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.
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!
Open Water Program Manager