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Diversity in your Masters club

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Q: I have a swimmer who has expressed interest in coming on board my Masters squad; she is 18 years old and still in high school. I am not sure how I feel about having a high schoolaged swimmer on my squad. While she meets the age requirement, she is in high school. This is an adult team; we talk about adult themes and such that might not be appropriate for a high school student. In addition, Im not sure how my crew would feel. Your thoughts?

A: First, as the leader of your program, ask yourself: What is the mission of my program? What values do I want my program to represent? Do you have these written and published on your website or program communications? Once youve established these objectives, it will be much easier to determine the direction of your program and make decisions regarding membership.

If you need to establish new objectives, ask the group for their thoughts. Getting buy-in and support from your members is important. Sharing ownership strengthens programs. However, at the conclusion of these discussions, Im a firm believer that if youre the definitive leader of the program, the final decision rests with you. If, after your final decision, some of your members have concerns, address the issues.

U.S. Masters Swimming strives to be an all-inclusive organization, encouraging adults of any age, gender, and ability level to swim. If you choose to add young swimmers to your program composed of mature swimmers, then ask them to act, well, mature. Find somewhere else, other than the pool, for the adult-themed conversations. Your task will be to make sure that everyone, including the new swimmer, is comfortable.

Mentoring young swimmers has always been a passion of mine because I feed off the energy and excitement a new and different (young) swimmer brings to the program. Diversity should be embraced and viewed as a positive attribute of every Masters program.
Good luck!

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Updated May 13th, 2016 at 01:35 PM by Bill Brenner