Was just going over your 2010 USA Swimmer Membership Demographics and I noticed that those who chose to answer the ethnicity question or what race they are totaled only 53.2% of your clientele. Out of that 53.2% a whopping 75.5% of those members were white. Second place was Asian coming in at 9.2%, Mixed race coming in at third at 7.5%, The Hispanic race coming in fourth with coming with 5.2%, and finally African American, Pacific Islander, Native American, and “other” rounding out the last 2.6%.
The average USA Swimmer is a white female, She is 12-to-13-years-old, and is more likely to resign for another year than her male counterpart. When compared to new members, 50,627 were female versus 37,712 males – there is almost a 13,000 member deficit.
Your retention rate is 69.4%, you had 286,900 members in 2010. (I believe you had 300,000-plus in 2008?)
Hence, My recommendation to the USA Swimming Board of Directors: when numbers dip, so should the bonuses. If the medal count dips, so should the salaries. If there is a gender gap, throw some money in that genders direction. You're a non-profit, spend some money and please don't profit on the backs of 12-to-13-year-old girls.
I also want to note that this is not a letter to begrudge the lack of out reach to ethnic or less affluent communities; I know you have tried with several programs but to little avail. Ultimately, you are suppose to be professionals at this and you should have seen this cultural debacle coming for decades. I do encourage you to come to Los Angeles and see how successful L.A. has been in teaching Hispanics how to swim. You will note that L.A. allows kids to swim for free in highly supervised lifeguard areas all year round and offers other incentives for inexpensive “learn to swim programs as well” – It truly is a template for how your “learn to swim programs” should be conducted.
Your mission statement is to build the sport and field an Olympic team but you have left that up to Michael Phelps, the NCAA and the “creatives” at NBC to make our athletes look sexy and tell a story every four years. Well, Michael Phelps is less than a year away from retirement, the NCAA is shedding swim programs like a dog shedding fleas in a flea-bath, and our potential Men's USA Olympic team for 2012 is not looking that strong on paper as it has in previous years.
Your CEO is paid nearly a million-dollars-a-year yet your numbers are flat, or more accurately dipping. As Michael Phelps use to say, "...This is a wake-up call, ...have work to do, ...Not where we want to be!"
USA Swimming Membership Demographics PDF: [Link]