Contributed by Douglas Sayles, NE-LMSC Chair
This fall I had the honor of presiding over the NELMSC Annual Meeting in Waltham, MA. I’ve touched upon some highlights below. Full minutes will be posted on the NELMSC website.
Meeting attendees included 13 of the 15 NELMSC officers, three club reps to the board, our SCM and SCY championship meet directors, and other NELMSC members interested in governance issues. On October 16th, the NELMSC had $48,660 in total assets, over 2,500 USMS members, 23 USMS-registered clubs, 54 USMS-registered New England Masters Swim Club workouts groups and two registered Lifetime Swim New England workout groups.
During 2016, there were 16 SCY, 5 SCM and 2 LCM meets in the NELMSC. Our short-course championships continue to be two of the largest Masters meets in the country, attracting hundreds of swimmers each year. If you have not already done so, mark your calendars and book your hotel rooms for our NELMSC SCY Championships at Harvard on March 11 (distance day) and 17-19, 2017.
Despite our championship meets’ popularity and the many other meets held across New England each year, most of our mini meets are quite small (10 to 70 swimmers) and our aggregate meet attendance is slowly decreasing. Collectively we can easily reverse this trend by rallying our swim mates and entering one or two mini meets this season. These events need our support if we want them to continue.
In both USMS sanctioned meets and recognized meets, times swum by USMS members are usually official for USMS purposes. The main differences are that sanctioning provides insurance liability coverage for the swimmers, volunteers and event host and requires all of the swimmers to be USMS members.
During 2015 there were 10 sanctioned and 20 recognized meets in the NELMSC, accounting for 25 percent of all recognized meets nationwide, substantially more recognized meets than in any other LMSC and proportionally far fewer sanctioned meets than most large LMSCs.
At the USMS convention this past September, the House of Delegates voted to impose a new $100 fee on each recognized meet in 2017. This fee will be charged to the local LMSC. The primary rationale was that recognized meets were benefiting from USMS and LMSC meet promotion, creating more work for volunteer Top Ten recorders and otherwise receiving USMS benefits for free.
Consequently, at the NELMSC meeting we adjusted our subsidies and policies to incentivize sanctioning over recognition. At the same time, we want to avoid alienating meet directors who prefer recognition because if they walk away from USMS altogether USMS members’ times from those meets will not be recorded in the USMS database.
A meet host can now apply to the NELMSC for a sanction at no cost (we fully subsidize the $50 USMS fee) or else pay $50 for meet recognition (we partially subsidize the USMS $100 fee). We now also allow sanctioned meet hosts the option to offer non-USMS members a $15 one-event USMS membership, which can be applied toward a full USMS membership within 30 days of the meet. We had previously only allowed one-event memberships for open water events.
During our meeting we also reviewed several successful NELMSC-subsidized coaching initiatives from the past year, including swimmer clinics, coaching clinics and certification courses, Adult Learn to Swim instructor certification, and National Coaches Clinic scholarships. We have budgeted for similar initiatives in 2017. On a similar note, at convention we learned that USMS officials training will soon include an online certification option.
During the NELMSC meeting, we formally voted Alana Aubin onto the board as the new NELMSC communications chair. She took over this position several months ago from Christina Dwiggins, who I want to publicly thank for her contributions and able stewardship of the monthly NELMSC e-newsletter. This is a natural transition for Alana, who deserves credit for recent website improvements and for launching the NELMSC Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. In September, she and NELMSC Registrar Tim Lecrone also ran a very well-received social media workshop at the USMS convention.
Other topics covered during our meeting included bestowal of the NELMSC Coach and Contributor of the Year Awards (congrats to WAM’s Alford Green), the forthcoming introduction of a new NELMSC awards process, ideas for raising awareness and Masters Swimming opportunities for para athletes, promoting open water swimming, and other steps the NELMSC can potentially take to increase USMS member value in New England and at the national level.
In an effort to offset the $2 increase in 2017 USMS membership dues and reduce our NELMSC cash balance, we voted to reduce the NELMSC annual membership fee from $7 to $5 and approved a deficit budget for 2017. If we incur all $32,400 in budgeted expenses (which is unlikely) and realize $13,000 in forecast revenue, our cash balance will decrease by $19,400 in 2017 while still leaving a healthy reserve.
At the national level in September, the USMS board of directors and new CEO Dawson Hughes presented an updated strategic plan and infographic. Key 2017 initiatives included the aforementioned recognition fee to promote meet sanctions, allocating resources toward developing a new fitness swimmer program, upgrading the USMS website including enhancing Places to Swim and developing an open-water event results database, supporting college clubs to attract younger Masters swimmers after graduation, ongoing training of USMS coaches and Adult Learn to Swim instructors, and expanding swimmer clinics nationwide.
On behalf of the NELMSC board of directors, thank you to all of the swimmers, coaches, officials, organizers and volunteers who contribute to the vibrant Masters Swimming community that enriches all of our lives.
And if you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to renew your USMS membership before December 31st to receive special merchandise discounts from Speedo, TYR, FINIS, SwimOutlet and other USMS partners.
Happy Holidays and New Year!
Chair, New England LMSC