| Wednesday, January 11, 2017COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Chuck Wielgus, who joined USA Swimming as Executive Director in July 1997, will retire from his post after more than 20 years guiding the national governing body to unparalleled achievement within the Olympic movement.
“This has been a long and difficult decision because I love USA Swimming and I have always approached my role with enthusiasm and passion. It has been an honor and a privilege to walk through the doors every day at USA Swimming with our dedicated and talented staff and work in service to our athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers who comprise the membership of our wonderful organization,” Wielgus said. “I believe with all my heart that USA Swimming’s best years are ahead. I am confident that the work we have done these past two decades has established a firm foundation upon which future growth can occur.”
The longest-tenured chief executive in the Olympic family, Wielgus added duties as Chief Executive Officer of the USA Swimming Foundation at its inception in 2004. He will retire effective August 31, 2017.
“During his almost 20 years as Executive Director, Chuck has raised the bar for how a CEO in Olympic sports is measured. He has taken USA Swimming places no one could have imagined 20 years ago,” said USA Swimming Board of Directors Chair Jim Sheehan. “From making our Olympic Trials into a world-class event and creating the USA Swimming Foundation to leading an NGB that has been the top producer of podium finishes at the Olympic Games, Chuck has done more than any other person for USA Swimming.”
Under Wielgus’ direction, USA Swimming has enjoyed an extended period of success and been recognized as the top summer Olympic sport. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, some of USA Swimming’s most notable achievements with Wielgus as executive director have been:
•Membership growth doubled to more than 400,000 members. In the year before Wielgus arrived, USA Swimming had fewer than 200,000 members
•Formation of the Club Development Division in 2001 to provide swim teams across the country with resources and expertise to help them improve as small businesses and with their swim performance
•Podium performances by the U.S. Olympic Swim Team that averaged more than 31 medals in each of the last five Olympic Games, including 33 medals (16 gold) at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The medal count has equated to approximately 33 percent of the total Team USA count
•Increased revenues by 600 percent, including an expansion of sponsorship partners to more than 10 annually
•Growing the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming into a major showcase event in a 17,000-seat entertainment venue. The 2016 Olympic Trials was completely sold out with more than 200,000 tickets for 15 sessions at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha
•Creation of new properties that showcase the sport, such as the made-for-TV Duel in the Pool and the Golden Goggle Awards celebration and fundraiser
•Securing annual year-round network television coverage of championship swimming events, including the Pro Swim Series, National Championships, Winter National Championships, World Championships, U.S. Olympic Team Trials,Pan Pacific Championships and Duel in the Pool
•Formation of the USA Swimming Foundation to provide financial support for National Team athletes and save lives through swim lessons with the Make A Splash initiative. To date the program has awarded more than $4 Million in grants to swim lesson providers and provided swim lessons for more than 4 Million children who wouldn’t otherwise have the ability to get the life-saving skill of swimming
•Expansion of Splash Magazine as an award-winning publication for USA Swimming members. The magazine is delivered to more than 275,000 member households
•Production of a feature-length documentary, The Last Gold, which told the story of the women's 1976 U.S. Olympic Swim Team that went against an East German team which was later confirmed to have used performance enhancing drugs in a state-run system
•Establishment of USA Swimming Productions, which is designed to grow existing media properties and create and distribute digital content for USA Swimming
"Swimming in the United States has never been stronger, and that is because of Chuck. He is a true sportsman, loving sport for how it makes us feel and how it brings us together,” said United States Olympic Committee Chief Executive Officer Scott Blackmun. “We are grateful for our successes together and look forward to seeing his good work make a difference in the lives of athletes for many years to come."
“Chuck has built USA Swimming into the best national sports federation in the world, one of excellence and intelligence and heart and, above all, character,” said Dick Ebersol, former NBC Sports & Olympics Chairman. “It’s been my honor and privilege to have Chuck as a friend, and to work together to help make the Olympic movement in America the envy of much of the rest the sporting world.”
The recipient of numerous awards over his career, Wielgus was most recently honored with a 2016 National Honorary Doctorate from the United States Sports Academy. Prior recipients of the Honorary Doctorate include Prince Albert of Monaco, Bud Selig, Billie Jean King, Richard Pound, General Norman Schwarzkopf, Donna de Varona, Pat Summit and Condoleezza Rice.
Wielgus was awarded the first-ever Association of Chief Executives of Sport (ACES) Chief Executive Leadership Award in 2015, received a Lifetime Achievement in Sport award from the El Pomar Foundation and was the 2011 recipient of the National Great Comebacks Award for his cancer survival and contributions.
Within swimming, he was named among the 30 Most Influential People in Swimming for the 30-year period of 1975-2015 and has earned awards from the American Swimming Coaches Association and the College Swimming Coaches Association.
Wielgus has dedicated most of his professional life to sports at all levels. Prior to his work at USA Swimming, he was the executive director of the Senior PGA Tour Tournament Directors Association. From 1989-96 he was the executive director of the United States Canoe and Kayak Team, the national governing body for that Olympic sport.
From 1983-89, Wielgus was the executive director of the Hilton Head Island Recreation Association, where he led the effort to produce the master plan for the resort island’s public recreation facilities and sports programs. From 1974-83 he was a coach and recreation director in Woodstock, Vt., where he coached basketball, lacrosse and swimming and served two terms as the president of the Vermont Recreation and Parks Association.
Wielgus earned his M.Ed. from Springfield College in Springfield, Mass., in 1974 and a B.A. in history from Providence College in 1972.