Athlete Reports from Convention

2017 Convention – Maria Davila

2017 Convention – Elisabeth L.

2017 Convention – Juli A.

2016 Convention – Maria Davila

2017 USAS Convention – Dallas Texas

September 12th- 17th, 2017

Athlete Representative

Submitted by Maria Davila

 

  • Athlete Meetings: Athlete Meetings this year largely addressed issues of doping as conducted by USADA, advice and marketing presentations, Safe Sport in relation to mental health and personal boundaries, governance changes, and leadership.
  • Committees: To align with the USA Swimming 20% Athlete Representation rule, USA Swimming’s Athlete’s Executive Committee appoints athletes to the various national committees that exist within the national governance sphere. Key committees include LSC Development, Rules and Regulations, Governance, Officials, etc. Anyone can apply to committees, even if they have not attended convention previously. Applications close October 1st and can be found here: https://fs22.formsite.com/usaswimming/form3/index.html.  As a senior athlete representative for San Diego going to convention for the second time, I applied for Rules and Regulations and am currently awaiting official word from my superiors on that decision.
  • Athlete Leadership Workshop: I had the opportunity to co-lead and panel a workshop, LSC Athlete Committees: Empowering and Engaging Athlete Leaders, along with athletes from Virginia, Illinois, Michigan, Gulf, and Arizona LSCs. During this workshop, I presented on the San Diego Athlete Training Guide (located in the Athletes tab of our website) and showcased to swimmers and LSC Board members from across the country how to provide a stepping stone for newer athletes into the world of swimming governance. Other panelists spoke of athlete leadership camps, athlete budgeting, athlete training workshops, and recruiting techniques they had instilled in their LSCs. Overall, the workshop was well received and USA Swimming athletes walked away with valuable resources. Materials from the presentation can be found here: https://goo.gl/qH8WnT
  • New Governance Measures Passed: The USA Swimming House of Delegates passed new legislation. All measures proposed by the Rules and Regulations committee this year were adopted, included emergency relief legislation for areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Key measures included diminishing the USA Swimming Board of Directors from 23 members to 15 members, with 3 of the votes designated to the appointed athlete representatives as determined by the Athlete’s Executive Committees.
  • Practices: Practices were held at Southern Methodist University from 5-6:30 AM.
  • Athlete Social Events: This year, the athlete social event was go-karting. Representatives traveled with the Athlete Committee to an arena with various different tracks, and bonded through intense racing outside of the water.
  • USAS Closing Banquet:  This year, the banquet was hosted by athlete representatives from USA Synchro and USA Diving. Amongst the highlights were David Boudia, 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist- 10 meter platform dive, speaking on behalf of the sport of diving.

 

  1. Make a Splash Foundation Luncheon: San Diego athletes were fortunate enough to attend the luncheon hosted by the foundation, which uses the profits to fund drowning prevention programs across the country. Those in attendance had the opportunity for an intimate question and answer session with a world-renowned panel. Speakers this year included Josh Prenot (2016 Olympic Silver Medalist- 200 brst), Michael Chadwick (2016 FINA World Championships, 2017 US World Championships), and Rowdy Gaines (3-time Olympic Gold Medalist, current NBC Summer Olympics Host).

Summary: Convention this year was largely different than last year in a positive way. As a senior representative, I was more experienced and felt in a better more comfortable capacity to lead. It was very beneficial to have four athletes at convention, as we were able to cover more ground and attend meetings outside the ones hosted by the Athletes Executive Committee.

By: Elisabeth L.

       Athlete Meetings: There were approximately two athlete meetings per day, generally occurring at the beginning or ending of each day of meetings. The meetings lasted from 2 hours to 4.5 hours during each session.  The topics discussed included Robert’s rules, social media, Safe Sport, U.S. Anti-doping Agency, and general USAS information along with LSC success stories.

       Athlete Representation: Four athletes represented San Diego Imperial Swimming attended this year, two senior reps and two committee member fill-ins. The two senior reps were Jason and Maria, while the two committee members were myself and Juli. Most LSCs averaged four athlete reps, two of which were senior reps and the other two who were junior reps. Only LSC senior reps attending had a vote at the House of Delegates.

       20% Rule: USA swimming has a 20% athlete representation rule, meaning 20% of the voting power must be held by the athletes. Thus, many LSCs had at least one athlete assigned to each committee. LSC’s such as Georgia and Oklahoma had a great athlete representation and involvement and other LSCs such has Hawaii and Boise seemed to be totally underrepresented.

       Recruiting Athletes for Committees: I discovered many great ideas from other LSCs on recruiting athletes. For example, Georgia sets up a booth at every meet with athlete reps ready to answer questions from other athletes about being involved in the LSC. Georgia also sets up community service events in order to pull athletes in, and then at the event, the athletes talk about becoming an athlete rep and how to be involved in the LSC. Another great tactic I learned was from the Oklahoma LSC.  This LSC holds an LSC-wide practice in order to grow, unify, and educate the LSC athletes.

       Team Athlete Representatives: Many LSCs require each team or club within the LSC to have at least one athlete representative, typically to be assigned to a committee. This practice is beneficial because it allows the athletes to communicate information back to the local LSC on what is happening at the national leve or local level.

       Robert’s Rules: At one of the athlete meetings there was a lengthy discussion about Robert’s Rules of Order. This discussion taught me how to convey myself properly in meetings.  Unfortunately, many people speaking at some of the meetings were unfamiliar with the rules and did not convey themselves accordingly. Given this information I now believe that representing athletes should be taught how to properly use Robert’s Rules to present themselves before the LSC and at other larger USAS events.

       Social Media: A high number of the LSC athlete representatives that I spoke to about social media indicated that some sort of social media was used to communicate information within their LSC and community.  I absolutely agree with the idea that social media is the preferred and more efficient way to pass information out to the athletes. The reason is most athletes in the LSC rarely check official LSC websites.   Luckily many LSC’s have experienced success with their social media accounts, many of which advertise events and display information. I love the fact the San Diego Imperial has a social media account on Instagram under the @sandiegoswimming. However, the amount of followers concerns me.  We have currently 72 followers and average 26 likes per post. This unfortunately means we are not reaching enough athletes in our LSC’s. Comparatively Oklahoma @ok.swim has 155 followers, Hawaii @hawaii.swim has 236 followers, and Georgia Swimming @gaswimming has 2,018 followers. I would love to put more effort into the social media accounts aimed to increase the followers we have.  There are several ways to increase our LSC’s social media presence, including posting  more often and providing the Instgram and other account links to the swimmers in San Diego. .

       Safe Sport: At the convention, Safe Sport was stressed to every swimmer at the Convention. As the athlete rep in Safe Sport for San Diego Imperial Swimming, I attended many Safe Sport meetings.  At these meetings, we went over scenarios and talked in focus groups about tools to handle various scenarios  through Safe Sport guidelines. We also reviewed the Safe Sport Program and Club Policies in LSCs in order to make sure we were in line with Safe Sport iniatives. I believe our LSCs athletes need to be more aware of safe sport because from experience I know that some bullying, intimidation, and panic in some situations occurs “behind the scenes.” I also want to incorporate a page for “in case of an emergency” either in the meet program or to be sent out to the coaches prior to the meet. This would include numbers to call in case of an emergency such as the local police station or firehouse and include meet information such as, who is the meet director.  It could also identify the athlete Safe Sport reps in case swimmers wanted to reach out to a peer.

       New USA Swimming Rules and Regulations: At the athlete meetings, we went over in detail the changes that would be subject to a vote in the House of Delegates.  While I was not a voting member this year, my general impression was the information provided to the athletes was very “one sided” and not comprehensive, therefore precluding the athletes to really consider all aspects of the issue and think for themselves. I believe this lack of or limited information is what influenced many of the athletes to vote in favor of some of the new rules because the athletes simply did not have all information to see the positives and negatives of each proposed change.   Most of the G’s passed, and I believe we now need to inform our LSC of these changes so the athletes and coaches can be aware of what is new om the sport.  

       Practices: Practice was held in the morning at a local college. We chose which training group to attend—sprint distance, IM, NCAA, and workout from your own coach. I swam with the sprint group and was able to come home with some challenging sets for my club team to use. 

       Athlete Social Events: The athletes spent most when not in meetings hanging out inside the athlete lounge provided for them. The lounge was full of food and treats and this is where athletes made friends and interacted with one another. For the most part, all of the athletes got along, with 15+ athletes making plans for dinner or a nightly outing. An athlete-bonding event at the Speed track arcade in Dallas was amoung the highlights. Here, athletes bonded over food and unlimited races on the track. In addition, part of a community relations and service objective, the athletes worked with the Make A Splash Foundation by helping give swim lessons to local children. I partnered with Juli and worked with two different young children teaching them various swim techniques and skills.  I loved it!

Summary: Overall, I had an amazing time at the Convention and really learned how to network my ideas and myself. I learned so much about how USAS works and why athletes are so important in the process. I spoke to people from all around the country, even a few Olympians, and made life-long friendships with people and I plan to stay in connected with in the future.    Not only did the friends I made help make the Conference even more enjoyable, they also gave me so much advice and encouragement in how to advance and better my own LSC. Even though I didn’t have a vote for the House of Delegates, I believe I made a difference with my voice. I gained more confidence as the Convention went on, and this increased confidence allowed me to use my voice and speak my mind more and more. This experience opened up a whole new area of knowledge and understanding for me about swimming and USAS and what we can do to help and encourage others to be more involved in such a great sport. I would love to become more involved in the sport, the LSC, and the national USAS organization.  I was proud to represent San Diego Imperial Swimming and I so appreciate the opportunity to do so.

Julissa A

  1. Meetings
    1. Athlete Meetings
      1. There were about 2-3 of these meetings every day. They would generally be in the morning, for about 3-4 hours, then a small break and another meeting later in the evening. These meeting were about the USA Swimming government organization, athlete representatives, Robert’s Rules, Safe Sport, and new USA Swimming Rules and Regulations
        1. The first thing they talked about was the structure of USA Swimming and how athletes fit in that. Many, including myself, did not realize the extensive structure the organization has. This led into how important athlete representatives are.
        2. A big part of one meeting was devoted to introducing the various levels of athlete representatives and their jobs. This introduced the idea of being part of a national committee as an athlete rep. Also, on how athletes can get others to get involved in their LSC.
        3. They talked about Robert’s Rules which allowed athletes to learn about parliamentary procedures that were going to be used during non-athlete meetings.
        4. There was a portion of a meeting that went over Safe Sport and how we need to share this information to other athletes
        5. One of the last meetings went over new USA swimming rules that were going to be votes on at the HOD meeting. They informed athletes on their purpose to help them vote.
        6. Allison Schmitt was part of a panel which talked about mental health. This panel allowed myself to self evaluate and know how to help other teammates that may need help.
    2. Committee Meetings
      1. I attended committees as an athlete on the Diversity & Inclusion committee. They encouraged athletes to attend meetings that were on their specific committee. If a meeting overlapped an athlete meeting they encouraged athletes to leave and attend committee meetings. I attended several meetings and this gave me information and ways to make SDI a more diverse and inclusive LSC.
    3. Other meetings that were mandatory to attend were Town Hall, House of Delegates, and Zone meetings. Athletes got a say in these meetings and it was not adults making every decision.
  2. Practice
    1. Practices were held at Barr Aquatics Center at SMU. We would have to meet at the lobby at 4:50 am. Athletes self-divided into 4 groups: IM, distance, sprint, and college/NCAA. There were different coaches every day for all groups. Practices ran close to 7 and athletes were then bused back to the hotel in time to shower and eat before our morning meeting.
  3. Social Gatherings
    1. There was an athlete outing at a go-kart place. Most athletes attended and we all had a great time. Also, after meetings athletes hung out in the Athlete suite, where meetings and meals were held.
      1. These events allowed athletes to interact and meet people across the US. I made friends that were from different places across the US. It was a really good experience to talk to so many people from different places, and spending time in the athlete suite really allowed for many interactions to happen.
  4. Community Service
    1. This year’s convention most athletes attended a community service event. This year we taught second graders how to swim. We went to a high school where these second graders  went for a few hours over the course of four school days. Two kids got one child to work with. Two groups came in so athletes ended up working with 2 kids at different times. They varied in levels in their ability to swim and the athletes were told how much they could do. This allowed them to know what to help them with. I loved teaching these kids how to swim and playing with them in the water. It made me remember when I was learning how to swim and how much I loved it. These kids helped remind me why I am in love with swimming.

Summary: Convention gave me information that I can use to improve SDI and also get myself more involved. I did not realize all of the athletes that have a say in what happens in USA Swimming and I would love to be a part of it. I realized the amount of work that is put into this sport. A lot of people devoting a major part of their time to USA swimming are volunteers. Also, I made friends from different places of the US and I would never have met them if I hadn’t gone to convention. I hope I can spread my knowledge to other swimmers in our LSC to get more people involved. I am very thankful for this opportunity and I hope that I can represent SDI again in Jacksonville next year to bring more information back.

2016 USAS Convention Report

September 21th-24th

Athlete Representative

Submitted by Maria Davila

 

  • Athlete Meetings: There were about 3 athlete meetings daily, each meeting at 2.5 hours or more. Topics discussed included Athlete Representation, Recruiting Athletes for Committees, Robert’s Rules, Social Media, Safe Sport, and new USA Swimming rules and regulations.
  • Athlete Representation: Other LSC’s have a uniformed way of selecting their athlete representatives. Many use an application process, and the representatives are blindly chosen by those currently in the position. Out of the various LSCs represented at convention, most had an average of 4 athlete representatives, with one designated Senior Representative and the rest as Junior Representatives.
  • 20% Rule: To align with the USA Swimming 20% Athlete Representation rule, other LSCs designate at least one athlete to each committee. Some LSCs(Montana) will not start their LSC Board Meetings without at least one athlete present. On the other side of the spectrum, others(Hawaii) are completely underrepresented, with their Board holding a meeting and vote without telling the athlete representatives until after the motion at hand was passed.
  • Board of Directors meetings: It was suggested by the Athlete Executive Committee to have the LSC hold a meeting during a championship meet to allow for greater athlete representation.
  • Recruiting Athletes for Committees: Some LSCs, for example, Arizona, have implemented an athlete rep training program to educate their athletes on the governance part of swimming so their reps don’t go into the position blind not knowing what their job entitles. Additionally, they have started a separate Athlete Governance Committee, which meets about 4 times a year and is made up of just athletes with the Senior Rep acting as its Executive Chair. This committee discusses rules and regs as well as other issues and reports back to the general LSC Board to provide athlete insight into decisions. Athletes for this committee are recruited on a team athlete delegate system, with most teams in the LSC sending at least one representative.
  • Team Athlete Representatives: Many LSCs make it a requirement for each team to have at least one athlete representative to be receiving LSC information so all swimmers find out what is happening within their respective LSC.
  • These team representatives are typically among those chosen and recruited for committees.
  • Robert’s Rules: A workshop discussing and teaching Robert’s Rules was held for the athletes. After attending this workshop and sitting in the House of Delegates and Western Zone meetings, I realized many of the adults across LSCs don’t know how to properly use them. Given this, I suggest we teach our people how to properly present themselves using Robert’s Rules.
  • Social Media: A good 90% of the LSCs in attendance have Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages to send out information to their community. Although they have an official LSC website, they recognized that many don’t check it regularly and that was their reason for publishing the same information posted there on their social media accounts. While the freedom of commenting and language exists, giving opportunity for inappropriate comments, all the LSCs I spoke with along with the Athletes Executive Committee told me that there have been no issues with inappropriate responses to posts. I was also told that in the case of an event like that, immediately the procedure undertaken would be to delete the comment, report the user to the social media website, and block the user from their page. With this in mind, I believe San Diego should join the digital age and start social media accounts in addition to our website to relay information.
  • Safe Sport: It was stressed at the athlete meetings that safe sport is an important issue that the swimmer community needs to be educated on, as most don’t know what it is and why it matters. I spoke to the athlete representative on the USA Swimming National Safe Sport Committee and he said he would send me information on how to do so.
  • New USA Swimming Rules and Regulations: At the athlete meetings, the changes that were voted on were discussed in detail before the vote, giving proper education to the athletes before voting. Now that they are in place, I believe it is our responsibility to convey the changes to our athlete community so they are aware on what is going on in their sport.
  • Practices: Practices were held at Georgia Tech University, the facility used for the 1996 Olympic Games. Swimmers were self-divided into four groups: National Team workout, training, technique, and workout from home club coaches. I swam with the technique group, and was taught new drills that will be beneficial not just for me but for my club.
  • Athlete Social Events: The athletes met up after meetings in the Athlete Lounge provided. From there, athletes made friends and interacted with each other, making dinner and outing plans throughout the week with groups of 20+ athletes. An athlete bowling event was coordinated by the Athletes Executive Committee, and many were in attendance. Those who were not had a “get to know you” bonding event in the athlete lounge with pizza and beverages.

Summary: Overall, I had a great time at convention. I learned a lot, made new friends and valuable contacts in the world of swimming. I would love to represent San Diego next year in Dallas to learn more about how to further our sport and our LSC. There is a lot of knowledge out there and coming out of convention I believe it is my duty to convey this information to our swimmers, as well as learn as much as I can to benefit San Diego Imperial Swimming.


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