USA Swimming Falls Short on Women, Minority Hiring, Per USOC

The U.S. Olympic Committee released “scorecards” this week tracking the inclusion of women and racial minorities, and the numbers suggest USA Swimming, like the USOC and most of its individual sport federations, is lagging behind established benchmarks.

The “benchmarks” are set by the USOC based on a combination of data from the U.S. Census, the NCAA and the specific sport federation, in this case, USA Swimming.

The USOC scorecard for the year 2015 says USA Swimming only achieved about 51% of benchmarks for people of color, about 78% for women and about 25% for people with disabilities.

On the flip side, the organization more than matched its benchmark for military veterans – as listed on the scorecard, all 37 of USA Swimming’s Board of Directors in 2015 were military veterans.

You can view the full scorecard for USA Swimming here.

The scorecard tracks each federation at a multitude of levels, including:

  • Board of Directors
  • Executive Committee
  • Standing Committees
  • Professional Staff
  • Membership
  • National Team athletes
  • National Team coaches
  • Developmental National Team athletes
  • Developmental National Team coaches
  • Developmental National Team staff
  • Part-time employees/interns

Most notably, USA Swimming showed no people of color on its Board of Directors or Executive Committee and only low percentages of women in both leadership groups.

USA Swimming’s Executive Director Chuck Wielgus said the organization is committed to improving its diversity moving forward:

“One of things I love about the sport of swimming and our organization is how welcoming and inclusive we are. We live by that principle and operate every day with a mindset of how we can be even more diverse among our athletes, coaches, volunteers and staff so we can have a range of views to best serve our membership,” said USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus. “We’ve come a long way and we’re committed to doing even more to make the experience even better for our current members and those who are looking to join team swimming.”

According to the Associated Press, USA Swimming wasn’t the only USOC federation to lag behind benchmarks. USA Gymnastics was similarly behind in minority hiring, though it was ahead of benchmarks for women. You can find reports from all sports going back to 2013 here.

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Steve Nolan

One of things I love about the sport of swimming and our organization is how welcoming and inclusive we are.

Be nice if the numbers bore that out.

Joe Bagodonuts

So, USA Swimming data was used to set the USA Swimming hiring quotas?

This desire to achieve some manufactured magic number of every flavor of the rainbow eludes me. Is it because the quota-setters think that only people of rainbow color X can lead/coach swimmers of the rainbow color X group? I’m sure we can all agree that this would be a false premise. So, could someone explain, assuming we’d achieved someone’s magical numbers and attained 100% of the “correct mix” – how would swimming become a better experience? I.e. what salutary purpose would achieving “100% diversity” serve?


If minorities had a greater participation rate It would decrease deaths from drownings? That’s not a bad thing.

Joe Bagodonuts

That is a true statement – for participation as swimmers. However, I’m unaware of any institutional or informal barriers to wider minority participation. But, the article is addressing hiring quotas for coaches, administrators, board members, etc. – not swimmers.

Joe Bagodonuts

Having re-read the list of “levels,” I stand corrected relative to the categories of athletes and members. That having been said, more of the categories pertain to leadership positions.

Kirk Nelson

“Is it because the quota-setters think that only people of rainbow color X can lead/coach swimmers of the rainbow color X group?” No, I would think it has more to do with trying to eliminate bias in hiring and trying to achieve a better balance in the USA Swimming coaching and staff.

Joe Bagodonuts

But your comment begs the questions: What evidence is there that any different mix of genders, etc., would produce a “better balance”? And, what evidence is there that, assuming arguendo, that some sort of “better balance” can be established, that the “better balance” produces higher quality coaches? Or is the goal of higher quality coaches secondary to merely achieving a rainbow effect (positive impact on the sport being rendered irrelevant)? I’ll avoid all questions related to your assumption of the current mix supplying some evidence of invidious discrimination (i.e. bias).

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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