As the USA Swimming annual convention draws nearer, SwimSwam has been working with the USA Swimming board of directors and board of directors candidates to create a series of interviews. Recently, Bob Vincent and Jeff Gudman, both candidates for Treasurer of USA Swimming, spoke with SwimSwam in order to give our readers, many of whom are members or family of members of USA Swimming, an opportunity to get to know them.
Tim Bauer of The Woodlands, Texas, was kind enough to give SwimSwam some of his time and explain his platform as a candidate for Technical Vice President of USA Swimming. Also the current Technical Vice President of the organization, Bauer is not afraid to speak up and address the issues that he believes USA Swimming needs to figure out. If Bauer is reelected, he will meet his term-limit. He is running unopposed for the time being
SS: What do you view as the most important roles of the technical vice president?
TB: “Being a liaison for all the different committees, but making sure the ‘wet side’ of our sport is running properly, from the National Steering Committee, to senior development, to age group. The Sports Science Committee is also under my watch. Making sure that those committees are functioning and getting the stuff done that they need to get done. Like the National Steering Committee, that’s not really under me; our National Team Director runs that meeting, and he’s in charge of it. But I sit in on it so I can make sure it flows down to senior, and age group, and that sort [of thing].”
SS: And when you say ‘wet side,’ you mean the more athlete-focused side as opposed to the business side [of USA Swimming]?
TB: “Yeah. ‘Competition side’ would be another way to look at it. A lot of the committees are focused on [topics like] open water development, open water steering, so they’re all focused on some sort of athletes being in the water.”
SS: What qualities about yourself do you think will make you a good technical vice president?
TB: “I have a wide range of, I don’t want to say friends… coaching… acquaintances, that I’ve met through my 25+ years of coaching that will come up and talk to me and express their feelings about the technical side of swimming, and I’m very much in favor of the athletes, and, you know, I’ve gotten to know quite a few of the athletes on the National Team Committee. But I’m also in favor of anything we can do to make our athletes have a bigger role in our sport. So, those are the two things; and I think I’m an extremely good listener.”
SS: Do you see any areas about the organization that, in your role as a technical vice president, you would like to improve?
TB: “Yeah, I think making sure that all our committee… that all the committee work people do is dealt with in the right manner of being appreciative…. So things don’t just get changed [randomly]. You know, we’ve all been around committees where all of the sudden, the committee’s doing all of this work and then, someone on the house will bring up something and all the sudden it gets changed. But, why is it changing? I think that, just that we stay true to that path. And making sure that the club coaches have a strong, clear voice within USA Swimming.”
SS: So you talked about the changes that might quickly be made by a certain committee; are you worried that when those changes happen they’re maybe not done with enough athlete feedback, or coach feedback?
TB: “No. The committees do a lot of work, but then there will be certain… certain maybe high-profile coaches that won’t like what the committee’s done, and that would try to get it changed because it doesn’t fit their agenda.”
SS: Your bio also states that you would seek to “regain respect for [USA Swimming] and [its] members;” how so, and what do you think has caused USA Swimming to lose some of its respect?
TB: “Well, I think over the years we’ve gone through… I don’t want to say different scandals, but we, you know, we went through learning what Safe Sport was all about, and I think we have a good process in place where we’re working on trying to get better at… the doping issues that are going on within the world. I think we need to lead… not only be the lead in the world, but also be the lead in the United States with other NGB’s and those sort of things.”
“I think we were, I don’t want to say behind, but I think people question—and I was one of the persons that probably questioned it most before I got on the board—knowing what we have done before about Safe Sport again. Susan Woessner and that group have done a great, great job with that … Stacy Michael-Miller, and Dr. [Scott] Rodeo have done a great job with trying to be more proactive—Travis Tygart from USADA, trying to, you know, make sure we protect our athletes.”
SS: And Safe Sport, is that primarily focused on combating doping within the sport of swimming?
TB: “No. Safe Sport [focuses on] abuse, misconduct by coaches, misconduct by swimmers, [and] officials.”
SS: Okay, and you believe that is doing well but could do better?
TB: “I think we can always do better, but I think they’re doing a really good job right now.”
SS: Your bio also mentions added emphasis on post-collegiate and collegiate swimming—what are the issues that you would like to address regarding these demographics, and how do you hope to use them to the benefit of USA Swimming and its membership as a whole?
TB: “Well, I’ve always thought this, from the very beginning when I’ve run for the board. I think that our sport progresses from collegiate swimming being the end, pretty much, to now [that] we have pros, trying to figure out how to… balance what our pros need, but still take care of our collegiate swimmers, and our club swimmers, [while] still creating the best environment to achieve the best that we can be as a country. So I think that it’s still a struggle; it’s a work in progress. I think we’re doing a good job with athlete funding. I think you can of course always get better. I think we… need to… look at… are we making sure that athletes that stay in the sport longer are going to be able to exit the sport successfully? And then the ones that are younger—are they… getting the opportunities for them to succeed on a national or international level, so they’ll be prepared, when they get that opportunity to compete at those next levels?”
SS: What about 2016 makes it a “crucial time for our sport?” Could you please elaborate?
TB: “Yeah, we have possibly the retirement of Michael Phelps [and] the possibility of some other older athletes [retiring]. We need to make sure that we have clear-cut leadership within the national team. I think that’s… I think our culture, and we’ve been able to do that over… but I think it could be different. I also think that… it goes back to the critical component of… what we do with professional swimming, what we do with collegiate swimming, and what we do club swimming, is how do we learn, and balance, and tweak that, so we can even be more successful in 2020 in Tokyo. You know, I think it’s a fluid goal.”
SS: Do you believe your role as Coach Representative for the Southern Zone has prepped you for Technical VP? If so, how?
TB: “Yeah, it has a lot, because my first year as a coach’s rep, I had no idea how the USA Swimming board worked—you’re kind of a fish out of water. And, so once I switched over and became the VP, I already knew how the board worked; I already knew how, if you’re trying to get things done within your committee, or this, or that, it became… easier to get things done and know what you’re supposed to do. There’s not really a job description of a coach’s rep in any of the zones, so you kind of learn by fire.”
SS: How do you believe your various roles throughout swimming have shaped your perspective when it comes to overseeing the sport at the highest national level?
TB: “Well, it’s very funny. When I first ran for the board, I was one of those guys that sat in the back of the room and complained. And… I decided I needed to do something… either shut up, or get involved and try to make it better. And… I’ve taken that same approach to the Vice President, to Steve Hix. Learning what the issues are from the athletes, learning what the issues are from the coaches, and trying to make it better.”
SS: As technical vice president, how do you keep athletes in mind first and foremost, per USA Swimming’s core objectives? (Building the base; Promoting the sport; and Achieving sustained competitive success).
TB: “I think that’s… the number one issue that we—in almost all our meetings, all our committee meetings, we, that’s our main objective—to follow those three objectives: build, promote, achieve. That’s why we do everything that we do. And I will give Chuck Wielgus a lot of credit. He’s instilled that into the staff, he’s instilled that into the board, that, that’s how we should look at things… you know, without our athletes we don’t have a sport. So we have to make sure that we take care of our athletes. And by that, that means taking care of our six-year-olds that walk into a club door for the first time. Or a YMCA, or a whatever that may be, to get involved in the sport. And I think it goes up to your age-groupers to your elite age group, to your Junior National level swimmers, to… your collegiate-level and national-level swimmers to your elite national team. You know, take care of each, each set… if you don’t do that, and you don’t do that for each component, you’re going to get a hole in our system. And we’ve been able to not ever have a hole… and always step up and show that we’re the best swimming country in the world.”
SS: Is there anything else you would like to add or anything that I missed that you would like to include?
TB: “No, I just feel very fortunate to be on the USA Swimming board, to be very honest. I’m a coach at heart, I don’t have a political agenda to one day do this or that. I will run this last time and I will be off the board, and I will support USA Swimming and my coaches that I know throughout the country and the ones I don’t know. I do it because I have very, very much a passion for swimming, and for our athletes.”
Further information about the USA Swimming annual convention can be found here. For Mr. Bauer’s bio, per USA Swimming, click here. The full list of current committees and committee members is also available for reference on USA Swimming’s website.
The Technical Vice President will be elected next month at USA Swimming’s Annual Convention, taking place in Atlanta, Georgia. Nominees can be made by receipt of a nomination form up until September 9th if the form is sent by mail, or until 12:00 noon on Thursday, September 22nd, if the form is hand-delivered at the convention. Nominees must be non-athlete members of USA Swimming and must have completed a background check and undergone the Athlete Protection Online Training Course before September 19th, 2016.