This was originally a post on the AI Group on Linkedin in response to the article listed below regarding allegations made at the Mission Viejo Swim Club. I cleaned up some of the grammar and added a few thoughts.

-Original Source-

-The link below is Mission Viejo's Response to the stories that ran.

Ok so most of us across the US don't know the players here and the total story. There is crazy stuff going on all over the place and we likely won't get everything from the media. 

With that said...Young Aquatics folks (and it's mostly guys) stay the heck away from the younger kids in your programs. Regardless of if it is "legal" doesn't make it right. USA Swimming as the organization is really trying to stop this with their newer policies but as industry professionals we need to call things as they are. "older" young guys should not be getting involved with younger girls who are involved with our programs. It is just flat out isn't right. We as professionals who need to police ourselves for those cases that are perfectly legal but we all know they are wrong. 

18 year olds have a different mentality typically than 21 year olds, 21 year olds have a different mentality than 25 year olds. When I get into my 30's I'm sure I'll tell you that it is a different mentality than when I was closer to 25. Those of us in positions of authority have a higher obligation to be better. 

If we are going to be a group of professionals we need to start acting like it. We are better than this garbage that the media is putting out. We need to stop being reactionary to the media and being proactive that this kind of garbage isn't going to be allowed. I call on all of our facilities to put standards in place similar to what USA Swimming has that we enforce as the code of conduct for our facilities. I would even go as far to include it in contracts/use agreements that reoccurring users have to agree to, if they don't follow it they are out of the facility and the group could lose their pool space. It doesn't have to be for just illegal but those things that are just not ok anymore. 
News stories like this for a facility or program in trouble could be the tipping point to losing that facility.  This will suck away the political support, user support and credibility you have. 

Let's make ending abuse of children and young adults a priority on the same level of preventing drownings. 

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Comment by Joe Andrews on April 2, 2012 at 12:43pm

I agree 100% Jim that there is a difference in most cases. My background is smaller facilities/communities where we as pool people either are also the coach or interface very closely with the team. In many situations I have seen, the pool manager/director is the only consistent thing with USA Swimming teams where you have a coach for 2-3 years if they are lucky and a revolving door for their board. This does apply to larger pools to the extent that all facilities can be vigilant towards this sort of thing going on. The worst of the actions are really not happening at our facilities, its going on elsewhere. I think what I'm really looking at is facilities across the board get serious about actively pushing this will not be allowed at our facilities and to have this on the radar. Again, it may not be happening at our pools, but it happens in connection with individuals and programs that center around our facilities. I’d like to see us start including any applicable tools like USA Swimming has in their code of conduct for coaches (criminal background investigations for leaders, coach/swimmer contact, banning private meetings, etc.) in facility use agreements for Swimming (USA and HS), Water Polo, Diving, and any reoccurring user that deals with kids. In a lot of cases these groups get a sort of deal and are de facto partners with these groups. 

Give us a little bit of a stick to make sure we can act when something is starting, not try to make a rule in the middle of it. I know this may not be an issue for 99.9% of our facilities have, but we do have an opportunity to be the leader. Look at as a dual win, we put another layer in to protect kids and it is a goodwill/marketing investment.

-The facilities and USA Swimming Clubs that really need to hear this are the ones who are likely not on here.

Comment by Jim Wheeler on April 2, 2012 at 11:38am

I believe there is a difference between an "Aquatic Professional" and a "Professional Swim Coach", one operates pools, waterparks, beaches the other trains swimmers for a living. Although I am sure there are plenty of documented cases where older pool employees (Lifeguards and Swim Instructors) are dating younger staff, I have never worked for an agency that didn't have a policy against this practice. The surge of swim coaches making the news for these relationships with their swimmers over the past few years has made the sport realize that is some form or another this has been going on for years. I agree it is wrong to play coach, role model, mentor to young people, that many coaches spend up to 3 or 4 hours each day training, then develop a relationship with them away from the pool. As athletes they develop bonds of trust and admiration for these role models in their life and I agree it is a shame that so many coaches have taken advantage of this.

Comment by Nick Bacon on April 2, 2012 at 10:13am

Well said Joe, and you'r right 30 is a different mindset than 25, though my wife claims I'm just as immature now lol.

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