View RSS Feed

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

How Did This Happen?

Rate this Entry
by , November 3rd, 2014 at 07:57 PM (1514 Views)
Ambassadors

Instinctually, I knew it. Surveys and feedback confirmed it: coaches have great impact on the tens of thousands of adults who are members of USMS.

Coaches who are welcoming, knowledgeable, and have empathy will retain and attract more adults to their Masters Swimming programs. Coaches who are aloof, inattentive, or unwelcoming will likely find their Masters Swimming programs headed toward extinction. We seek to support coaches and give them the tools they need to become better coaches and ambassadors for U.S. Masters Swimming.

USMS Takes Responsibility


In December of 2008, Chris Colburn, the Coaches Committee Chair at the time, Mel Goldstein, a past USMS president and current USMS coach educator, and I went to visit the American Swimming Coaches Association at its offices in Ft. Lauderdale. ASCA had administered a USMS coach certification program, which was offered as a self-study. The self-study course was written in 1997 by a group of USMS volunteers. Unfortunately, it hadn’t been updated in a decade and was no longer relevant. ASCA didn’t have the knowledge or resources to create a new Masters coach certification program, so we made the decision to take responsibility for the Masters coach education program.

John Leonard, ASCA’s executive director, imparted some sage wisdom as we embarked on the project: “Teach your coaches how a USMS program can generate revenue and teach pool operators how offering a Masters Swimming program can be beneficial to them.”

Three Days in Indianapolis


In the spring of 2009, USMS coaches Mel Goldstein, Lisa Dahl, Susan Ingraham, and Jim Halstead; and Mark Gill, USMS business development manager at the time, and I bunkered in a conference room in Indianapolis. We ate pizza, drank diet cokes, debated, scribbled thoughts on the white board, and planned. Over the course of three days we drafted a set of expectations, a blueprint, and a timeline for a new USMS coach certification program. We envisioned five levels to the program, with a goal of teaching the first two levels at the 2010 ASCA World Clinic.

We made an important decision that we continue to abide by today: our certifications would only be taught in live, classroom environments. USMS was prepared to make significant time and financial commitments to a traveling coach education program, believing that not only would the coaches receiving the education benefit more, but also that we would realize value in networking with Masters Swimming coaches—we knew the information needed to flow both ways and the most beneficial method would be face-to-face.

Here We Go


At the 2010 ASCA World Clinic, we unveiled our Level 1 and Level 2 certifications, taught by USMS coaches Frank Marcinkowski, Lisa Dahl, Susan Ingraham, Scott Bay, and Mel Goldstein. Those of us involved in developing the curriculum were bleary-eyed from months of looking at it and we asked the class to make recommendations for improvements. The 30 or so coaches in attendance provided great feedback with an overarching theme that resonated loudly: Masters Swimming coaches crave education and resources that will help them become better coaches and more successful at running their programs.

What’s Next


Since 2010, under the direction of USMS Education Director Bill Brenner, we’ve offered more than 90 teaching weekends and nearly 2,000 coaches have completed the Level 1 program. We followed up with Level 3 in 2012, and the first round of Level 4 coaches has just been certified in 2014.

Back in 2009, we thought the primary audience would be coaches who were with established USMS programs—we thought we’d be preaching to the choir. But we found that participants have diverse interests and reasons for attending. We get current Masters coaches, Masters Swimmers who don’t want to coach but want to make their swimming experience and programs better, triathlon coaches, aquatics directors, people and corporations curious about USMS, people with an interest in starting USMS programs, USA Swimming coaches, and LMSC volunteers, to name just a few.

Our coach education programs are a commitment to the USMS vision to be the premier resource for adult aquatic fitness—they are living, breathing products that we update to ensure continued accuracy and relevance.

Based on demand created during our inaugural “April Is Adult Learn-to-Swim Month” campaign, we’ve been back in the conference room—although this time with healthier food—writing the curriculum for a USMS Adult Learn-to-Swim Instructor Certification Program. The ALTS instructor program will be a one-day, in-classroom learning experience with a required in-water test, in which attendees must pass the Red Cross five basic water competencies to achieve USMS ALTS instructor certification. The first two ALTS instructor teaching weekends are scheduled for January 3 in Indianapolis and January 17 in Great Barrington, Mass. ALTS Instructor Certification is being lead by Bill Brenner with additional teachings being scheduled for 2015.

We’ll continue to listen to participants who have attended our education programs. Their feedback is what leads us to develop future education products in support of the USMS vision of being the premiere resource for adult aquatic fitness and making swimming for fitness available for as many adults as possible.

Submit "How Did This Happen?" to Digg Submit "How Did This Happen?" to del.icio.us Submit "How Did This Happen?" to StumbleUpon Submit "How Did This Happen?" to Google

Updated November 3rd, 2014 at 10:09 PM by Rob Butcher

Categories
Staff Blogs

Comments