Potomac Valley Voices

Vol. 2 No 6bJULY 11, 1998

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Why USA Swimming is introducing a new ID number for all members
Mary Ann Henderson

USA Swimming has recently undertaken a major effort to develop a new identifier (ID number) for its members. Effective with the 1999 membership year, every member of USA Swimming will have a unique ID number that will rarely, if ever, change. This number will be issued to athlete and non -athlete members.

The new ID number will be easy for you to remember: your date of birth (mmddyy), the first three letters of your legal first name, the first letter of your middle name, and the first four letters of your last name. If your first or last names don't have enough letters (or you don't have a middle name), a * will be used to fill in the blanks. Here are some examples:

Rose A. Buchman, born 05/16/78
Thomas O'Neal, born 09/12/65
Ty H. Ng, born 04/05/80


If Rose prefers to be called "Sissy"; the new registration procedure will now accommodate her. Her membership card will be issued with her preferred name and she will be entered in meets as Sissy Buchman.

Once assigned, your ID number should never change. What is crucial is that, once assigned, your ID is unique across the entire USA Swimming membership.

It is crucial that you realize the importance of providing accurate information on your registration form for your new unique ID number. It is also very important that you remember your new ID number and always include it on forms when asked to do so.

Commonly asked questions are:

Q: What happens if there is a duplicate number?
A: When a duplicate occurs, which should be rarely, USA Swimming's computer will let us know and we will change the number of the second individual. If this happens to you, we will send you a new membership card as well as notify your registration chair and swim club.

Q: Why is this formula being used?
A: The possibility of using an individual's Social Security Number was discussed initially. Many legal cases have recognized the importance of keeping an individual's Social Security Number private. Our legal counsel vetoed the use of this number.

We also considered assigning a random number. The feedback we received was overwhelming that the number needed to be something kids and parents could remember easily. Those individuals who were speaking from a meet management perspective thought that including the birth date was critical.

Q: How will USA Swimming benefit?
It is critical to the growth of our sport that we begin to monitor the progress of our members so that we can improve our retention, follow athlete development, and enhance our ability to secure sponsors. We will improve our focus and our capacity to evaluate our programs and their costs.

Q: How will clubs and coaches benefit?
A: The new data collection system will enable USA Swimming to strengthen our club's efforts to recruit, retain, and develop athletes, and to secure local sponsors.

Q: How will athletes benefit?
A: USA Swimming athletes will experience improved programs and a higher level of coaching. We will be able to begin to identify trends in how an athlete develops. This can be educational and motivational to our members. For instance, it might be reassuring for a 9-year-old boy to see that he is actually in the norm even though he is far from achieving a national Top 16 reportable time. Once we have the data, it might really help this young man to see that even some Olympians were in his same boat at his age. We will be able to provide our coaches with information that will help with the development of their swimmers. Clubs and Local Swimming Committees will be able to maintain their own statistics to show trends and changes.

Q: Why do non-athlete members need an ID number?
A: For many of the same reasons that athletes do. We want to be able to know how long our coaches and officials have been involved with USA Swimming. This will help us get a grasp of retention. Our current system says that we have nearly 3,000 new coaches each year, but we have no way of knowing if this number is accurate because of coaches who have sat out a year or more, or those who have married and changed names. This becomes especially important in the next year or two as we need to validate the "new" member coaches fulfilling their coaches' education requirement.

Q: Won't this mean more work for clubs?
A: USA Swimming is trying to anticipate and solve problems that may arise for clubs and Local Swimming Committees because of this change. Software vendors are presently updating their team and meet management programs to incorporate the changes. Use of these new revisions should simplify both registrations and meet entries.

Q: What do I need to do?
A: Accurately and completely fill out your registration form and sign it. It will be easier for all if it is right the first time. Also, please remember to let your club and registration chair know when you have a name or address change.

If you have additional concerns or questions about the new unique I.D. number, please contact USA Swimming by e-mail at idnumber@usswim.org or fax USS at 719/575-4050. Thank you.