USA Swimming has sent a letter to its members reiterating its commitment to protecting athletes in response to reports that the organization had failed to address hundreds of sexual abuse cases over the past few decades.
“USA Swimming does not tolerate sexual abuse or misconduct,” CEO Tim Hinchey said in the letter, “and I assure you that this organization is facing this extremely serious issue with one very clear goal – protecting children and athletes.”
Hinchey said that USA Swimming “disagree[s] on several of the reported statements and many of the conclusions in recent media reports,” but went on to admit that USA Swimming members had been failed.
“Members were failed, and we are doing everything we can to make sure it never happens again,” Hinchey said, going on to encourage USA Swimming members to report suspicious activity to USA Swimming’s Safe Sport program.
The statement doesn’t address any of the specifics of the Southern California News Group report, which echoed much of our own reporting about the organization’s failure to take action against allegedly abusive coaches, but does signal a response by USA Swimming to our multiple inquiries for comment on the matter.
The full letter from Hinchey is below:
Dear USA Swimming Family,
In light of recent media coverage, I would like to provide some perspective on the very important subject matter discussed and the commentary surrounding USA Swimming’s Safe Sport efforts.
Let me be clear: USA Swimming does not tolerate sexual abuse or misconduct, and I assure you that this organization is facing this extremely serious issue with one very clear goal – protecting children and athletes.
Every day we work hard to get better as an organization. We are never complacent. We want to listen and to hear from you. We are rightfully held to a high standard by our membership and our peers, and we will continue to work tirelessly to educate members, put policies in place, and empower clubs to create the best possible environments for all members.
We will not shy away from acknowledging or supporting survivors of abuse, and we will strive to ensure that there is never a lapse of a support system again. We will continue to work hand-in-hand with survivors, the U.S. Center for Safe Sport, and law enforcement to hold wrongdoers accountable and remove them from our organization.
While we disagree on several of the reported statements and many of the conclusions in recent media reports, members were failed, and we are doing everything we can to make sure it never happens again.
Our system of uncovering sexual abuse is not flawless, but it has enabled USA Swimming to detect and prosecute members who have engaged in this misconduct. Every year we have endeavored to make our sport safer for our athletes and other members than the year before. Since 2010, USA Swimming has created a leading Safe Sport program with key resource materials for members, updated its Code of Conduct, mandated abuse prevention training, and created a public list of individuals banned for sexual misconduct-related violations in a
continued effort to identify and remove offenders from the sport. This is and will be an on-going process that has our full commitment.
The key aspect to the success of the Safe Sport program is for every member to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity that might be a violation of our Code of Conduct. We simply cannot assume that those being abused will voluntarily come forward, even if given the opportunity to do so in a confidential manner.
In order to be successful, it will require your active participation. Working together we can strive to completely eradicate sexual abuse from our organization.
For information on USA Swimming’s Safe Sport program visit: https://www.usaswimming.org/talkingaboutsafesport
To report concerns to the U.S. Center for Safe Sport at: https://safesport.org/report-a-concern.
As an organization we can do more, and we will continue to do more with your valued feedback, guidance, and involvement.
Tim Hinchey III
USA Swimming President and CEO