USMS Convention 101: A Workout is More Than a Daily Swim

There are many elements that make workouts and competitions possible.   Having now been to my first United States Masters Convention, I can attest that our Team is one of many very well-oiled gears in the United States Aquatic Sports (USAS) machine.   The United States Masters Swimming (USMS) is one of five branches in USAS that convene annually.  The other four being:  USA Swimming (age group); USA Synchronized Swimming, USA Diving, and USA Water Polo.  USAS is allowed one representative on FINA, the international governing body of swimming.  (The USAS rep is Pacific Masters’ very own Nancy Ridout.)

USMS maintains a paid staff under the leadership of executive director, Rob Butcher.  Other paid staff in the National Office includes, editor of Swimmer magazine, two IT personnel, two administrators, accountant and comptroller.  A rather small executive staff considering USMS maintains a membership of over 50,000.

The USMS governing branch is comprised of volunteers that bring professional expertise to serve the organization.   The newly elected president, Nadine Day, will serve a two year term.  Those who serve on standing committees represent swimmers from all over the country.   The wide range of committees usually have available seats to fill.  Committees include:  rules, legislative, officials, sports medicine, fitness education, championship, LMSC development, long distance/open water, recognition/awards.

The USMS meets annually to review and amend pertinent legislation for governance and rules for competition, alternating each focus on two year cycles.  This year was a legislative year.  Among some of the changes that have been made is the USMS mission statement.  It was revised this year to recognize the majority of swimmers that are non-competitive and is now:  To promote health, wellness, fitness and competition for adults through swimming.   Underscoring the importance of the role swimming has in health and fitness, a study from Indiana University presented at the meeting confirms what we as swimmers already know:  Swimming maintains muscle mass along with and cardiovascular and pulmonary function.   The study further proves swimming deters illness and slows the aging process by an average 15 years.  Further, gains of swimming are lost when swimming ceases.  

A strategic plan was also completed and presented.  Workshops were provided.  And, all but one committee meeting was open for delegates to attend and participate.  The following is a smattering of information gained from the convention.

  • Among USMS members services are the publication, Swimmer, and the USMS website.  Swimmer, which each swimmer member receives, is self-published by USMS, saving nearly $100,000.  It is produced by professionals in journalism, receiving input from the sports medicine and coaching committees.   Articles written on nutrition and fitness exact the same journalistic standards as those that are found in the Washington Post, since the fitness and nutrition contributor in fact writes for both publications.


  • The USMS website is hot!  Finding a local swim club by region is probably the most commonly used feature.  The website also provides event calendars, event results, blogs, forums, online workouts stories about swimmers.  Members can create their own account on the website to maintain a fitness log (FLOG).  If you have a problem navigating the website or using the tools, you will get guided IT help from the National Office, and you will probably see a tutorial within 10 minutes of your request.  The website will be undergoing a format update in the near future.


  • USMS is in the third phase of launching a philanthropic project called “Swimming Saves Lives.”  This is a learn to swim program that parallels the USA Swimming program “Make A Splash”  to reduce drowning in communities.


  • There are 52 subordinate branches of USMS called Local Masters Swim Committees (LMSC).  At this time, LMSCs are the empowering body to sanction events and coordinate competitions among local clubs.  The House of Delegates voted to have the LMSC remain the body to allow one event registrations  to participants.  Not all LMSCs are set up or operate alike.   The National Office is informing and supporting LMSC’s of their compliance with optimal business practices for non-profit organizations.  Pacific Masters, which presides over WCM, is the largest LMSC in USMS with roughy 10,000 members.  Please learn more about Pacific Masters at the Annual Meeting , November 13 at Shadelands Community Center.

USMS operates with great leadership and clear direction that come from swimmer-volunteers dedicating countless hours for the organization.  There are opportunities to participate with the ongoing work of making swim workouts possible at the local and national levels. 

In summary, the convention was an educational experience for this first-time delegate.  The venue for the convention was comfortable.  The schedule allowed for breaks to gather with others over lunch and dinner.  The hosted receptions and recognition ceremonies were elegant.   The people were hard-working, fun, and above all, genuine.    It is wonderful to be among swimmers.

I hope following speaks to all of you.  It is a new USMS promotional video.  Please share.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=be4BeIzqP7Q

Submitted by Mary Williams