Executive Director of United States Swimming, Chuck Wielgus (1997)


Published


Tell me a guy isn’t being set up when he looks at the program and four hours after he’s supposed to speak there is a session that is titled “If I were the executive director of US Swimming I Would.” Thank You John.

I am the newest and I hope to be the most enthusiastic member of USS, but more importantly, I think the newest and most enthusiastic member of the swimming community. It’s interesting to me that USS says “us” and I think that’s symbolic of what US Swimming is all about. It’s not an organization in Colorado Springs CO, it’s not an organization in Fort Lauderdale, and it’s not an individual club or coach or athlete. It’s all of us together. I hope that during my tenor in this position, which I hope is a long one, is all about “us” who are involved in American swimming.

What I thought I would talk about this morning is a little bit about myself. I’m self-conscious and get tired of doing that but I have to introduce myself to you all a little. I’d also like to talk a little more about the fundamental philosophy that we need to embrace to move swimming forward into the future, into the 21st century. I’d like to talk about the future of competitive swimming what it can be, and then leave some time for questions and answers.

In talking about myself I feel as if I were applying for a job, and I am. I’m applying for the job of wanting your trust and confidence, I want your support and your backing. So I need to sell not only myself to you but I need to sell USS to you and that doesn’t happen in one talk on one Saturday morning, that happens over a course of time. I want to reach out and encourage each of you to get to know me and to get to know our staff, get to know our programs and not be afraid to question us, to criticize us, to suggest ideas to us, but to embrace us as an important member of “US,” our community.

I spent 10 years as a coach. I know what it’s like. I miss those Saturday morning and stinky smelling old high school locker rooms. For 10 years they were a critical part of my life. It was during those 10 years that I got the values that I think have made me what I am today, which I hope is a good person. I will forever carry with me those values that I got as a high school coach. The sport I coached was basketball but like most high school coaches you end up coaching soccer, and lacrosse and then in the summer you have to run the recreation program in town, and you start an age group swimming program. You do that so you can make ends meet because you’re trying to raise a family and you have kids coming back year to year and that is what gets you all excited about getting up and work with the kids you work with today. All those carry-over values have to do with character development. Over and above the winning and losing and those awful trips in those yellow busses. You get through all that and you miss it when you get out of it. I still miss it today and I’ve been out of if almost 15 years. I think it’s important that you know that I’ve got those roots. I’ve been in locker rooms, I’ve been in gyms, and I’ve been on pool decks. I’ve done laundry and sorted uniforms and taken the bus trips. I get excited about other people having to do that.

The last 14 or 15 years I’ve been in sports management, sports marketing side of the business. I’ve been involved in raising money, building facilities, including swimming pools, putting on events, working with corporate sponsors, working with TV. All of that has helped make me a much better and well-rounded sports management person. I got into the sports management business before all these schools popped up and started churning out all these sports management majors.

I came from the grass roots coaching community and I think I’m like a surfer. I caught the wave early on and am very fortunate to be where I am today. Where I am today is exactly where I want to be. My first day on the job during a staff meeting someone asked me how long are you going to stay with USS, and my response was how long has Ray been here? Someone said 20 years and I said I’m in for 21. That’s reflective of my competitive nature and also my sincerity. I am where I want to be and I hope that you all will let me stay here a long long time.

Some personal values. I’m a wear it on your sleeve kind of guy. I’m open, I’m honest, I’m not afraid to get into frank discussions, pro and con. I hope that openness and honesty will be transmitted organizationally through USS as we redevelop the culture of USS. I think it’s very important, we need to redevelop the culture of USS. I hope my openness and honesty will be a cornerstone. I’m into being positive and seeking constant improvement. I have low tolerance for negative people. If you’re into negativity you probably don’t want to be in my way, because I’ll go right by you. I’m into always trying to get better. I’m almost 50 years old and I’m still trying to prefect my jump shot. I’m not there yet. I’m into being competitive, I want to win. If I’m playing you in something I want to beat you. I think you all are the same way. We want to win, be the best. I wouldn’t be with USS if I didn’t think it was the best program in the Olympic movement. I think we should all be proud that swimming is the flagship sport in the Olympic movement, we just need to tell more people about that. Enough about me.

Some fundamental philosophies that I think are critical to us as we build the future of USS. I really think these fundamental principles have got to be the foundation on which we move forward. One of the great advantages I have coming in from the outside is that you get a fresh set of eyes. I can be a little bit objective. I can stand in front of USS staff on the first day and ask them a very simple question, who are we? I don’t mean that as some deep soul searching question, but just in our name U.S. Swimming. Our Logo says USA Swimming who then are we? That may not be a question that people within this community have thought about, but coming from the outside you look at it and say maybe it doesn’t make sense, or maybe there is a good reason for it. I think being able to ask those simple questions is good. During the interview process with the board of directors I was asked to make a presentation. At the end the board asked me if I had any questions. I said I have lots of questions most of which are curiosity questions but I only have one that I want to ask. Because the answer to this one question will tell me everything I need to know about this organization’s willingness to move forward. The question is this: It is my understanding or belief that the role of the board of directors is to govern, to set policy, to think about long range planning, but you hire an executive director, a chief executive officer, to drive your business. Do you agree or disagree? Because if you agree we’re going to get along fine, if you disagree find someone else. Find an administrator, find someone who’s going to follow your lead and take your orders.

Unfortunately, I will probably have a run in with some members of the board of directors, but we will probably butt heads over programs, over budgets, over procedures, over staffing. Some of those things I don’t think are any business of the board of directors. But I absolutely believe that a board of directors has a responsibility and obligation to lead, to govern its policy and do long term planning. Such in a University, you hire a coach to coach the team. They have to be held accountable. But the president or athletic director doesn’t come to practice and lead the training program, lead the drills, make decisions that affect what happens in a competition. Look at other sports which have been successful. I came from the Sr. PGA tour. There was a policy board made up of players, corporate leaders and others that had deep and long involvement with the game of golf. But the business was driven by the commissioner Ken Finchem. Does anyone for a minute think that David Stearns sits up in the NBA offices in NY and every time he wants to make a little budget adjustment or make some personnel changes or explore some more program opportunities that he gets together with committees and boards and they explore it for 18 months and meanwhile the opportunity has blown by. No Way. The NBA is what it is today because there is a chief executive officer there who is making decisions and who is driving the business. Same thing with NASCAR. There are probably not three other examples that I could give you that are any better than the PGA tour, the NBA and the NASCAR in terms of sports businesses that have been successful. There is no reason why USS should not look and learn from those types of successes.

I have no sense of ownership. I have a tremendous sense of obligation and responsibility. If I had a sense of ownership I would start looking to control and protect turf. I come with no biases or no prejudice. I just want to do a great job. I want to serve the sport of swimming. I mentioned earlier that I feel the need to change the culture of US Swimming. That is in no way meant to say that the culture that is there now is a bad culture. I think the culture needs to evolve into something else. Just as we evolve in our personal lives we need to keep growing. With the arrival of a new executive director, USS can look at itself and say this is a time to grow, to expand, to question, to reaffirm and to refocus.

Now to the fundamental philosophies that I think are so important. I think that we must foster an open environment with healthy communications. That sounds really simple, but when you get below the surface of that and you really start embracing a culture that welcomes questions, new ideas and challenges. It sometimes threatens people’s preconceived notions, or traditional programs. I think you’ve got someone involved in the sport now who is going to not only throw out questions, but welcome those questions in return.

I encourage people to challenge what we do at USS. Are we spending our money wisely? Have we got the right kind of programs? Have we got the right kind of people working on those programs? Is our role the right role? Are there other things that we can do better? Are there some things we shouldn’t be doing at all? Are there new kinds of relationships that we should be having? I welcome that input, that criticism, those challenges. I think we must work collaterally, not confrontation. We are all in this together, USS is US.

There is an old country saying that you catch a lot more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. We’ve got to work together. There is no reason why all the different organizations that are involved in competitive swimming shouldn’t have a shared vision. We should be charging up the same mountain. I absolutely believe that can be done. I would like to think the first symbolic example of that was with John Leonard and me getting together. As I did a little research of my own about the job, one of the things I heard was that the Coaches Association and the Federation were bumping heads. Looking at it from the outside, it seems pretty silly to me. What’s the problem? Coaches are the bedrock of the sport. They are what make it work. We have got to have a good relationship. Who is the executive director, what’s his name, what’s his phone number, I’ve got to call him. We’ve got to get together and talk. It seems simple, and I think it is.

We must seek consensus in common ground where ever possible. Every organization is not going to agree on everything all the time. There are going to be disagreements, but we need to disagree agreeably. Where ever possible we need to seek those win-win situations. Seek common ground, always working for the betterment of the sport. Where we can’t get there we just agree to disagree.

We need to forge alliances and build long term partnerships. You reach a stage in your life where you don’t want any more one night stands. You want to have long term relationships. That’s what leads to long term health which leads to long term productivity and to long term happiness. I’m not trying to make a moral statement about personal lives, I’m trying to make a business statement about what I think works. Especially in this day and age. If you look at ‘in flight’ magazines on air planes and stumble across management articles, I guarantee you within the next couple of months somewhere you will find an article that talks about partnerships, alliances, collaborations. It’s the paragon in business not only today, but moving into the future. Companies understand that, companies that are at the head of the curb understand that. As a sport we need to understand and recognize that.

At the Senior PGA Tour we had three strongly opinionated groups with three different perspectives on how the Senior PGA should work. We had players who were rich white guys, independent contractors with a lot of influence and power and public recognition. We had the PGA Tour which owns the concept of the PGA Tour. They own the television rights, they own the major sponsors and marketing rights for the tour.

Then we had 40 event organizers, who felt that they owned it. It was their tournament in their community. My job was to get those 3 groups working together as smoothly as possible. They all worked together because they all learned to stick up for what they believed in, but compromise for the common good where it was appropriate. So the Senior PGA tour players play in 2 Pro Ams. They have to play with amateurs that are lucky to break 100. It drives those guys crazy. They would much rather play with each other than go out and beat the ball around with the guys that are swinging it out of bounds all the time. They recognize that it is important for the sport, because the people that they are playing with are putting money into the sport. They are buying tickets, they’re watching it on TV, so they make that sacrifice, and they make that compromise. PGA tour recognizes that they need to make compromises with the individual tournaments. They need to accommodate those local sponsors. Those corporations that are in the community that are there year round. The PGA comes into town just one week a year, but these companies and those event organizers are there all the time. They need to accommodate them and integrate them into the program. The tournament directors need to learn to work with the demands that are put upon them by TV and the national sponsors that they must provide hospitality for. It all works because everyone has a shared vision of what it should be. I would like to think that it is because there are people in place that recognize that it is their job to get all the spokes in the wheel working together around the hub.

We must explore new opportunities and be unafraid to change. Everyone says that’s a great one, but wait until that rubber starts hitting the road. We’ve got to explore new opportunities and be unafraid to change.

I love new ideas and I welcome everyone to call, email, write and video with your ideas. A part that always intrigues me is when it is ‘here’s a good idea that you should do.’ I love the part that said, here’s a good idea, but I get a little concerned about here’s what YOU should do. What I encourage you to do with your ideas is to say, here’s a good idea, here’s how it can get done, here’s who can do it, here’s when it can be done, here’s how it will be funded. Those are all the tough questions that have to be answered. I’m willing to sit down with anyone anywhere anytime to try to answer those tough questions and figure out how WE can accomplish new things for the betterment of our sport.

We must plan but be unafraid to act intuitively. Develop your plan, work your plan, every coach knows that. Sometimes you have a gut instinct. When I was coaching basketball, I would get in that situation at the end of the game, you’re down 2 points, you need a basket, you have the ball, you call time out and you go in the huddle.

Over time I learned to say who wants it? Sometimes it’s the kid who hasn’t scored the entire game and he says well I know they are going to be looking for Bill over here and if my guys going to go help, I’ll be left alone. OK. That’s the play, the kid has been shooting bricks the whole game but he thinks he can do it. OK, let’s do it. Sometimes you have to go with that gut instinct. I would like to illustrate a time when that really worked but it never did. They always have one chance anyway. For instance, in our office we sell merchandise. We are designing T-shirts and stock piling stuff and we are trying to sell it to you and your kids.

The NBA has licensing programs, the NFL has licensing programs and we’re trying to do it ourselves. Something is telling me that we are maybe in the wrong business. We aren’t merchandisers. We need to get some professional help, we need to license our program out. We need to focus what we’re really in place for and not try to be merchandisers.

That’s an intuitive thing, sometimes you don’t have to research, and you have to just go do it. You’ve got to go with that gut instinct. I believe that. I don’t think that’s irresponsible. We must strive for excellence. That’s an easy one. No one here will argue with me on this one.

We must strive for excellence, we must expect ourselves to perform, we expect our athletes to perform and I expect our staff to perform. I expect me to perform. We must be held accountable. You have to be held accountable. You’re held accountable to give a set of values to your athletes. You’re held accountable for winning or losing. You’re held accountable for keeping things within budget. We should be held accountable too. I’m not afraid, we should be held accountable publicly. We want to stand for something. We want to stand for striving for excellence.

Over the years I’m sure you have heard Denny Pursley talk about character development. He’s right on. We’re in the business, you all are in the business of character development. I work in Colorado Springs and I have been in the Olympic movement for some time. They tie our funding to how many medals we win. We’re quick to point out that if swimming wins 25% of the medals in Atlanta, how important that is to the Olympic movement. I’m not saying that’s not important, but we sometimes get all wrapped up in who won and who lost and how many medals and how much time on TV and how many sponsors and what is the size of our membership and our budget.

What it’s really all about is those carry over values. Respect, respect for others. Working hard. Being a better person, being a good teammate, being a good role model. Setting an example and making the best of yourself. Helping someone else be the best they can be. That’s why you all coach. That’s why we should all be working with that same attitude at USS. We need to talk about that more. I think those of us in the Olympic business need to talk about that more. That’s what Olympicism is all about. It’s not about red, white and blue, medals and TV, it’s about those values and no other sport that I know of, and I mean this sincerely as someone who is not a competitive swimmer, I can’t think of another sport that imparts the values to the depth and breadth that swimming does to its athletes and participants. I think you don’t have to look any further than the kinds of people who have gone through your own programs. What have they become as adults?

We must show leadership. Everyone has to show leadership in the job they’re in. If you’re a coach, or an administrator you have a responsibility to show leadership. At USS I believe we have enormous responsibility to show leadership. That’s our role. We have to accept it, we have to be proud of it, we can’t abuse it, and it comes with an enormous obligation. At USS we are responsible for providing leadership. We need to be able to see the big picture and yet not be afraid to roll up our sleeves and get down and do some work. We need to set ambitious goals, that’s part of leadership. You set goals for your kids when you sit down with them and come up with training plans and competition plans and progress for them. We need to set ambitious goals. A statement I love is, “Imagine what can be done, then figure out how to do it. It’s not the other way around.”

A couple of examples are: This one is a comment that was written on a business student’s paper. “The concept is interesting and well informed, but in order to earn better than a grade C the idea must be feasible.” This was written by a Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. Fred Smith went on to be the founder of Federal Express. One more: “This telephone has too many short comings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” That was an internal management memo written within the Western Union Company. They’re in the fortune 100 today. Image what can be done, then figure out how to it.

I think we need to ignore the nay sayers. That’s the point I’m trying to make. Ignore the nay sayers. People are going to try and put obstacles in our path, and we must go through them or over them or go around them. We’re going to be that way at USS. We’re going to ignore the nay sayers. We’re going to be positive, we’re going to seek the positive and improvement. We aren’t going to make friends with everybody, we’re going to cross swords every now and then but we’re going to disagree agreeably.

The future of USS, I should say the future of swimming in the United States. I think that’s maybe a little more inclusive. There is a great commercial out now with Lou Holtz. He’s in front of the camera promoting football on TV. Lou Holtz says Martin Luther King didn’t say I have a strategic plan, he said I have a dream. What a wonderful commercial. We need both. We in swimming need both. We need to have dreams and strategic plans and we need to go make them work. Let’s not confuse the two. The two are distinct and separate. It starts with dreaming and then we have to have the discipline to put the plan together and make it work.

I think USS has 3 core business objectives around which we must build our business for our future. I think the first is we must promote our sport. Several years ago I was in the NBA office in NY and David Stearns was asked the question, What’s the mission of the NBA? His answer was to promote Basketball worldwide. It wasn’t to make the league bigger or better or get more money or more sponsors, it was to promote basketball worldwide. If you think about that you start to understand why the NBA has all these licensing programs. When something works well in one city with one team, the idea is taken and shared with other teams and other cities. NBA teams are taken for international exhibitions to Japan or Spain. The NBA hooks up with 3 on 3 tournament exercises and runs tours domestically and internationally. They are selling the game, they’re selling the sport. We have to do that. Every single one of us has different opportunities to sell the sport. We have to get out there and do it. USS, I believe, has an obligation to help and to lead the way in doing that. Promoting the sport is one of our core business objectives, we have to embrace it and we have to accept it.

Number 2 core business objective. We have to continue to build our base of athletes, coaches, clubs and even volunteers. We have to continue to build our base.

Number 3 core business objective. We have to strengthen our pipeline to Olympic success. It’s so important. These objectives are circular. By promoting the sport, we build the base, we’ve got Olympic success, and they all work together. When we have Olympic success it sure does promote the sport. I think everything we do at USS has got to be measured against how well it addresses one or more of those core objectives. We can run an event that could just help to build the base. We could run another event that could just work to feed the pipeline. We send a team to Pan Pac, we’re working on the pipeline, when we do regional championships, and we’re building the base. We might do other events just to promote the sport. They have no meaning in building the base or feeding the pipeline. Although if the event is promoting the sport they will help to build the base. Everything we do must be tied back to those core business objectives. If it doesn’t fit into one or more of those objectives, we shouldn’t be doing it. We are going to take a hard long look at everything we do at USS and see how everything measures up against those objectives.

I’ve looked into my crystal ball and tried to look at the future of swimming. I’ve only been on the job 6 weeks, so I’m not ready to stick my neck out too far. I think there are some general things that I’ve started to recognize that we have to deal with in swimming in this country. At least from my prospective with USS, the view will get broader as time goes on.

Legislative reform. We have a bureaucracy that is unbelievable in USS. It is cumbersome and complex, it is a work of art. It is unbelievable. I’m going to challenge the USS board of directors to figure it out. To streamline it, to make it more efficient, make it more effective. That doesn’t mean we have to disenfranchise people. It doesn’t mean I don’t believe in the democratic process. The ultimate democracy is chaos. We’re so bogged down with regulations and procedures that if someone has a great idea, by the time that idea gets off the ground the wave has gone by, we missed it. I hope our staff got that on record and we can play that in a couple weeks in San Francisco.

Financial flexibility. This goes along with legislative reform. We have got to have a system in United States Swimming. We are a multi-million dollar business. We’re not spending a couple hundred dollars, we’re spending multi-millions of dollars a year. Our ability to be entrepreneurs is virtually zero. We have to put in financial flexibility into our system at USS. This will allow people who are in charge of driving the business to be entrepreneur and yet still be accountable. We’ve got to be able to respond to what’s going on in the market place. We must take advantage of new opportunities. We must say this doesn’t fit in our core objectives. We’re just not doing it. We must say here’s why and if we’re proven to be wrong and it’s serious, we must get someone else to do the job. Financial flexibility goes right along with legislative reform.

We have to reorganize our organization in Colorado Springs. We have an organization that has been cobbled together over time. It has taken political considerations above strategic considerations. From a business perspective it just doesn’t make sense. I get asked about having too many staff members. I don’t have an answer. We may have too many, we may not have enough. We need to look at everything we do and see how it fits against our business plan. How does it work against our budget? We must be able to justify what we’re doing. We must determine if we have the right people in the right places. If we have the right structure that aligns with our core business objectives. We want to be a well-oiled engine. We must take advantage of things. We can move forward, we can respond to the market place. I don’t think we are set up to do that now. We’re going to have to reorganize. I want to have employees that are knowledgeable, committed, and enthusiastic and are empowered to act decisively. I don’t think we have the culture at USS right now that allows that to happen. I’m talking about the future, the evolution of the business of swimming. We need to re-culture our business. We need to become more entrepreneur. We need to have people that are empowered, people that are held accountable and people that can help drive our sport forward. Five years from now we want someone in another sport to stand up and say, you know there is the NBA, the PGA Tour, and NASCAR and there is USS. Look at what they’ve done in the past 5 years. We want someone looking at us as a model.

Partnerships. We have got to develop partnerships whenever and wherever it is appropriate and possible. Partnerships with the US Olympic committee, with the NCAA, with NISCA, with the YMCA, with facilities managers, with Masters swimming, even with ASCA. We’ve got to have good strong partnerships. We have an obligation at USS under our charter to be involved in coach’s education. We have an enormous responsibility in coach’s education. We are foolish if we are not working with our coaches association on coach’s education. It only makes sense.

Club development. We share concerns there. We’ve got to develop programs that work in concert. It’s easier to have 5 people pushing that rock up that hill than just 1 or 2. We need to support our coaches and clubs. We need to provide better resources. We need to make those resources more available. We need to hear from you what those resources should or shouldn’t be. Let us know, what do you want? We need to reconnect with our alumnae. There are 400+ Olympians, swimmers. I don’t know how many are still involved in swimming. For all the time they spent in the sport, I know they must have a warm spot in their heart for the sport. These are people who are successful in other aspects of their lives. We need to form a true alumnae association that embraces those people. We need to bring them back into the sport. We don’t need to ask them for money, they have given enough. We ask them for their support, their ideas. To be part of the team that they helped create in the first place. Somewhere down the road, when the association grows and is active, at a reunion you might ask someone to give a talk for us. Would they go make a sponsor presentation with us? Could you introduce us to the director of marketing at the Fortune 500 Company you’re working at? They can help in that way. We don’t need their money. We need to reconnect with our alumnae.

Communications. I think we must look at everything we do in the area of communications and see if we are being effective. Get more information out to more people. Reduce duplication of expenses.

Public relations. It starts with one on one relationships. It ultimately evolves into corporate and media and mass communication relationships. We have to start with public relation strategies. Where we all recognize that it starts with us. With everyone we meet, is there an opportunity to sell our sport? Is there an opportunity for that person to go out and sell the sport to others?

New marketing initiatives. We are in the process of extinguishing a relationship that USS has had for 17 or 18 years. It is with the NY Park Avenue marketing firm. They are good people, they have done a lot for swimming in the past. But they don’t get up and worry about it every day like we do. We are bringing that function in house. There are so many fun things to look at in the area of marketing. Events, sponsorships, TV, those are the big 3 that jump out. Two National championships. If you are outside the sport of swimming, you don’t get it. I don’t know how to talk to network executives or sponsors about 2 national championships in one or two sentences. Maybe we need to change the name. Maybe we should look at our events. A National Club Championship. It makes sense to me. If I’m running the club program I’d love to be able to compete for a national club championship. We have a US Open Swim Championship that seems to be a popular event. It seems to be a moving target. Maybe we need to look at that. Is it in the right place in the calendar, has it got the right direction? How do we describe that event? Some people in the corporate and TV market place look at our event schedule and I have to stumble over myself when I try and explain it to them. We need to look at our events.

US Swim league is an interesting idea. We will explore that. It might end up being a bad idea, but it is sure worth looking into now. We must look at other events. We set up a crazy event in Canoe Kayak. We came up with the idea from a cycling race. The riders go around a track and the last rider across the start line is pulled off. They keep going around and the last rider keeps getting pulled off until there is one left. He’s the winner. We did that with a 200 meter course in Kayaking. We sent 8 down the track and knocked one down and so on. Until we had four left. Then we ran a race. Gold, Silver, Bronze. We had prize money, it was on TV. It is now in our World Championships. It helped to change the sport a little. It was exciting. The athletes loved it. The coaches didn’t love it because the athletes started training for that event instead of distance events. We must look at those kinds of ideas and explore new ideas. There is not someone in that office in Colorado Springs who is going to come up with an event idea and go out and try to produce it in a vacuum. We must build and seek consensus. Find common ground and compromise when you can. Denny Pursley will be keeping a good eye on me I assure you.

Sponsorships. We have some great relationships in swimming, long term relationships. Speedo© immediately comes to mind and there are others. We want to continue those relationships. But we need to attract other corporate sponsors into the sport. We need corporate partners that will help us promote the sport. Sometimes the greatest thing a company can do is promote our sport, not just give us money. We need to explore those opportunities. We need to get into the licensing business. We need to develop stronger media partners. NBC Sports is broadcasting the next 3 Olympic Games. They will be broadcasting our Olympic trails in 2002, 2004 and 2008. There is gymnastics on TV almost every week. Track and field is popping up a little more. What’s going on with swimming? We need to talk to those people, we need to find out how we can work together with them to increase the exposure of swimming. We may not have a sport that links itself to the game of the week every Sunday, but we should be on TV a couple times a year. Not just every 4 years. I don’t follow cycling, but I sure know what the Tour D’ France is. What kind of event do we have that people are going to recognize as that big swimming event? I don’t think we have that event.

People outside the swimming community don’t know what the Pan Pacs are. We need to come up with that idea. It might be 3 or 4 years away, but we need to start thinking about it. We need to find some events that we can hang our sport on. So that guy going through the dials on his TV stops at swimming.

These are some things we are thinking about. I am not afraid to stand up and say what we are thinking about and talking about within our office. I also won’t be afraid to stand up 6 months from now and say that we tried that idea, but it didn’t work. TV didn’t like it, people didn’t like. We will not try. That’s the most important thing I can leave with you. We are not going to not try to do everything we can to make swimming recognized for everything that it has to offer.

I hope you sense some sincerity in my enthusiasm because it is real and it’s there every day. I get out of bed and charge to the shower and get to the office kind of guy. I hope you feel that. While we may fall down and skin our knees in some areas, it won’t be from not having our head in the wind and charging forward. That’s an attitude that I hope to infect to the rest of our staff in Colorado Springs.

Again, the people that are there are good. People ask me my impression of the staff in Colorado Springs and I tell them they are dedicated people, knowledgeable people and I think they need to be lead to a charge up the hill. I’m hoping to do that. I feel that’s my responsibility as their leader in the office. They have the knowledge and the training and the commitment, they are ready to be lead forward. That means for the benefit for USS and us. For the benefit of American swimming.

I believe we have the flagship sport. I believe the opportunities in front of us are endless. I think it’s going to be fun to explore them. I want to open the lines of communication for all of you. Either through your own association, through John, or contact us directly.

But bombard us with ideas and thoughts. Whenever possible tell us how it can be done, when it can be done, who can do it, how it will be funded. Don’t forget those questions, but we’ll even take just ideas. Bombard us with input and communication.

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