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SWIMMER Editorials

  1. A Few Changes (January–February 2018)

    by , December 30th, 2017 at 04:31 PM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    You might notice a few changes in the issue of SWIMMER you’re holding (or viewing through your My USMS account).

    For starters, art director Annie Sidesinger has made subtle tweaks to give the 2018 book a fresh look while retaining its elegance and simplicity. (Get-out swim if you can spot the changes—just tell your coach I said it was OK.)

    Because we’re all about brawn and brains as well as beauty, we’ve adjusted a few departments and columns, based on reader feedback. Many readers—of all interests and abilities—rely on the Training and Technique department for swimming advice, so we’ve expanded it again.

    A new T&T column, “Psych Sheet,” will focus on the less-tangible aspects of training. Whether you swim for fun and fitness or are racing for records, a significant factor in swimming well has nothing to do with how high your elbows are. You might need coping skills to overcome prerace anxiety or motivation to stop hitting the snooze button at 5 a.m. Marty Munson, a content strategist who’s written and edited for Dr. Oz The Good Life, Shape, Prevention, and many other publications, will be seeking advice from mental health and performance experts and bringing it to you on page 6.

    We’re bringing the “2-Minute Tune-up”—a quick-hit topic that can be read in 2 minutes and remembered for your next trip to the pool—back to T&T. Yes, it takes more than 2 minutes to make the changes once you get there, but you’re in good hands with veteran swimmer and journalist Jeff Commings. A former NCAA All-American and longtime Masters swimmer, he’ll be sharing his accumulated wisdom—and a practice set to go with it—on page 7.

    Bo Hickey, a strength and conditioning specialist with Ritter Sports Performance, will be breaking down dryland exercises that are good for swimmers and showing you how to do them correctly and safely in “Dryland Difference” on page 11. Everyone’s favorite science writer Jim Thornton will be contributing our physiology features in 2018, in addition to his Healthy Swimmer column, “Check-up,” now on page 12.

    And managing editor Daniel Paulling will be uncovering inspirational stories and writing about everyday swimmers in Swimming Life, which you’ll find on page 46. We’re excited to be adding new writers to our already deep talent pool and grateful for the opportunity to bring you the best swimming magazine possible.

    Always, thanks for reading.
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  2. 'I Have an Idea for an Article About … ' (July–August 2017)

    by , June 30th, 2017 at 02:20 PM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    Readers ask me, “Have you ever thought about doing a story on ...”

    Some readers want to tell their own stories. (Hint: We love getting humorous or light-hearted first-person essays for the Hot Tub.) Some nominate a teammate or ask about a swimmer they saw at nationals. Some have training or sports medicine or rules questions, and those evolve into article topics.

    Some swimmers share their stories in the hope of providing inspiration or encouragement to others who might be struggling.

    In this issue, John Ramos of Masters of Yucaipa in Southern California shares with writer Gretchen M. Sanders how swimming has helped him in his struggle with PTSD following the San Bernardino terrorist attack (Swimming Life, page 6).

    Some readers reach out with questions or concerns about products, and ideas evolve from there.

    Gina Pond in Chicago was frustrated with not being able to find swimsuits that fit her and wasn’t seeing swimmers of size featured in our publications. Elaine K. Howley spoke with Pond about body image issues and her quest for inclusivity (Bewitching Belief, page 18).

    Sometimes we get emails with interesting professional signatures, prompting us to ask, “Hey, what’s it like being a (winemaker, oboe player, xenobiologist) and can we write about you?”

    Many readers want practical advice on how to swim faster or more efficiently.

    In this issue’s technique feature (page 24), Jeff Commings writes that you can go wider with your breaststroke out-sweep, providing you back it up with a powerful kick. So, if you’re still mentally scraping the insides of a salad bowl, try his tips for more power in the armstroke. (I swear just reading that article has already improved my breaststroke.)

    Terry Heggy (whose online coaching and technique articles at usms.org are must-reads) asks Level 4 USMS coach Chris McPherson for a few drills to fix your freestyle (Ask the Coach, page 8) and multiple record-holder Dot Munger for some racing tips (From the Center Lanes, page 10).

    For the most part, there aren’t bad topics—only ones that will interest or won’t interest any given reader.

    If you have an idea for an article, let us know at usms.org/content/readersubmissions, or contact me directly at editor@usms.org.

    Always, thanks for reading.

    Updated December 30th, 2017 at 04:25 PM by Editor

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  3. USMS Is for Everyone (September-October 2016)

    by , September 1st, 2016 at 01:00 AM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    Three years ago, I wrote here about how we, as an organization, needed to continue dispelling the myth that “Masters” Swimming means you’ve mastered the sport of swimming before joining USMS. (“The M Word,” May-June 2013). I’ve also written about our efforts to make learn-to-swim classes available to as many adults as possible. (“Milestones,” November-December 2014, “April Is Adult Learn-to-Swim Month,” March-April 2014, and “Fear of Water,” September-October 2011).

    Diverse populations have been a topic, not only diversity in race (“The Swimming Race,” January-February 2010), but also in age (“Age Is a Whole Bunch of Numbers,” March-April 2016) and sexual orientation (“The Inclusive Sport—It’s All Good,” September-October 2010).

    I’ve written about the labels “fitness swimmer” and “competitive swimmer,” and how they don’t often make sense (“Classification,” September-October 2013). Likewise, the differences between triathletes and swimmers, which are often nondifferences (“Triathletes and Swimmers,” July-August 2012.)

    So when I write, “USMS is for everyone,” I’m really not exaggerating.

    This August, our marketing team got creative and tried a few new things to welcome potential members and generate interest in the sport of swimming. First, we lowered the price of membership by $19 for the remainder of 2016 when purchased with a full 2017 membership.

    Next, we created “Try Masters Swimming Day,” and encouraged members to invite friends and family to swim practice on August 15. And we encouraged coaches to invite local lap swimmers to try a workout. Our partner, Colorado Time Systems, is even donating a Pace Clock Pro to each of the five clubs who register the most new swimmers in the month of August.

    But it takes a village.

    At Spring Nationals I had the pleasure of meeting St. Pete (Fla.) Masters swimmer and legendary pitchman Anthony Sullivan of OxiClean fame. I asked him if he would tell his story for SWIMMER readers. He immediately turned my request for an interview around with a request of his own: “Swimming has done so much for me and I want to give back. What can I do for USMS?”

    Well, if you’ve been on our social media channels in the past month, you’ve seen he’s been busy encouraging membership in a way that only he can—with a hilarious and fun infomercial-style video touting Masters Swimming as “The Greatest Workout of Them All.” He’s also sponsored a contest in which a grand-prize winner will receive a one-year USMS membership and some cool (signed!) OxiClean and Masters Swimming swag.

    And we did land that interview; Managing Editor Elaine K. Howley’s profile on Sullivan, “As Seen on TV,” is on page 18.

    Also in this issue (Swimming Life, page 6, by Gretchen Sanders), we meet Mamenasha Tesfaye and Thaddeus Gamory, both lifelong swimmers who are passionate about helping adults—especially people of color—learn to swim. Both are recipients of Swimming Saves Lives Foundation grants. We also meet two of their students: Randa Azab and Martha Paniagua, whose lives have been forever altered by learning to swim.

    Finally, in “Olympians Among Us” (page 36), Katie O’Dair introduces us to a few of the many Olympians who use swimming to stay healthy and continue enjoying the sport they love. Although these swimmers have clearly mastered swimming, their stories, just like all of ours, originate from having taken that first leap into the pool one day long ago.

    So, ask your friends and local lap swimmers: “What are you waiting for? Masters Swimming is for everyone and the water’s fine—come on in.”

    Updated September 1st, 2016 at 11:41 AM by Editor

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  4. USMS Book Club (July-August 2016)

    by , July 1st, 2016 at 01:00 AM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    When I took the helm at SWIMMER in 2009, we occasionally reviewed swimming-related books or works by USMS members. As a lover of books, I was excited to have a reason to read more.

    USMS boasts an array of talented writers across many genres: everything from children’s books and memoirs to science fiction novels and cookbooks. And not only writers, but artists, poets, musicians, photographers, and video storytellers. This is not to mention all the stroke technique, nutrition, and fitness books from industry publishers such as Velo Press and Human Kinetics.

    There were so many that we couldn’t keep up with the volume of works submitted for review; the collection in my office could crush and bury me if an earthquake hits Southwest Florida.

    But I have a solution: Announcing the USMS Book Club.

    This idea isn’t newfangled. Several threads in the USMS Discussion Forums—started by other book lovers years ago—contain some great titles that we can include in our new club. For now, the club remains informal (in my brain and on this page) but stay tuned for future updates and opportunities to share reviews of your favorites.

    To get us started, here’s a “six degrees of separation” breakdown of the connections between swimmers and books in this issue of SWIMMER alone:

    The cover story, a feature profile of illustrator and author Lisa Congdon, by award-winning writer and SWIMMER’s managing editor, Elaine K. Howley, includes a review of Congdon’s latest book, “The Joy of Swimming.”The foreword to “The Joy of Swimming” was written by the legendary Lynne Cox, whose award-winning books have also been reviewed here. Several of the swimmers featured in Congdon’s book have written books, been featured in, or contributed to SWIMMER, including Karlyn Pipes, Jeff Commings, and Jane Katz.

    Sports nutritionist Sunny Blende reviews Pip Taylor’s “The Athlete’s Fix” from Velo Press as part of her feature, “Five Steps to Creating and Following a Healthy Diet.” “Volunteer Profile” writer Kristina Henry also wrote the children's book, “The Fish Tank,” which was reviewed in a 2011 issue. And Susan Dawson-Cook, who wrote the Spring Nationals wrap feature, publishes steamy romance novels under the pseudonym Sabrina Devonshire.

    Award-winning broadcast journalist Lynn Sherr of ABC’s “20/20,” whose list of accomplishments and awards—including a Peabody—is longer than many books, contributes an excellent review of the off-Broadway hit “Red Speedo” for the “Hot Tub.” A profile of Sherr appeared in our January-February 2013 issue, written by Laura S. Jones, whose collection of short stories, “Breaking and Entering," was also reviewed in these pages.

    Sherr’s book, “SWIM: Why We Love the Water,” is a must-read in the ocean of swim literature. It will be my first official USMS Book Club recommendation. (See the masthead for more recommendations by the staff.)

    Later this year, David McGlynn, whose darkly beautiful memoir “A Door in the Ocean” we reviewed in 2013, will be profiling New York Times bestselling author and swimmer, Susan Casey, who wrote the amazing nonfiction adventures “The Devil’s Teeth” and “The Wave.” McGlynn will review Casey’s latest book, “Voices in the Ocean.”

    Summer is both swimming and reading season, so with this preliminary list of suggestions, I wish you happy reading, great swimming, and much enjoyment reading about swimming and swimmers.

    Updated September 1st, 2016 at 11:25 AM by Editor

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  5. Survey Says ... (September-October 2015)

    by , September 1st, 2015 at 01:00 AM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    In the August issue of STREAMLINES, we posted a survey link with 20 questions about your SWIMMER reading habits. We wanted to know which departments and columns you read regularly to help us determine which ones might need to be updated or discontinued.

    Actually, we wanted to know lots of things, such as: Do you like historical articles? Do you like profiles about members who swim fast or ones who have interesting lives outside the pool, or both, or neither? Do you prefer reading SWIMMER online or on paper? (Overwhelmingly, the latter.) How does SWIMMER compare to other magazines you read? (Seventy-five percent say as good as or better.)

    Nearly 84 percent of you responded that you read every issue and nearly 12 percent read most issues. About 80 percent of you agree that SWIMMER strengthens your connection to swimming. Technique, training, and science and health features are the most read and most desired articles.

    Near the end of the survey, we asked some open-ended questions about your likes and dislikes, as well as what you’d like to see changed—this was your chance to sound off on anything and everything about the magazine.

    Some of the findings were expected; some were a surprise. All the data will be used to help us plan future issues. As a group, your range of interests and goals means that meeting everyone’s desires in every issue is unlikely, but it’s a challenge we relish and commit to every day.

    The majority of the responses were positive—When asked what you’d like to see changed, many of you answered “nothing” or “12 issues instead of six!” That answer triggered gasps from our small but dedicated magazine staff, but we felt an immense sense of gratitude and honor that we’re able to produce something that our readers want more of.

    But not everyone is happy with the magazine, and we appreciate the constructive criticism we received. It will help us become a better publication. To our relief, only a tiny few of the responses would be appropriate for the “Mean Tweets” skit on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

    Thanks to all of you who took the time to share your thoughts and suggestions. Thank you for your ongoing support and for helping us to continue making improvements to SWIMMER—this is your magazine and we want you to love it as much as we love working on it.

    As always, you can contact me directly with your feedback at editor@usms.org.

    Updated September 21st, 2015 at 09:31 AM by Editor

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  6. Seasons (September-October 2014)

    by , September 1st, 2014 at 01:00 AM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    Every year at the USMS annual meeting, during a House of Delegates session, the names of members who passed away during the year are read and a moment of silence is observed in their honor. Some of the names are those of well-known members; some are unfamiliar. Regardless, the reaction on the floor is the same: respectful silence and reflection.

    This year the names of two of Masters Swimming’s founding members, both Ransom J. Arthur Award recipients who passed away peacefully in the embrace of loved ones—within a few weeks of each other this summer—will be on that list: June Krauser, 88, and Paul Hutinger, 89.

    It would be impossible to capture here the impact June, known worldwide as “The Mother of Masters Swimming,” has had on USMS. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for her. Unlike many of our longtime members, I never had the opportunity to know her. Based on their remembrances, I know that I would have liked her very much: She demanded excellence in all things and spoke her mind, unencumbered by the burden of an overactive filter.

    Paul Hutinger, who served on the Sports Medicine and Science, Recognition and Awards, and History and Archives Committees, and his wife Margie, have been familiar faces on pool decks around the country for many years. When USMS established its first national headquarters, the Hutingers stopped by with memorabilia from the early days of Masters Swimming, including a poster advertising the first long-course nationals in 1972, and it hangs in our office today.

    Two other names that will be included on that list this year are swimmers who were taken abruptly during open water swims, of apparent heart attacks, within a few weeks of each other this summer: Bob Matysek, 58, and Chris Clarke, 45.

    Bob and his brothers, including Jim Matysek, USMS IT director and creator of our website, usms.org, have an annual family tradition of doing the Chesapeake Bay Swim together, and this was Bob’s 20th year. Something went wrong about a mile and a half into the 4.4-mile swim, and Bob was pulled into a rescue boat. Jim, who was in the wave right after Bob, swam past that boat—not knowing his brother was on board.

    A few days later, my close friend Chris Clarke, an avid open water swimmer and fierce competitor, and I were texting about Bob’s death and Chris wrote, “You never know when your time is up; live life every day!” A little more than a week later he too was gone, pulled less than a mile from the finish of a 2.4-mile race in a peaceful little lake in Indiana.

    Loss is part of life, and as cliché as it sounds, I do cling to the belief that Bob and Chris died doing what they loved. They don’t appear to have suffered—the pain resides in the hearts of those they left behind.

    Another way to honor those who precede us to that ultimate warm-down pool is to share their stories. We’ll be working with the History and Archives Committee to bring June’s and Paul’s stories back to the pages of SWIMMER and usms.org.

    We’ll also be working with the Sports Medicine and Science Committee and other medical experts to continue publishing articles on health issues that affect our members. Those all-important conversations between adult athletes and their physicians must continue. In addition, case studies on sudden-death incidents assist medical staff, event directors, and our Open Water and Championship Committees in planning.

    And no matter what, we’re not going to stop swimming. One September day in the future, our names will be called on the HOD floor and, just as June’s, Paul’s, Bob’s, and Chris’s will, we’ll want them to echo with the resonance of a life well swum.

    In the meantime, get to know your lanemates. Share an anecdote with a younger swimmer. Ask an old-timer about “that time back when….” Talk to your doctor. Honor the contributions of those who came before by contributing your own verse to the ongoing, powerful song of Masters Swimming and of life.

    Updated September 21st, 2015 at 09:36 AM by Editor

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  7. Becoming a Better SWIMMER (January-February 2014)

    by , January 1st, 2014 at 01:00 AM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    In April 2013, longtime SWIMMER contributor Elaine K. Howley joined the staff as our associate editor. It would take a lot more than this column to fully explain how important her work has been for the magazine, as well as our other publications: the STREAMLINES series and content on usms.org.

    A list of the articles she’s written can be found at usms.org/people/EKH20. Her SWIMMER profiles of Marisa Churchill and Andrea Kremer both won first place in the annual Writer’s Digest writing competition, in the Magazine Feature Article category. A Triple Crown marathon and ice swimmer, Athleta-sponsored athlete and Chi blogger, and multitalented writer and editor, Elaine’s contributions have allowed us to take our publications to a new level.

    We read our mail, we study social media interactions with our members and potential members, and we talk to swimmers—lots of swimmers—about content, trying to find common threads that can be spun into new features or columns.

    One thing many of you ask for is more training and technique advice. We’re thrilled that Jim Thornton, Men’s Health feature writer and a frequent contributor to our discussion forums, will be penning a new column in the Training and Technique department called “Evidence-Based Swimming,” in which he takes a look at current trends and research in swimming science.

    Another topic in high demand is nutrition information for swimmers of all abilities. Sports nutritionist Sunny Blende will be taking the reins of the “Mastering Nutrition” column in The Healthy Swimmer department. Sunny is a Masters swimmer and runner who understands the nutritional needs of our sport.

    On the lighter side, we’ve added a new department in the front of the book titled “The Shallow End.” Here, Michael Gustafson, Tweeter Extraordinaire (@mikelgustafson), contributes a humor column, “The Hot Tub,” where he’ll write about the quirkier aspects of life as a swimmer in the 18-and-over crowd.

    Also in "The Shallow End," you'll see a new comic strip, "Coach," by Ed Colley, cartoonist and official caricaturist of our "Volunteer Profile" column; the strip depicts life in the sometimes not-so-fast lane of coaching Masters swimmers. And, since we seem to have developed an infestation of talented Haiku writers within the readership, we’ll feature a swimming Haiku in “5–7–5,” which is not only the pattern of syllables in traditional Haiku, but is also a freestyle breathing pattern coaches use to torture swimmers of all ages.

    The Letters department has been transformed into “Perspectives,” where we’ll have letter excerpts, social media quotes, and beautiful images from acclaimed swimming photographers, including Peter H. Bick, Mike Lewis, and others. We hope you enjoy the changes and, as always, we welcome your feedback.

    All the best to you and your loved ones in 2014.

    Updated July 1st, 2014 at 11:34 AM by Editor

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  8. Cool New Stuff (January-February 2013)

    by , January 1st, 2013 at 01:00 AM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    As I write this, two very exciting things are happening at the USMS National Office. By the time you read this, they should both be up and running. (Since huge projects have a way of taking on lives of their own, I write with only a wee bit of trepidation.)

    The first is that we’ve asked our publication partner, Anthem Media Group, to create a digital version of SWIMMER, one that can be read on your computer, tablet, or, if you have a hankering and really good eyes, your smartphone. The digital version is available to any current member, and can be accessed through your MyUSMS account. (If you haven’t set that up yet, visit usms. org/admin/lmschb/usms_create_forums_acct. pdf for step-by-step instructions). In addition, we’re busy digitizing previous issues of SWIMMER, so check the Archive tray on the left side of the screen and watch the library grow.

    We’re not going all Newsweek on you, though; the paper edition will still be delivered to you unless you unsubscribe from it through your LMSC registrar.

    The second project is a redesign of usms.org. If you haven’t visited in a while, you need to—we think you’ll love the new look and feel. Our website has always been a work beast, with many customized tools that have aided our volunteer leaders in digitizing, organizing, and presenting information for our members. It still does all that and more, only now it does it in a sleek and gorgeous new skin. We’re also sourcing new content and have created a video gallery, where you’ll find technique videos, product reviews, event recaps, and more.

    As always, we welcome your feedback. For comments, questions, and suggestions about SWIMMER or the stories and articles on usms.org, you can email me directly at editor@usms.org. For the website redesign, email support@usms.org.

    Wishing you the very best in 2013.

    Updated July 1st, 2014 at 11:39 AM by Editor

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  9. Change (January-February 2012)

    by , January 1st, 2012 at 01:00 AM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    We have some exciting changes planned for SWIMMER this year, not the least of which is the newly redesigned magazine you are holding. Annie Sidesinger and the design team at Anthem Communications have done a fantastic job updating the look and feel of the publication. They’ll also be working with us to create a digital edition of SWIMMER in the near future.

    But changing only the look would be like working on your high-elbow recovery without paying attention to your catch. So look for changes in Training and Technique and Swim Bag. Additionally, we’ll be introducing a nutrition column in The Healthy Swimmer starting in the March–April issue.

    How do changes make it to the pages of SWIMMER? Well, I’d like to say it is all part of a precise, brilliant master plan, perfectly researched and executed, but that wouldn’t be accurate. Many changes are inspired by reader feedback. Sometimes we use the spaghetti method and whatever sticks, stays.

    Sometimes the little suckers sneak into the pages and before you know it, they’ve multiplied. Two years ago New England Masters swimmer Ed Colley, whom I had never met, sent me a caricature of … me. He started rendering the USMS volunteers we profile in Inside USMS. This led to illustrations for feature articles (“Early Masters Swimmers,” March-April 2011, among others) and for The Healthy Swimmer. Colley (in a self-caricature below) started swimming Masters at the age of 73.

    Inspiration for change comes from you. In the November-December issue, we published a word cloud based on your feelings about swimming. We received so many letters asking for reprints, we decided to use it for our annual poster and it is included in this issue.

    I’m grateful for the gift of all the people who have inspired change in SWIMMER and look forward to another year of striving to be your favorite swimming publication on the planet.

    Updated July 1st, 2014 at 11:50 AM by Editor

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  10. Inspiration (July-August 2011)

    by , July 1st, 2011 at 01:00 AM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    In the May-June issue of SWIMMER I thanked the team of writers, editors and our new publishing partner for joining me in striving to bring you a top quality publication. You may have noticed that one name was conspicuously absent from that list, primarily because it would take an entire year of editorials to properly recognize him. I’ll do my best with one.

    I first met Phil Whitten when a good friend and lanemate framed the cover of the September-October 2009 issue as a gift for me, celebrating my first issue with SWIMMER. A profile of Whitten had been long scheduled for that issue and after reading over all the features, I felt strongly that he should be on the cover. Having the noted author and former editor-in-chief of Swimming World, Swimming Technique and SWIM, the precursor of SWIMMER, shaking his finger at me with a sly smile was a little intimidating, so of course I hung it right over my desk.

    My first face-to-face meeting with Whitten was later that month at the 2009 USMS convention in Chicago. My nervousness at meeting him soon disappeared as we chatted through lunch about future articles for SWIMMER. The warmly polite and unassuming man I dined with couldn’t possibly be the same lauded journalist and “voice for the sport” that turned the swimming world on end in 1994 in a multipronged assault on the Chinese national swim team after they showed up for World Championships bulked up on steroids. Using his media savvy and any platform he could scale, Whitten cried foul, initially a lone voice in a sea of apathy and nonbelief. Eventually, his allegations were proven and one of the benefits of his tenacity was the formation of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

    Whitten is also a hero in the college swimming world. During a time when men’s college swim teams were being cut down with scythes sharpened with a misinterpretation of Title IX, he wrote a manual titled, “How to Save Your College Swim Team,” and helped many teams avoid the knife. P.H. Mullen, the author of “Gold in the Water,” wrote extensively about Whitten’s accomplishments in a 2005 article for Swimming World, which is available at swimmingworldmagazine.com/interactive/PhilWhitten.pdf.

    Editorial accomplishments and superhero status aside, Whitten writes a mean article. His knowledge, skill and dry humor make his pieces must-reads. In the past two years, he has contributed articles on a variety of subjects. In 2010, we were excited to publish new research from Dr. Stephen Blair on the mortality rate of swimmers compared to runners, walkers and sedentary males. Whitten was there to make sense of the research and present it succinctly.

    Never one to shy away from controversial topics, he has written about aerobic and hypoxic training in Masters swimming, the Aquatic Ape Theory and legal doping. He is currently working on another doping article, still timely for anyone interested in sports, as we see athletes disgraced on a regular basis.

    I am eager to see what he comes up with next.

    Whitten’s wagging finger still hovers over my desk as a daily reminder that integrity, ethical journalism and compelling content are expected and should be delivered to the reader with each and every issue.

    Updated July 1st, 2014 at 11:52 AM by Editor

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  11. Teammates (May-June 2011)

    by , May 1st, 2011 at 01:00 AM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    Many of you have let me know that you are enjoying the improvements to SWIMMER over the past year and a half. It makes my day to get that kind of feedback. For those of you who have sought me out on deck at a meet or written to me, I hope I have let you know how much your kind words mean to me. Two things I can’t properly convey in my responses are the pride and gratitude I have for the team that is making it all possible, so I wanted to take this opportunity to recognize my teammates.

    Elaine K. Howley and Jim Harper, both of whom have articles in this issue, have written many of our feature articles. They have a way of viewing a story from an angle that almost anyone can relate to, and then writing it in an engaging style. They bring people’s stories to life in an honest and respectful way that reminds us we are all on one humongous swim team. Elaine is a Triple Crown marathon swimmer in Boston who loves coldwater swims. She works as a freelance writer and editor with experience in the business, financial and engineering worlds. Jim is a swimmer and swim coach in Miami and a freelance writer who also specializes in writing about the environment. Look for a feature from him later this year on environmental changes that are affecting our oceans and, consequently, open water swimming.

    Susan Dawson-Cook is our travel expert and will be ferreting out the best places to visit when you travel to our national championship meets. She also often attends the meets as a competitor and contributes the wrap features afterward. Be sure to check out her piece on Summer Nationals in this issue. Susan, who hails from Tucson, is an experienced fitness professional who has recently released a fitness DVD and has written a romantic adventure novel.

    Bill Edwards has been involved with SWIMMER for several years as managing editor for our previous publisher, Douglas Murphy Communications. He is now a freelance writer and editor, an English professor and a somewhat reluctant swimmer. He has an extensive journalism background and loves history—he will be researching and writing the Splashback department for us on a regular basis.

    Last year we were lucky enough to find our staff writer, Laura Jones, when she pitched a story. She loves open water swimming, rescues pit bulls and was an attorney until she decided to give up business clothing. She has written for the Washington Post and numerous other publications. A personal trainer as well, she has written extensively about medicine and fitness. She researches and writes The Healthy Swimmer department and several columns in Training and Technique, including our brand new in 2011, The Dryland Difference. She is also working on a novel with a swimmer as the main character.

    Meg Smath is a familiar name to many of you who are USMS volunteers. Meg has been proofing and copy-editing SWIMMER for many years, and her contribution is critical to its success. A Masters swimmer in Kentucky, Meg works as an editor for the Kentucky Geological Survey and is The Last Word on where that comma goes.

    Packaging up all this great content into a beautiful, readable format is no small feat, and we are thrilled to be working with Anthem Media Group. The lead designer on their team is Annie Sidesinger, whose experience and degree in magazine design will be instrumental in taking SWIMMER to the next level graphically.

    Updated July 1st, 2014 at 11:52 AM by Editor

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  12. Shaken, Stirred, and Sorry (March-April 2011)

    by , March 1st, 2011 at 01:00 AM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    As many of you are aware, in the January–February issue we published a letter written by member Glenn Welsford that spoke of his religious intolerance of the LGBT community. Mr. Welsford penned the letter in response to the article we published in the September-October issue of SWIMMER profiling Tyler Duckworth, a gay swimmer and reality TV star. In the same issue, we presented a book review of Jeff Commings’s autobiography, "Odd Man Out," which chronicles his life as a gay, black swimmer. I also wrote about diversity in my editorial for that issue.

    During our editorial review prior to publication, we felt that Mr. Welsford, while entitled to his beliefs, is clinging to an antiquated viewpoint in a society truly coming of age—one in which all its members are afforded equal respect—something that USMS, a subculture within this society, does very well.

    Our intent in printing the letter was not to give any individual a platform to “spew hatred,” but to allow a member’s opinion to be discussed and defused. Many of us don’t feel that Mr. Welsford’s viewpoint can survive in our rapidly integrating society. In reading his words, I felt they were intolerant, but I didn’t see them as a hateful personal attack.

    A dispassionate lens may not always be the best way to view things, especially when serving a large, diverse, passionate group of people. As the editor, it was my responsibility to be sensitive to how some readers may react. And in that, I failed; and offer my sincere apologies.

    Regardless of our intentions, the right thing to do was apologize to those who were hurt or angered by the publication of the letter. We did so in timely responses to all readers who wrote in, and by publishing a formal apology on the home page at usms.org.

    We received letters from readers, both gay and straight, who strongly disagreed with the printing of the letter—they did read hatred in Welsford’s words, not just intolerance. We also received letters from readers, both gay and straight, thanking us for printing the letter, for various reasons. They appreciated our willingness to print a controversial response to what some consider a difficult topic—one that we introduced with the original articles.

    This has been a learning experience for us here at SWIMMER. We remain committed to providing you with a quality publication that covers the wide range of interests of our members, including competition, open water, fitness, training and technique, health and nutrition, history, product reviews and profiles of our diverse members—the fascinating people who make up U.S. Masters Swimming.

    We are unable to print all the letters we received, and we didn’t want this incident to prevent us from publishing letters on other topics, so we have extended the Letters department for this issue (“Letters” starts on page 3 and is continued on page 44) and we have published an extended version online.

    Updated July 1st, 2014 at 11:53 AM by Editor

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  13. Product Testing (January-February 2011)

    by , January 1st, 2011 at 01:00 AM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    Many of you have written to tell us how much you have appreciated the metamorphosis of the Swim Bag department in 2010. Taking what used to be advertising space and turning it into reviews about the products has been a learning experience for us all. We have also received great feedback about the product testing videos we post on our YouTube channel.

    Some of you have criticized—saying we have been too harsh or too easy on one product or another, or that our reviews are not technical enough. We sincerely thank you for all your feedback. We read all comments and use them to help shape our approach as we move into our second year of product testing.

    We have made a commitment to you to publish useful information about products currently marketed to swimmers. We have also made a commitment to the manufacturers and retailers—not to always say positive things—but to give each product they send us a fair and thorough testing and review.

    Products on the market today are as varied and individual as the swimmers who use them. What is effective for one swimmer may be unusable for another. Some swimmers have no problem spending a lot for what they want; others simply cannot afford to. Our goal is to sort through the differences in the brands and provide information that will be helpful to you when it comes time to replace your goggles, suit, fins, etc.

    Because of the differences among swimmers, we have gathered a motley crew of testers. Some are highly competitive; others swim for exercise and camaraderie. All possess a passion for getting the most from their gear and a healthy sense of curiosity. These are the folks that were taking apart household appliances when they were kids to see what made them work.

    We have testers in different parts of the country, which was essential for this issue’s review of cold-water swim caps, as you will read on page 46. Temperatures had not dropped sufficiently in the Gulf of Mexico in October to give cold-water caps a good test.

    Several members of the staff and local Masters swimmers here in Sarasota have become some of the most committed product testers—evident as we head into our third week of wetsuit testing for the March-April issue. Air and water temperatures in the Gulf are now in the high 50s, which, for those of us who are used to the mid 80s, is pretty shocking.

    Our testers spend a lot of their personal time on these reviews, interrupting their training regimens to try the products, comparing the different brands, filling out surveys and more, and I am truly grateful for their efforts. I also want to thank the manufacturers and retailers who have provided us with the products and trusted us to review them fairly.

    We will be shooting a wetsuit testing video in January that will drop when the March-April issue is published. We hope you will enjoy another year with us and, as always, feel free to contact me directly at editor@usms.org with your comments and product review suggestions.

    Updated July 1st, 2014 at 11:53 AM by Editor

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  14. SWIMMER Hears Your Feedback (September-October 2009)

    by , September 1st, 2009 at 01:00 AM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    This May, many of you responded to a member survey. The survey, which we will conduct annually, was designed to measure reader satisfaction and expectations with regard to our member communications, including SWIMMER magazine, our usms.org website, and the e-newsletters. Some of the survey results surprised us; others confirmed ideas we had. The important thing is that you have spoken and we are listening and responding.

    Overall, the feedback on SWIMMER was positive, which reflects the good job our former editor, Bill Volckening, and the Publications Management Committee, have done shepherding the publication over the years. Bill’s dedication and service are appreciated, and his and the committee’s groundwork will serve as a solid base from which to spring. As all things eventually do, SWIMMER will evolve. One thing that will remain present in our approach, however, is our responsiveness to our readers. As always, we encourage your feedback anytime. You can write me directly at editor@usms.org.

    Starting with this September-October issue, we are introducing a new guest editorial concept for SWIMMER called “Both Sides of the Lane Line.” In this column, we’ll publish two reader essays supporting different positions on issues that impact the world of Masters Swimming. Also in this issue, you’ll find that the Training and Technique department contains several new columns, designed to cater to the different types of swimmers within our organization. Whether you consider yourself a highly competitive pool swimmer, a beginner, a fitness swimmer, an open water aficionado, or any combination thereof, we want you to find information in SWIMMER that matters to you. With a diverse group of swimmers in our membership, it is essential that we continue to strive for a balance of content that accurately reflects our readers’ interests.

    Looking ahead, we hope you’ll see SWIMMER as a trusted resource, providing valuable information about the many events, products, and services we have to choose from as Masters swimmers. Next year, our Swim Bag department will take on a new flavor with independent product reviews. Our team will be taking a proactive approach to research when it comes to equipment, local meets, open water events, swim travel, and more. We hope to draw from the vast pool of talented and knowledgeable individuals who make up our membership. After all, one of the best things about being a USMS member is having thousands of teammates who are willing to share their wisdom and experience.

    Updated July 1st, 2014 at 11:56 AM by Editor

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