United States Masters Swimming (USMS) is a national, membership-operated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides membership benefits to over 63,000 members across the country. These benefits include insurance, SWIMMER magazine, sanctioned events and many others. USMS and its 52 Local Masters Swimming Committees (LMSCs) provide direct support to more than 1,500 smaller clubs and workout groups.
USMS has an executive director and small paid staff but is otherwise governed and run by volunteers, including the USMS president, board of directors, national committees, and LMSCs. USMS bylaws and rules are subject to the approval of the USMS membership via the House of Delegates at the annual USMS national convention.
When organized adult swimming started to become popular in the 1960s and 70s -- the early years of USMS -- the intent was for adults to stay in shape through swimming. Today about 25 percent of the USMS membership enters pool or open-water competitions. Most USMS members do not compete.
The New England LMSC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit subsidiary of USMS that serves as USMS's regional governing and administrative body, meaning it handles registration, sanctioning, officiating and other such matters in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The NE LMSC had approximately 2,600 USMS members as of December 31, 2013.
Masters swimming clubs and workout groups come in all shapes and sizes -- big, small, incorporated, not incorporated, for-profit, not-for-profit, associated with a facility or organization (gym, university, YMCA, etc.) or not. These clubs and workout groups are not owned or operated by USMS, but many register with USMS, offer USMS programs and utilize USMS policies and procedures.
The structure and organization of USMS programs vary and are driven by factors such as pool availability, instructor or coach availability, community support, finances and insurance considerations. Many locations offering USMS programs have on-deck coaches who write workouts and provide feedback and instruction.
Club affiliations are encouraged but not required. USMS members who choose not to affiliate with a club are considered "unattached" and assigned a club designation consisting of the letters "UC" followed by their LMSC number (the first two digits of their USMS #). For example, unattached USMS members in the New England LMSC have a club designation of UC02. The purpose of this designation is to keep USMS in compliance with FINA (international governing body) rules concerning FINA top ten and world records. Unattached (UC) swimmers are ineligible to score points for a team or participate in relays at sanctioned meets. A swimmer who wants to score team points or swim in relays must be formally affiliated with a USMS-registered club as indicated on that member's USMS card.
New England Masters Swim Club (NEM) is the largest USMS club in the country, with just under 1,900 members as of December 31, 2013. While many clubs across the country and throughout New England have unofficial subgroups, NEM is currently the only regional club in the NE LMSC's jurisdiction; NEM allows its constituent members and masters programs to formally register "workout groups" with USMS, which enables them to be recognized as local teams within the NE LMSC and receive certain USMS Program Resources.
NEM workout groups are structured various ways. Some have very few members, others are as large or larger than most clubs but remain as workout groups because of NEM's infrastructure, member services (newsletter, website, etc.) and team identity or because being an NEM workout group allows swimmers to compete as part of NEM's club team at national and international meets and in other events such as the Speedo USMS 1-Hour ePostal National Championship.
Some workout groups are associated with one pool, program, organization or geographic area; others, such as SwimRI (SWMR) and Granite State Penguins (GSP), encompass multiple facilities/programs but maintain a unified identity through group websites, combined weekend workouts, social events, and by competing together as a team at NE LMSC championship meets or local unsanctioned meets and open-water events.
Some workout groups -- e.g., Cambridge Masters Swim Club (CMSC) -- have "Club" in their names. In these cases "club" is being used in its generic sense and does not mean that team is registered with USMS as a club.
Club & Workout Group Affiliations
When a member of a USMS-registered club competes at a sanctioned national or international meet -- where workout groups are not recognized -- he must represent the club team with which he is affiliated on his current USMS card (e.g., NEM). Unattached (UCxx) swimmers register official times but are ineligible to score team points or participate in relays.
When a swimmer submits an application to transfer from one club to another, the transfer cannot take effect until 60 days have elapsed since the swimmer last represented the former club in competition -- the only exception is when the transfer takes place at the time of annual registration.
A swimmer may declare unattached status at any time without written application. However, a swimmer intending to compete in an event after declaring unattached status must notify the LMSC registrar of the declaration of unattached status prior to the event. The registrar shall change the club affiliation of the swimmer to UCxx and note the effective date.
Once a swimmer has swum in the first event at a meet the swimmer's club affiliation cannot change for the remainder of the meet.
At the NE LMSC Short Course Meters Championships at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in December and the NE LMSC Short Course Yards Championships at Harvard University in March, registered NEM workout groups compete in the team-points competition as separate workout-group teams rather than as one parent-club team. Any swimmer who competes as a member of an NEM workout-group team in a sanctioned meet must be affiliated with that workout group on his USMS membership card.
NEM members who are from different workout groups or not affiliated with a workout group (NEM-Unattached) may form an NEM relay team, the time for which will be considered official for USMS purposes. However, any points scored by that relay team will be attributed to the NEM parent team's point total, not toward a workout group's point total. In order for a relay team's points to count toward a workout group's team total, all members of the relay team must be affiliated with the same NEM workout group.
INDIVIDUAL, CLUB & WORKOUT GROUP REGISTRATION
For information on how to join USMS, register a club or workout group, print your membership card or other registration-related issues, see the USMS Membership page, the NE LMSC Registration page, or contact the New England LMSC registrar at NEregistrar@usms.org.