Rule-16 or R-16, "Paragraph C" was voted down today at the USA Swimming Convention:
(c) Any sexual or romantic relationship between an adult athlete and any other member (excluding a pre-existing relationship between spouses or life partners) who has a coaching responsibility or other position of authority over such athlete, even if it is a consensual relationship between adults.
Here is a link of all the Rules being submitted for approval: [Link]
I am not impressed, and I am more than disappointed so I am going to use this disappointment to vocalize my opinion.
There is a legal term called undue influence. The easy definition is that when a person takes advantage of their position of power over another person. Think of it as a situation where free will to bargain is not possible or that the person beneath the presumed power of authority is essentially being controlled unwittingly, unknowingly or both.
Examples would include a priest exerting their will via "God" over a parishioner. A lawyer exerting their "legal expertise" over a dying client's last will and testament and finally a coach exerting their authority, complements, and promises of an Olympic future over a swimmer under their tutelage.
With that in mind, note this: The average USA Swimming member is a white-female between the ages of 12-to-14. Very few USA Swimming members walk onto a deck aged 18-years-old. This is not a professional environment filled with adults. The professional relationship between a coach/swimmer begins between or around the ages of 12-14-years-of-age. Thus, most USA Swimming coaches will have guided their swimmers from puberty and barely into adulthood. Consequently, and on that 18th birthday, I suspect some or a few unscrupulous coaches will have probably been grooming that preferred swimmer for that 18-year-old "due-date" and try to exert some undue influence over that swimmer.
How about that Mr. John Leonard, CEO of the American Swimming Coaches of America (ASCA) who married one of his swimmers and latter divorced?
It is my opinion that section of R-16 paragraph "C" failed to pass because of the lobbying from John Leonard and the fact that the majority of both ASCA and USA Swimming certified coaches are men. It would be interesting to do a survey on how the women coaches voted.
It is my advice to the Local Swim Clubs to make a de facto rule to protect your swimmers and your business from lawsuits by making "R-16 paragraph C" a rule of employment that each coach must sign and agree upon. You can still be sued once that swimmer is 18-years-old if they use an undue influence complaint and the person filing the complaint may be the very swimmer that was seduced.