June 16, 2019
A new USA Swimming Minor Athlete Abuse Prevention Policy (MAAPP) was issued on April 29, and takes effect on June 23. It applies to all USA Swimming teams, including FAST. The MAAPP and several helpful Q&A documents are available HERE on the USA Swimming website.
Many of the topics set out in the MAAPP are consistent with long-running FAST policies. These days, our most relevant policy information is kept up to date on the Parent Info page on our website (available HERE). In the event of a conflict between the MAAPP and the content on the Parent Info page, the MAAPP applies. We’ll work on updating our content over time to make sure that everything is consistent with the MAAPP and that we have links to the key USA Swimming policies.
1. Athlete Protection Training for Athletes 18 or Older – All USA-Swimming athlete members who are 18 or older must complete the online athlete protection training, available HERE by July 23. After that date, if you’re 18 or older, and you haven’t completed the training in the last year, you can’t come to practice or swim in meets. This is in addition to the requirement for non-athlete members (Coaches, Officials, Board Members) to also complete the athlete protection training each year. Swim meets routinely check the athlete protection status of non-athlete members who are present on deck at a meet using Deck Pass, and remove folks who are out of compliance. It’s pretty easy to check the entry list against the athlete protection list, and so we expect to see meets kick out athletes who aren’t in compliance with the athlete protection training standards. (Note: The athlete protection training requirement does not apply to Masters swimmers unless they hold dual athlete membership in USA Swimming, or serve in a non-athlete capacity with the team, e.g., as a Board Member.)
2. No One-on-One Electronic Communication Between Minor Athletes and Coaches – Coaches (and other applicable adults) can only communicate electronically with a minor athlete if the athlete’s parent or legal guardian is copied. This includes email, text, and private messages sent over social media platforms like Twitter, FaceBook, and Instagram, as well as private messages sent through TeamApp.
This has immediate implications for how we communicate as a team. It makes it really important that we have up-to-date parent emails logged in your profile on the team website (need help updating? click HERE for instructions). If a coach or other applicable adult receives an email or text message from a minor athlete, they cannot reply unless they copy the athlete’s parent or guardian.
We also have to change how we use TeamApp. Starting on Sunday, June 23, we will go through and remove any account registered in a minor athlete’s name from the FAST TeamApp application. All accounts must be registered in a parent or legal guardian’s name. If the parent wants to share their login with their minor athlete, that should be OK. But in cases where it appears that only the minor athlete has access to the account, we will promptly remove the account, and the parent will have to sign up again with TeamApp.
3. Locker Room Policy: “Applicable Adults” – We need to pay attention to situations where “applicable adults” have the potential to be alone in the changing rooms with minor athletes. Though there is some unavoidable overlap with the Masters and age group swimmers in the locker room, we don’t believe that the Masters are “applicable adults,” because they don’t have “authority over” our minor athletes, and because they aren’t “authorized to have regular contact” with our minor athletes – though they are swimming in the same pool, they are in different practice groups, doing different sets, and don’t mingle with the age group swimmers.
The situations where this will come up most frequently are those cases where athletes registered with USA Swimming are using the locker rooms at the same time as minor athletes, or during swim meets (all parent volunteers are “applicable adults” during the swim meet). We don’t have many over-18 athlete members, so we will monitor those situations on a case-by-case basis. With respect to swim meets, we have for a while now been posting signs on the changing rooms during the meets, and have been trying to keep adults out of the changing rooms during the meet. We’ll have to pay more attention to that as we go forward, and do our best to prevent unintentional infractions by those volunteers who are just looking for a bathroom.
4. Locker Room Policy: Recording Devices – Like most teams, FAST has long had a no cell phone/no recording device policy, though (also like most teams) we have been lax in enforcing. Starting immediately, we are asking that cell phones remain in bags when in the locker room, regardless of whether the phone is being used in any kind of recording mode. (Athletes can check their texts or social media accounts from the pool deck or, better yet, the stands.) We’ll post signs to remind folks, but we really need everyone’s help on this. If your swimmer has a phone or other recording device, remind them of the importance of keeping it in their bag when in the locker room. We’ll be reminding folks to put their phones away. In the event the we learn of anyone snapping pictures or capturing video in the locker rooms, there will be serious consequences up to and including removal from the team, depending on the circumstances.
* * *
We appreciate that this is a lot to digest. Teams all over the country are working through how this will apply to them, and USA Swimming is updating its Q&A documents on a regular basis to provide guidance. Please bear with us as we work to implement these changes to help bolster the protection for all of our minor athletes.