It’s no secret that this year hasn’t been the best for USA Swimming, as a scandal earlier this year brought to light serious sexual abuse that had been occurring between USA Swimming employees and volunteers and swimmers. As a result, updated Athlete Protection Policies were passed on Saturday at the U.S. Aquatic Sports Convention.
Among the new Policies are:
- Penalty changes for infractions.
- Alterations in reporting structures to protect athletes.
- New background checking rules/regulations that extend to volunteers as well as coaches. (Note: USA Swimming coaches have been background checked for many years; it has been peripheral persons — assistants, volunteers — that have slipped through the cracks recently.)
- Timely systems for dealing with any reports.
The new background checking procedures for USA Swimming will result in upwards of 40,000 more background checks taking place than have currently been happening. USA Swimming plans that the upshot of the institution of these new background checks will be a significant reduction in the number of abuse cases that have plagued the sport.
Though this is a terrific step and we applaud USA Swimming for dealing with the crisis, it’s still imperative for parents and guardians of swimmers to ask the question about background checks for their own edification as well as their children’s protection.