In October of this year the USMS House of Delegates concluded its 43rd annual meeting, at the 2015 United States Aquatic Sports Convention in Kansas City, Mo.
During the annual meeting, officers are elected and rules and policies are voted upon. If you want to spend some time on the dry side of the sport you love, visit the “For Volunteers” tab at usms.org for more information.
Policy decisions and strategic planning are the purview of our dedicated volunteer leaders. The Executive Committee of the Board of Directors comprises the president, four vice-presidents (administration, local operations, programs, and community services), secretary, treasurer, immediate past president, and legal counsel. Eight at-large directors, one from each zone, sit on the greater BOD. Most of the 20 USMS committees report to one of the four vice presidents. The House of Delegates is composed of USMS members who’ve stepped up to represent their LMSCs and their number depends upon the size of their LMSCs.
The executive director oversees the National Office staff and reports to the Board of Directors. It’s the staff’s responsibility to enact the vision, mission, and strategic planning directives of the organization. This year, a special subcommittee of the BOD is tasked with an important job: choosing our next executive director.
For the past nearly eight years USMS’s current executive director, Rob Butcher, has presided over the period of the most growth and change USMS has seen in its 45-plus-year history—a period in which USMS evolved from an all-volunteer organization to a volunteer-led and professionally-managed one. His tenure started with establishing the first headquarters and hiring the National Office staff. It will end on December 31 this year with USMS having tripled its revenue and increased its membership by more than 50 percent.
When Rob started at USMS, he went on a fact-finding mission that would make NASA’s Mars Rover proud. He met with longtime volunteer leaders for hours on end, soaking up as much organizational history and culture as he could. He visited clubs, workout groups, and events all over the country, talking to anyone and everyone about Masters Swimming—in context of both the bigger picture and how they, as individuals, were experiencing it.
He’s the kind of guy who would jump in your pool and join swimmers in a lively argument over why breaststroke is “better” than backstroke, then hang out at your after-workout pizza party getting to know you. Most importantly, he listened and remembered your concerns and ideas and used them to formulate winning strategies that transformed USMS. Every single one of us—and I mean all (as of this moment) 63,648 of us—has benefitted from Rob’s leadership and passion for Masters Swimming.
He’s been an integral part of every important initiative undertaken in the past eight years—from rebranding to educating and supporting coaches to USMS’s growing adult learn-to-swim movement.
On January 1, 2016, Rob will step into the president and CEO role at Swim Across America, a charitable organization that, through swimming events, raises money for cancer research.
Thanks to Rob’s and the Board’s hard work and dedication, USMS is positioned to continue thriving and growing, and providing you with an organization of which you can be a proud to call yourself a member.
The second week of April was National Volunteer Week. Not only did this dovetail nicely with our “April Is Adult Learn-to-Swim Month” campaign, but National Volunteer Week has been around almost as long as USMS has. Established in 1974, the week serves to encourage people to get involved in their communities. Points of Light, the volunteer organization that has sponsored the week since its inception, has this on its website:
“National Volunteer Week is about taking action and encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change—discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to make a difference.”
There’s no doubt that our members have been a force for good in communities across the country. Local USMS volunteers work all year long to make Masters Swimming the best possible experience for their members. We’re grateful for the people in every club and workout group who make things happen on a daily basis for their fellow swimmers. And it works—we have the letters and emails to prove it.
But it doesn’t stop there. Our national-level volunteers build upon the hard work of the local volunteers and make it possible for USMS to accomplish great things. The Coaches Committee works tirelessly to train and support USMS coaches who are on deck every day changing lives. Many of the letters we receive are because a coach has had a significant impact on someone’s life.
The number of hours the Championship Committee dedicates to our national meets rivals their day jobs. The Sports Medicine and Science Committee provides valuable healthcare information at those meets, in addition to reviewing medical and science articles and topics throughout the year for all our publications. The Officials and Rules Committees are always deeply involved in our events—be sure to thank your meet officials when you see them on deck.
The Fitness Education Committee administers the USMS fitness events and searches for ways to connect with noncompetitive swimmers. The Open Water and Long Distance Committees oversee all things open water and our longer pool events. And probably the most relevant for National Volunteer Week, the Recognition and Awards Committee exists to celebrate and honor our USMS volunteers and recognize their service to our members. The History and Archives Committee collects information and images from all our events, so that the Masters Swimming journey is preserved for our future members.
It doesn’t stop there—running an organization this large also requires countless hours put in by the less visible, but critical, Audit, Compensation and Benefits, Finance, Governance, Investment, Legislation, LMSC Development, Policy, Records and Tabulation, and Registration Committees. Our Board of Directors and Executive Committee and Swimming Saves Lives Foundation are also all-volunteer, and their vision has helped bring USMS to new heights.
If you have the time, get involved at your local level—you’re needed there. And if you’d like to volunteer at the national level, you can find more information at usms.org/admin/content/volunteer
Updated July 1st, 2014 at 10:34 AM by Editor
The Georgia Tech Hotel and Convention Center was the scene for the 40th Anniversary celebration that functioned as this year’s meet social at the 2010 Short Course Nation al Championships in Atlanta. Longtime USMS members gathered with brand new members to celebrate 40 years of competition and camaraderie.
The first national Masters swimming championships were held in Amarillo, Texas, in 1970, when Masters swimming was first being organized. Capt. Ransom J. Arthur, a Navy doctor who envisioned swimming as a way for adults to stay physically and mentally fit as they aged, collaborated with John Spannuth, then president of the American Swimming Coaches Association, to hold that first meet.
The meet social developed as a tradition over the years. This year, more than 300 athletes and guests were treated not only to a delicious catered meal, but also an interesting history lesson. Robert Beach with St. Petersburg Aquatics presented a slideshow highlighting some of the early days of Masters swimming. Beach, 79, one of the original members of USMS, has amassed a sizeable collection of memorabilia and was happy to share his reminiscences.
Beach is also the founder of the longest running short course Masters meet in the country, and quite possibly the world. After consulting with Ransom Arthur and Richard Rahe, another Navy doctor and early organizer of Masters Swimming in 1970, Beach organized what was originally called the Southern Short Course Championships, which later became the St. Petersburg Short Course Championships. The first meet in 1970 had 17 competitors, but these days the meet averages about 300.
Swimmers who love pool meets owe a debt of gratitude to these pioneers of Masters swimming: Arthur, Spannuth, Rahe, and others like June Krauser, Hal Onusseit, and Buster Crabbe. And their supporters—the early meet organizers, volunteers, and athletes, who showed up, swam, and worked to put down the foundation for the organization we enjoy today. Some of these athletes are still competing and were on hand to help celebrate in Atlanta, including Beach, Ted Haartz, Paul Hutinger, Jane Katz and Bumpy Jones. If you are fortunate to meet any of these members, be sure to thank them for their contributions to our great sport.
Updated July 1st, 2014 at 10:54 AM by Editor