After my last blog, I received a fairly surprising e-mail. It was from Susan Woessner, USA Swimming's athlete protection officer. Susan didn't reference the blog that I had just written drawing parallels between what's going on at Penn State right now and USA Swimming. I assumed that had to do with why she was writing. I was surprised that Susan contacted me because I had the impression that USA Swimming was walling itself off from the outside. Susan disagrees pretty strongly with that contention, and I think that her willingness to reach out is a direct attempt to change that perception. She's already started to do that.
I called Susan today. We both admitted up front that we were pretty nervous. Susan, although she didn't say why, was probably nervous because of how critical I have been of USA Swimming in this space. I was nervous because I am acutely aware of the fact that continuing to be critical of the most powerful people in swimming in the United States probably isn't great for my career.
I put Susan at ease by telling her that I wasn't a professional journalist. I'm also not in the business of putting her in a trap and doing my best to make her look bad. I've written as much in various comment sections, but I think that Susan is highly competent and I'm glad that her office exists. The fact that Susan is actively reaching out is evidence that she is passionate about what she's doing. She relayed that in our conversation today- she is eager to get a message out about all that is changing.
We only had about fifteen minutes to talk, so we agreed to chat again. I told Susan I had a lot of tough questions. As I said, I'm not interested in trapping her, so I'm going to give her questions ahead of time so she can prepare her response. If you have something you'd like to ask Susan, feel free to leave it in the comments section of this blog. I have a feeling where she would like the conversation to go, and I would be happy to report on some really positive stuff in this space. At the same time, there are some tough questions that deserve an answer, and I hope she can provide those. Check back later this week for a recap of my conversation with Susan.