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From the Executive Director: U.S. Masters Swimming's Journey

  1. Volunteer—You’ll Change More Than One Life

    by , May 1st, 2015 at 03:20 PM (From the Executive Director: U.S. Masters Swimming's Journey)
    USMS has become the leader in the adult aquatics movement because of the secret ingredient in our sauce: our volunteers.

    Last week, more than 400 volunteers in San Antonio gave of their time as officials, timers, greeters, on-deck coaches, and awards liaisons so Masters swimmers could enjoy a first class Nationwide USMS Spring National Championship.

    We have 52 Local Masters Swimming Committees throughout the United States, operated by hundreds of volunteers making sure sanctions are approved and Top 10 times are recorded and countless other tasks. And many Masters clubs and workout groups would cease to exist were it not for the numerous volunteer coaches giving of their time so other adults can benefit.

    If you feel a desire to volunteer but haven’t yet found the right opportunity, I encourage you to consider helping another adult learn to swim. While our adult learn-to-swim campaign is most visible during the month of April, teaching adults to swim is a year-round cause.

    On the center of the usms.org home page are four words: Encouraging adults to swim. The CDC estimates 37% of American adults can’t swim the length of a swimming pool. If we’re going to encourage adults to swim, we have a responsibility to help those who can’t by creating opportunities to learn.

    Teaching adults is different than teaching kids. Often, adults have to overcome longtime fears or self-doubt just to make it to the first lesson. Putting a bathing suit on for the first time and placing their trust in another adult is a big commitment, for both the adult learner and the instructor—teaching an adult to swim requires empathy and patience.

    USMS has free resources to help Masters Swimming programs that want to participate in the adult learn-to-swim initiative. We also have a professionally taught adult learn-to-swim instructor certification program, which is available to any USMS member who wants to experience the rewards of sharing our sport.

    Every month, my inbox is filled with emails and pictures from adults expressing gratitude and a renewed sense of self worth because they’ve learned to swim. I read the letters and feel the empowerment and victory in their words. It’s a gift that wouldn’t have been possible without Masters swimmer volunteers.

    If you know how to swim and want to give back—if this message has stirred you—then please volunteer to teach another adult. As much as the adult learner will benefit, you, too, will receive the gift of making a significant difference in someone’s life by sharing the opportunity to experience the lifelong benefits of swimming.
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  2. 100%

    by , January 7th, 2015 at 01:50 PM (From the Executive Director: U.S. Masters Swimming's Journey)
    “Dear Rob, I received a swim cap, bag tag and desk statue from USMS for my $100 contribution to the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation. By my math, you probably spent $30 on all this stuff (including postage). I expect when I make a donation that the contribution will go toward the cause and not be wasted like this.”

    So went an email I received recently. This writer brings up a good point, one that other Swimming Saves Lives Foundation donors may have wondered about.

    The good news is, 100 percent of donations to SSLF go to its core objectives: raising awareness and providing funding for adult learn-to-swim programs. Allow me to explain.

    In 2010, we established the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation as a structured committee under the USMS nonprofit umbrella. By establishing SSLF as a committee under USMS, rather than a standalone nonprofit, we avoided the time consuming and expensive process to set up and maintain a nonprofit: monthly, quarterly, and annual tax filings, independent CPA firm audits, insurance, legal, seated board of directors, bylaws, etc. These processes are already in place for USMS as it was incorporated in 1978 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

    This model allows USMS to absorb 100% of the costs to operate SSLF, which includes presenting donors with thank-you gifts and building the SSLF brand with bag tags, swim caps, and other items that can be displayed; as well as providing goggles, caps, and banners to program partners who are doing the core work: teaching adults to swim.

    Thus, 100% of contributions made to SSLF go to a dedicated account for the benefit of SSLF. Our hope is that once adults learn to swim or improve their swimming skills, they’ll have the confidence and desire to continue swimming in a Masters Swimming program and experience the lifelong benefits of swimming.

    Over the past two years, SSLF has awarded $110,000 in grants to more than 30 partners who are teaching adults to swim and providing opportunities for those adults to continue swimming once they learn. Each year the demand for grant support grows—the number of applications totaled more than 50 this past year.

    The $110,000 provided was received from more than 6,000 USMS members who have generously made contributions to SSLF the past two years. If SSLF wasn’t under the USMS nonprofit umbrella, the costs to operate it as a standalone nonprofit would be so high that our ability to give and make a difference would be greatly diminished.

    Experts have advised us that this model—SSLF under the USMS umbrella with USMS absorbing the costs—is the best strategy to make the greatest impact on our cause. Once SSLF reaches a base of about $2 million in its account, when it can potentially be self-sustaining, it would then make sense to review SSLF becoming a standalone nonprofit. As of January 1, 2015, the SSLF account has accumulated a balance of approximately $260,000.

    There’s one other important point that should please donors and reinforce our support for SSLF: 100 percent of the USMS Board of Directors and 100 percent of the USMS National Office staff contributes to the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation.

    Updated January 7th, 2015 at 01:57 PM by Rob Butcher

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