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SWIMMER Editorials

  1. Milestones (November-December 2014)

    by , November 1st, 2014 at 12:00 AM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    To say that 2014 has been a banner year for U.S. Masters Swimming is a bit of an understatement.

    Our Swimming Saves Lives Foundation launched the inaugural April Is Adult Learn-to-Swim Month campaign, gaining national attention from articles in USA Today and the New York Times, coverage by TV news stations, and radio interviews broadcast in hundreds of markets. Although were beyond excited about the publicity, what truly motivates us is the impact that learning to swim has had upon thousands of adults across the country.

    Take Richmond, an ethnically diverse community in Northern California that sits on more than 30 miles of waterfront. Coach Benicia Rivera of the Richmond Plunge Masters used SSLF grant money to fund an adult learn-to-swim program. She documented its progress, interviewing her new swimmers about what learning to swim has meant to themhow its affected their lives on a day-to-day basis. Although she sent us the video as a thank-you for the grant, were deeply grateful for her dedication, as well as the accomplishments of all the coaches and instructors who are enabling significant, positive change in the lives of many.

    Our coach certification programs continue to help coaches develop their skills and inspire their swimmers. Certification is also helping aquatics directors and instructors create new Masters Swimming programs in their facilities. By the end of 2014, well have certified more than 680 new coaches this year alone. In addition, the Coaches Committee certified the first 10 Level 4 coaches this yeara significant accomplishment for the experienced coaches who met the stringent requirements for advanced certification.

    New educational opportunities are coming in 2015. Adult learn-to-swim instructor certification will provide education for anyone who wants to teach adults the fundamentals of swimming.

    And in 2014, we crossed the 60,000 mark in membership for the first time. More than 16,000 of you are first-time USMS members this year. Welcome to what the SwimToday campaign has dubbed the #FunnestSport! USMS is proud to be part of this inaugural campaign, which is headed up by USA Swimming and leading industry sponsors and organizations.

    All of these milestones are important, and the best way we can think of to celebrate them is to continue to share the stories about the swimmers and coaches behind the milestones.

    Well also continue to bring you technique articles, relevant health and nutrition information, product reviews, training advice from competitive and experienced swimmers and coaches, and much more in SWIMMER. Back issues can be read online and on mobile devices via your MyUSMS account at usms.org/myusms. Our STREAMLINES eNewsletters are archived at usms.org/admin/nycu, and you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. And newly organized this year, three staff blogs, including these editorials, can be found in the blogs section of the USMS Discussion Forums at usms.org. Our executive director shares behind-the-scenes information about USMS, and the education directors blog is a treasure trove for coaches and club administrators.

    So whether youve registered for your 20th year or are new to USMS, were honored to have shared this exciting year with you and we cant wait to see what 2015 brings.

    Updated September 21st, 2015 at 08:36 AM by Editor

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  2. National Volunteer Week (May-June 2014)

    by , May 1st, 2014 at 12:00 AM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    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 changediscovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to make a difference.

    Theres 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. Were grateful for the people in every club and workout group who make things happen on a daily basis for their fellow swimmers. And it workswe have the letters and emails to prove it.

    But it doesnt 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 someones 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 eventsbe 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 doesnt stop thererunning 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 levelyoure needed there. And if youd 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

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  3. April Is Adult Learn-To-Swim Month (March-April 2014)

    by , March 1st, 2014 at 12:00 AM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    My mother claimed that I learned to swim before I could walk. I was the first one in and the last one out of the pool in our backyard and the surf at Stinson Beach. I cant ever remember not feeling completely comfortable and safe in my watery playground. Like many kids, I dreamed of being a mermaid or a dolphin, and I vowed to be the first gill transplant patient so I would never have to return to the surface and the big scary world of humans.

    My story isnt unique; many of our nearly 60,000 members learned to swim as young children: lessons at the Y, summers at the lake, surfing, swim team, or just a lifelong love of playing in the water and parents or geography that made it possible.

    If you had the good fortune to enjoy opportunities to become safe, comfortable, and skilled in the water, you might never have considered what it would be like to learn right now, at your present age. Or what it would be like to know that if you fell in, you could become one of the 10 people who drown every day in the United States.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control, 37 percent of American adults cant swim the length of a 25-yard pool. And of the 10 people who drown every day, eight of them are adults or young adults.

    The Swimming Saves Lives Foundation, USMSs charitable arm, wants to change these numbers. The foundation has declared the month of April Adult Learn-to- Swim Month, and has launched a nationwide campaign to promote the lifesaving benefits of swimming for adults. The governors of Indiana, Nebraska, and Washington have signed proclamations in support, and were working on getting more states onboard. You can learn more at usms.org/learntoswim.

    Since 2012, the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation has provided more than $70,000 to programs that offer adult learn-to-swim lessons in their communities. Bill Meier, coach of the Simons Rock Pacemakers workout group of New England Masters, was teaching adults to swim even before his program became a Swimming Saves Lives partner. One of his favorite students is Chris Pompi of Adams, Mass.

    Pompi, a father of three, was 38 years old when he went to Meier for swim lessons. When I had kids, I realized that I needed to be able to swim in case anything ever happened to them in the water. And, I didnt want to be a hypocritemaking them take lessons but not knowing how to swim myself. Yet he kept his lessons a secret from his family until he was competent in the water.

    I just never learned as a kid, Pompi says. He remembers hanging out at the Jersey Shore as a young adult, but not joining his friends in the water. I stayed on the beach, soaking up the sun, and when we went out on a boat, I wore a lifejacket. All my friends and family could dive off the boat and have fun. I just watched in envy.

    Now Pompi, a civil engineer, enjoys swimming with his three children and is grateful for all Meier has done for his family. I think the world of him, and so do my kids.

    The Swimming Saves Lives Foundation exists because of the generous donations from our members. Theres an opportunity to donate when you renew your USMS membership, or at anytime by visiting usms.org/giving. If youre able to give, you can be part of the team thats trying to change the truly big and scary numbers of adults drowning.

    Updated July 1st, 2014 at 10:37 AM by Editor

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  4. Fear of Water (September-October 2011)

    by , September 1st, 2011 at 12:00 AM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    For the many experienced or lifelong swimmers in U.S. Masters Swimming, it can seem inconceivable that there are people who are terrified of getting into a swimming pool. What many of us take for granteda safe, welcoming water world where one only has to pop up for air whenever the need arisesspells terror for some.

    Plenty of pool swimmers are afraid to swim in open water, but thats a little different. Being afraid of sharks can even seem logical (especially if you tuned in to Shark Week recently). Some swimmers just prefer clear water, where there is no question about what the bottom looks like or what icky things may be floating around or underfoot. These swimmers still have the ability to enjoy the water and keep themselves safe. Most properly educated swimmers have a healthy respect for the water, not a debilitating fear.

    Nonswimmers with a deeply embedded fear of water have little or no chance of survival if they find themselves in the drink. Their panic will kill them, and possibly any would-be rescuers. They know this, so they avoid water, using tactics that are so subtle, they are often well into their adult lives before anyone notices that they have never been swimming. But they know the truth, and many of them carry guilt, shame and feelings of inadequacy.

    Some of these people recognize the danger and their missed opportunities, so they ensure that their children learn to swim early and dont suffer the same fate. Others pass their fears onto their children, creating another generation of risk and lost opportunities. In Swimming Life, we meet some USMS members who are making a difference in the lives of people who cant swim. Melon Dash has spent her entire career teaching fearful adults how to swim. Taking up where traditional swimming lessons have failed, she specializes in the most terrified students. She runs her nonprofit with the goal of ending preventable drowning. Dash has touched more than 4,000 lives, giving these people the chance to enjoy and be safe in water.

    Dash is not the only Masters swimmer who feels this way. In fall 2010, Coach Diane Bartlett and her team, Grand Strand Masters Swimming, focused their efforts in their community. Recognizing a need, they banded together for a week to offer free swim lessons to children and adults in their underserved South Carolina town. With a little help from a USMS Swimming Saves Lives Foundation grant, 26 adults and 94 children are well on their way to becoming competent swimmers.

    Updated July 1st, 2014 at 10:51 AM by Editor

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