third party. Various state laws may also require reporting to law enforcement or to a designated child protection agency.
.2 No member shall retaliate against any individual who has made a good faith report under 306.1.
.3 False reporting of sexual misconduct made in bad faith is prohibited.
.4 Neither civil nor criminal statutes of limitation apply to reports of cases of sexual abuse.”
USA Swimming is working to increase awareness and reduce the risk of abuse in swimming through its Safe Sport program. With all youth sports, creating a safe environment is the responsibility of all adults who work with kids.
Education is the most important tool for com batting misconduct. Look for resources that can help you understand how abuse occurs and what you can do about it. You should be able to recognize signs of grooming behavior and boundary violations and what to do when you suspect a child's safety is at risk.
CREATE HEALTHY BOUNDARIES
It's important to establish healthy boundaries between athletes and coaches and have clear expectations about the coach's role. A coach can often serve as a teacher, a mentor, or a role model for a young person. A coach is not an athlete's friend, peer, or romantic partner. Teams and youth sport organizations should spell out prohibited behaviors to ensure strong and safe boundaries between adults and athletes.
IDENTIFY AND ADDRESS HIGH RISK AREAS
For misconduct to take place, an offender needs privacy, access, and control. One way to reduce the risk for abuse is to design strategies for addressing these high-risk areas, which include travel, locker rooms, and electronic communications. Teams should adopt policies that spell out expectations and create boundaries .
If you recognize questionable behaviors, say something! Your youth sports organization should designate someone-a coach, the team administration, or a parent advocate-who is there to hear your concerns or take a report of inappropriate behavior. Make sure that everyone knows that person.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS!
Physical and sexual misconduct can be a hard topic for parents to talk about with their children. Having these conversations is extremely important in helping prevent your child from becoming a victim of abuse. Having ongoing and open conversations with children about their bodies and appropriate boundaries will make it easier for them to talk to you if anyone is making them feel uncomfortable.