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Best Practice Guidelines
The following Best Practice Guidelines are strongly recommended for all USA Swimming

1. Parents should be encouraged to appropriately support their children’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 parents (or legal 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 age 13 & Over, chaperones and/or team
managers would ideally stay in nearby rooms. When athletes are age 12 & 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 athlete’s parents (or legal guardian).

9. When only one athlete and one coach travel to a competition, at the competition the coach and
athlete should attempt to 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

12. Relationships of a peer-to-peer nature with any athletes should be avoided. 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

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.

16. Coaches should not engage in sexual intimacies with a former athlete for at least two years after
the cessation or termination of professional services.

Because sexual intimacies with a former athlete are frequently harmful to the athlete, and
because such intimacies undermine public confidence in the coaching profession and thereby
deter the public’s use of needed services, coaches should not engage in sexual intimacies with
former athletes even after a two-year interval except in the most unusual circumstances. The
coach who engages in such activity after the two years following cessation or termination of the
coach-athlete relationship bears the burden of demonstrating that there has been no exploitation,
in light of all relevant factors, including:
           1. The amount of time that has passed since the coach-athlete relationship terminated;
           2. The circumstances of termination;
           3. The athlete’s personal history;
           4. The athlete’s current mental status;
           5. The likelihood of adverse impact on the athlete and others; and
           6. Any statements or actions made by the coach during the course of the athlete-coach relationship                                                               suggesting or inviting the possibility of a post-termination sexual or romantic relationship with the                                                             athlete or coach.
           7. Both the athlete and the coach must be 18 years of age or older.

Updated: 8 December 2010