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  1. Avoiding problematic social media activity.

    by , August 15th, 2017 at 10:22 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: How can I avoid problems with social media? What not to do with social media.

    A: As much as we would like to believe that we are entitled to coach at, swim at, or be a member of our preferred swimming venue, in most cases we are not. Participation is a privilege, not a right, and losing that privilege can be devastating. No Masters coach or swimmer wants to receive the news that they’re no longer welcome at their aquatics facility.

    While inappropriate behavior should never be tolerated at the pool, neither should it be tolerated away from the pool. This includes all forms of negativity on social media. While coaches and program leaders can't monitor every post every day, they can establish written standards that all members should agree and adhere to when interacting with other program members and stakeholders. Remedies should also be included in the swim program's standards and guidelines for program participation.

    The two most common misuses of social media are cyberbullying and negative messaging.

    Bullying may seem like nothing more than sophomoric banter but it's not. It's hurtful and has no place in a Masters program. If you're a coach who needs to tear down people to build your own ego or self-esteem, find another profession.

    If you become aware of others in your program who engage in bullying at or away from the pool, insist that they cease and desist immediately. No coach wants to have a member removed from the program. However, you as the coach, and leader of the program, must protect the integrity of the program and ensure the enjoyment and safety of all.

    Negative messaging and pejorative behavior on social media can lead to a multitude of potential problems.

    Here is an example of an email no coach wants to receive:

    "Coach Upacreek,

    “I regret to inform you that your Masters program is no longer welcome at the aquatics center. It has come to my attention that members in your program have disparaged our facility and staff by communicating negative, false and misleading statements in various media within the community. I've attached a copy of recent social media posts that have been brought to my attention.

    “The aquatics facilities' reputation within the community is of the utmost importance and I can no longer tolerate your member's inappropriate activities. Good luck finding another facility."

    Please don't have your members wage war with or air complaints about your pool or program on social media. Yes, we have First Amendment rights. No, one of our inalienable rights is not to swim where we please. If there are issues that need to be addressed, schedule a time to meet with the aquatics facility decision makers and resolve the issues. Your program's relationship with the pool, whether you rent pool space or you’re a program of the facility, should be a partnership. If you need help strengthening your partnership or need help resolving issues, contact the USMS national office and Club and Coach Services and resources will be provided.

    Keep the use of social media positive and uplifting. Use it to share program updates, information, and upcoming events. And, whenever possible, celebrate the accomplishments of your members in and away from the pool.