By Jim Sheehan//USA Swimming President | Friday, February 10, 2017Several weeks ago it was announced that our Chief Executive Officer, Chuck Wielgus, will retire later this year after 20 years at the helm of USA Swimming. I have had the good fortune to have been able to work closely with Chuck for the past two years and I can't thank him enough for his patience, insight and openness over that period. I know my predecessors all feel the same way.
USA Swimming has begun the search for our new CEO but before I go into any detail in that regard, I think it is very important to reflect on what has been accomplished during Chuck's term as our CEO.
- Bringing in-house the business development functions that had previously been outsourced to another firm. This allowed USA Swimming to have greater control over the direction of our work with sponsors and other business partners.
- Changed what was a swim meet every four years that selected our Olympic Team into an event that is known as the preeminent Olympic Trials and is the envy of every NGB.
- Early in his tenure, we had to pay for television coverage of our national championship meets. Now, our Olympic Trials are covered live every evening.
- Created a program to help fund elite athletes so they can train full time without the need to carry an additional job and also continue their competitive careers well after their college years.
- Created the National Team Division which has allowed USA Swimming to help clubs and high level athletes reach their potential and optimize our opportunities for medals at the highest level international meets, including the Olympics
- Formed the Club Development Division. Clubs are critically important to the development of athletes both in swimming and in life. This division provides resources to help our clubs succeed.
- Established the Safe Sport program that is known throughout the Olympic sport world for its effectiveness in protecting our athletes and all other members.
- Created the USA Swimming Foundation with its dual purpose of Saving Lives and Building Champions. To date, the Foundation has helped support swim lessons for over four million children and provides funds to support the National Team athlete programs.
- Developed a top-notch staff and a culture that promotes excellence and a focus on our core business objectives of Build, Promote and Achieve.
- And just two years ago, Chuck was honored as the first recipient of the Executive Leadership Award presented by the Association of Chief Executives for Sport (ACES). As such, Chuck has been recognized as the top CEO in the Olympic sport arena.
At a meeting in late January, the Board of Directors approved a CEO Search Task Force that would create and manage the search process and identify and evaluate candidates for the CEO position. Ultimately, this group will recommend its top candidate to the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors. The Task Force has already held several calls and is moving forward with a plan that includes sending an RFP to interested search firms and reaching out to our stakeholders for their perspectives on the direction for USA Swimming.
Thank you to the members of the Task Force who are undertaking one of the most important efforts asked of our volunteers since I have been involved in USA Swimming. The members of the Task Force are listed below.
- Ron Van Pool (Task Force Chair) - Ron is a past president of USA Swimming as well as having a number of other governance and volunteer positions on both the national and international level. His currently USA Swimming's representative the USOC's National Governing Body Council and has extensive experience in leading searches like this from his business career.
- Dan McAllen - Dan has been a Zone Director as well as Program Operations Vice Chair, his current position. He has also been Officials Committee Chair and a long time official at all levels. Dan is a retired attorney
- Peter Vanderkaay – Peter is a three-time Olympian who competed in the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Games. He has been a member of the USA Swimming Board of Directors and, most recently, was swimming's representative to the USOC Athletes Advisory Committee.
- Paris Jacobs - Paris is a former Zone Director and founder of Machine Aquatics in the Washington, D.C. area. Paris has had experience in search committees with local universities and is currently a board member of the USA Swimming Foundation.
- Michael Lawrence - Michael is a past member of the USA Swimming Board of Directors and currently chairs the International Relations Committee. He serves as Co-Head Coach at Lake Forest Swim Club, a member of the ASCA Board of Directors, and he has led many training clinics for coaches around the world.
- Mark Weber - Mark is a former national team member and current Athlete's Executive Vice Chair. Mark has also served on the USA Swimming Board of Directors as an at-large athlete member and competed at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Trials.
- Rich Young - Rich has acted as outside counsel to USA Swimming for many years and has a wealth of experience with executive searches and compensation for sport CEOs. Rich is also a member of the FINA legal commission and was an author of the current WADA code. Rich will act in an advisory capacity but will not be involved in reviewing nor selecting any candidates.