Athlete Protection Policies & Rules

Protecting our young athletes is all of our responsibility, as coaches, volunteers and parents. In order to create a positive experience and a safe environment for athletes, USA Swimming's Code of Conduct provides specific, mandatory policies that must be followed at all levels of the organization. Policies are enforceable by the National Board of Review process. Consequences for breaking a policy include but are not limited to, revocation of membership.

Also included are Best Practice Guidelines. These guidelines are best practice recommendations for adult-athlete interaction to best foster healthy boundaries. Guidelines are designed to help avoid or identify potentially inappropriate situations. 

Code of conduct

USA Swimming implemented a Code of Conduct in the late 1990s. Any member or prospective member of USA Swimming may be denied membership, censured, placed on probation, suspended for a definite or indefinite period of time with or without terms of probation, fined or expelled from USA Swimming if such member violates the provisions of the USA Swimming Code of Conduct. Sections applying specifically to Safe Sport are below

 

304.3

The following shall be considered violations of the USA Swimming Code of Conduct: 

.4 Violation of any of the Athlete Protection Policies set forth in Article 305 

.5 Violation of any of the Sexual Misconduct Reporting Requirements set forth in Article 306. 

.6 Conviction of, imposition of a deferred sentence for, or any plea of guilty or no contest at any time, past or present, or the existence of any pending charges, for (i) any felony, (ii) any offense involving use, possession, distribution or intent to distribute illegal drugs or sub-stances, (iii) any crime involving sexual misconduct, or (iv) any criminal offense against a minor. 

.7 Bullying is prohibited. For the purposes of the Code of Conduct, the term “Bullying” shall mean, regardless of when or where it may occur, the severe or repeated use by one or more USA Swimming members (“Members”) of an oral, written, electronic or other technological expression, image, sound, data or intelligence of any nature (regardless of the method of transmission), or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at any other Member that to a reasonably objective person has the effect of: (i) causing physical or emotional harm to the other Member or damage to the other Member’s property; (ii) placing the other Member in reasonable fear of harm to himself/herself or of damage to his/her property; (iii) creating a hostile environment for the other Member at any USA Swimming activity; (iv) infringing on the rights of the other Member at any USA Swimming activity; or (v) materially and substantially disrupting the training process or the orderly operation of any USA Swimming activity (which for the purposes of this section shall include, without limitation, practices, workouts and other events of a member club or LSC). Allegations of Bullying of an athlete by a coach shall be investigated under 304.3.13. 

.8   A    Any inappropriate sexual conduct or advance, or other inappropriate oral, written, visual,  or physical conduct of a sexual nature directed towards an athlete by (i) a coach member or other non-athlete member, or (ii) any other adult participating in any capacity whatsoever in the activities of USA Swimming (whether such adult is a member or not).       

B     Any act of sexual harassment, including without limitation unwelcome sexual advances,  requests for sexual favors, and other inappropriate oral, written, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature in connection with or incidental to a USA Swimming-related activity by any person participating in the affairs or activities of USA Swimming (whether such person is a member or not) directed toward any member or other person participating in the affairs or activities of USA Swimming. 

.9 The sale or distribution of illegal drugs or the illegal sale or distribution of any substance  listed on FINA's recognized list of banned substances. 

.10 The use of illegal drugs in the presence of an athlete, by a coach, official, trainer, or a person  who, in the context of swimming, is in a position of authority over, that athlete. 

.11 The providing of alcohol to an athlete by a coach, official, trainer, manager or any other person where the athlete is under the legal age allowed to consume or purchase alcohol in the  state where the alcohol is provided. 

.12 The abuse of alcohol in the presence of an athlete under the age of 18, by a coach, official,  trainer, or a person who, in the context of swimming, is in a position of authority over that  athlete. 

.13 Abuse 
A    Physical abuse of an athlete by any person who, in the context of swimming, is in a  position of authority over that athlete. “Physical abuse” is defined as a non-accidental  injury and/or an injury primarily caused by the gross negligence on the part of the person  in a position of authority over the athlete.      

B   Bullying of an athlete by a coach member or other non-athlete member who is in a position  of authority over that athlete. 

 

ARTICLE 305
Athlete protection policies

 

The following policies related to Athlete Protection are mandatory components of the USA Swimming Code of Conduct:

.1 Inappropriate touching between an athlete and an adult non-athlete member or Participating Non-Member (as defined in 401.1) is prohibited, including, but not limited to, excessive touching, hugging, kissing, sexually oriented behavior, sexually stimulating or otherwise inappropriate games, and having an athlete sit on a non-family member adult’s lap.

.2 Any rubdown or massage performed on an athlete by any adult member or Participating Non-Member, excluding the spouse, parent, guardian, sibling, or personal assistant of such athlete, is prohibited unless such adult is a licensed massage therapist or other certified professional. Any rubdown or massage performed at a swim venue by a licensed professional must be conducted in open/public locations and must never be done with only the athlete and licensed massage therapist in the room. Even if a coach is a licensed massage therapist, the coach shall not perform a rubdown or massage of an athlete under any circumstances.

.3 Use of audio or visual recording devices, including a cell phone camera, is not allowed in changing areas, rest rooms or locker rooms.

.4 Employees and volunteers of USA Swimming, LSCs and member clubs who interact directly and frequently with athletes as a regular part of their duties and individuals with any ownership interest in a member club must be non-athlete members of USA Swimming and satisfactorily complete criminal background checks as required by USA Swimming. This does not apply to volunteers such as timers, marshals, computer operators, etc. who only have limited contact with athletes during a meet.



.5 Travel

.1 Regardless of gender, a coach shall not share a hotel room or other sleeping arrangement with an athlete unless the coach is the parent, guardian, sibling, or spouse of that particular athlete.

.2 Team managers and chaperones must be members of USA Swimming and have successfully passed a USA Swimming-required criminal background check.

.3 When only one athlete and one coach travel to a competition, the athlete must have his/her parent's (or legal guardian’s) written permission in advance to travel alone with the coach.

.4 Clubs and LSCs shall develop their own travel policies. USA Swimming will provide a model club travel policy as an example. Club travel policies must be signed and agreed to by all athletes, parents, coaches and other adults traveling with the club.

 

.6 Clubs shall establish their own action plans for implementing USA Swimming’s anti-bullying  policy. USA Swimming shall provide a model plan as an example which shall serve as the default  for any club that fails to establish its own plan. Club anti-bullying plans must be reviewed and  agreed to annually by all athletes, parents, coaches and other non-athlete members of the club.
 

.7 Clubs shall establish their own electronic communication/social media policy. USA Swimming shall provide a model policy as an example, which shall serve as the default for any club that fails to establish its own policy. Club electronic communication policies should be reviewed and  agreed to annually by all athletes, parents, coaches and other non-athlete members of the club.

Mandatory Reporting Rule

ARTICLE 306
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.