USA Swimming has begun to develop guidelines for serving alcohol at senior-level swim meets, according to a draft of meeting minutes from the latest USA Swimming Board of Directors meeting on February 3rd, 2018. They have also opened the door to having alcohol companies as sponsors, again only for senior-level events.
Editor’s note: this meeting happened before Ariana Kukors publicly accused Sean Hutchison of grooming her since she was 12, which reignited questions into USA Swimming’s SafeSport program.
From the minutes:
“Matt Farrell reported that the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Gambling Task Force is working on guidelines for serving alcohol at events, as well as guidelines for alcohol-related sponsors. Mr. Farrell added that the task force will not be making any changes to existing language regarding tobacco and gambling within the Rulebook but may add language regarding marijuana (Attachment 16).”
The motion to approve the task force to continue working on guidelines was approved.
The task force includes Olympic gold medalist Anthony Ervin, USA Swimming marketing executive Matt Farrell, and USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey.
The recommended guidelines include restrictions for alcohol on the pool deck or in athlete areas, and athlete seating areas. The committee recommended that alcohol only be served at senior, national-level events and “adult-focused areas of the venue at non senior, national-level events or non-competition events with approval from USA Swimming staff.” Examples of senior, national-level events include the Pro Swim Series, Open Water Nationals, Nationals, Winter Nationals, and the U.S. Olympic Trials.
They also recommended guidelines for alcohol sponsorships, which “should not include the pool deck of any non senior-level national event,” nor should it include any logos on suits, caps, and goggles. The recommended guidelines also recommended that certain alcohol-adjacent companies be allowed sponsorships in all aspects of USA Swimming. Specifically, companies ‘primarily known for being a restaurant that serve(s) alcohol,” with Chili’/s and Applebee’s being examples given, or if “alcohol, liquir, bar, pub, distillery, etc., is not directly referenced in the name of the establishment”, (ex. Springfield Beverage) would not have restrictions if the guidelines were approved.
Besides USA Swimming, this would also allow teams to seek sponsorship from the above-mentioned companies, where they could be promoted on team websites, adult-targeted communications, adult-focused venues and activities.
Team names will still not be allowed to include alcohol references, as has been done with other brands, like Tucson Ford Aquatics in Arizona. Alcohol sponsors will also not be allowed at non-senior, national level events in heat sheets. USA Swimming staff would be allowed to approve exceptions for a “unique or extenuating circumstance.”