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Swimming for a Cause - Speedo Diplomacy

Contributed by Crystie McGrail, NE-LMSC Coaches Chair

I had the pleasure of attending the 2016 USMS National Coaches Clinic in San Francisco in November. One of the first presenters was Open Water Swimming legend Steve Munatones. Steve presented about the very interesting past, present, and future of open water swimming and one specific topic drew me in: “Speedo Diplomacy.”

What is Speedo Diplomacy?

“Speedo diplomacy is a politically-sensitive swim or actions based on an unprecedented open water swim that results in positive action by governments or leaders around the world, especially those with fundamentally different perspectives and viewpoints.” (http://openwaterpedia.com)

A Historical Example

Lynne Cox swims across the Bering Strait in 1987 (from her website)

One Speedo Diplomacy swim you might be familiar with is when Lynne Cox tackled a pioneering cold water swim in 1987 across the Bering Strait. Her goal was to open US-Soviet border for the first time in 48 years by swimming from Alaska to the Soviet Union. Lynne succeeded by completing the 2.7 mile swim in just over 2 hours, though 37 degree water. Read more from BBC 

Current Feats

A map of Pugh's five swims for Antarctica (from his website)

A map of Pugh's five swims for Antarctica (from his website)

More recently, in October 2016, Lewis Pugh successfully pushed through the creation of the largest Marine Protection Area in history, located in the Ross Sea of Antarctica. He accomplished this through 5 unprecedented solo swims and tireless lobbying. In addition to setting a new precedent for conservation, this is remarkable because, in his own words, “Russia, the US, the EU and the 22 other CCAMLR nations shook hands in a time of strained political relations”.

The Longest Swim

Ben Lecomte plans to swim across the Pacific Ocean next year (photo from NPR)

Another epic event is coming in spring 2017 when Ben Lecomte tackles swimming from Tokyo to San Francisco, a whopping 5,500 miles! This expedition is expected to take 6 months while swimming 8 hours each day and includes traversing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Along the way, Ben and the crew will be collecting oceanic and medical research data in 8 different fields through the support of 12 scientific institutions including Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and NASA. “From plastic pollution to space exploration, this adventure will be a unique opportunity to collect data and learn more about the oceans and human body in extreme conditions.”  

There are many more examples - including local examples - of swimming to encourage positive actions for the environment and human health.  Maybe you even have an idea of your own swimming feat to promote the conservation of this one wild and wonderful world in which we live! 

Don't Forget to Thank Your Officials!

Contributed by Sue Jensen, NE-LMSC Officials Chair

Thank you WPI meet officials !

A huge shoutout and thank you to our amazing team of meet officials at this past weekend’s NE-LMSC & Colonies Zone SCM Championship at WPI: Priscilla Davis, Bob Fredette, Kevin Curley, Sue Hoey and Jack Kurkel. They were the ones with the white shirts, the whistles, the clipboards, and even the cowbells. Together with meet director Alford Green and their combined decades of experience running swim meets, they kept our meet running smoothly, fairly, and efficiently, and in an incredibly professional way too.  

On behalf of the entire NE-LMSC and Colonies Zone, an enormous thank you Priscilla, Bob, Kevin, Sue and Jack. We are grateful for the 25+ hours you spent on deck during this 3-day meet, and for your enthusiastic support of masters swimming. We couldn’t run our meets without you.

Douglas Sayles and Alford Green Recognized as NE-LMSC Contributor and Coach of the Year

Contributed by Tara Mack, NE-LMSC Awards and Recognition Chair

WALTHAM, MA - Douglas Sayles and Alford Green were recognized for their exceptional contributions to the New England LMSC at this year's LMSC Annual Meeting, held on October 16. Sayles was honored as the NE-LMSC Contributor of the Year, and Green was celebrated as the NE-LMSC Coach of the Year.

Sayles currently serves as the chair of the New England LMSC. He was elected in 2015 after previously serving as the vice chair, registrar, and interim open water chair. Doug is actively engaged at the local, regional and national levels. He is an organizer and coach of the 175-member SwimRI team, helps coordinate and promote events, attends the annual USMS Convention and biennial USMS Leadership Workshop, and regularly communicates with the USMS national office regarding various governance and administrative issues.

Green was the founding coach of Worcester Area Masters (WAM) in May 2011. Since that time he has welcomed swimmers of all levels to the pool, working tirelessly to building a thriving team and closeknit community that has reached 75 members. Additionally, Alford took over as meet director for the December NE-LMSC and Colonies Zone SCM Championships last year, hosting the event at Worcester Polytechnic Institute for the first time. This year's meet will be December 9-11, again at WPI, in Worcester, MA.

Inspired to tap into our New England pioneering spirit, the awards were custom designed and made to honor the recipients in a unique and original way while also showcasing and celebrating the appreciation from the recipients' teammates. More about the artist, TylerAnn Mack, can be found at the end of this article.

Below are some kind words from NE-LMSC members regarding this year's very deserving award winners. Thank you, Doug and Alford, for your dedication and service to USMS and its members in the New England LMSC. We are honored to have you and to recognize you!


Contributor of the Year - Douglas Sayles

Tara Mack, Awards and Recognitions Chair, presents the Contributor of the Year Award to Douglas Sayles

"Douglas has significantly impacted swimming in RI by organizing and promoting swim events in the greater Providence, South County, and Newport County areas and consistently communicating and recruiting. His efforts are not limited to pool swims, but open water events as well. Plus, his hair is always perfect." - George Alexandre
"Organizes and recruits new members for Newport Athletic Club and SwimRI. Serves as Chair of the LMSC and participates at the national level. Heck of a nice guy!" - Trent Theroux

Coach of the Year - Alford Green

Tara Mack, Awards and Recognitions Chair, presents the Coach of the Year Award to Alford Green

"Through Alford’s leadership as coach, WAM has seen continuous growth in the past five years and has attracted a broad range of masters swimmer profiles: from serious triathletes, to recent college graduates, to recreational swimmers, and to those joining a swim team for the very first time – Alford has made WAM accessible to every swimmer and every set of goals. The inclusive culture Alford promotes resonates amongst all members, creating more than just a workout group but a community we affectionately refer to as our "WAM-ily" (or WAM Family)."  - Courtney Beidler
"It had been many years since I'd swum competitively when I joined the team. Alford has shown me as much time and attention, sometimes more, as many of the better swimmers. He is patient and kind and has a great teaching style. I can't believe how much I've improved in the short time I've been on the team, and I attribute that to Alford's coaching. A number of other swimmers, several who have never been on a team before or even completed more than a lap or two, have joined the team this year and made great strides, too. I was a little wary of getting back into the pool, but Alford's patient style has made practicing with the group easy." - Nancy Olesin

About the Artist - TylerAnn Mack

TylerAnn Mack has been painting for over 6 years and has been working with other mediums for over 16 years.  A New Hampshire native and former swimmer herself, she channeled the flow of water and the freedom of being in water while creating these one of a kind works of art.  A graduate of the New Hampshire Institute of Art, TylerAnn currently lives in Massachusetts on the Cape where she will be able to find inspiration from her proximity to "our" beloved water.

Her artwork can be viewed and purchased by visiting:  www.tylerannmackart.com