Feb 2013 New Coach Education Requirements FAQ

Do I have to take the Foundations of Coaching test? Do the new coach requirements apply to me?

The new coach requirements apply to any coach who registered with USA Swimming for the FIRST time after September 1, 1998 (start of our 1999 registration period). A first year coach must pass the Foundations of Coaching Test prior to registering for his/her second year as a USA Swimming coach member. There is no set test deadline; however your memberships expire on December 31st of each year. If you don’t pass the test prior to December 31st, you will not be able to coach until you pass the test and re-register.

What version of the test should I take?

The test is based on the Foundations of Coaching DVD and accompanying documents linked to the DVD as well as the USA Swimming Rules and Regulations.  It is computer generated drawing from a bank of questions. The order of the answers is randomized. Therefore, each test that is taken will be totally unique to the test-taker.

Can I take the test online?

The only way to take the test is on-line. Go to the USA Swimming website (www.usaswimming.org)  To get started, go to the Member Resources section and click on “Online Testing & Certification” then “Learn More” under the "Foundations of Coaching" heading. 

Can I take the test on paper and mail it in for grading?

No, but you can print out a copy of the test and fill in your answer sheet at your leisure. (Additional instructions appear on the actual test page.) You would then need to go back online to input your answers and submit the test for grading. If you are going to print out a copy of test to work on it “offline” make sure that you click on the “Save & Restart Later” button. If you don’t, when you go back to enter your answers you will generate an entirely new and different test.

How do I “sign in” to take the test?

In order to take the "Foundations of Coaching Test" you must have a web account with USA Swimming. You can create an account on the USA Swimming home page. You will then need to “sign in” to the website which can be found in the upper right-hand corner of virtually every page. If you try to take the test without properly signing in, instructions will be given to complete the correct “sign in” procedure.

How many questions do I need to answer correctly to pass?

The test is open book. You are allowed to miss up to 20 questions out of 180 to pass the test.

How do I know if I passed or failed?

When you click on "End Test" (shown at the bottom of question #180) your score will be immediately displayed. 

What happens if I don’t take or fail the test?

If you fail the test, you will need to retake it. Please note that your next test will be a different computer generated test. You may take the test as many times as necessary in order to pass the test. You must pass the test before you can register for your second year as a USA Swimming Coach member. You will be allowed to register as a non-athlete member for your second year until you pass the test, but that still means you will not be able to be on deck until you become a coach member. If you are on deck and are not a coach member, you are not covered by insurance and are putting your club at risk.

What does LSC stand for?

Local Swimming Committee. The entire state of Hawai'i is under the jurisdiction of the Hawaiian LSC.

How do I register? Where do I send my USA Swimming Coach registration form?

You will need to register through your LSC Membership Chair. On the USA Swimming website, click here to see your LSC's registration chair. Gwenn Tomiyoshi is the current Registration Chair in the Hawaiian LSC.

How can I find the contact information for the Local Swimming Committee’s (LSC)?

You can find the information on the USA Swimming website. Click on the “Goverance & LSCs” tab located in the Member's Resource section. From there, click on “LSC Management" or "LSC Websites & Portals" where you can choose the appropriate LSC contact person or website.

How do I find out which LSC I am in?

If you are in Hawaii, you will be member of the Hawaiian LSC. Look at the LSC Map. It’s on the USA Swimming website, “Goverance & LSCs” tab located in the Member's Resource section. Click on “LSC Websites & Portals.” If you cannot find your location or are unsure about it you can contact the Member Services Department by calling 719-866-4578. The department will be able to let you know which LSC you are in and who the contact people are for that LSC.

I took the test online and passed. What happens now?

An email will be sent to you and your LSC Registration Chair will also be automatically notified. Your registration will then be updated to "Coach Member." It is highly recommended that you print a copy of the email to save for possible future registration clarification.

I’m a new coach but I haven’t received the new coach information yet.

New coach packets are sent out electronically via email after the local registration person in your LSC successfully processes your coach application. If you have not received the packet you should contact your local registration person or you can download the “New Coach Packet” by visiting the New Coach Requirements page in the Becoming a Coach Section of the USA Swimming Website.

I received this packet but I’m not a new coach.

You may not have to take the test. If you were a USA Swimming coach member prior to 1998 you will need to give your LSC Membership Chair a copy of your old USA Swimming Coach card (from 1998 or before) and ask him/her to change your status in the Membership database. You must do this before you register for the upcoming year. If you do not have an old coach card, you may contact the Coach Certification person at USA Swimming (call 719-866-4578.) You will need to provide the exact year you were a USA Swimming coach member, the LSC you were in at the time, the name you were registered under at the time and your current LSC. We will attempt to locate you in our archives. This may take up to 3 days. Once we locate you in the archives as a coach prior to 1999, we will contact your current LSC Membership Chair and let him/her know to “grandfather” you in. If we cannot locate you in the archives you will be required to take the new coach test.

Do I have to purchase the Foundations of Coaching DVD?

Purchasing the DVD is optional however passing the test without the resources in the DVD is rather difficult. The test is “open book” and covers material from the Foundations of Coaching DVD and the USA Swimming Rules and Regulations. The test is separated into sections from the different resources. The DVD may be ordered from the USA Swimming online store. On the USA Swimming website, click on USA Swimming Shop at the bottom of any page.

Who receives the money from the purchase of the Foundations of Coaching DVD?

Like most of the programs run by USA Swimming, the new coach requirement program is designed to break-even or run at a slight loss. When you purchase the DVD from USA Swimming, the charge covers the basic costs (there is also an additional shipping charge). Absolutely no royalties are paid to any of persons in the DVD. All gave of their time and expertise voluntarily.

Which version of the USA Swimming Rules & Regulations do I need for the test?

Use the current USA Swimming Rules and Regulations book for the test.

How do I get the USA Swimming Rules and Regulations book?

As a coach member, USA Swimming will send you a copy of the Rules and Regulations free of charge. Generally, you will receive your copy within three months of registration. If you registered over three months ago and still have not received your copy of the rulebook, please contact the membership department (719-866-4578) at USA Swimming. The easiest way is to view the USA Swimming Rules and Regulations online. You can click here to see the current Rules and Regulations Book, or go to the USA Swimming website and click on Rules & Regulations located under the About section. You can also order a rulebook at the “USA Swimming Shop” on the website.

Will I have to take a test each year now?

No, there are no plans to have additional educational requirements after the first year. This program is strictly designed to ensure that all new USA Swimming Coach members have a basic level of education before entering their second year of coaching.

Do I have to be a member of ASCA (the American Swimming Coaches Association) too?

No. ASCA membership is entirely optional. By passing the Foundations of Coaching test you are eligible to become ASCA Level 1 certified (by request only – ASCA does not do this automatically). If you would like more information about becoming a member of ASCA, please call 1-800-356-2722.  

What if I'd like for the test to count toward ASCA Level 1 Certification?

As you begin the test there is a check box that asks, "Are you also seeking American Swimming Coaches Association certification?" Be sure to check "Yes".

Is the USA Swimming Foundations of Coaching test the same as the ASCA Level 1 test?

No. The online Foundations of Coaching test is comprised of 180 questions. The ASCA Level 1 test does not contain questions on the USA Swimming rules and regulations. It is a shorter test.

I’m not a new coach but I’d like to take the test anyway – am I allowed to do that?

Yes, any USA Swimming coach member may take the test.

I have heard that USA Swimming now requires a background CHECK. How do I do that?

Before someone becomes a coach they must successfully pass a background check. The background check must be completed every 24 months on the USA Swimming website. The background check is completed through an outside provider. For additional information and to complete your background check, go to the USA Swimming website and click on Online Testing & Certifications located in the Member Resources section. From there, click on “Learn More” under the Background Check heading near the top of the screen. This page provides additional information about the process.

Does USA Swimming require lifeguards during practice?

USA Swimming does not require lifeguards to be on duty for swim practices or meets. USA Swimming rules require all coach members to be certified in three different areas in order to be coaching on deck: Safety Training for Swim Coaches, CPR and First Aid. If the facility has a requirement for lifeguards to be on duty in order for its insurance to be in effect, then this is a facility regulation. Many states also have laws that require lifeguards to be on deck in certain situations.

I need to renew my Safety Training for Swim Coaches (STSC) certification. My local ARC chapter has informed me that a course called Sport Safety Training has replaced STSC. If I take Sport Safety Training instead of STSC, have I met the requirements?

No! Sport Safety Training does fulfill the First Aid and CPR requirements, but it has not replaced Safety Training for Swim Coaches.

I need to renew my Safety Training for Swim Coaches certification. How do I find a class?

Safety Training for Swim Coaches (STSC) is only offered by the American Red Cross. Contact your local Red Cross chapter. If your area is not offering the course right now, there are several options available:

Go to the USA Swimming website Coaches’ tab/Education and Safety Requirements to take the online 25 question STSC test.  Upon receipt of an email confirmation that you passed the test, take that email to your local ARC chapter and do one of the following: 

  • Challenge the water skills portion with a Water Safety Instructor (WSI), Lifeguard Instructor (LGI) or a Safety Training for Swim Coaches Instructor (STSC I); 
  • Arranges to take the 4-hour water skills portion with a WSI, LGI, or Safety Training for Swim Coaches Instructor; 
  • Shows an ARC lifeguard certification to the ARC chapter (which means the coach doesn’t have to do the Challenge or the 4-hour water skills portion). 

Contact your Local Swimming Committee (LSC) Membership Chair and/or Safety Chair to see if the LSC will offer the course or provide a Red Cross instructor to certify coaches who are challenging the course.

Is there a substitute for the Safety Training for Swim Coaches course?

No. You must pass the STSC written test. Recognized lifeguarding certifications can be used for the water skills portion. Check the USA Swimming website for a list. Click on the Coaches’ tab and then on Education/Safety Requirements. 

My CPR certification has expired and I just have not had time to get it renewed yet. Do I still have USA Swimming insurance while I am on deck coaching?

No. From an insurance standpoint, you are no longer insured as a coach as of the date that any of your certifications expire. You are immediately considered a non-athlete member who is no longer a coach. 

Why is it a problem if my certification expires for a short period of time?

One of the greatest exposures a coach has from a liability standpoint is "improper instruction." For example, a swimmer dives too deep and is severely injured. The coach and club are sued. If the coach does not have current certifications, he/she no longer has coverage for this type of claim. Further, the club's insurance could be in jeopardy if it knew the coach's certification(s) had lapsed.

Does only the coach of record need to be 18 years of age or older?

USA Swimming rules state that all coach members must be at least 18 years of age.  

How do I know if I am a USA Swimming Coach member?

After your local registration person has processed your application you will receive a registration card (usually in the mail) that has the year that you are a coach member in the background with your name and address in the foreground. At the top of the card are the words “Valid To (the date).”The date is the first date that: (1) one of the safety certifications expires, (2) the background check expires or (3) December 31st of the current year (whichever one of the three comes first). If it does not say “coach member” at the bottom of the card and says “non-athlete member” then you need to contact your registration person immediately because you are not registered as a coach member!

What is the USA Swimming recommended coach-to-swimmer ratio?

USA Swimming does not have a coach-to-athlete ratio. It is up to the club's coaching staff to determine the safest ratio. This should be based on several criteria: 

  • Skill level and age of the athletes in the water. 
  • Skill level of the coach (years experience, professional background, etc.). 
  • Type of facility (size of pool, number of lanes).

I still have questions. Who can I call?

Call the Club Development Division at USA Swimming: 719-866-4578