USA Swimming Cuts Coaching Support for FINA OW World Cup [Updated With USA Swimming Response]

USA Swimming Open Water National Teamers will have to find funding to bring their own coaches to any meets for this year’s FINA Open Water World Cup, according to an email sent to the athletes Thursday evening.

In the email, the governing body (the letter was signed by Bryce Elser, the Open Water Program Manager) informed athletes that they would not be funding accompaniement for the coaches of open water athletes to travel with them to the FINA 10km events.

This letter came after FINA clarified to USA Swimming that at these events, there has to be one coach per athlete, rather than just one coach per country. Previously, USA Swimming had agreed to pay for the cost of coaches to accompany National Team athletes.

“Due to the fiscal implications of having one coach per athlete, USA Swimming will no longer be able to provide coaching support for the FINA World Cup Events,” the letter read.

National Team athletes are still reportedly being provided with their $1,000 in funding to cover travel costs, as well as logistical and administrative support, but they will be unable to participate without finding alternative methods to get their coaches to the meets.

The only reaction that is clear from the athletes so far is anger and frustration. Part of their dillema is that there are limited opportunities domestically to participate in elite open water racing, and further that many have already booked plane tickets with the understanding that the required coach representation would be covered; those tickets are now non-refundable and sunk costs.

Possible more cost-effective alternatives could include an opportunity for domestic coaches who live in or near the host site to offer their services on some type of mercenary basis, if only to be a warm body to satisfy the rules and allow the athlete to compete.

The next race in the World Cup Series is in Hong Kong on September 7th. The United States lags behind much of the world in the development of their elite, professional ranks of open water athletes, which is part of the purpose of travelling to this World Cup series. This culminated last month when Haley Anderson took a silver in the open water at the Summer Olymipcs: the Americans’ first ever open water Olympic medal.

USA Swimming says that they will still be sending one coaching representative to each meet, as previously planned. Because of the new interpretation, however, this coach would not be able to represent all US athletes at the event.

When asked whether or not this one coach would be able to serve as a representative for one of the American athletes, USA Swimming spokesperson Karen Linhart said “it would come down to how many U.S. swimmers are entered in an event. If only one U.S. swimmer enters a World Cup race, out National Team would then review whether or not the representative could then serve as the coach.”

The full email is below.

Dear Athlete,

Attached you will find USA Swimming’s most up to date policies regarding the FINA World Cup Series. After recent consultation with FINA, USA Swimming has found that each swimmer will need to have their own coach at each of the FINA World Cup Events. Due to the fiscal implications of having one coach per athlete, USA Swimming will no longer be able to provide coaching support for the FINA World Cup Events. Each athlete will now be responsible for finding their own coach and following the policies and procedures that are established by the USA Swimming FINA 10k World Cup Policy (See Attached).

USA Swimming will continue to provide administrative and logistical support for all National Team Athletes. Included in this support will be the USA Swimming FINA 10k World Cup Travel Reimbursement that will allow each athlete who meets the established criteria to receive up to $1,000 travel reimbursement. This travel reimbursement can now be used to offset some of the costs that are involved with providing your own coach to the competition.

We apologize for the inconvenience that this might cause you. If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me!

Thank you,
Bryce Elser
Open Water Program Manager
USA Swimming

Travel Reimbursemen Policy.
OW World Cup Travel Reimbursement Policy.

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10 years ago

per USA swimming’s recent annoucement via twitter…I guess they changed their mind and reversed their previous decision. Congrats to OW national team members who can now bring their own coaches to world cups events. Regardless, would love to just have a clarification about what the initial issue was, why usa swimming made their previous decision, and then why that decision was reversed (probably due to immediate backlash).

10 years ago

Braden, Mel, Garrett, and all other swimswam people, I’ve been following Alex Meyer’s twitter account and would love to hear his opinion on this (in entirety). Could he possibly write an op-ed piece for swimswam so that we can all hear from his perspective.

Reply to  anonymous
10 years ago

Might be slight prejudicialT

Reply to  Braden Keith
10 years ago

Even better, how about we hear from someone who is an expert on the USA Swimming budget?

10 years ago

I agree that these open water swimmers are not going to the Grand Prix’s just to get experience. They are going there to make money so they need to pay for the coaches expenses just like tennis or golf. I don’t think United States swimming should pay for one coach per athlete to go to these competitions! If it is Pan Pacs, Olympics or WUGs then yes we send the coach or coaches

Reply to  Korn
10 years ago

There’s not enough money in the world to make up for the lack of safety!

The world cup is NOT all about making money.

If it were, the figures involved are NOWHERE near those of tennis of golf, therefore, that comparison is not valid.

Reply to  Nadador
10 years ago

Whether more funding should be allocated to sending coaches to WCs on USA Swimming’s dime is one question (how can one evaluate that without knowing the entirety of USA Swimming’s budget, I don’t know?). However, saying everyone has to bring their own coach IS being safety conscious. The fact that USA Swimming decided, rightly or wrongly, that they do not have the budget to send a coach for each swimmer to WCs is NOT neglecting safety. Playing that card belittles all the safety improvements that have happened in the past two years, largely due to USA Swimming’s efforts. USA Swimming was the first and only country to enforce the rule of bringing a coach for each swimmer in the first… Read more »

Pete Crippen
10 years ago

I am very disappointed to read about USA swimming stepping back from sending coaches with athletes to world cup events, especially when FINA is stepping up top the plate and legislating that all swimmers must be represented by a coach. One coach can not possibly watch 4 or 5 or even 2 or 3 athletes in an open water swim event. Each swimmer must have his or her own coach who knows the swimmer, and can look out for the safety of the swimmer. USA swimming which should be taking the lead in safety for Open Water Events is obviously dropping the ball. USA swimming needs to call on the athletes, coaches, advisers with the knowledge and the experience an… Read more »

Reply to  Pete Crippen
10 years ago

This comment deserves a three-part interview – USA Swimming is not just “dropping the ball,” they are “selling it” so they can make even more money. This “non-profit” in name only is being run like a business and look at the potential consequences. There will be too few coaches at ground zero and no advocates to demand safety.

Where is FINA on this subject? where is USA Swimming too? How about ASCA? All of the above seemingly just want to cash their checks!

Reply to  Pete Crippen
10 years ago

Is this really about safety and getting race experience or is this about making money? If this is about safety and race experience, how is this idea?:
Perhaps USA Swimming should fund coaches to go for all national team swimmers, but then all earnings that the national team members make should go into a pot until USA Swimming is paid back for the coaches (or anything over the current $1000 allotment).

Also, if these swimmers are reporting their earnings on their taxes like any law-abiding American needs to do, then the travel costs of their coaches can be taken as a deduction.

I agree with Pete, each swimmer should have a coach that knows them. Where are the club… Read more »

Reply to  Rosey
10 years ago

That last paragraph – hello? I bet it take less tan $100,000 to send coaches to events or the same amount that ASCA pays in travelling expenses per their form-990. And if it took $500,000 which is summarily unlikely, not e that USA Swimming CEO Chuck W. makes $800,000 a year or so.

Reply to  SCAQ Tony
10 years ago

I was not referring to how much money it took. My comment was about people using safety to try to get money. If safety is important to the personal coaches of these athletes, they will find a way to fund going, or not have their swimmer go. USA Swimming is definitely not putting the swimmers’ safety at jeopardy just by not aiding the athlete to go to a professional race.

Reply to  Pete Crippen
10 years ago

We just finished the Olympics, so they figure that they can defund this for a couple of years. The swimmers in the 10K are completely at the mercy of the race organizations in these other countries. In the old days, at least we had a boat with us (most of the time unless the engine broke) and someone watching each swimmer. Now with the packs the only ones watching for the whole race are those from the organization. They need to let coaches back on the courses, (in kayaks) even in the 10K to keep an eye on the swimmers. NO WAY should USAS put it’s trust in some of the foreign organizers. Fran did and paid with his life.… Read more »

10 years ago

When U.S. attends the OW World Cups they swim very good, especially females. They are top swimmers and always dominate when there.

In Canada World Cups this year all U.S. swimmers placed top 8 except one person. They have last place with someone named Brandon Johnson who was 15 minutes behind in both races. Why does U.S. send him? He is wasted money, safety problem, and make sport look bad. Best country should not send 15 minute behind swimmer that nobody know. Should spend money on top swimmers and not waste money on bad swimmer.

Reply to  OWswimmer
10 years ago

USA Swimming didn’t spend a dime on him. They only spend money on National Team athletes (top 6 females and top 6 males). Other athletes pay their own way.

10 years ago

What are they thinking at National headquarters? Open water is totally different and has different requirements. It has been stated we are committed to raise our performance and raise the level of interest.they have so many areas that they could get it from in a budget of over 25 mill. How about a better accountability of the athlete support program on the reliability of the training of those receiving funds. It is a great program but needs better scrutiny. With the size of activity of the office many areas exist that need a look after it’s incredible growth in programs. Hope somebody gets the message to get moving now.

Reply to  CoachGB
10 years ago

Here is a link to the Board of Directors for US Swimming:

Have the voters of your LSC “carpet bomb” them with constrictive criticisms regarding open water coaching.

Reply to  SCAQ Tony
10 years ago

Here is my suggestion to the USA Swimming Coaches to manage to attend open water events:

Open water swimming suggested safety model:

Air-temp Heat Index + Water Temp = 100 (Wetsuits mandatory)
Air-temp Heat Index + Water Temp = 120 (Wetsuits recommended)
Air-temp Heat Index + Water Temp = 140 (Choice of swimming attire)
Air-temp Heat Index + Water Temp = 170 (DO NOT RACE)

To simplify even more: 100-degree to cold to swim, 170 to hot!

If FINA and USA Swimming won’t ratify guidelines, use these

Reply to  Splash OfTruth
10 years ago

It was so nice not hearing your negativity this summer! Maybe it was because USA was swimming so well during Olympics that even you couldn’t find fault with their performances!!

Reply to  Korn
10 years ago

Korn, we are as supportive of, and happy for, the athletes and coaches that represented Team USA as you are. Regardless of how incompetent and corrupt the administrators and executives of our sport are, we as Americans should all feel honored and very proud of what our swimmers accomplished in and out of the pool. They were an inspiration and succeeded in spite of the scum we have leading the sport.

I’m sure the USA Swimming administration and board of directors will pat themselves on the back and take credit for our hard working athletes and their respective clubs and coaches. And there is little doubt the executives will expect raises and there will be movement to increase dues and… Read more »

Reply to  Korn
10 years ago

No, it was the athletes that did great not USA Swimming. USA Swimming did nothing to get those athletes as best as they could be. That was left up to their coaches and families who mostly had little resources. Your comment reminds me of an American President taking credit for a good economy when in reality it is the innovation and the hard work of the American public rather than a tax tweak or jobs bill.

Open water needs more coach involvement and R&D. Absolutely nothing has changed post Fran Crippen and perhaps if we had coaches on the ground in Dubai; (plural), I suspect the race would have been modified or the athletes would have been pulled out. … Read more »

swim coach
10 years ago

typical bullshit. the fat get fatter and the rest of us pay for it. time for a revolt… down with usa-s, asca and all those other bullshit organizations who continue to screw over the folks doing the work and paying the bills.

i did not renew asca membership and wont until there is a major house cleaning. i’d like not to renew my usa-s membership either, but need that to work.

Reply to  swim coach
10 years ago

All of us need to understand that we are nothing more than peons and indentured servants to the likes of the USA-S Board and Chuck Wielgus and his staff. Their goal is to make clubs, coaches and athletes barely survive while they increase staff (so they work less) and get paid more money. Think about how much Wielgus and his staff are getting paid. It should be no wonder the staff circles the wagons for Wielgus and the board because they would never get a comparable job outside of USA Swimming. Some of the people working in club development wouldn’t even make good assistant coaches on the most novice of clubs.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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