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Kurt Dickson
February 25th, 2013, 10:17 PM
It appears Las Vegas 10K registration delayed because new policies and $1000-1800 dollar fees to cover insurance...look for open water events to disappear.

http://usopenwaterswimming.org/SanctionChanges.htm

http://www.lv10k.com/

ViveBene
February 25th, 2013, 10:59 PM
Most informed discussion here (and some suggestions for getting a different body's sanction and different insurance):
http://www.marathonswimmers.org/forum/discussion/329/usms-ow-sanctioning

And from the top page of USMS site:
http://www.usms.org/articles/articledisplay.php?aid=2681
There are sublinks at bottom of that screed.

I rather suspect the new insurance requirements will affect OW swimmers sooner rather than later. Meet directors are in a stew across the nation, having received sanctions but now the rules are changed and they must meet new requirements.

Swimmers should be aware that meets they are planning to go to might not happen.

pwb
February 27th, 2013, 01:36 AM
...look for open water events to disappear...... we'll always have La Jolla, man.

This does suck, though, and might just call for more bandit swims with friends like SCAR 2012.

See you in Tempe Town Lake in April (http://www.azopenwater.com/)?

chaos
February 27th, 2013, 08:26 PM
Kurt, there will always be many ways to express your OW love even though USMS has forsaken us.
For most of us, the show must go on, and it will. It is a shame that some events will fall off the calendar.

Chicken of the Sea
February 28th, 2013, 09:23 AM
For most of us, the show must go on, and it will.

Always in for a DIY long lake swim here...
I guess I should have a look at the site for my next swim, the WET End in ND. I don't think they go through USMS..or at least I don't remember giving my USMS number when registering.

Ken Classen
February 28th, 2013, 03:36 PM
Sadly I’m sure much time and effort was put in for this National Championship bid which they won. It’s a shame to have this honor awarded, and then have the rug pulled out from under them. :-(

Chris Stevenson
February 28th, 2013, 08:31 PM
Kurt, there will always be many ways to express your OW love even though USMS has forsaken us.

That's a bit much, don't you think?


Sadly I’m sure much time and effort was put in for this National Championship bid which they won. It’s a shame to have this honor awarded, and then have the rug pulled out from under them. :-(

How's that? The 2013 insurance surcharges don't apply to national championships.

Ken Classen
February 28th, 2013, 08:52 PM
How's that? The 2013 insurance surcharges don't apply to national championships. This is from the race director on the race web site, and I didn't specifically refer to insurance race surcharges.
UPDATE FROM THE RACE DIRECTOR 2/19/13
Hi folks!
USMS has just released new guidelines for sanctioning the LV10K. We are working tirelessly to survey our options and be in compliance with these last minute changes. Please note this is a National Championship scheduled for May 18th, a little more then two months away, but one is unable to register for it, no race fee has been published, starting times, course information etc., per the note from the director I'm making the assumption if it weren't' for the mid course OW changes at USMS, registration would have been available and other information would have been published by now. Reference web site: http://www.lv10k.com/

evmo
February 28th, 2013, 10:50 PM
That's a bit much, don't you think?

No.


How's that? The 2013 insurance surcharges don't apply to national championships.

Provided they comply with the new regulations they never agreed to in the first place. Which in some cases may simply not be feasible. So no, not exactly.

More / better info at the Marathon Swimmers Forum.

Rob Copeland
March 1st, 2013, 08:40 AM
How's that? The 2013 insurance surcharges don't apply to national championships.As I understand it, one of the major sticking points is due to the rules the event hosts had to agree to up-front.

According to event information there will be a Youth division to the races “Open to swimmers age 11-17! … Youth swimmers will race the same course in a separate wave one minute behind the adults. …
This is a recreational swim, not sanctioned by any governing body. Safety is our number one priority, please do not sign your child up for this event if they are not capable of doing the distance.”

Per USMS rules “Open water events restricted to USMS members, one-event registrants and Masters swimming members of a FINA member federation.” We do allow events to be dual sanctioned with USA Swimming. So the event either needed to apply for both USA Swimming and USMS sanctions or not run the youth division when the Masters were swimming.

ourswimmer
March 1st, 2013, 08:50 AM
The LMSC's share of the increased insurance cost is $1000, not $1800. Although the cost increase does not apply to national championships, it does apply to other events held at the same time, such as the shorter races that LV Masters intended to have along with the 10K. Also, the new boat requirements (for propeller guards and for the boat itself to carry insurance) apply to all sanctioned races.

I wish they'd say what the problem is, however. Has Southern Pacific Masters not decided yet how to handle the $1000? Are the race organizers having some problem arranging for boats that have the propeller guards and insurance that USMS's carrier now requires?

Other races affected by this cost increase and change in equipment rules have opened registration, such as the Lake Del Valle series in early June that includes the 1-mile National Championship. What is the hangup here?

pwb
March 1st, 2013, 09:02 AM
Per USMS rules ďOpen water events restricted to USMS members, one-event registrants and Masters swimming members of a FINA member federation.Ē We do allow events to be dual sanctioned with USA Swimming. So the event either needed to apply for both USA Swimming and USMS sanctions or not run the youth division when the Masters were swimming.I assume this inability to include all ages under the USMS OW sanction is due to insurance? As a father of swimmers, I love, love, love events where my kids and I can swim (e.g., La Jolla Rough Water Swim and, at times in the past, various OW events in Arizona). I think the all ages atmosphere is great for the event experience for everyone, but also great for future recruiting for USMS. Though I don't have specifics, I have heard rumors that it is even harder to get USAS sanctioning for an OW event.

Is there a separate insurance reason and cost why USMS OW sanctioning can not also include under 18 year olds?

Or, is this more of a 'strategic' reason that, since USMS starts with 18 year olds, we want to have all of our events focused on our 'target market?'

I'd just like to understand what the barriers are to an easy-to-implement all ages OW race.

gregoc
March 1st, 2013, 09:06 AM
Are the race organizers having some problem arranging for boats that have the propeller guards and insurance that USMS's carrier now requires?


Yes! The Boston Light Swim had to drop USMS sanctioning/insurance for these reasons.
Also, I know of other groups that are losing a USMS national OW championship swim for these reasons (regardless of having the insurance fee waived and after signing an agreement to host the chamionship swim before these changes in the rules were made).

gregoc
March 1st, 2013, 09:10 AM
Is there a separate insurance reason and cost why USMS OW sanctioning can not also include under 18 year olds?

Or, is this more of a 'strategic' reason that, since USMS starts with 18 year olds, we want to have all of our events focused on our 'target market?'

I'd just like to understand what the barriers are to an easy-to-implement all ages OW race.

Hosting events with ages under 18 is contrary to the nature of Masters swimming. For the same reason you do not see swimmers under 18 at Masters pool workouts or pool swim meets.

Rob Copeland
March 1st, 2013, 09:31 AM
I assume this inability to include all ages under the USMS OW sanction is due to insurance? It is more a function of our mission and jurisdiction over the sport rather than insurance.

USMSís mission is ďTo promote health, wellness, fitness and competition for adults through swimming.Ē Allowing members under the age of 18 does not fit our mission and it encroaches on USA Swimming.

Requirements for participating in sanctioned events have to do with membership and not age. Albeit, people canít be members until age 18, so age is an issue. If we changed our mission and removed the age restrictions then participation of minors would not be a problem for us. It might be a problem with our fellow NGB, USA Swimming.


I have heard rumors that it is even harder to get USAS sanctioning for an OW event. Iím not sure Iíd say itís harder to get a USA Swimming open water sanction and run a dual sanctioned event. USA Swimming has different rules and regulations and the event host must comply with the requirements of both organizations. But, I was involved in getting a race dual sanctioned last year and I found both organizations very willing to help make the race happen. The safety plan and race officials required for USA Swimming events are different (harder?) than USMS, but you also have a larger pool of volunteers to pull from. And as a race director, a more comprehensive safety plan and more volunteers are always appreciated.


I love, love, love events where my kids and I can swim I agree, swimming with your kids is great. However after a 25K race a few years back, I donít think my son agrees with me.

ourswimmer
March 1st, 2013, 09:49 AM
I’m not sure I’d say it’s harder to get a USA Swimming open water sanction and run a dual sanctioned event. USA Swimming has different rules and regulations and the event host must comply with the requirements of both organizations. But, I was involved in getting a race dual sanctioned last year and I found both organizations very willing to help make the race happen. The safety plan and race officials required for USA Swimming events are different (harder?) than USMS, but you also have a larger pool of volunteers to pull from. And as a race director, a more comprehensive safety plan and more volunteers are always appreciated.

In Northern California we have in past years had a number of dual-sanctioned events. Probably the more you have, the easier the coordination is between the local USMS and USA-S organizations. At any rate, I really enjoy events that include both kids and adults and appreciate whatever extra work the race organizers have to do to make them happen.

Ken Classen
March 1st, 2013, 06:21 PM
Kurt, there will always be many ways to express your OW love even though USMS has forsaken us.
For most of us, the show must go on, and it will. It is a shame that some events will fall off the calendar.Chaos, you may not have been strong enough. I just heard through a reliable source that the Kingdom Swim had to forsake there USMS Championship designation for the 10-Mile event. I also understand the race will go on without USMS. But for all practical purposes, for any swim that would require motorized boats for safety purposes, this year anyway, USMS is effectively out of the open water swimming business :-(

Jim B.
March 1st, 2013, 09:06 PM
I just heard through a reliable source that the Kingdom Swim had to forsake there USMS Championship designation for the 10-Mile event. I also understand the race will go on without USMS. (

If this turns out to be true I will wish I had not renewed my membership in USMS this year. Kingdom Swim is the only event where I have ever presented my membership number. Next year I will gladly send my $35? to IROC. I am sure they would put it to good use.
I do appreciate the flog, magazine and the forum, but, I am feeling turned off on USMS. I am solely an open water swimmer. I don't swim with a team and have never been to a pool meet. I wonder how unique I am among the membership?

evmo
March 1st, 2013, 10:26 PM
This stuff about age limits is a smokescreen. It's about the prop guards.

ViveBene
March 2nd, 2013, 02:24 AM
I do appreciate the flog, magazine and the forum, but, I am feeling turned off on USMS. I am solely an open water swimmer. I don't swim with a team and have never been to a pool meet. I wonder how unique I am among the membership?
Not that unique: Among my personal swimming acquaintances, more do not swim with a team and have never participated in a pool meet than do. They join for one or two OW swims, have never read the forums (so wouldn't respond to a poll), don't have a flog....


This stuff about age limits is a smokescreen. It's about the prop guards.
+ Several thousand.

It would be useful if USMS admin took the lead in talking to swimmers about what is going on instead of hiding the info in a link. And I don't believe for a nanosecond that the requirements will be different when reevaluated for 2014 swimming year.

ourswimmer
March 2nd, 2013, 08:41 AM
But for all practical purposes, for any swim that would require motorized boats for safety purposes, this year anyway, USMS is effectively out of the open water swimming business :-(

I think you are exaggerating. It's probably difficult, maybe impossible, to satisfy the new rules for a swim that requires motorized boats to accompany each swimmer, but those swims are a minority of USMS-sanctioned OW events. Swims that involve laps around a closed course, where primary safety support is from paddlers, seem for the most part to be able to satisfy the new boat rules (which exempt police boats, for instance).

In fact, registration for the Las Vegas 10K (4 laps) that prompted this thread is now open: http://www.lv10k.com/. And although prop guards and private boat insurance may be the bigger issue overall, the website for this race says, "Due to sanctioning changes, we are unable to accommodate swimmers under 18 years old."

Ken Classen
March 2nd, 2013, 01:26 PM
Open-water swimming has grown exponentially over last 15-years. I remember when event director of Horsetooth 10K swim in Colorado contacted to me and wanted to know if I as going to enter that year. He said he was just about at there limit for entries, I was dumbfounded as for the first couple of years of this race there were about two dozen of us who did it and most of us knew each other, now all of sudden he was at 48 of 50 max. The Horsetooth race remains a favorite for me and has become a destination race for many because of it's unique point to point course and a beautiful setting in the foothills outside of Ft Collins, Colorado. But because it's point to point it cannot be done safely without motorized water craft patrolling the course. The USMS national Championship designation does have some appeal for me and now that registration is open I may do the LV10K, but to be honest I can do 1500 meter closed loop courses locally. With the growth of this sport has come interesting and fun destination swims like Kingdom swim in Vermont, Dave Barra's staged swim down the Hudson, the Bridges swim in Portland etc. If I'm going to hop on a plane for a swim, like many of my veteran open-water swimming colleagues I want something more then a boring looped course on a flat lake. Maybe I'm just out of step but I don't understand the rationals and apologetic's for this. It's not a good thing for the growth of this sport. I don't know who USMS insurance provider is, and there likely stuck with this for 2013, but if I were on the USMS board I'd start shopping for some other Insurance provider or a way around this for the future

ourswimmer
March 2nd, 2013, 05:03 PM
I don't disagree with what Ken or anyone else has said about the difficulty this year's rules pose for long, point-to-point swims, or about what a sad outcome it would be for the long term for USMS not to be able to sanction and support that aspect of OW swimming. I just think we ought to recognize that the USMS Board and LMSCs had a serious problem to solve when USMS's insurance carrier jacked up the premium all of a sudden. They weren't able to solve the problem perfectly, but they managed to find what seems to be a workable solution for the majority of 2013 season OW swims, including for the 10K National Championship race that prompted this thread.

If we understand accurately what aspects of the problem remain unsolved, and if we pay attention to how this year's solution does and does not work as the USMS Board anticipated or hoped it would, maybe we can do better for 2014 and beyond. But just saying, "races are cancelled! insurance catastrophe!" doesn't help a whole lot. The vast majority of participants in USMS OW events swim in events that can satisfy the new requirements, although entry fees may rise slightly. I'd hate for those folks to read this thread, or the one at marathonswimmers.org, and think that the 1- to 3-mile lake swims they enjoy so much are not going to go on at all.

I am looking forward to swimming in Lake Mead and hope I will meet some of you there!

gregoc
March 2nd, 2013, 05:14 PM
Chaos, you may not have been strong enough. I just heard through a reliable source that the Kingdom Swim had to forsake there USMS Championship designation for the 10-Mile event. I also understand the race will go on without USMS. But for all practical purposes, for any swim that would require motorized boats for safety purposes, this year anyway, USMS is effectively out of the open water swimming business :-(
It is official, USMS pulled out of the Kingdom Swim 10-mile championships. The championship swim will now be a WOWSA 10-mile World OW championship!

Ken Classen
March 2nd, 2013, 05:53 PM
It is official, USMS pulled out of the Kingdom Swim 10-mile championships. The championship swim will now be a WOWSA 10-mile World OW championship! Awesome! :applaud:

ourswimmer
March 2nd, 2013, 06:31 PM
It is official, USMS pulled out of the Kingdom Swim 10-mile championships. The championship swim will now be a WOWSA 10-mile World OW championship!

I wish I could do that this year too. (On the other hand, I am happy to be going to Alaska for two weeks in June!) Really glad you are able to make it work.

rxleakem
March 2nd, 2013, 07:41 PM
It is official, USMS pulled out of the Kingdom Swim 10-mile championships. The championship swim will now be a WOWSA 10-mile World OW championship!

It really is sad how this is all playing out. I'll still be at Kingdom again this year, even if my dreams of a USMS patch have washed away. Hope others will not change their minds, either.

chaos
March 2nd, 2013, 10:20 PM
That's a bit much, don't you think?

Hardly....
and I’ll say it again: this isn’t about safety, its about liability.

One would think with 58,000 members, USMS would have the leverage to shop around for insurance. I don’t know who came up with the prop guard requirement, but I can tell you it certainly wasn’t anyone who has ever operated a safety boat for an OW event.

Chris Stevenson
March 3rd, 2013, 06:22 AM
Hardly....
and Iíll say it again: this isnít about safety, its about liability.

One would think with 58,000 members, USMS would have the leverage to shop around for insurance. I donít know who came up with the prop guard requirement, but I can tell you it certainly wasnít anyone who has ever operated a safety boat for an OW event.

I believe that it was an insurance requirement if I remember our last LMSC meeting correctly (our chair was a member of the OW task force, but possibly I am mis-remembering). I think they did shop around and this was the best they could do. I'm sure that USMS would welcome input from race directors, but maybe insuring 150 events across the nation is a more complicated thing than insuring one event or event series.

Of course it is about liability, but that isn't as completely divorced from safety as you claim. You don't have a lawsuit without an incident.


Not that unique: Among my personal swimming acquaintances, more do not swim with a team and have never participated in a pool meet than do. They join for one or two OW swims, have never read the forums (so wouldn't respond to a poll), don't have a flog....

While it is hard to argue with "personal acquaintances" for accuracy, I did try to get a measure of pool/OW event participation rates from our LMSC of about 1100 members in the year 2012. More details are here (http://www.vaswim.org/Reports/LMSC_Info_2012.pdf), but to summarize: almost 40% (38.8%) of our membership participated in either an OW or pool event, with almost 12% participating solely in OW event(s) and 24% solely in pool event(s). The numbers do not add up to the total since some members participated in both types of events.

I can't say how representative our LMSC is of others, some of which may be far more OW-oriented than ours. And possibly the numbers are biased negatively for OW participation because of the 13 events considered, only 4 were OW events (partly b/c we sanction fewer OW events than pool events and partly because OW event results are usually in a format that makes them more difficult to tie into our registration database).

From the perspective of a rather disinterested (possibly less informed but also unbiased) observer, I think that USMS has demonstrated a pretty strong commitment to OW events. Heck, it seemed to me that the last SWIMMER magazine had almost nothing BUT items dedicated to OW. I can understand the frustration and anger of OW event directors and participants but I think that USMS just got caught in a bind this year. Hopefully in a couple years it will all be behind us.

chaos
March 3rd, 2013, 01:21 PM
I believe that it was an insurance requirement if I remember our last LMSC meeting correctly (our chair was a member of the OW task force, but possibly I am mis-remembering). I think they did shop around and this was the best they could do. I'm sure that USMS would welcome input from race directors, but maybe insuring 150 events across the nation is a more complicated thing than insuring one event or event series.

Of course it is about liability, but that isn't as completely divorced from safety as you claim. You don't have a lawsuit without an incident.


We received notice that there were going to be some changes to the sanctioning process... listed were such new requirements as recommended by the OW task force and were pending approval by the OW committee.
I immediately contacted my insurance provider to see exactly what sort of $$$’s it would take for boaters to obtain the “proposed” $1,000,000 policy. Conclusion; this policy is not available for non commercial vessels. Thats research by a race director.

I have run my boat both with and without a prop-guard. Top speed without is 34 mph, top speed with is 30% less.... an unacceptable loss of performance. Thats input from a race director.

The OW committee voted to approve the recommendations by the OW task force (any surprises?). I’m curious as to how much input from race directors was actually weighed as there doesn’t seem like there was a whole lot of time for directors to absorb this info, do all the research, and provide an informed opinion to the OW committee before the adoption of said recommendations.

A 16 year old volunteer on a jet ski zipping through the race course at 50 mph would be in compliance with the new regulations, but a boston whaler with a 4’ dive door and a pilot with 1000 hours of swimmer escort experience would not....
Tell me again about safety and liability.....

Rob Copeland
March 4th, 2013, 01:34 PM
A 16 year old volunteer on a jet ski zipping through the race course at 50 mph would be in compliance with the new regulations, but a boston whaler with a 4í dive door and a pilot with 1000 hours of swimmer escort experience would not....I had hoped to someday participate in one of your swims. But if your only two options for safety watercraft are some guy in a Boston Whaler who refuses to show he is insured or a teenager going 50 on a jet ski; then Iíll take a pass. And stick with my swims in secluded puddles with trained water-front lifeguards in kayaks and Fire & Rescue on jet skis with rescue boards.


I have run my boat both with and without a prop-guard. Top speed without is 34 mph, top speed with is 30% less.... an unacceptable loss of performance.In my 30+ years of being an open water swimmer and race director, Iíve never seen an instance where a one of my safety or escort boats needed to be traveling anywhere near 34 MPH. In my opinion, anyone going that fast on an active race course is reckless and dangerous. Thatís input from a race director.

Chicken of the Sea
March 4th, 2013, 01:50 PM
In my 30+ years of being an open water swimmer and race director, I’ve never seen an instance where a one of my safety or escort boats needed to be traveling anywhere near 34 MPH. In my opinion, anyone going that fast on an active race course is reckless and dangerous. That’s input from a race director.

Might be useful when swimming the gauntlet on the Hudson

Rob Copeland
March 4th, 2013, 01:59 PM
Might be useful when swimming the gauntlet on the HudsonUnless it’s different up-river, based on my experiences with Hudson river swims once on a MIMS relay, once as a MIMS solo and once as a MIMS observer; I have never seen a need for an escort or safety boat to go that fast. There were a lot of pleasure boats and jet skis zipping up and down the river while we swam.

If you want to see a high speed chase, go see the new Die Hard or rent the original Gone in 60 seconds. If you want a safe escorted swim keep your escort boat close and slow.

gregoc
March 4th, 2013, 02:17 PM
There were a lot of pleasure boats and jet skis zipping up and down the river while we swam.

I believe this is one of the reasons fast Safety boats are needed. One of the duties of a Saftey boat (not an Escort boat) is to block pleasure boats and make them aware that there are swimmers in the water. Another duty is to quickly extract an injured person to the closest extraction point on land.


If you want to see a high speed chase, go see the new Die Hard or rent the original Gone in 60 seconds. If you want a safe escorted swim keep your escort boat close and slow.

I believe the 8 Bridges uses kayaks as escorts. Dave, please correct me if I am wrong.

chaos
March 4th, 2013, 02:21 PM
I had hoped to someday participate in one of your swims. But if your only two options for safety watercraft are some guy in a Boston Whaler who refuses to show he is insured or a teenager going 50 on a jet ski; then Iíll take a pass. And stick with my swims in secluded puddles with trained water-front lifeguards in kayaks and Fire & Rescue on jet skis with rescue boards.

In my 30+ years of being an open water swimmer and race director, Iíve never seen an instance where a one of my safety or escort boats needed to be traveling anywhere near 34 MPH. In my opinion, anyone going that fast on an active race course is reckless and dangerous. Thatís input from a race director.

Hypothetical.... but of course you knew that; and still it doesn't make it less true. You misrepresent the issue of insurance by failing to mention the $ 1,000,000 limit for hired boaters which BTW I have invited you to provide a link to any such agency that offers such a policy to non-commercial vessels, so if it does actually exist please post it here that we all may benefit.

There are only 2 reasons for high speeds during an event.
Emergency evacuation, and to protect swimmers from recreational traffic. I'm glad you have never had the need for either in your 30+ years of OW participation, but I'm sure you know such possibilities exist. We're ready and able to deal with them.

chaos
March 4th, 2013, 02:26 PM
I believe the 8 Bridges uses kayaks as escorts. Dave, please correct me if I am wrong.

Correct. Kayakers support the swimmers, boats support the kayaks. For the final stage which travels through the NY Harbor each swimmer has a boat+kayak escort. Additionally, there are a few safety boats handling operations and communications with commercial traffic and the coast guard

Rob Copeland
March 4th, 2013, 03:13 PM
I believe this is one of the reasons fast Safety boats are needed. One of the duties of a Saftey boat (not an Escort boat) is to block pleasure boats and make them aware that there are swimmers in the water. Another duty is to quickly extract an injured person to the closest extraction point on land.I guess we have a different view of the role of the escort watercraft. Beyond the steering, care and feeding of the swimmer, the escort boat is there to increase the visibility of the swimmer AND to warn off approaching watercraft. As a swimmer in the water I much prefer my escort boat captain getting on the loud speaker or horn to warn off approaching jet skis (which happened a few times in the MIMS) rather than a “safety” boat racing up and down the course trying to do a similar thing. If you have an extremely active waterway and need safety boats to block pleasure boats then you should have enough safety boats to do so without needing to race off at top speed on an interceptor run.

As for fast extractions, so far I’ve been fortunate that all of the rescues in my swims have been non-life threatening. From my perspective the real critical element of a successful rescue are the first responders and not the second responders or evacuation team. I’d rather pay a dozen trained waterfront certified lifeguards positioned in kayaks and on paddle boards than have twice that many first/second responder volunteers in power boats for one of my races.

And yes we plan for emergency evacuation and review the plan with on-water personnel prior to every event. Going forward, I need to make sure my second responder’s watercraft are compliant for all USMS sanctioned events. Is it more work for us event directors, yes.Is USMS doing this because it is a requirement of our insurance underwriter; yes. Is USMs doing this because it does not like open water swimmers; NO!

evmo
March 4th, 2013, 03:34 PM
Interesting that Rob Copeland keeps bringing up the example of MIMS, because the people who actually run MIMS think prop guards are an insanely stupid idea, for exactly the reasons chaos states.

Perhaps it's different in little loop course lake swims in Georgia.

Rob Copeland
March 4th, 2013, 03:50 PM
Interesting that Rob Copeland keeps bringing up the example of MIMS, because the people who actually run MIMS think prop guards are an insanely stupid idea, for exactly the reasons chaos states.

Perhaps it's different in little loop course lake swims in Georgia.Evan,

I guess I missed the post where Morty said ďprop guards are an insanely stupid ideaĒ.

And Iím sorry if I keep bringing up the MIMS in 2 posts, darn now itís 3. Would you prefer I talk about other open water swims?

And yes, a loop courses in Georgia is different than sayÖMIMS (4) or the English Channel. But, you might find that pretty much every open water swim has its own special nuance.

chaos
March 4th, 2013, 03:58 PM
I guess we have a different view of the role of the escort watercraft. Beyond the steering, care and feeding of the swimmer, the escort boat is there to increase the visibility of the swimmer AND to warn off approaching watercraft. As a swimmer in the water I much prefer my escort boat captain getting on the loud speaker or horn to warn off approaching jet skis (which happened a few times in the MIMS) rather than a ďsafetyĒ boat racing up and down the course trying to do a similar thing. If you have an extremely active waterway and need safety boats to block pleasure boats then you should have enough safety boats to do so without needing to race off at top speed on an interceptor run.


Well, I prefer to intercept potential threats long before they are in range of the escort boat's hailer, and whether you know it or not, as a swimmer, so do you... and certainly, so do the underwriters.

This illustrates the crux of the issue, that USMS is implying that its sanctioned events will be safer than non-sanctioned events due to some new requirements. I disagree, and swimmers will see fewer sanctioned events this season for 2 reasons.
1. The new USMS requirements simply cannot be applied to certain venues.
2. The increased fees cannot be supported by many events.

ViveBene
March 4th, 2013, 04:22 PM
Rob Copeland, two questions:
1. Do you know whether USMS corporate hired outside safety experts to advise USMS or to try to assuage insurer's concerns?
2. Do you know what USMS corporate is doing going forward to try to bring OW swims back into feasible status for 2014?

Thanks.

Rob Copeland
March 4th, 2013, 04:28 PM
This illustrates the crux of the issue, that USMS is implying that its sanctioned events will be safer than non-sanctioned events due to some new requirements. I disagree, and swimmers will see fewer sanctioned events this season for 2 reasons.
1. The new USMS requirements simply cannot be applied to certain venues.
2. The increased fees cannot be supported by many events.And this is the crux of the misunderstanding that a lot of folks have. Proof of insurance and propeller guards in and of themselves will NOT guarantee safer events and USMS has NOT intentionally stated or implied this. These new requirements are intended to mitigate certain risks to the swimmers and to USMS.

1. The new USMS requirements simply cannot be economically applied to certain venues. Agreed!
2. The increased fees cannot be supported by many events. This is the other big misconception. The increased insurance surcharge from USMS is charged to the LMSC. We are finding that most LSMCs are partially or fully absorbing the insurance surcharge. . In addition, the USMS Board has approved the concept of a fund for grants for sanctioned Open Water events to financially assist LMSC's in offsetting some or the entire surcharge.


Rob Copeland, two questions:I suggest you pose these questions to the other Rob; Rob Butcher. I do not have sufficient first hand information to provide the answers.

Sorry.

evmo
March 4th, 2013, 04:49 PM
I guess I missed the post where Morty said ďprop guards are an insanely stupid ideaĒ.

Gosh, I would assume you already know what Morty thinks, because I assume you and the "Open Water Task Force" solicited his extensive input on the new guidelines, given he probably has more relevant experience than all of you combined. Right, Rob?


And Iím sorry if I keep bringing up the MIMS in 2 posts, darn now itís 3. Would you prefer I talk about other open water swims?

You can bring up whatever swims you like, but it was amusing that the example you chose to use totally contradicts your viewpoint.

Kurt Dickson
March 5th, 2013, 07:06 AM
Certainly, if anybody has the right to lawyer-up, it is the gentleman from Maui Channel Swim. While I would prefer the captain to be made penniless and attend the swimmer's natal cleft with a fresh wet nap 24/7 into eternity, that likely did not happen. On the flip-side an "attempt" to make one person "whole" with money has affected hundreds and possibly thousands of people. I kinda wish we would just put rubber bumpers on the entire world, discontinue Yaz and any other possibly life-saving/improving medications, and discontinue all life-saving/improving medical devices/treatments; possibly then an entire segment of the population could be forced to work for a living rather than suck off the hard work of others...

chaos
March 5th, 2013, 08:56 AM
Certainly, if anybody has the right to lawyer-up, it is the gentleman from Maui Channel Swim. While I would prefer the captain to be made penniless and attend the swimmer's natal cleft with a fresh wet nap 24/7 into eternity, that likely did not happen. On the flip-side an "attempt" to make one person "whole" with money has affected hundreds and possibly thousands of people. I kinda wish we would just put rubber bumpers on the entire world, discontinue Yaz and any other possibly life-saving/improving medications, and discontinue all life-saving/improving medical devices/treatments; possibly then an entire segment of the population could be forced to work for a living rather than suck off the hard work of others...

Loosen the bow tie.... Breathe. It's gonna be alright.

Chris Stevenson
March 5th, 2013, 09:38 AM
Wow. I may not agree with some of the sentiments but I must admit that was truly a world-class rant! :bow:

Kurt Dickson
March 5th, 2013, 03:38 PM
Loosen the bow tie.... Breathe. It's gonna be alright.

Actually the bow tie by nature of the knot is relatively loose compared to the single or double windsor which is akin to a noose around your neck.

BTW I've entered the LV 10k and am looking forward to swimming small circles on an uneventful desert beach interspersed with 4 beach runs which is nice 'cuz my running is a lot like (in quality) my breaststroke; plus there is the added bonus of increased chance of slicing my foot on a broken beer bottle.:)

pwb
March 5th, 2013, 04:00 PM
BTW I've entered the LV 10k and am looking forward to swimming small circles on an uneventful desert beach interspersed with 4 beach runs which is nice 'cuz my running is a lot like (in quality) my breaststroke; plus there is the added bonus of increased chance of slicing my foot on a broken beer bottle.:)Look on the bright side, with all that insurance behind the event, you'll be close to some world class personal injury lawyers (I assume) in Vegas so you can get yourself set for life and then devote more time to your training (once the sutures heal).

Of course, this tidbit of information in terms of your beach-running-ability has just revealed my new drafting strategy for the Gatorman ...

There's no running, boats or beer bottles here (http://www.saddlebrookeswimclub.org/az-sw-short-course-championship/meet-info/) or here (http://www.mesamasters.com/EventShow.jsp?id=276735&team=amsmac). See you at the pool.

thewookiee
March 6th, 2013, 11:01 AM
I just read an email from my coach about the annual open water race that my club hosts in June. The Chattanooga River Rats have hosted the Rat Race for the last seven years.

The race offers two distances, a 4.5 mile swim and a 1.2 mile swim in the Tennessee river(tasty). The numbers for the race have increased each year.

In the email, he mentioned that we will need to attract more sponsors or get the current sponors to donate more money, because the race sanction fee went from $50 to $1800 for the event.

This isn't a national championship race, so our club will have to pay the balance, if we can't get enough sponsors. Well, that is my understanding from reading the information that has been supplied.

$1800 just seems awful steep for usms insurance.

Chris Stevenson
March 6th, 2013, 11:06 AM
I just read an email from my coach about the annual open water race that my club hosts in June. The Chattanooga River Rats have hosted the Rat Race for the last seven years.

The race offers two distances, a 4.5 mile swim and a 1.2 mile swim in the Tennessee river(tasty). The numbers for the race have increased each year.

In the email, he mentioned that we will need to attract more sponsors or get the current sponors to donate more money, because the race sanction fee went from $50 to $1800 for the event.

This isn't a national championship race, so our club will have to pay the balance, if we can't get enough sponsors. Well, that is my understanding from reading the information that has been supplied.

$1800 just seems awful steep for usms insurance.

That's not quite right, the additional fee is $1000 because USMS is covering $800 of it.

It is billed to the LMSC before the sanction is granted; the LMSC can decide whether to pay some or all of it or require that the club do so. The club can decide whether to dip into its cash reserves -- if there are any -- to cover the cost this year or whether to pass it along to the swimmers in the form of increased entry fee. If you expect 100 swimmers than a $10 increase would work, for example.

I think the increased fee is because the claim against USMS and the increased insurance rates came after this year's budget was approved. Hopefully next year USMS will find a way to budget for it so that LMSCs are not hit with such a high insurance fee for each OW event.

Good information: http://www.usms.org/admin/lmschb/content/owsanctionfaq

thewookiee
March 6th, 2013, 11:50 AM
Chris,

Thank you for the information. I do have one question, which I have probably overlooked the answer in the provided link. The total fee is $1800. A $1000 is the insurance bill passed to the lmsc by usms. Is the additional $800 the sanction fee by the lmsc or usms? Is $800 the normal fee range for an usms open water event?

Thanks,
John

swimmieAvsFan
March 6th, 2013, 12:06 PM
Wook,

USMS is absorbing the other $800 this year, since it was a surprise that the premiums went up so drastically. I'd check with your LMSC and see what they've decided about the $1000 portion they're on the hook for. It sounds like at least some LMSC are planning on absorbing it, again, at least for this year.

thewookiee
March 6th, 2013, 12:34 PM
Blue,

Thank you.

Chris Stevenson
March 6th, 2013, 03:33 PM
Chris, Thank you for the information.


Blue, Thank you.

Wait a minute, I see what you did there: given the title of this thread and since neither swimmieAvsFan nor I are lawyers...

thewookiee
March 6th, 2013, 03:44 PM
Wait a minute, I see what you did there: given the title of this thread and since neither swimmieAvsFan nor I are lawyers...

Well, she did go to college station, pa and you did go to the university of florida lizzards. But, I wasn't going to say anything about the replies, other than "Thank you"

courtneypaulk
March 6th, 2013, 06:54 PM
I had hoped to someday participate in one of your swims. But if your only two options for safety watercraft are some guy in a Boston Whaler who refuses to show he is insured or a teenager going 50 on a jet ski; then Iíll take a pass. And stick with my swims in secluded puddles with trained water-front lifeguards in kayaks and Fire & Rescue on jet skis with rescue boards.

In my 30+ years of being an open water swimmer and race director, Iíve never seen an instance where a one of my safety or escort boats needed to be traveling anywhere near 34 MPH. In my opinion, anyone going that fast on an active race course is reckless and dangerous. Thatís input from a race director.

When you are in the middle of MIMS in the Hudson River and a cruise ship decides to pull out of its dock...it is pretty helpful to have a boat with some speed and maneuverability to intervene. Also, given the recent incidents if heart attacks (or other critical health issues) I'd like to know a boat could get me to safety or medical attention as quickly as possible. Chaos (DB) is someone I would...without question, trust with my safety and my life in any open water event. It is truly disappointing that USMS didn't seek more comprehensive input from the numerous and very experienced open water swimmers and race directors at its disposal. The money is one thing and insurance is obtainable thru a variety of options. But each race director should be entitled to determine what criteria are necessary for the safety of their particular event. USMS took that option away from the race director by attempting to dictate rules that work for some open water events but, frankly, not for the most dangerous. When I jumped off a boat in Boston Harbor into 57 degree water a few years ago without a wetsuit...if something had gone wrong (like a heart attack or hypothermia) I would have wanted the concern for my safety to take absolute precedence. Prop guards would not have helped me. Having a boat captain with 1 million in insurance wouldn't have helped me. I trusted that between the race director and my boat captain and me and my crew that we were in the best position to decide. I have NEVER been concerned with losing a limb as a result of a boat prop and I have swum many hundreds of miles along side a boat both in events and in training.

swimmieAvsFan
March 6th, 2013, 09:53 PM
Well, she did go to college station, pa and you did go to the university of florida lizzards. But, I wasn't going to say anything about the replies, other than "Thank you"

Uh, there's no place in PA called College Station, just FYI :)

ourswimmer
March 6th, 2013, 10:27 PM
But each race director should be entitled to determine what criteria are necessary for the safety of their particular event. USMS took that option away from the race director by attempting to dictate rules that work for some open water events but, frankly, not for the most dangerous.

Did USMS take it away? Or did USMS's insurance carrier take it away, as a condition of providing the insurance coverage that surely everyone agrees is absolutely necessary? From reading the USMS announcements, I understood that the new rules regarding boat equipment and insurance were dictated by USMS's insurance carrier. Am I wrong? Is USMS's imposition of these new rules not a condition of coverage, or of coverage at the price USMS ended up negotiating?

Now, one might say that if those rules are conditions of our coverage that we should ditch this insurance carrier and get a better one. And I am also reading here, and have read elsewhere, that insurers are out there who would provide coverage without requiring the boat equipment and insurance that USMS (or, if my understanding is correct, our insurer) now requires to issue a sanction. But I am not reading anything about the price at which they offer it, and yet I am reading in this very thread that for some race directors price is a bigger issue than the boat equipment and insurance requirements. Moreover, I have not read that such insurance actually was offered to USMS at any price, let alone at a price that would have made USMS's overall cost to insure swim practices, pool meets, and OW swims competitive with what USMS ended up agreeing to pay for 2013.

So I feel as if I am reading a heated debate without having enough facts to understand precisely why either side is so worked up.

chaos
March 6th, 2013, 10:42 PM
So I feel as if I am reading a heated debate without having enough facts to understand precisely why either side is so worked up.

It is my understanding that the new requirements were recommended by the appointed USMS task force and adopted by the USMS OW committee:

The task force is chaired by Phil Dodson and includes Long Distance Chair Donn Livoni, Open Water Chair Lynn Hazlewood, Past President Rob Copeland, Legal Counsel Patty Miller, USMS board member Bruce Hopson, Treasurer Ralph Davis, President Nadine Day, and Executive Director Rob Butcher. The task force will be making formal recommendations to the USMS Board of Directors at the February 9-10 board meeting.

In the interim, USMS is placing a hold on sanctioning of new open water events until after the Board of Directors is able to review the full task force recommendations at the February 9-10 board meeting. LMSCs should not issue any sanctions to open water events until further notice. If this hold creates a substantial hardship for an open water event that needs to be sanctioned immediately, the LMSC Sanctions Chair should contact Rob Butcher (rob@usms.org) so that the task force can consider, on a case-by-case basis, whether a sanction may be issued despite the hold.

New Compliance Standards Effective Immediately
The task force has recommended, and President Day accepted, the following compliance standards that will be in effect immediately for sanctioned USMS open water events:
Sanctions may only be issued via the online sanction program at usms.org
All propeller driven watercraft used in conjunction with the sanctioned open water events must have a propeller guard(s) installed for the duration of the event. The following are exceptions:
Boats owned and operated by Coast Guard, police, fire and rescue, or other government agencies;
Boats at anchor from start to finish of the sanctioned event with engine(s) off, while any swimmer is in the water;
Boats with propellers fore of the rudder (e.g. inboard motors), provided
These boats do not run directly on the designated swim course.
For events requiring personal escort craft, water craft with inboard motors may be allowed on the course provided their engines are off when any swimmer is within 20 feet of the propeller and during relay exchanges. For feedings the swimmer may approach within 5 feet of the bow or side of boat with engines engaged.
All motorized watercraft hired for the event (by the host, participants, or others) must provide a certificate of insurance naming United States Masters Swimming, Inc., its LMSCs, officers, directors, employees, sponsors, trustees, and event host as additional insured. The certificate shall be submitted to the referee at least 24 hours prior to the event. Liability coverage limits shall not be less than $1 million with a $2 million aggregate.
All motorized watercraft volunteered to the event must provide proof of insurance. The proof of Insurance shall be submitted to the referee at least 24 hours prior to the event.
All current sanctioned USMS open water events are subject to administrative review to ensure compliance with these new standards. Any current sanctioned event not meeting these standards may have its sanction revoked and thus no liability insurance from USMS. All open water events not yet conducted may be subject an insurance surcharge, amount to be determined.

ourswimmer
March 6th, 2013, 10:56 PM
It is my understanding that the new requirements were recommended by the appointed USMS task force and adopted by the USMS OW committee:

Yes; I've read all of that. What I have not read, which could be my fault for not paying better attention, is why the "task force" and "OW committee" recommended the new requirements. Insuring our big organization and all its activities that are basically open to all comers willing to pay the USMS membership fee probably is a different proposition than insuring a single race, or even than insuring a small organization that sanctions just a few events and that uses rigorous screening criteria for the participants in the most taxing of those events. Could USMS have done something different, and if so at what price?

chaos
March 6th, 2013, 11:18 PM
Yes; I've read all of that. What I have not read, which could be my fault for not paying better attention, is why the "task force" and "OW committee" recommended the new requirements. Insuring our big organization and all its activities that are basically open to all comers willing to pay the USMS membership fee probably is a different proposition than insuring a single race, or even than insuring a small organization that sanctions just a few events and that uses rigorous screening criteria for the participants in the most taxing of those events. Could USMS have done something different, and if so at what price?

Could have doesn’t matter now, but moving forward, the question is will they do something different.
A $5 surcharge to membership could cover the costs associated with insurance premiums. (I know.... socialism)
...but the deal breaker for many events is the one size fits all approach to safety conceived by people inexperienced in providing safety for the full range of OW events taking place.

ViveBene
March 7th, 2013, 05:18 AM
ourswimmer:

The questions you raise are those many of us have, and are unlikely to be answered. However, getting Sarasota engaged *here* would seem to be important and salutary, especially if changes can be made and a new insurance regime put in place for 2014. Going forward, it is in my opinion critical that USMS hire outside safety and risk consultants and not try to go it alone in contracting with insurers.

You could try to pose questions here:

owsupport@usms.org

Chris Stevenson
March 7th, 2013, 05:25 AM
Could USMS have done something different, and if so at what price?

Keeping in mind that I was not privy to the details of what went on, I don't think the cost of coverage is the only issue, I would imagine the extent and type of coverage was also an issue. When you sanction something like 150 OW races a year the chances that *something* will happen in one of them every so often has to be pretty significant.

I look at USAT and -- at the risk of being insensitive -- they have people dying all the time in their events, often in the swim portion. Granted that dying of a heart attack or what have you is different then what happened in Maui, I have to wonder: what kind of coverage do THEY have? I think their annual membership fee is comparable to ours.

Then again maybe Maui is being held against USMS making it harder to find cheap insurance. Like having a pre-existing condition or something... :-)

thewookiee
March 7th, 2013, 07:09 AM
Uh, there's no place in PA called College Station, just FYI :)

See, outside of Pa, who actually know that fact? I don't what Chris was implying in his post then. :-)

thewookiee
March 7th, 2013, 07:17 AM
Will the new regulations be harder for events to get people with motor boats to volunteer for events? I don't know about all insurance companies, but some charge a few for naming an "additional insured"

Also, if someone has a boat but doesn't have a prop guard, will they take the time to install one or have one installed for a single day event?

Getting volunteers for events can be difficult enough, esp. newer events. Having them to make changes on their own dime might make it even more difficult for all races involved.

chaos
March 7th, 2013, 08:00 AM
Will the new regulations be harder for events to get people with motor boats to volunteer for events? I don't know about all insurance companies, but some charge a few for naming an "additional insured"

Also, if someone has a boat but doesn't have a prop guard, will they take the time to install one or have one installed for a single day event?

Getting volunteers for events can be difficult enough, esp. newer events. Having them to make changes on their own dime might make it even more difficult for all races involved.

Yes

Probably not. Installation of such devices is not benign. Holes need to be drilled into the drive housing for through bolt mounting.

No doubt about it.
I believe the gold standard for event safety has been established by the directors of La Traversee International du Lac St Jean. They operate with a fleet of event owned escort boats, and have a facility with a dozen hospital beds set up about 50 yards from the finish line.
It simply is not possible for other events to duplicate.

Rob Copeland
March 7th, 2013, 09:33 AM
Did USMS take it away? Or did USMS's insurance carrier take it away, as a condition of providing the insurance coverage that surely everyone agrees is absolutely necessary?Technically I would say it was USMS who took it away. However, the decisions of the USMS Board of Directors was based on requirements from our insurance carrier. Basically the Board had 2 options:

Option 1 – make the requirements set forth by our insurance carrier mandatory for sanctioned open water swims and have insurance coverage in place for sanctioned open water events

Option 2 – disregard the requirements set forth by our insurance carrier and take our chances sanctioning uninsured events

The Board went with option 1.


Installation of such devices is not benign. Holes need to be drilled into the drive housing for through bolt mounting.Actually for the past few years there have been a number of propeller guards on the market that do not require drilling into the motor.

Rob Copeland
March 7th, 2013, 10:35 AM
When you are in the middle of MIMS in the Hudson River and a cruise ship decides to pull out of its dock...it is pretty helpful to have a boat with some speed and maneuverability to intervene.A general rule of thumb, if a cruise ship decides to pull out of its dock or a barge is steaming down the middle of the river; you donít need a boat with some speed and maneuverability to intervene. You need to get out of the way!

chaos
March 7th, 2013, 10:43 AM
Actually for the past few years there have been a number of propeller guards on the market that do not require drilling into the motor.

I haven't seen any. And the photos of "approved" USMS prop guards don't illustrate that type of mounting option either.

Link?

slow
March 7th, 2013, 11:03 AM
USAT had 4,334 sanctioned events (1) in 2011. There were 146,657 full members at a price of $45/yr in 2011. They also sold 134,276 "one day" passes (2) in 2010 for a fee of $12.

1) That number includes 1,011 "youth events" and an unstated number of camps/clinics. USAT also sanctions some events that only use a pool or do not have a swimming portion. So 4334 - youth events - camps/clinics - pool-based triathlons - duathlons = ???? open water races.

2) Might be misleading -- I initially bought a "one day" pass when I was tri-ing it out and later converted to a full membership with their offer of paying the difference between annual price and one-day price. I was told a bunch of people do it that way but who knows?

Rob Copeland
March 7th, 2013, 11:11 AM
I haven't seen any. And the photos of "approved" USMS prop guards don't illustrate that type of mounting option either.

Link?Dave,

The first photo of ďExamples of allowable Propeller guardsĒ in the Open Water Sanction Guidelines http://www.usms.org/admin/lmschb/owgto_sanctions.pdf is of a SwimGuardĖ Standard - Marine Propeller Guard from MariTech http://www.maritechind.com/swimguard.html

According to their web site features:
Customized for a perfect fit from the smallest (9.9 hp) to the largest motors.
Can be installed and maintained with boat in the water.
Easy on - No drilling or mounting holes required.
Easy off - Can be taken off and reinstalled quickly, allowing for mission or job specific use.

Note: I have not personally verified MariTechís claims, but Iíll take them at their word for now.

chaos
March 7th, 2013, 11:29 AM
Note: I have not personally verified MariTechís claims, but Iíll take them at their word for now.

I'll contact them

knicholas
March 7th, 2013, 12:08 PM
If only we could "insure" absolutely all of our actions and the actions of others that cause us harm -- no one wants catastrophe ---

Open water swims won't cease to exist for the adventurous. For those that require "insurance" then their choices will obviously be limited in the future - maybe even to the point of paralysis. They will have to stick to the blue line on the bottom of the pool. For me, I'm going to keep swimming in the open water. I keep my health and life insurance current as a way to protect myself and my family. For those that swam the Arizona S.C.A.R. Swim last year and this year - it's an adventure that has not associated with USMS nor is it insured. Perhaps this is naive on my part and exposes me to "lawsuits" but I'm focused on the front-end safety of the event.

I don't rely or expect some other organization to give me the "green light" or make an event "legitimate." I just want to swim and be in the open water with those that have a similar love of open water swimming. I still belong to USMS and understand their concerns - I just don't feel like I need their blessing before getting in the water.

Kent Nicholas
S.C.A.R. Swim Organizer (volunteer)
Attorney

chaos
March 7th, 2013, 12:15 PM
If only we could "insure" absolutely all of our actions and the actions of others that cause us harm -- no one wants catastrophe ---

Open water swims won't cease to exist for the adventurous. For those that require "insurance" then their choices will obviously be limited in the future - maybe even to the point of paralysis. They will have to stick to the blue line on the bottom of the pool. For me, I'm going to keep swimming in the open water. I keep my health and life insurance current as a way to protect myself and my family. For those that swam the Arizona S.C.A.R. Swim last year and this year - it's an adventure that has not associated with USMS nor is it insured. Perhaps this is naive on my part and exposes me to "lawsuits" but I'm focused on the front-end safety of the event.

I don't rely or expect some other organization to give me the "green light" or make an event "legitimate." I just want to swim and be in the open water with those that have a similar love of open water swimming. I still belong to USMS and understand their concerns - I just don't feel like I need their blessing before getting in the water.

Kent Nicholas
S.C.A.R. Swim Organizer (volunteer)
Attorney

Swimmers can protect themselves by obtaining some personal insurance. I like the DAN policy:
https://www.diversalertnetwork.org/annual-travel-insurance/

chaos
March 7th, 2013, 12:25 PM
Dave,

The first photo of “Examples of allowable Propeller guards” in the Open Water Sanction Guidelines http://www.usms.org/admin/lmschb/owgto_sanctions.pdf is of a SwimGuard– Standard - Marine Propeller Guard from MariTech http://www.maritechind.com/swimguard.html

According to their web site features:
Customized for a perfect fit from the smallest (9.9 hp) to the largest motors.
Can be installed and maintained with boat in the water.
Easy on - No drilling or mounting holes required.
Easy off - Can be taken off and reinstalled quickly, allowing for mission or job specific use.

Note: I have not personally verified MariTech’s claims, but I’ll take them at their word for now.

Let me just say that I like the idea of prop guards enough to have drilled 9 holes in a brand new Yamaha 115 hp motor. The performance loss was unacceptable for the actions that might be required of me during an event. I would love to find an option that worked.

I just had a frank conversation with a gentleman at MariTech and the bottom line is that he said I should expect a 40% drop off the top end. This just won't work for me, but thanks for the link. These guards are great for a venue that can dedicate support vessels to duties < 10mph.

Kevin in MD
March 8th, 2013, 10:00 AM
I look at USAT and -- at the risk of being insensitive -- they have people dying all the time in their events, often in the swim portion. Granted that dying of a heart attack or what have you is different then what happened in Maui, I have to wonder: what kind of coverage do THEY have?

Cost to sanction a triathlon with USAT, assuming you file on time is $200. So that could be an ironman with 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles of roads and cyclists and 26 miles of run course, all for $200.

Chris Stevenson
March 8th, 2013, 01:48 PM
Cost to sanction a triathlon with USAT, assuming you file on time is $200. So that could be an ironman with 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles of roads and cyclists and 26 miles of run course, all for $200.

Interesting.

It might be a little bit of an apples-to-oranges thing, though. I can't claim to have knowledge of the wide variety of triathlons out there but for most I have seen the OW portion is pretty tame (and short). Granted you have the possibility of accidents in the other portions of the race too.

chaos
March 8th, 2013, 02:10 PM
...but for most I have seen the OW portion is pretty tame (and short).

Short: yes, but tame? The last place I would ever want to be is in the middle of a thrashing pack of 2000 adrenaline junkies in wetsuits.
Guess I'm getting soft....

evmo
March 9th, 2013, 04:46 AM
The task force is chaired by Phil Dodson and includes Long Distance Chair Donn Livoni, Open Water Chair Lynn Hazlewood, Past President Rob Copeland, Legal Counsel Patty Miller, USMS board member Bruce Hopson, Treasurer Ralph Davis, President Nadine Day, and Executive Director Rob Butcher.

How were the members of this "Task Force" chosen, exactly?

(Question not directed at chaos, obviously.)

courtneypaulk
March 9th, 2013, 12:57 PM
A general rule of thumb, if a cruise ship decides to pull out of its dock or a barge is steaming down the middle of the river; you don’t need a boat with some speed and maneuverability to intervene. You need to get out of the way!

If you are fast enough to swim out of the way of a cruise ship or a barge...then I guess there is a reason you aren't worried about prop guards or insurance. I, however, am not. If I really needed to get out of the way - then I would get on my support boat.

evmo
March 10th, 2013, 03:08 AM
If you are fast enough to swim out of the way of a cruise ship or a barge...then I guess there is a reason you aren't worried about prop guards or insurance. I, however, am not. If I really needed to get out of the way - then I would get on my support boat.

Courtney, the response to your first post was disingenuous and obfuscatory, so perhaps it's not even worth pursuing on this forum.

Anyway, we should stop picking on poor Rob Copeland. It can't be easy being the designated P.R. flack for this fiasco.

Rob Copeland
March 10th, 2013, 11:36 AM
Evan,

Thanks for defending me. Much appreciated!

And let me clear up a couple of things that you seem to have misunderstood.

1) I was being sincere about the advice to get out of the way of cruise ships. You do not want a "boat with some speed and maneuverability to intervene". A cruise ship under steam will not give way to a swimmer in the water and getting a boat to intervene and try to wave the ship off only puts more people in the path of disaster. The swimmer and escort craft need to get out of the way.

2) I have not been designated to handle any PR. I am posting out of my love for Masters Swimming in general and for open water swimming. If it sounds like I'm supporting the actions taken by Masters Swimming, well I guess I am. After seeing some of the other options, I believe USMS has made the best of a difficult situation.

evmo
March 10th, 2013, 03:24 PM
I was being sincere about the advice to get out of the way of cruise ships. You do not want a "boat with some speed and maneuverability to intervene". A cruise ship under steam will not give way to a swimmer in the water and getting a boat to intervene and try to wave the ship off only puts more people in the path of disaster. The swimmer and escort craft need to get out of the way.

Rob, with all due respect, this is crazy-talk. A big cruise ship is bearing down on a swimmer, and you think the best plan is for the swimmer to try to swim out of the way, and for the escort craft to also "get out of the way," without helping the swimmer? Did I get that right? Sounds like a good way to get your swimmer run over by a cruise ship.


2) I have not been designated to handle any PR. I am posting out of my love for Masters Swimming in general and for open water swimming.

You are the only member of the "Open Water Task Force" who is engaging with the membership on this topic, so that sort of makes you the de facto PR Guy. I've heard nothing but silence from others, aside from one-way pronouncements. The fact that no one was explicitly designated as the PR Guy/Gal actually seems even worse for USMS. It seems to indicate either that the leadership didn't realize there would be a PR issue, or that they're not confident enough in their decision to defend it under criticism. I'm not sure which is worse.

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www.marathonswimmers.org

Rob Copeland
March 11th, 2013, 08:59 AM
Did I get that right?I see where you aren’t getting it. It’s really tough for a cruise ship to sneak up on an escort boat and get to a point where ”A big cruise ship is bearing down on a swimmer”. The boat captain, the swimmer’s crew and the official observer, should all see the ship from a pretty good distance and alter course to get the swimmer out of harm’s way.

Any captain or race official who can’t get a swimmer out of the way in the 5-10 minutes it takes from spotting the possible danger to the time the ship arrives, is grossly incompetent or negligent and has no business being involved with the race. The race safety officer should cover all of this in the safety briefing.

If the officials do allow a swimmer to be in immediate danger, then they need to pull the swimmer and get out of the way. This is just common sense. But I guess it may not be that common. Once I was a race official on an escorted swim and we had a barge coming down the river towards us, the swimmer’s crew told us to radio the barge captain to tell him to pull over. I informed the crew member that wasn’t going to happen and we needed to get out of the channel and towards shore. We angled the swimmer out of the barges path and 5 minutes later after the barge passed we moved back to the faster water.

evmo
March 11th, 2013, 03:18 PM
If the officials do allow a swimmer to be in immediate danger, then they need to pull the swimmer and get out of the way. This is just common sense.

It is a relief to hear you say this. Thank you for explaining your perspective more precisely.

But unfortunately, this brings us back to the issue of prop guards. In urban waterways where things may happen quickly and unexpectedly, safety vessels need to have full power at their disposal to move quickly. Given the composition of the "Open Water Task Force" (yes, the scare quotes are purposeful), I'm just not convinced that USMS conducted a thorough evaluation of the various safety issues in different open water settings. Liability, yes. Safety, no.

If they had thoroughly evaluated safety issues, then we'd probably be seeing a better effort at defending the decision than having you come on here and tell people to "get out of the way of cruise ships."


It’s really tough for a cruise ship to sneak up on an escort boat and get to a point where ”A big cruise ship is bearing down on a swimmer”.

Let me ask you something: Did the "Open Water Task Force" consult any race directors who could actually give you a knowledgeable perspective on the situation of encountering large ships? Race directors of swims in crowded urban waterways, as opposed to placid inland lakes?

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www.marathonswimmers.org

Chris Stevenson
March 11th, 2013, 07:10 PM
Did the "Open Water Task Force" consult any race directors

Would these "race directors" encourage the use of more "scare quotes?" Because that just never gets old. And so useful too!

evmo
March 11th, 2013, 08:11 PM
Would these "race directors" encourage the use of more "scare quotes?"

Chris, how's this: I am very happy that the "open water" cable swims you love so much will be unaffected by these changes.

Ken Classen
March 11th, 2013, 09:22 PM
Iím curious what the USMS Open water board, task force etc., is thinking going forward? I understand that appears the USMS insurance provider did a fast one and the board scrambled to do what it could for the 2013 season. But does the board think what the insurance provider required acceptable or unacceptable? Moving forward into the 2014 season and beyond what are USMS OW goals going to be regarding this? Speaking as a member/client of USMS the status quo as it now stands is unacceptable. Going forward I hope the USMS OW board feels the same way and starts formulating a new plan and if that involves a new insurance provider so be it.

One thing that struck me in this whole brew haha is that there are really three distinct categories of open water events when it comes to the escort boats.

1. A relatively closed course or courses with where the entire race is always within a couple of hundred years of land and safety personal can safely cover it in non-motorized craft.
2. Courses where the swimmers are primarily escorted by non-motorized craft, but where motorized craft are used for secondary safety for example; to speedily get a swimmer off the race course to avoid a cruise ship ;-) or more likely to quickly ferry them to land based emergency personal. In addition used to warn and intercept other non race involved powered water craft that a race is in progress but generally stay well out of the way of the swimmers. Examples of this kind of race would be the Horsetooth reservoir swim in Colorado or the Kingdom 10-milier in Vermont.
3. Third type of OW event is where the motorized craft is the primary escort to the swimmer. An example would be an English or Catalina channel crossing. The swimmer is so far off shore and conditions could become so rough this is the only safe way to escort the swimmer. Another example would be the race that set this whole thing off the Maui Channel relay.

So it was a category 3 event that caused this entire thing and what makes it sad is itís the least participated in category by USMS and most other open water events. I think the distinction is clear and something many of the race directors have been trying to convey to the USMS powers that be.

Chris Stevenson
March 11th, 2013, 10:04 PM
Chris, how's this: I am very happy that the "open water" cable swims you love so much will be unaffected by these changes.

"Love so much" is vastly overstating things. It is a workout, nothing more.

Funny how much open water purists seem to disdain what you consider lesser events or athletes. Puddle swims, wetsuits wearers, triathletes: all pretenders. The chip on your shoulder just gets a little tiring after a while.

Chris Stevenson
March 11th, 2013, 10:07 PM
One thing that struck me in this whole brouhaha is that there are really three distinct categories of open water events when it comes to the escort boats....

This seems like a useful way to think of things, I hope that TPTB can convince/educate the insurance companies (or work with multiple companies) in a similar manner.

chaos
March 11th, 2013, 10:28 PM
This seems like a useful way to think of things, I hope that TPTB can convince/educate the insurance companies (or work with multiple companies) in a similar manner.

Hope isn’t quite enough to get us through this season or help us plan for the next.... so we are moving forward. I’m happy to be involved with CIBBOWS... a group that is supportive of a full range of OW opportunities from entry level to the extreme.

evmo
March 11th, 2013, 11:03 PM
Funny how much open water purists seem to disdain what you consider lesser events or athletes. Puddle swims, wetsuits wearers, triathletes: all pretenders. The chip on your shoulder just gets a little tiring after a while.

The martyr complex gets a little tiring after a while, too.

As Ken Classen says, there are different categories of OW events. Each category calls for different safety measures, and possibly different types of insurance. It has nothing to do with one category being better than the other.

For those of us who are interested in Ken's category #2 and #3 events, it is frustrating that USMS did not see fit to include our interests in their decision-making. This frustration is compounded by the fact that the "Open Water Task Force" did not include anyone who has any relevant experience at category #2 and #3 events.

Possibly category #3 events (channel swims) are better off disengaging from USMS altogether. They are different beasts. However, the de-sanctioning of Kingdom Swim in Vermont (a category 2 swim) is, in my view, truly a stain on the legacy of USMS.

Chris Stevenson, it is not surprising you thought the earlier comment by chaos was "a bit much" [link (http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?22154-Thanks-stupid-people-and-lawyers&p=283459&viewfull=1#post283459)], because, by your own admission, you see open water as "a workout, nothing more." You have a narrow perspective, just like the people responsible for these new policies.

Rob Copeland
March 12th, 2013, 09:56 AM
Ken,


So it was a category 3 event that caused this entire thing and what makes it sad is itís the least participated in category by USMS and most other open water events. I think the distinction is clear and something many of the race directors have been trying to convey to the USMS powers that be.
I believe ďthe USMS powers that beĒ, at least some of them fully understand the difference risks inherent in different categories of open water events. Members of the task force and board have: swum the English Channel, won the MIMS (menís category) , competed in USA-S OW national championships (including the 25K), competed in professional marathon races, been race officials for FINA OW world championships, as well as organized, directed and participated in hundreds if not thousands of open water events.

There are lots of other external factors that also need to be accounted for, such as body of water (lake, river, ocean), water/air temperature, type of start (in/out of water, mass start, time trial, wave), other marine traffic, water quality, marine life, finish, etc. These and a lot more need to be assessed to determine risk and safety needs of the event.


But does the board think what the insurance provider required acceptable or unacceptable?This is kind of moot, we got the best insurance available. Would we have liked lower costs and fewer restrictions? Sure, but to meet our coverage needs we needed to pay the cost and abide by the restrictions. The crux of the matter addressed by the powers that be was to comply with 2013 insurance coverage requirements. These included:
1) All motorized watercraft must have propeller guards Ė we worked with our insurer to get this restriction greatly reduced
2) All watercraft must have a certificate of insurance listing USMS as an insured Ė again working with our insurer we were able to reach a compromise solution
3) Each sanctioned event will cost USMS $1,800 for insurance Ė this one stuck, but USMS decided to absorb $800 of each fee and most LMSCís are picking up all or part of the remaining $1,000.


Moving forward into the 2014 season and beyond what are USMS OW goals going to be regarding this?A great question, one the Board raised not so long ago. The answer is yet to be determined.

Chris Stevenson
March 12th, 2013, 01:06 PM
Chris Stevenson, it is not surprising you thought the earlier comment by chaos was "a bit much" [link (http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?22154-Thanks-stupid-people-and-lawyers&p=283459&viewfull=1#post283459)], because, by your own admission, you see open water as "a workout, nothing more." You have a narrow perspective, just like the people responsible for these new policies.

Um, no. I said that I view cable swims in that manner.

But I'll freely admit that while I have done a couple dozen OW swims over my lifetime -- in various bodies of water -- they don't really mean that much to me *personally.* I enjoy them but if I was told today that I'll never swim one again I would just shrug, be a little sad, and then move on.

That doesn't mean I don't value them for others for whom they mean a lot more. For example while I don't get all that jazzed about cable swims, I think they are especially valuable for those who are new to the sport and who struggle with open water anxiety. Swimming next to a cable in calm conditions might be a good first baby step to more challenging events. Its an attitude you might want to consider before invoking your scare quotes again.

I freely admit that I do not have the OW experience to help set policy and I don't believe I have ever represented myself in this manner. But unlike you I do think USMS has made a good faith effort in a bad situation to continue OW swimming in the organization in the short term. And I believe I am in a position to evaluate that effort, given that my LMSC chair was on the Task Force and my wife is on the OW committee.

Is it a perfect solution? Obviously not and I'm sure there will be efforts to improve upon it in the future. But your pouting and "cheap shots" are not very useful to that effort.

Rob Copeland
March 12th, 2013, 01:09 PM
... they don't really mean that much to me *personally.* I enjoy them but if I was told today that I'll never swim one again I would just shrug, be a little sad, and then move on.I feel the same way about breaststroke.

evmo
March 12th, 2013, 01:41 PM
Swimming next to a cable in calm conditions might be a good first baby step to more challenging events.

Totally agree. The problem is, many of these more challenging events will cease to exist unless they can find alternative insurance. USMS, given its size, would have had great negotiating power if keeping these events had been a priority. By all appearances, it was not a priority. If USMS had a genuine commitment to open water swimming, then I'd think they would be interested in keeping the swimmers who want to graduate beyond cable swims "in the fold."


But unlike you I do think USMS has made a good faith effort in a bad situation to continue OW swimming in the organization in the short term. And I believe I am in a position to evaluate that effort, given that my LMSC chair was on the Task Force and my wife is on the OW committee.

An alternative interpretation is that your position makes you blind to the shortcomings in the effort. If USMS really plans to make a good faith effort at improving their approach to open water, they would do well to view my comments here as reasoned criticism, not "pouting," and will realize that I'm far from alone in my views.

irishpolarbear
March 12th, 2013, 01:58 PM
...view my comments here as reasoned criticism, not "pouting," and will realize that I'm far from alone in my views.No, I believe at this point, most people see your churlish criticisms as whining and pouting.

chaos
March 12th, 2013, 02:40 PM
No, I believe at this point, most people see your churlish criticisms as whining and pouting.

As long as we are now speaking for most people, I think I can say with the authority of most OW swimmers I know that evmo has been dead on in much of this criticism.

Deliberately misinterpreting posts in a response is what I call churlish....

E=H2O
March 12th, 2013, 02:50 PM
No, I believe at this point, most people see your churlish criticisms as whining and pouting.

I have been sitting on the sidelines waiting until I had something positive to contribute to this important dialog even if it is in the form of criticism. Sadly, you felt name calling from the sidelines was sufficient. Worse is that you didn't have the confidence in your opinion to let it stand on its own, but instead summoned up the power of the "most people". Speak your opinions, argue your positions but please dump the blue font. If you want to standout, do it through solid reasoning.

Rob Copeland
March 12th, 2013, 04:12 PM
If USMS really plans to make a good faith effort at improving their approach to open water, they would do well to view my comments here as reasoned criticism...Evan,

Just a couple of observations.

1) I think your reasoned criticisms might gain a little more traction if they were accompanied by viable reasoned solutions.

2) For better or worse a good number of USMS leadership does not closely follow criticism reasoned or otherwise in social media. So discussion forum posts arenít really the best method of attempting to influencing policy.

If you really want to be heard, then deal directly with the Open Water Compliance Coordinator, Open Water Committee, Long Distance Committee, local leadership or the Executive Director. And, if you really want to be involved in helping USMS make a good faith effort in improving our approach to open water swimming, then get involved. Help answer the question; given the constraints placed on our events by insurance requirements, what do our event directors, open water committee, local volunteers and the board need to accomplish this year to improve our approach to open water swimming?

evmo
March 12th, 2013, 05:51 PM
No, I believe at this point, most people see your churlish criticisms as whining and pouting.

(Fixed your blue font.)

Me, churlish? Quite possibly! But not wrong.

Let's do a multiple-choice quiz. Which of the following describes my aims in this thread?

(a) Being sensitive to the egos of USMS leadership.
(b) Defending the status quo.
(c) Campaigning for political office with USMS.
(d) Advocating, persuading, and raising awareness on behalf of an interest group that was not well represented in the crafting of new OWS guidelines by USMS.

(Hint: Only one answer is correct!)

In my observation, subtlety is not so effective in dealing with insular organizations.

Chris Stevenson
March 12th, 2013, 05:54 PM
An alternative interpretation is that your position makes you blind to the shortcomings in the effort. If USMS really plans to make a good faith effort at improving their approach to open water, they would do well to view my comments here as reasoned criticism, not "pouting," and will realize that I'm far from alone in my views.

Fair enough, though one could argue that since I am not as passionate about OW then I am more objective in evaluating the *level* of their efforts. I readily admit I don't have the expertise to evaluate their efforts on their merits. I do not believe that the people involved in the decision were nearly as inexperienced as I, however.

I would add that (IMO of course) Ken Classen set a good bar for constructive criticism in his last post with respect to tone and being respectful of the hard work that many have put into this.

I echo Rob's comments about the scope of forum posts: do not assume that TPTB will read these comments. It can be a nice place to debate issues and refine positions interactively, but ultimately you can't assume that the people here on the forum are representative of either USMS administration or the membership as a whole. (I would venture to say that the same is true for the Marathon Swimming forum.)

evmo
March 12th, 2013, 06:02 PM
Just a couple of observations.

1) I think your reasoned criticisms might gain a little more traction if they were accompanied by viable reasoned solutions.

2) For better or worse a good number of USMS leadership does not closely follow criticism reasoned or otherwise in social media. So discussion forum posts arenít really the best method of attempting to influencing policy.

If you really want to be heard, then deal directly with the Open Water Compliance Coordinator, Open Water Committee, Long Distance Committee, local leadership or the Executive Director. And, if you really want to be involved in helping USMS make a good faith effort in improving our approach to open water swimming, then get involved. Help answer the question; given the constraints placed on our events by insurance requirements, what do our event directors, open water committee, local volunteers and the board need to accomplish this year to improve our approach to open water swimming?

Rob, this all sounds very reasonable and level-headed. I would take your advice more seriously if you hadn't felt the need to insult me behind an alias account ('irishpolarbear') that you apparently forgot has already been outed:

http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?8175-Welcome-to-the-Masters-Masquerade-Ball&p=93250&viewfull=1#post93250

Seems not very past-presidential of you to resort to such immature tactics.

E=H2O
March 12th, 2013, 07:30 PM
2) For better or worse a good number of USMS leadership does not closely follow criticism reasoned or otherwise in social media. So discussion forum posts arenít really the best method of attempting to influencing policy.

Maybe the USMS leadership should recognize that the USMS Forum is a good source of information which can be useful in their policy making process. People use social media because it is easy, and doesn't the leadership appreciate a vehicle that helps people easily voice their opinions and concerns about USMS? Of course if they thought past or current members of the USMS leadership were trolling under false identities, they might believe we are all nothing but fire breathing chimera.

thewookiee
March 12th, 2013, 09:18 PM
My question is for Dave and Evan. Since both of you swim and direct open water events, what kind of safety protocals do you all have in place for your events?

While I don't see usms changing the rules for 2013, maybe some of the practices that you all put forth for your events could be evaluated by usms for 2014.

chaos
March 12th, 2013, 09:56 PM
My question is for Dave and Evan. Since both of you swim and direct open water events, what kind of safety protocals do you all have in place for your events?

Good question. Last year, I co-directed (with Rondi_Davies) 2 USMS sanctioned events. I won’t post the entire safety plan, communications plan, permit applications, etc, but I’m happy to outline a few details:

2 Bridges 5K and 2.5k
This swim course is a loop that travels clockwise around the eastern most stanchions of the Mid-Hudson Bridge and The Walkway Over the Hudson Bridge. One loop = 2.5k, 2 loops = 5k. It is a land entry from a concrete boat ramp with a floating start and a land finish. Average depth for the swim course is 40 - 50 feet, 3 buoys were set up at each stanchion to establish the course and respect the security zones of the bridges. The length of the course is +/- 1200 yards. and there is a separation zone of +/- 100 yards between the north and south lanes where we have a roaming jet skier. 10 kayakers are stationed at 100 yard intervals and mark the western extent of the course (swimmers keep the kayaks on their left as they are heading north). Kayakers all have marine radios, and whistles. We have a dedicated channel for event communications. West of the kayaks, motorized patrol boats close the course to recreational traffic. Several municipalities join forces here... Ulster County Sheriffs, Dutchess County Sheriffs, Poughkeepsie FD, Aux CG. Further west is the commercial shippoing zone. Rondi and I are in constant radio communication... I am on a zodiac roaming among the motorized boats, she is at the finish.

For a distressed swimmer, kayaks should be the first to assist. Then jetski if evacuation is necessary.

On land, we have an ambulance and EMT’s at the ready. The nearest hospital is about 7 minutes away.

evmo
March 12th, 2013, 11:36 PM
I would add that (IMO of course) Ken Classen set a good bar for constructive criticism in his last post with respect to tone and being respectful of the hard work that many have put into this.

I agree. He has a different approach than I do.


I echo Rob's comments about the scope of forum posts: do not assume that TPTB will read these comments.


Maybe the USMS leadership should recognize that the USMS Forum is a good source of information which can be useful in their policy making process. People use social media because it is easy, and doesn't the leadership appreciate a vehicle that helps people easily voice their opinions and concerns about USMS?

Agree with Bob. If USMS leadership ignore the Forums, this is more a statement about their insularity and cluelessness than about the critics' approach to influence and persuasion.


ultimately you can't assume that the people here on the forum are representative of either USMS administration or the membership as a whole. (I would venture to say that the same is true for the Marathon Swimming forum.)

For whatever it's worth, I can tell you that visitor traffic to the Marathon Swimmers Forum from Sarasota skyrocketed shortly after the USMS OW Sanctioning (http://www.marathonswimmers.org/forum/discussion/329/usms-ow-sanctioning) thread started, and continues to this day.

PS: I can't give you pageview stats on this thread on the USMS Forum.
irishpolarbear, I mean Rob Copeland, may have access to that information.

Chris Stevenson
March 13th, 2013, 11:10 AM
Maybe the USMS leadership should recognize that the USMS Forum is a good source of information which can be useful in their policy making process. People use social media because it is easy, and doesn't the leadership appreciate a vehicle that helps people easily voice their opinions and concerns about USMS?


If USMS leadership ignore the Forums, this is more a statement about their insularity and cluelessness than about the critics' approach to influence and persuasion.

For the moment, let's put aside the irony of an open water devotee accusing anyone of insularity and compare the language used in the above two quotes. Both are saying the same thing, which do you think would be more persuasive in getting USMS leaders to the forums?

Why would volunteers who put in a lot of time and effort into something they love want to come here to be insulted? Evan, you seem to think that an abrasive style will somehow better further your goals of persuading or informing but I submit that the opposite is true. You all but call the OW Task Force a bunch of morons and your contempt for their efforts is pretty evident; this tone immediately puts people on the defensive and means they will not be in any frame of mind to evaluate your criticism rationally.

USMS leaders are certainly not alone in this. Almost anyone -- including most meet/race directors I know -- will not react very well if their efforts are denigrated when constructive criticism is being offered.

For the record, I agree that USMS leaders should visit the forums from time to time. The vast majority of posters and posts here are polite and well-intentioned. Unfortunately what usually sticks in one's mind are the nastier, less pleasant experiences.

And electronic arguments can get out of hand. If even a math problem on Facebook (http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/03/facebook_math_problem_why_pemdas_doesn_t_always_gi ve_a_clear_answer.html) can lead to virtual fisticuffs, how about disagreements about things that people are truly passionate about? (Not to sell arithmetic short, of course!)

Rob Copeland
March 13th, 2013, 11:53 AM
Maybe the USMS leadership should recognize that the USMS Forum is a good source of information...It looks like, once again, I did not choose my words wisely.

First, based on forum statistics, it appears most members of the board have read this thread, however I can’t tell how closely they are following it.

Second, it would have been better to state point 2 as something like “2) For better or worse USMS leadership does not typically set policy based on negative criticism offered by a few individuals through social media.” I still believe if someone is interested in influencing policy, then your best option is to provide viable reasoned solutions.

Third, some Masters Swimming programs and policies in place today have arisen out of forum suggestions. So our leaders do listen, and like most people our volunteers are more likely to act on positive and specific suggestions rather than negative and general criticism.

Rob Copeland
March 13th, 2013, 01:59 PM
Hi, all. You guys are some of the people I respect most.

As "race directors", we can find an alternate insurance coverage. But can we somehow be able to be recognized events by USMS? That way, we can hold OW events that are listed on the calendar. And, why has the Tampa Bay Marathon Swim been taken off the USMS calendar? We're not going to be sanctioned by USMS, but we're going to make an announcement soon regarding the alternate sanctioning. There are events for Barbados and Bermuda listed, and they can't even be considered for USMS sanctioning.Ron,

I hope you don’t mind that I moved your post to its own thread. I figured this was a topic that should be discussed independently of this “Stupid people and lawyers” thread.

http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?22247-Recognizing-Open-Water-Events

evmo
March 13th, 2013, 03:18 PM
For the moment, let's put aside the irony of an open water devotee accusing anyone of insularity

Chris, I may not be a Greek Olympian, but at one point I was a Div. 1 collegiate pool swimmer, and for my first several years with USMS I was also primarily a pool swimmer. I've participated in about as wide a variety of USMS events as humanly possible, from the 50 Fly to postal swims to cable swims to buoy-loop OW courses to the Catalina Channel (which, when I did it in 2011, was a USMS sanctioned event). I've been a member of four different LMSCs in various parts of the country.

So I'm not sure there's any irony here.


compare the language used in the above two quotes. Both are saying the same thing, which do you think would be more persuasive in getting USMS leaders to the forums?

Without a doubt, my abrasive approach is more effective in getting people to read this thread (including leadership). I happen to manage an online swimming-related forum myself, and there's no contest. I'm sure irishpolarbear/moderator will confirm this.


Why would volunteers who put in a lot of time and effort into something they love want to come here to be insulted? [snip]
You all but call the OW Task Force a bunch of morons

That's fair. To clarify, I think perhaps the problem is less with the volunteer members of the OW Task Force (who probably did the best they could with what they were given), but rather with the people responsible for selecting the Task Force in the first place (some of whom are paid quite handsomely). And also the process by which input was solicited (also, largely determined by salaried folks).


Evan, you seem to think that an abrasive style will somehow better further your goals of persuading or informing but I submit that the opposite is true.

Unfortunately, mild-mannered constructive criticism is only effective if the targets of the constructive criticism are open to hearing it. Otherwise, it tends to get ignored. It would be interesting to see a graph of the visitor traffic from USMS leadership plotted along a timeline of this thread.

Incidentally, Chris: What is your opinion of official forum moderators posting under anonymous aliases as an attempt to undermine his critics?

evmo
March 13th, 2013, 06:09 PM
My question is for Dave and Evan. Since both of you swim and direct open water events, what kind of safety protocals do you all have in place for your events? While I don't see usms changing the rules for 2013, maybe some of the practices that you all put forth for your events could be evaluated by usms for 2014.

'been meaning to answer your question, Wook, since it's a good one, and I hope (now that everyone is listening) it signals a new and more productive direction in this discussion.

As far as my administrative experience & responsibilities go, they are limited to channel swims ("category 3" in Ken Classen's system - solo swims escorted by motorized watercraft). IMO, these events should separate from USMS entirely because they are too different from other USMS events (even other OW events) from an insurance perspective. The fact that (for example) Catalina Channel swims were ever insured by USMS in the first place is actually kind of shocking.

Channel swimming organizations -- CCSF and Santa Barbara CSA, but also possibly NYC Swim, Tampa Bay Marathon Swim, Boston Light, 8 Bridges, In Search of Memphre, END-WET, S.C.A.R., Swim Across the Sound, Rose Pitonof, Farallones, and the new Cape May Circumnavigation (did that cover everyone??) -- may find that the best solution is to form a new national "marathon swimming association" for better negotiating power.

To answer your question, I believe there are a few fundamental keys to promoting safe channel swims:

1. Properly vetting swimmers for open water marathon swimming experience and competence.
2. Working with boat pilots who are experienced at escorting swimmers.
3. Training official observers on how to deal with various contingencies that might happen in the middle of the ocean. I would note that the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation is probably the gold standard in the entire world on observer training and mentorship.

Category 1 swims (smaller, closed-loop courses) -- these are what the new USMS guidelines were seemingly designed for, so these swims have no problem.

Category 2 swims (longer swims with roaming motorized craft as secondary support and/or unusual courses) are more problematic. I believe USMS should WANT to sanction these swims:
- the participation numbers are higher than for channel swims
- as Chris said, they provide good aspirational goals for newbie OW swimmers
- they provide a good value proposition for USAT triathletes who may want to try longer swims

However, the new guidelines are - for the many reasons already discussed here and elsewhere (http://www.marathonswimmers.org/forum/discussion/329/usms-ow-sanctioning) - inappropriate for such swims. In crafting better safety guidelines for Category 2, I'll gladly defer to those with relevant experience. Off the top of my head, and in no particular order:

- Morty Berger
- David Barra & Rondi Davies
- Current and past swim commissioners of the South End Rowing Club & Dolphin Club in San Francisco
- Phil White (Kingdom Swim)
- Ron Collins (Tampa Bay)
- Greg O'Connor (Boston Light)
- Karah Nazor (Swim the Suck)

If I were the USMS OW Task Force, I would absolutely want these people's input, and if possible, have them directly involved in the decision-making. Not just for better decisions, but for the perceived legitimacy of the process.

E=H2O
March 13th, 2013, 07:24 PM
Second, it would have been better to state point 2 as something like “2) For better or worse USMS leadership does not typically set policy based on negative criticism offered by a few individuals through social media.”

I truly hope you meant this as a bit of levity. I am not assuming otherwise, but if it is the attitude of USMS leadership it is elitist at best.

thewookiee
March 13th, 2013, 07:39 PM
Dave and Evan,

Thank you for the information. I didn't realize just how much preparation went into planning an open water event.

John

ourswimmer
March 13th, 2013, 08:44 PM
Category 1 swims (smaller, closed-loop courses) -- these are what the new USMS guidelines were seemingly designed for, so these swims have no problem.

Well, no problem except potentially cost. Even with the new requirements USMS's premium still went up; and because USMS has elected to pass on part of that cost increase rather than spreading it among all membership, some races now can't afford to sanction. If a way to resume insuring and sanctioning "Category 2" swims exists, the cost of that insurance and how to share that cost also will be important points for debate and decision.

E=H2O
March 13th, 2013, 10:47 PM
Why don't we skip OW swimming events and just start up triathlons under the USAT. We can make the swim leg longer and then right before the race cancel the bike portion because it's too windy. The run will be the 50 yd jog up the beach. Insurance costs would be much lower than with USMS although I have no idea how that is possible.

Michael Heather
March 14th, 2013, 01:47 AM
Even with the new requirements USMS's premium still went up; and because USMS has elected to pass on part of that cost increase rather than spreading it among all membership, some races now can't afford to sanction. If a way to resume insuring and sanctioning "Category 2" swims exists, the cost of that insurance and how to share that cost also will be important points for debate and decision.

I have read this thread with no little interest. Mostly, I have seen how misplaced anger and lack (or ignorance?) of accurate information turns into a free-for-all with no new or useful information generated. Since no one higher up has offered to enlighten any of you, I guess I will try.

The board knew in late October that because of recent claims history, our former insurance carrier had raised our premium about 700%.***{the timing is inaccurate and was recited from my failing memory. Please see post #122}*** With a lot of scrambling, phone calls and negotiating, our ED was able to find one insurer that could write a policy for USMS that included open water events. And did not cost all of our reserves for a one year premium. It did have a bunch of strings attached, such as propeller guards.

The OW sanctioning task force had little time and was under considerable pressure to pull together guidelines that were essentially dictated to USMS by the insurer. Passing on part of the insurance premium that is exclusively OW dedicated is just a business decision. Remember, OW does not pay any extra to hold OW practices or clinics, those are covered under another part of the insurance policy. Only sanctioned events have the $1800 special premium, of which USMS eats $800 and passes on $1000 to the sanctioning LMSCs.

None of you posting to this thread can appreciate just how close USMS came to being a virtual organization at the beginning of 2013, with no insurance to cover any of our operations, sanctions or members. It would have been very easy to cut OW loose and save USMS $135,000. But USMS has had a very keen interest in building OW for the last 4 years, and did not ever consider shutting down that branch of the business. The gratitude shown for this hard work and dedication are an exodus of sanctioned events.

gregoc
March 14th, 2013, 09:07 AM
Michael, thankyou. This information is helpful in understanding what USMS was facing and the timeconstraints involved. It is clear that the insurance company is part of theproblem. Maybe with a year to shop around USMS can get better coverage for2014. Maybe with more time USMS might come to the conclusion that theorganization can't safely sanction/insure some OW swims.

What USMS is dealing with now is a huge PR SNAFU. If they were up front withthe reasons for the changes and what they had to deal with, people in the OWcommunity might have been more understanding.

[QUOTE=The gratitude shown for this hard work and dedication are an exodus ofsanctioned events.[/QUOTE]

This statement is a little twisted. I think may OW events wanted to stick withUSMS, but the last minute changes in the rules made it impossible to seeksanctioning through USMS. In fact several OW events that had received sanctionsfrom USMS for 2013 subsequently had those sanctions revoked!

timsroot
March 14th, 2013, 09:07 AM
None of you posting to this thread can appreciate just how close USMS came to being a virtual organization at the beginning of 2013, with no insurance to cover any of our operations, sanctions or members. It would have been very easy to cut OW loose and save USMS $135,000. But USMS has had a very keen interest in building OW for the last 4 years, and did not ever consider shutting down that branch of the business. The gratitude shown for this hard work and dedication are an exodus of sanctioned events.


That's probably true. Based on what I've read in the USMS statements, the communications painted a pretty clear picture of an unexpected cost increase, and a scramble to make the best of what was available in such a short amount of time. While disappointing, I understand why certain sanctions were pulled, and why certain race directors made the decisions that they made. While my emotions swing my opinion one way, I really don't think that either race directors or USMS have acted in the wrong.

I think that a lot of the reason for the contention is that there's been no indication that, with a longer timeframe to research the best alternatives for everyone, USMS is going to reconsider any of the new requirements for 2014. While not all of the new requirements are all bad, for some events, they won't work. That's why, for example, Tampa and Kingdom Swim are no longer going to be USMS sanctioned events.

With the new requirements, it seems to me like there will need to be a lot of change. If USMS is interested in supporting the growth of open water swimming, will there be any means by which to at least recognize events such as these, even if USMS cannot put itself in a position to insure these events? Perhaps something like event recognition, like Ron Collins suggested? Perhaps an option where the swimming rules of USMS are abided by, even if the insurance isn't (like 8 bridges is doing this year)?

I don't think it should be too hard, now that there is ample time to come to a measured and reasonable solution, to find a solution that is more amenable to everyone. While I don't know if the Open Water Taskforce is still around and working, but I hope that they are, and I hope that they take their time, reach out for more input, and come up with a more thorough solution.

sunruh
March 14th, 2013, 09:41 AM
The gratitude shown for this hard work and dedication are an exodus of sanctioned events.

and as i wrote to the board of my lmsc (of which i am a part of) 3 weeks ago. this is just the tip of the iceberg Michael.
in that note i stated how usms was facing the same exact situation that the ama (american motorcycle association) faced 10 years ago with sanctioning offroad races. how a few lawsuits had raised the insurance for events (meets) from the $800 range to the $2000 range. for those events that continued to host, most of them have gone rogue (ie no ama). some have insurance (maybe no way to prove) and most dont. some provide ambulance service on site, others say they will call in careflight and you will pay the entire bill.
all have waivers. which in some states means nothing when it comes to gross negligence. today most of the series (lmsc's) have folded up or gone rogue. the very largest of series in the usa (gncc) has totally gone rogue. not only that, but bought another series (OMA) and taken it rogue as well. a year long ama membership is $49 (up $10 for the 1st time in 13years). yet, in 2 weeks when the us national enduro comes to texas there will only be 20 or so ama members from texas in the event. there will be a rogue event the same weekend that is more centrally located to the biggest cities.
in summary, if you think OW has become difficult, wait till a usms pool event has a major lawsuit (and yes i've personally seen this way back in '78 to the tune of $16million at an aau practice) and when those pool event premiums jump to the same levels. little meets will dry up just like they have in the ama.
i know this is sounds all doom and gloom, but the ama is the largest motorcycle group of its kind in the world. and yet it has already shown the path to hard times with 100x more members. how will usms prevent the same from occuring to it as what has happened in the ama?

Chris Stevenson
March 14th, 2013, 09:58 AM
our ED was able to find one insurer that could write a policy for USMS that included open water events.

Thanks for your explanation, Mike. Forgive my ignorance on these matters, but is it necessary to have a single insurer for both types of events? Can't USMS have one insurer for pool meets and another for OW events? They seem to be so different.

I understand that organizations are not people (though some might disagree...but I digress...) but I don't have to have the same insurer for my car, my house and my health.

Or is it a matter of cost, being much more expensive to insure them separately?

Michael Heather
March 14th, 2013, 09:58 AM
In the interest of better accuracy, I want to clarify my previous post. The board of directors did not know about the initial insurance premium jump until November 9 in an informal announcement. It was a video available to the entire board. I do not know how many of the directors actually saw it. There may have been an email as well, I have not been able to find it. Officially, the entire board became aware of the actual numbers in a conference call on December 17.

Why so late? Because our insurance company did not release the premium information until November 1. USMS knew it was in for higher premiums because of recent claims, but the actual premium amount was a surprise to even the most jaded.

Michael Heather
March 14th, 2013, 10:00 AM
Or is it a matter of cost, being much more expensive to insure them separately?

Precisely. Economies of scale.

USMS actually has a dozen or so policies. As far as I know, this year is the first time open water has had its own category.

ourswimmer
March 14th, 2013, 10:03 AM
Passing on part of the insurance premium that is exclusively OW dedicated is just a business decision.

And one I think I agree with, because all the other options for dealing with the cost increase seem to have bigger down-sides or smaller up-sides than the one the Board chose. My point was to contradict the specific suggestion that the new sanctioning rules have no negative consequences for races on "smaller, closed-loop courses."

My team puts on a race on a closed-loop course in a lake. Last year we drew about 300 swimmers and about broke even. We think we can satisfy the new boat equipment and insurance rules, but we are going to have to raise the entry fee to cover the cost increase that is trickling down to us. We think the increase will be small enough and the overall entry fee still low enough that we can do it without compromising attendance. On the other hand, the director of a 60-person race might have to make a different business decision, which would not mean a lack of "gratitude" but rather a lack of money.

If USMS identifies more expansive or less restrictive insurance for OW events for 2014 and beyond, but only at even higher premiums, that situation will present even more difficult business decisions for the USMS Board and for race organizers.

roncollins
March 14th, 2013, 10:06 AM
If I were the USMS OW Task Force, I would absolutely want these people's input, and if possible, have them directly involved in the decision-making. Not just for better decisions, but for the perceived legitimacy of the process.

Evan, I called Rob Copeland back in January, to offer input. We discussed the insurance, safety, etc. and asked him to refer me to any place that would be able to offer our support boaters the insurance required by USMS. He listened to my concerns, and I felt he had a good understanding of the challenges that some race directors will now face. I let him know that the Tampa Bay Marathon Swim will do whatever it takes to stay USMS sanctioned, but there is just no way to get insurance certs on 20+ power boaters. So, at least I feel like I had some input, but it was after their 12/31/12 letter that initially broke the news re: sanctioning OW events.

chaos
March 14th, 2013, 10:31 AM
Evan, I called Rob Copeland back in January, to offer input. We discussed the insurance, safety, etc. and asked him to refer me to any place that would be able to offer our support boaters the insurance required by USMS. He listened to my concerns, and I felt he had a good understanding of the challenges that some race directors will now face. I let him know that the Tampa Bay Marathon Swim will do whatever it takes to stay USMS sanctioned, but there is just no way to get insurance certs on 20+ power boaters. So, at least I feel like I had some input, but it was after their 12/31/12 letter that initially broke the news re: sanctioning OW events.

Ron, as far as I know (I've now tried 3 different brokers) the $1,000,000 insurance that USMS requests from hired boaters is only available to commercial operators.... so one of my issues is that USMS doesn't seem to have researched the availability before imposing this limit. At least now we know that the BOD is reading this thread.... so I will again invite anyone to provide a link to a company willing to provide such a policy.

Michael Heather
March 14th, 2013, 10:51 AM
one of my issues is that USMS doesn't seem to have researched the availability before imposing this limit.

Perhaps I was not clear in prior posts. USMS does not have discretion in some of the sanction requirements. This is one of them. The prop guard is another. These exist in order for USMS to offer insurance at all.

chaos
March 14th, 2013, 11:04 AM
I have read this thread with no little interest. Mostly, I have seen how misplaced anger and lack (or ignorance?) of accurate information turns into a free-for-all with no new or useful information generated. Since no one higher up has offered to enlighten any of you, I guess I will try.

The board knew in late October that because of recent claims history, our former insurance carrier had raised our premium about 700%. With a lot of scrambling, phone calls and negotiating, our ED was able to find one insurer that could write a policy for USMS that included open water events. And did not cost all of our reserves for a one year premium. It did have a bunch of strings attached, such as propeller guards.

The OW sanctioning task force had little time and was under considerable pressure to pull together guidelines that were essentially dictated to USMS by the insurer. Passing on part of the insurance premium that is exclusively OW dedicated is just a business decision. Remember, OW does not pay any extra to hold OW practices or clinics, those are covered under another part of the insurance policy. Only sanctioned events have the $1800 special premium, of which USMS eats $800 and passes on $1000 to the sanctioning LMSCs.

None of you posting to this thread can appreciate just how close USMS came to being a virtual organization at the beginning of 2013, with no insurance to cover any of our operations, sanctions or members. It would have been very easy to cut OW loose and save USMS $135,000. But USMS has had a very keen interest in building OW for the last 4 years, and did not ever consider shutting down that branch of the business. The gratitude shown for this hard work and dedication are an exodus of sanctioned events.

I actually think there has been a good amount of information shared on this thread in between the emotional. No... it wasn't always the most civil, but no one has run home crying.

Since I received the first notice in December about the pending changes to the USMS OW sanctioning process, I have spent hundreds of hours dealing with this situation. My first actions were attempts to comply with the new regulations without any regard to additional costs. Only after it became obvious to me that there is absolutely no way that 8 Bridges could comply did I look for an alternative insurance situation. I imagine many of my friends here have also put in a lot of hard work with that same objective. This thread was started by a swimmer frustrated by the fact that a perennial favorite OW event was cancelled. On the Alcatraz thread, Mermaid also grieves over the inability to work with the addition fees. You do me and my fellow event directors a disservice by suggesting this "exodus" is simply a matter of convenience.

I think we all appreciate the work USMS has done to make OW safe starting with hosting the OW Safety Conference in March of 2011.
USMS took a measured approach.
links to USA Swimming and USMS safety docs for comparison:

http://www.usaswimming.org/_Rainbow/Documents/7446603a-b37d-44eb-b8c2-18b5eece7ca3/Open%20Water%20Review%20Commission%20Recommendatio ns.pdf

http://www.usms.org/admin/lmschb/owgto_safety_objectives.pdf

Chris Stevenson
March 14th, 2013, 11:42 AM
This thread was started by a swimmer frustrated by the fact that a perennial favorite OW event was cancelled...You do me and my fellow event directors a disservice by suggesting this "exodus" is simply a matter of convenience.

It is just picking a nit since I agree with your last statement, but I don't believe the LV swim was canceled.

I haven't participated in either of your events but from everything I've heard you and Ron are outstanding race directors. Still, I imagine Mike and others have been lambasted by race directors who thought this was a capricious decision. My wife is our LMSC's sanction chair and has also been on the receiving end of tirades. Some race directors simply want a sanction rubber-stamped to get insurance and event exposure, and then want USMS to get out of the way. One local race director bristles at the suggestion that a safety plan is even necessary at all.

timsroot
March 14th, 2013, 02:28 PM
Some race directors simply want a sanction rubber-stamped to get insurance and event exposure, and then want USMS to get out of the way. One local race director bristles at the suggestion that a safety plan is even necessary at all.

As an athlete, if I knew this about a race director, I would be extremely hesitant to participate in their event. I'm sure this attitude is more common than I am aware of, but it is scary none the less.

evmo
March 14th, 2013, 02:53 PM
Why don't we skip OW swimming events and just start up triathlons under the USAT. We can make the swim leg longer and then right before the race cancel the bike portion because it's too windy. The run will be the 50 yd jog up the beach. Insurance costs would be much lower than with USMS although I have no idea how that is possible.

It is clear that the insurance company is part of the problem. Maybe with a year to shop around USMS can get better coverage for 2014. Maybe with more time USMS might come to the conclusion that the organization can't safely sanction/insure some OW swims.

Perhaps I was not clear in prior posts. USMS does not have discretion in some of the sanction requirements. This is one of them. The prop guard is another. These exist in order for USMS to offer insurance at all.
I have no idea how USAT gets their insurance, but it would be fascinating to know how their underwriter assesses risk.

Seems to me there's far more risk in lack of swimming competence or lack of preparation for conditions, than in a swimmer getting maimed by a boat propeller. USMS' insurer seems to have been only assessing the latter.

IMO, the swim leg of the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon is far more risky than, say, the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. Both take place in crowded urban waterways, and MIMS is more than 10x the duration. However, the level of swimming competence & preparation of even the slowest MIMS swimmer is extraordinarily high because of the vetting process, while I'm not aware of any USAT vetting process for swim capability.

As another example, take the Kingdom Swim. The 6-mile qualifying swim for this event is, IMO, far more effective at reducing risk than requiring prop guards on all the motorboats. I doubt the latter reduces risk at all.

E=H2O
March 14th, 2013, 03:53 PM
I have no idea how USAT gets their insurance, but it would be fascinating to know how their underwriter assesses risk.


If USMS leadership hasn't already contacted USAT to learn where they get their insurance from, I would hope they will do so in the near future.

Rob Copeland
March 14th, 2013, 05:15 PM
If USMS leadership hasn't already contacted USAT to learn where they get their insurance from, I would hope they will do so in the near future.Insurance is one topic in the ongoing dialogue between the executive directors of USMS and USAT. And it was the number 1 priority in their conversations during November and December of last year.

That Guy
March 14th, 2013, 07:55 PM
As an athlete, if I knew this about a race director, I would be extremely hesitant to participate in their event. I'm sure this attitude is more common than I am aware of, but it is scary none the less.
Word gets out. When I participated in triathlons, there was a race director who was notorious. His events were rogue and unsafe. Basically he couldn't hold an event anywhere twice, since after one, the city/town would ban him from ever running an event there again. I heard a friend wanted to participate in one of those events, so I told him what I knew. That was a few years ago. Now I can't find any trace of that race director on the internet. I haven't experienced an unsafe event, but one small tri that I did was kind of sketchy in other respects so I didn't enter any more of their events.

Ken Classen
March 15th, 2013, 12:14 AM
I haven't participated in either of your events but from everything I've heard you and Ron are outstanding race directors. Still, I imagine Mike and others have been lambasted by race directors who thought this was a capricious decision. My wife is our LMSC's sanction chair and has also been on the receiving end of tirades. Some race directors simply want a sanction rubber-stamped to get insurance and event exposure, and then want USMS to get out of the way. One local race director bristles at the suggestion that a safety plan is even necessary at all. If we think of this as a pendulum, prior to the Maui incident USMS may have granted sanctions to easily. Race directors might have looked at it as cheap insurance so why not get there race sanctioned. The insurance underwriter likely did a poor risk analysis. The pendulum was too far to the left. Now it's too far too the right, I'm guessing to a certain extent the Insurance firm may have priced for USMS to go away or eliminate these races with one size fits take it or leave it proposition, that again doesn't truly assess the risks.

In an earlier post I divided open water races into three categories based primarily on what kind of water craft were escorting the swimmers and the role of those water craft in the event. I would have placed the Maui Channel swim in Category 3, where the swimmers are primarily escorted by motorized water craft. But a further analysis would assess the risk far greater in the Maui event then a Catalina Island solo crossing. A typical Maui has 50 teams, six swimmers each and prior to the incident solo swimmers as well. That's at least 50 props. If some teams have relatively the same speed they may both be navigating a similar line etc. How many of the pilots for Maui channel swim were weekend warriors as opposed to professional boat captains? A Catalina swim will be escorted by recommended veteran professional pilot in additional there will be an observer and generally a crew all with eyes on the swimmer. Real requirements for real risks, yea maybe prop guards were needed for the Maui Channel swim but for many other swims there not needed. One size fits all just won't work.

So how does USMS move forward? do they want to move forward? Those representing USMS on this board haven't even proposed researching new solutions for the 2014 season and beyond. At the very least and as a USMS member what I'd like a hear from my organization is a formal apology, especially to those groups that really did work hard but lost there sanction. An acknowledgment that as it stands now is unacceptable for USMS open water swimming and finally that work is now in progress to bring smarter, safer (not imagined liability) and affordable solutions for the future.

Many ideas have been floated in this forum including OW swimmers carrying supplemental insurance like the DAN network for Scuba Divers. For categories 2 events there could be web based certification courses created for motorized boat pilots for what there roles are, swimmer awareness possibly a requirement for an safety observer in the boat in lieu of the expensive prop guards and additional insurance etc. Will USMS at least try?

Rob Copeland
March 15th, 2013, 08:52 AM
If we think of this as a pendulum, prior to the Maui incident USMS may have granted sanctions to easily. Race directors might have looked at it as cheap insurance so why not get there race sanctioned. The insurance underwriter likely did a poor risk analysis. The pendulum was too far to the left. Now it's too far too the right, I'm guessing to a certain extent the Insurance firm may have priced for USMS to go away or eliminate these races with one size fits take it or leave it proposition, that again doesn't truly assess the risks. Insurance companies are in business to make money for their stockholders. They do this by charging premiums that exceed their expected payouts and by setting restrictions on what types of activities are covered by the insurance to minimize what they perceive cause the risks of occurrence. After many years of extremely low claims and payouts, the pendulum has swung and Masters Swimming is faced with significantly higher premiums and new restrictions.


Those representing USMS on this board haven't even proposed researching new solutions for the 2014 season and beyond.I believe I understand the sentiment, but in fact I think the opposite is true. The board, USMS leadership and staff are very much engaged in finding ways to make our sport safer and to push the pendulum back towards the center in 2014 and beyond.


Many ideas have been floated in this forum including OW swimmers carrying supplemental insurance like the DAN network for Scuba Divers. For categories 2 events there could be web based certification courses created for motorized boat pilots for what there roles are, swimmer awareness possibly a requirement for an safety observer in the boat in lieu of the expensive prop guards and additional insurance etc. Will USMS at least try?The Open Water Committee is working towards training and certification courses for event directors, safety directors and referees; we’ve talked about boater safety training as well, but we wanted to tackle the big 3 first. And I encourage any interested members to provide feedback on the currently available Open Water Manual,
Open Water Safety Objectives, Open Water Safety Workshop Notes and Open Water Clinic Manual which can be found at http://www.usms.org/admin/lmschb/?utm_campaign=top_nav&utm_medium=for_volunteers

thewookiee
March 15th, 2013, 09:25 AM
So how does USMS move forward? do they want to move forward? Those representing USMS on this board haven't even proposed researching new solutions for the 2014 season and beyond. At the very least and as a USMS member what I'd like a hear from my organization is a formal apology, especially to those groups that really did work hard but lost there sanction. An acknowledgment that as it stands now is unacceptable for USMS open water swimming and finally that work is now in progress to bring smarter, safer (not imagined liability) and affordable solutions for the future.



Why does USMS owe you a formal apology? I understand that the viewpoint of people like Dave and Evan, but if USMS found out about the rate increases late last year(nov-dec) and have worked and are working towards improving the situation for next several years, I don't think they owe you or anyone else an apology.

There are times events are beyond the control of a business. If USMS has done the best they can, given the events that have transpired, then they shouldn't apologize to you. Now, in 2014 and beyond, if they haven't improved the situation with more time to explore alternatives and continue to use the same guidelines, then they should apologize to all open water swimmers lack of improvement in the open water policy.

chaos
March 15th, 2013, 10:57 AM
Insurance companies are in business to make money for their stockholders.


I don't believe you will find this in any insurance company's mission statement as it is quite obviously a conflict of interest.
Companies that profit by providing less service should not be in business.

I also believe that the onus should be on the insured to educate the provider as to what the risks are.

By nature insurance is meant to spread the cost of claims over a broad subscribership, and the premium is based on some average number, but in this case, it seems like all OW events have been rated as per the most extreme.

For workers comp, some states have allowed private trusts to self insure. The subscribers may actually receive refunds at the end of each fiscal year that sees less than average claims.... don't know if something like this is an option as they may not be approved by every state.


I, for one, feel like its time to move on from this thread and will start another that doesn't have "stupid people" in its title for the purpose of suggestions/recommendations on how to move forward. I trust that the Task Force, OW Committee, and BOD will give it the attention it deserves even if it lacks fireworks.

Rob Copeland
March 15th, 2013, 11:39 AM
II don't believe you will find this in any insurance company's mission statement as it is quite obviously a conflict of interest.
Companies that profit by providing less service should not be in business.
Mission Statement
Utica First is a profitable regional insurance company specializing in unique commercial and personal lines products delivered with extraordinary service.

Also, many companies do profit by providing less service. Just look at discount sector of any industry (WalMart, Honda, Insurance4Less, …)

And while some sectors of the insurance industry spread the cost of claims over a broad subscribership (home, auto, life), specialty policies such as liability insurance for sport national governing bodies do not have a real large base to spread costs.

And I completely agree, that it is time to move on. Dave, thanks for starting the new thread OW sanctions beyond 2013! Any real and sustentative progress will be made by the actions we will take and not by dwelling too much on past decisions.

E=H2O
March 15th, 2013, 11:39 AM
I, for one, feel like its time to move on from this thread and will start another that doesn't have "stupid people" in its title for the purpose of suggestions/recommendations on how to move forward.

I object to lawyers being singled out. If you are giving stupid people a pass, you have to do the same for stupid lawyers.

evmo
March 15th, 2013, 01:53 PM
Insurance companies are in business to make money for their stockholders. They do this by charging premiums that exceed their expected payouts and by setting restrictions on what types of activities are covered by the insurance to minimize what they perceive cause the risks of occurrence.

This is in incomplete analysis of capitalism. Insurance companies also make money by growing their customer base by offering better policies than other companies are offering. A more sophisticated analysis of risk is one way they do this.

E=H2O
March 15th, 2013, 03:37 PM
This is in incomplete analysis of capitalism. Insurance companies also make money by growing their customer base by offering better policies than other companies are offering. A more sophisticated analysis of risk is one way they do this.

Actually from inside the company (at the top) putting aside the return they receive from their investment capital, there are basically 2 mechanisms at play. There is the money coming in and there is the money going out. The money coming in is based on premium dollars. This is determined by rates and policy sales. Rates are determined by the underwriters. Bad underwriting can ruin an insurance company, and it has done so in the past. The number of policies sold is related to marketing and your sales force. This is the "good" side of the business. For most individuals and businesses the coverage is almost identical. There are standard policies in the industry, and once one company decides it needs to add an exclusion, every other company does the same. So selling policies is like selling any other widget where the consumer has a limited number of suppliers to choose from.

Of course when you involve an activity or other liability risk which is out of the ordinary, underwriters have a harder time doing their analysis and have learned to error on the side of a higher premium. Keep in mind the number of policies are very low or limited to one and there is not an untapped market for their product. In a case like USMS, the underwriters will base it on the history of USMS and similar organizations. However, when the activity is expanded through growth in numbers of participants or events, or the addition of something different like an OW event utilizing power boats, underwriting has to undergo a reassessment of the risk. Sometimes all it takes is one claim to raise a red flag, causing an underwriter do a reassessment. If no one has ever been injured by a power boat in 25 years of OW events, the risk would be considered low and the premium would reflect that. However, once you have an injury the underwriter may decide it was a risk he failed to identifiy and it was mere chance that it hadn't happened sooner. (An accident waiting to happen?) Once an underwriter makes that paradigm shift it can take a long time before they are ready to adjust down the nature and extent of the risk.

The "bad" side is the claims department. The basic philosophy is that the claims department is the one giving away the company's money, and this can be reduced through tough claims handling practices. In fact there are times the claims department gets the heat for paying out too much money when really it was an underwriting mistake. Since people don't really buy a policy based on how a company handles a claim, companies aren't compelled to make that a priority. And if you are dissatisfied with the way a company handles your claim what can you do? Do you really think other companies will fight for your business now that you have a history of claims?

Chris Stevenson
March 15th, 2013, 06:43 PM
...
Sometimes all it takes is one claim to raise a red flag, causing an underwriter do a reassessment. If no one has ever been injured by a power boat in 25 years of OW events, the risk would be considered low and the premium would reflect that. However, once you have an injury the underwriter may decide it was a risk he failed to identifiy and it was mere chance that it hadn't happened sooner. (An accident waiting to happen?) Once an underwriter makes that paradigm shift it can take a long time before they are ready to adjust down the nature and extent of the risk.
...

Thanks for posting all this info. Unfortunately it makes for depressing reading, because I am not sure that USMS will be able to negotiate something significantly better than they have now. I hope I'm wrong. A new budget might be able to help LMSCs financially but the other requirements (prop guards, etc) dictated by the insurance companies may stay put no matter how many great ideas are generated by chaos' other thread and elsewhere.

E=H2O
March 15th, 2013, 07:08 PM
Thanks for posting all this info. Unfortunately it makes for depressing reading, because I am not sure that USMS will be able to negotiate something significantly better than they have now. I hope I'm wrong. A new budget might be able to help LMSCs financially but the other requirements (prop guards, etc) dictated by the insurance companies may stay put no matter how many great ideas are generated by chaos' other thread and elsewhere.

Don't give up hope. If the premium increase was a result a claim arising from a particular type of risk, and that risk can be reduced or eliminated, then it can be reassessed. I haven't had the time to review the new policy, but what it effectively does is insert a new exclusion from coverage for injuries arising from the failure to have propeller guards (among other things). If a boat doesn't have one, and a person gets injured because there wasn't one on the boat, then that would not be covered under the policy. I don't know how the negotiations took place, but I suspect USMS received the premium notice of increase, and negotiated a reduced premium by putting certain safety safeguards in place. Those safeguards reduced the risk for the insurer because the safeguards supposedly would prevent those injuries which created the exposure for the insurer in the first place. By not complying with those safeguards the activity is taken out of the scope of coverage. Of course they still raised their rates because they probably took a closer look at the different kinds of OW events and determined there was an additional element of uncertainty in the risk they were assuming.

evmo
March 17th, 2013, 01:32 PM
Sometimes all it takes is one claim to raise a red flag, causing an underwriter do a reassessment. If no one has ever been injured by a power boat in 25 years of OW events, the risk would be considered low and the premium would reflect that. However, once you have an injury the underwriter may decide it was a risk he failed to identifiy and it was mere chance that it hadn't happened sooner. (An accident waiting to happen?)

In the case of the incident that led to the reassessment, I think that's exactly what it was - an accident waiting to happen. 50+ swimmers, 50+ power boats, all jostling for position in the same space... ugh. What's surprising is that it happened at the end of the race, not the leadoff leg when everyone is bunched together.

The level of risk in a large OW relay race with individual power boat escorts seems categorically different than just about any other situation in OWS. It raises the question of how this event was ever sanctioned in the first place? Somebody wasn't doing their homework. Too bad now all the other, safer categories of OW events are suffering as a result.

chaos
March 17th, 2013, 03:06 PM
In the case of the incident that led to the reassessment in this case, I think that's exactly what it was - an accident waiting to happen. 50+ swimmers, 50+ power boats, all jostling for position in the same space... ugh. What's surprising is that it happened at the end of the race, not the leadoff leg when everyone is bunched together.

The level of risk in a large OW relay race with individual power boat escorts seems categorically different than just about any other situation in OWS. It raises the question of how this event was ever sanctioned in the first place? Somebody wasn't doing their homework. Too bad now all the other, safer categories of OW events are suffering as a result.

I find it interesting that the event directors eliminated the solo category from the Maui channel race after this accident. What is the logic behind that? Was this at the request of their insurance provider?

KatieK
March 17th, 2013, 05:55 PM
This is a quote from a former commissioner of the South End Rowing Club on the Marathon Swimmers Forum (I added the bold typeface):
http://www.marathonswimmers.org/forum/discussion/comment/5062#Comment_5062

In 2010 when I was swimming commissioner at the South End Rowing Club, I got in touch with USMS to find out what insurance they actually provided and how the South End, a USMS team, was covered. The USMS office put me in touch with the insurance underwriters because they weren't able to answer many of my questions.

It became clear to me through my conversations with the insurance agent USMS worked with at that time that USMS insurance wasn't adequate insurance for the open water swims we put on for members of our club. It was a fine supplemental insurance, it could help to keep our primary insurance rates low. But it didn't insure against most of the major things that open water swimmers in San Francisco face - boats, for example. The USMS insurance specifically stated that it didn't offer any protection to swimmers struck by boats or to boaters operating vessels for swim support.

The information I was given was that USMS insurance basically covers injuries between USMS swimmers who are both insured. It could also serve as insurance if someone had an injury/illness that took place while swimming such as a torn rotator cuff or a heart attack. The rates were based on the idea that the insurance would be secondary insurance for most people, with people's personal health insurance being their primary insurance.

The documentation that I saw clearly stated that accidents and injuries related to water craft of any type were not covered in any way. They also stated that for races, the race director needed to be in a position to oversee the entire course the entire time. To my knowledge nothing had changed since 2010. They also required specific buoys along the race courses - buoys we couldn't exactly plunk down in the shipping channel.

Based on this information, the South End always purchased event-specific insurance for our public events. We used the USMS insurance as a supplemental insurance for our member-only Club Swims, Nutcracker swims, and piloted Sunriser swims with the understanding that these could not be treated as USMS sanctioned open water events and would be considered "coached workouts". Club members going out for a swim on their own in Aquatic Park were not covered in any way as there were no USMS members/coaches overseeing them as they swam.

My personal opinion is that every race director or organization needs to asses the risks of their particular swim and to purchase adequate insurance to protect themselves and the event's participants. I'm shocked to hear that so many people were relying on USMS insurance as the sole insurance for their open water events. I'm even more shocked that USMS didn't seem to look into this further until a huge accident occurred. It is unbelievable to me that they had put their stamp of approval on events when those events didn't meet the criteria set forth by their insurers.

If that's true, I don't understand how the Maui Swim disaster would have made the USMS rates go up.

Michael Heather
March 17th, 2013, 09:11 PM
.. I don't understand how the Maui Swim disaster would have made the USMS rates go up.

Because it was not the only major claim in the last three years. It is, however, the largest.

chaos
March 17th, 2013, 09:20 PM
Because it was not the only major claim in the last three years. It is, however, the largest.

Would it not serve the membership to disclose at least some of the facts regarding these claims? I do understand that certain information may not be available if cases are open.
So?.........

E=H2O
March 17th, 2013, 09:35 PM
Because it was not the only major claim in the last three years. It is, however, the largest.

Did the other 2 major claims arise from something that occurred during an open water event? If so, did they occur in the water or on land?

Michael Heather
March 18th, 2013, 12:56 AM
Would it not serve the membership to disclose at least some of the facts regarding these claims?

Probably not.

Michael Heather
March 18th, 2013, 01:24 AM
Did the other... major claims arise from something that occurred during an open water event?

No.

chaos
March 18th, 2013, 08:02 AM
Probably not.

why not let us decide?
we are adults after all.....

gregoc
March 18th, 2013, 08:35 AM
Did the other 2 major claims arise from something that occurred during an open water event? If so, did they occur in the water or on land?


No.

So, if the Maui Channel accident is the only open-water claim and there are at least 2 other claims against USMS that have nothing to do with open-water events, why are open-water events carrying the burden of the premium increase? Or is there also an increase in cost for pool event sanctions/insurance? Or is there an increase in membership dues for 2013?

Michael Heather
March 18th, 2013, 09:59 AM
So, if the Maui Channel accident is the only open-water claim and there are at least 2 other claims against USMS that have nothing to do with open-water events, why are open-water events carrying the burden of the premium increase? Or is there also an increase in cost for pool event sanctions/insurance? Or is there an increase in membership dues for 2013?

OW events represent by far, the most liability exposure to USMS, despite the comparatively tiny number of splashes. For 35 years, they have gotten a pass on representative premiums. Not any longer. The "pool" insurance has more than doubled as well.

Michael Heather
March 18th, 2013, 10:19 AM
why not let us decide?


Although I am a big proponent of communication from the Board to the members, this does not fall into the category of information that is necessary to widely share. Even the Board does not know all of the facts, nor do we need such information.

USMS is an organization of and about swimming for health, the members have invested their faith in the Board to make business and policy decisions.


we are adults after all.....

Presumably.

Rob Copeland
March 18th, 2013, 10:42 AM
So, if the Maui Channel accident is the only open-water claim and there are at least 2 other claims against USMS that have nothing to do with open-water events, why are open-water events carrying the burden of the premium increase? Or is there also an increase in cost for pool event sanctions/insurance?Actually, event hosts are carrying only a small fraction of the premium increase.

According to published financial records, USMS budgeted $88,000 in 2012 for liability insurance. The approved budget for 2013 was $124,400. In December the Board increased this to $335,000. Of this $247,000 increase from 2012, I am guessing that only $30,000-$50,000 will be paid by open water event hosts. This works out to be between 12% and 20% of the increase.

I got to my guess, based on the following observations and facts:
1) The $1,000 insurance surcharge is charged to the LMSC not the event host
2) Most LMSC’s have already decided to absorb half or more of the insurance surcharge
3) Some LMSC’s have decided to fully absorb the insurance surcharge with $0 passed on the the host
4) The USMS Open Water committee has received approval and funding for an Open Water Insurance Surcharge relief program to help in need LMSC’s and hosts, by providing financial assistance in the form of partial or full surcharge rebates.
5) The insurance increases I’m noting do not include anything for the the sanctioned events beyond the 75 included in the base policy, the $1,800 for each additional sanctioned open water event. Additional events may drive the host percentage down to a point of 2.
6) My numbers do not factor in insurance surcharge and sanction fees for solo swims (a note on this below)

Solo swims – the main reason for singling out solo swims has more to do with member services and financials rather than any specific risk of these events. A USMS membership costs the swimmer about $50. The new real insurance cost of a sanctioned open water event is $1,800. As a swimmer getting $1,800 of value for $50 is a great deal. For the other members who are paying $1,750 for your swim, not so much.


Or is there an increase in membership dues for 2013?Yes, there was a $2 per member increase in dues from 2012 to 2013.

chaos
March 18th, 2013, 10:44 AM
OW events represent by far, the most liability exposure to USMS.

So we are supposed to just accept this as fact while kept in the dark about non OW claims details?

Is it more likely that another swimmer will get run over before another of these mystery claims is made????

Details please.

Rob Copeland
March 18th, 2013, 10:51 AM
So we are supposed to just accept this as fact while kept in the dark about non OW claims details?NO, I would suggest you just accept these as the opinions of a person posting on the discussion forum.


Is it more likely that another swimmer will get run over before another of these mystery claims is made????I haven’t seen any risk assessment identifying the probability of occurrence of known or unknown incidents. So at this point, I don’t believe there is a quantifiable answer to this question.

evmo
March 18th, 2013, 01:24 PM
So, if the Maui Channel accident is the only open-water claim and there are at least 2 other claims against USMS that have nothing to do with open-water events, why are open-water events carrying the burden of the premium increase?

OW events represent by far, the most liability exposure to USMS, despite the comparatively tiny number of splashes. For 35 years, they have gotten a pass on representative premiums. Not any longer.

So we are supposed to just accept this as fact while kept in the dark about non OW claims details?

I haven’t seen any risk assessment identifying the probability of occurrence of known or unknown incidents. So at this point, I don’t believe there is a quantifiable answer to this question.

Based on this discussion, it seems I was under a mistaken impression from the outset. USMS decided to levy a surcharge on OW events, which may put some of these events out of business, because.... in the opinion of USMS leadership, "OW events represent by far, the most liability exposure to USMS." This opinion is apparently not supported by any quantitative risk analysis, or specific directive from an underwriter.

Did I get that right?

E=H2O
March 18th, 2013, 01:32 PM
I havenít seen any risk assessment identifying the probability of occurrence of known or unknown incidents. So at this point, I donít believe there is a quantifiable answer to this question.

I would expect that the underwriter for the insurance company did a risk analysis before calculating the premium. Underwriters are numbers people. They would have at least shared their conclusions in a narrative form with USMS if they were asked. I can't imagine trying to 'negotiate' an insurance premium without a discussion on the risk of future claims.

E=H2O
March 18th, 2013, 02:05 PM
Based on this discussion, it seems I was under a mistaken impression from the outset. USMS decided to levy a surcharge on OW events, which may put some of these events out of business, because.... in the opinion of USMS leadership, "OW events represent by far, the most liability exposure to USMS."


Once again I have to admit I haven't taken the time to read the policy, BUT isn't this a general liability policy? Depending on the terms it might cover everything from wrongful discharge, sexual harassment, premises liability, liability for auto injury claims against USMS, and many other things having nothing to do with actually getting wet. The purpose of a general liability policy is to protect against all tortious (or alleged tortious) conduct by anyone insured under the policy.

Michael Heather
March 18th, 2013, 09:22 PM
So we are supposed to just accept this as fact while kept in the dark about non OW claims details?

Sure, why not? Did you feel in the dark before you knew of their existence? Nothing else has changed.



Is it more likely that another swimmer will get run over before another of these mystery claims is made????

Never heard of a mystery claim being made.

chaos
March 19th, 2013, 12:40 AM
[QUOTE=Michael Heather;284499]Sure, why not? Did you feel in the dark before you knew of their existence? Nothing else has changed.




Never heard of a mystery claim being

The idea that certain types of events open USMS to excessive risk is easy to understand conceptually. I think if apples are compared to apples, the risk is not quite what has been accepted.
I'd like to know where other risks exist, and how they rate to the activities that are bearing the cost increases.


Simple question really.

Rob Copeland
March 19th, 2013, 08:14 AM
Dave,

If you are truly interested in insurance, coverage and risk issues, then I suggest you contact the U.S. Masters Swimming insurance broker. Contact information can be found in the 2013 Insurance Program document in the Guide to Operations http://www.usms.org/admin/lmschb/gto_ins_general.pdf

chaos
March 19th, 2013, 12:33 PM
Dave,

If you are truly interested in insurance, coverage and risk issues, then I suggest you contact the U.S. Masters Swimming insurance broker. Contact information can be found in the 2013 Insurance Program document in the Guide to Operations http://www.usms.org/admin/lmschb/gto_ins_general.pdf

swing.... and a miss.
I guess its top secret. I didn't find any info in archived meeting minutes either.

Rob Copeland
March 19th, 2013, 02:15 PM
swing.... and a miss.The insurance broker didn’t say anything at all? Which one did you talk with?

chaos
March 19th, 2013, 02:39 PM
The insurance broker didnít say anything at all? Which one did you talk with?

to me, Rob, Patricia

Unfortunately, any information regarding claims is privileged. All I can tell you is that there were claims other than the Maui incident.

I can confirm that as a result of the recent claims, the insurance premium increased 400%.

Regards,

Sandi Blumit

Rob Copeland
March 19th, 2013, 02:45 PM
Definitely a swingÖ. and a miss. Thanks for swinging:thewave:

evmo
March 19th, 2013, 05:51 PM
This whole discussion has been very enlightening. We have learned that there was approximately as much justification for paying for the premium increase with a surcharge on OW events as, say, paying for it with a surcharge on irishpolarbear's age group, because according to my opinion, those folks are most likely to slip on the pool deck and hit their heads. There's no publicly available data to suggest otherwise, so it must be true!

E=H2O
March 19th, 2013, 09:01 PM
to me, Rob, Patricia

Unfortunately, any information regarding claims is privileged. All I can tell you is that there were claims other than the Maui incident.

I can confirm that as a result of the recent claims, the insurance premium increased 400%.

Regards,

Sandi Blumit

I think it is important that whenever USMS brings up the increase in insurance premium that it also discloses that it is a result of the number of claims, and involved different activities and circumstances. By discussing the increase of the premium AND discussing the new surcharge and restrictions on open water events, it makes it sound as if the premium increase is solely the result of the liability arising from open water events.

In fact if the insurer is charging $1,800 for each open water event, it is essentially a rider attached to the underlying policy. If that is the case then the entire increase in the premium is a result of non-open water activities. In other words you pay a premium for a policy that does not cover open water events. However, if you want coverage for a specific open water event then there is additional coverage attached to the underlying policy. For each additional event (or day of a multiday event) you pay an additional $1,800 if you want it to be covered. No $1,800 - no coverage. Pay your're $1,800 but a boat is involved in an injury accident but does not have a propeller guard, then no coverage even under the event insurance rider. Pay your $1,800 and the boat involved in the accident did not have it's own $1 million policy, then I suspect the USMS event coverage would only act as excess over $1 million.

Having defended literally hundreds of liability cases, there are many reasons why a party insists on a confidentiality agreement. Some are reasonable and can make sense, but others are for, how do I say it, the purpose of covering up an underlying problem that the demanding party does not want exposed (either plaintiff or defendant). However, if the claims have been resolved and it was not a condition of the settlement, then it is just an administrative policy issue that the board can decide (and change their mind on). If the claims have not been resolved yet, I think it is absolutely correct keeping the details of the claims confidential. I always insisted that my clients did while their claim was pending.

E=H2O
March 19th, 2013, 09:04 PM
Sure, why not? Did you feel in the dark before you knew of their existence? Nothing else has changed.


After giving this much thought, I've decided not to comment on this ridiculous statement. I'll chalk it up as a bad joke.

chaos
March 19th, 2013, 09:12 PM
If the claims have not been resolved yet, I think it is absolutely correct keeping the details of the claims confidential. I always insisted that my clients did while their claim was pending.

I understand there are many possible reasons why details may not be shared, but it would be useful to know what the nature of the claims are... especially if the result was physical injury.

knicholas
April 23rd, 2013, 12:14 AM
I recently, and admittedly a bit reluctantly, insured an open water swim marathon event/challenge - and found it to be fairly painless. I don't consider myself an open water event director but as interest grew in the swims, I started taking a closer look at insurance. There are about 31 swimmers signed up to swim approximately 970 open water statute miles over a period of 4 days cumulatively. My focus has been recruiting kayaks and SUP paddlers. Fortunately we have more paddlers than swimmers which was a goal and perhaps a factor in evaluating the swim. The swims also occur during the week and start fairly early in the morning with lower boat traffic. Perhaps another consideration in the underwriters evaluation. I was asked to provide a safety plan to the insurance company which I did. It was not painful, just basics borrowed from the wisdom of other race directors and online examples of what a safety plan looks like. I was not asked to provide prop guards for boats as a condition of insurance. I found the insurance to be inexpensive, a little over $200 per day. It's unfortunate that the illusory monster of insuring an open water swimming event can be overstated so easily.