USA Swimming President's Message


The “President’s Message” is a continuing effort on my part to keep the members of USA Swimming informed about current happenings in our sport and our organization. Please feel free to share the message with others.

One of USA Swimming’s best assets is its ongoing commitment to good business planning.  We have a “Quad Plan” that is annually reviewed and modified.  An essential component of this Quad Plan is a four-year financial plan, which includes an operating budget that is annually approved by both the Board of Directors and the House of Delegates.

As part of our 2016 Quad Plan, the USA Swimming Board of Directors has approved raising the annual dues for athlete and non-athlete members from the $1/year annual increase that is currently in effect through 2014 to an annual increase of $2/year effective with the 2015 membership year.  On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to share with you why we believe this dues increase is important.  

Our membership dues provide approximately 60% of USA Swimming’s annual operating budget.  These funds have helped to fuel our growth and pushed forward our ongoing mission to: Build the Base; Promote the Sport; and Achieve Sustained Competitive Success.  We believe this modest increase is important to continue expanding on these objectives.

The public profile and stature of our sport has never been higher, and USA Swimming is recognized as among the flagships within the U.S. Olympic Committee’s family of 45 national governing bodies (NGBs).  USOC research from 2012 shows swimming is the #1 sport in Olympic fan interest in the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

Achieving this status did not come easily or quickly, but rather is the result of the incredible performance results and public personalities of our National Team athletes, including the great Michael Phelps, coupled with our NGB creating programs and platforms to grow and promote the sport.  The convergence of these athlete performances with our membership programs and marketing platforms have elevated swimming to the highest level of recognition, both in the United States and internationally.

USA swimming provides a long list of programs, services and opportunities for its members.  Following are a few highlights that we have been able to accomplish with support from membership dues.

Some Things We've Accomplished

Build the Base

  • Field services staff have visited and provided onsite services to more than 2,000 clubs over the past 5 years.
  • Our Facilities Development Department has consulted on 564 new pool projects, assisted with 243 renovations, and played a key role in the completion of 82 new aquatic facilities since 2005.
  • 1,730 clubs have participated in the Club Leadership/Business Management School since 2009.
  • Through the Club Excellence Program, grants totaling $3.2 million have been awarded to 1,002 clubs over the past 10 years.
  • Regional coaching clinics have served 5,800 coaches and 42 LSCs since 2008.

Promote the Sport

  • The Deck Pass app is among the most successful sports apps with more than 125,000 users.
  • Splash Magazine is now distributed to more than 250,000 member homes; and the digital version has more than 25,000 readers per issue.
  • All major domestic and international events are now televised or webcast.
  • USA Swimming’s Times Database Program is now contracted by both the NCAA and FINA to handle meet entries for championship events.  There are more than 70 million times in the database that assist in the analysis of performance trends in the sport.  Our SWIMS database powers Top Times reports, LSC records, online meet entries and much more.
  • The U.S. Olympic Team Trials was recently selected as one of the top four sporting events of 2012.  

Achieve Sustained Competitive Success

  • More than $20 million in direct athlete assistance has been awarded to National Team athletes over the past 10 years, helping to create opportunities for athletes to stay in the sport longer.  This has led to improved performances and given older and experienced athletes the opportunity to mentor and serve as role models for countless younger swimmers.
  • More than $3 million has been awarded to coaches over the past 10 years in recognition for the performance of their athletes at the Olympic Games and other major competitions.
  • USA Swimming’s “Athlete Partnership Program” has become a model for other NGBs.
  • USA Swimming has been significantly increasing its support for the Junior Team and Open Water programs.

In addition to these highlights, over the past three years USA Swimming has put together a comprehensive Safe Sport Program that has put our NGB in the forefront of the movement for youth-serving organizations to better protect all of its athlete members.  

The current dues program of increasing $1/year terminates with the 2014 membership year.  Your Board of Directors has approved a plan to continue the annual dues increase for another 10 years starting in 2015, and is proposing a dues increase of $2/year.  This amounts to an approximate average annual increase of only 3.5% and is in line with current inflationary trends.  We believe this ongoing dues increase is important for the following reasons:

  1. We want to continue providing and expanding the programs and services that helped USA Swimming achieve its stature and serve its members.  These programs and services will continue to be subject to an annual review process.
  2. We recognize that in every business enterprise there is a need to keep up with inflationary costs, and having a long-term dues program in place ensures continuity and organizational stability.
  3. We want to continue expanding USA Swimming’s impact and reach.  We are responsible for growing the sport of swimming in this country and there is a long list of new programs, platforms and services that USA Swimming can consider providing in the future.

Looking to the Future

Following is a list of programs that are currently on our “drawing board” for the future, but not included in our current quad business plan due to lack of available funding.  These and other new programs will be evaluated and considered for inclusion into USA Swimming’s future business plan via the annual budgeting process.  This process provides many opportunities for member input as new programs are developed, and ultimately the approval of the Board of Directors and the House of Delegates is required.  If you would like to suggest other programs to be added to the drawing board, please submit your suggestions

Build the Base

  • Create a USA Swimming “Leadership Program” to develop the next generation of volunteer and staff leaders.
  • Find additional ways to continue growing participation in existing Club Development Division programs and services.
  • Invest in new recruitment and training programs for coaches and officials working with clubs that are predominantly Hispanic and African-American athletes.
  • Develop new on-line training and education opportunities for coaches, officials and club administrators.
  • Establish and provide the resources for a national online membership registration system.
  • Further develop and expand matching grant programs to clubs seeking to undertake a feasibility study to construct a new facility and provide some matching funds to refurbish older or unused facilities in order to produce more “water time” for member clubs.
  • Study the possibilities to establish medical and retirements benefits for club coaches.
  • Fund “test kitchen” swim teams that serve under-represented populations to find new business models that work.
  • Create and promote “bridge” programs to introduce recreational swimmers to the fun of competition.

Promote the Sport

  • Congratulate Make a Splash learn-to-swim kids who successfully complete a series of classes with a special “Welcome to USA Swimming” package.
  • Reach every member every year with a special “Welcome to USA Swimming” package outlining benefits, providing coupons, etc.
  • Expand prize money and promotional efforts for Grand Prix meets.
  • Continue to grow the SwimToday program into a major promotional campaign to increase participation at all levels.
  • Geo-target media and social media campaigns to reach multi-cultural markets.
  • Produce educational workshops and marketing materials to empower clubs at their local level.
  • Expand investments in website and new technologies.
  • Expand social media communications and marketing initiatives to better reach a wider audience.
  • Produce and place media advertisements promoting the sport at local and national levels.

Achieve Sustained International Success

  • Increase investment in the Athlete Partnership Program.
  • Establish programs to help retiring National Team athletes transition into the workplace.Invest in new programs that provide opportunities for high performance training for talented junior-level Hispanics and African-Americans athletes.
  • Expand the coach mentoring program … establish “Coach U”.
  • Enhance coach mentoring at the LSC level.
  • Collaborate with academic or other qualified entities on investing in scientific research that can directly help swimming.


  • Keep up with rising insurance premiums.
  • Add resources to expedite complaint investigations and speed-up adjudication processes for the Safe Sport program.

As you read through this list of prospective programming ideas, I hope you became as excited as I am about how USA Swimming can continue to increase its impact in the future.  The USA Swimming Board of Directors has overwhelmingly endorsed the proposal for a $2/year dues increase for athlete and non-athlete members to begin effective with the 2015 membership year, and we now ask the House of Delegates to join us in approving this proposal at the U.S. Aquatic Sports Convention in September.

I feel that it is important to share information about the proposed dues increase well in advance of the September convention so that people would have the opportunity to consider and comment on the proposal.  I welcome your input and can be reached at:

Bruce Stratton
USA Swimming President