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Sunday, February 17, 2013

U.S. Masters Swimming Steps Up In The Open Water

United States Masters Swimming's Nadine Day was faced with a dilemma early in her tenure as the organization's president. The cost to continue providing insurance coverage of open water swims had skyrocketed. It was a potentially devastating to the open water swimming community.

Day and her USMS colleagues - both staff employees and volunteer committee chairpersons - came up with a supportive solution that works in both the short-term and long-term.

USMS faced a significant increase in the governing body’s premium for comprehensive general liability insurance. "The increased insurance premium was primarily related to and impacted open water events. The insurance premium includes a charge of $135,000 that covers 75 sanctioned open water events per year ($1,800 per event)," explained Day. Furthermore, any additional open water events sanctioned by USMS, with its 58,000 members, will incur an additional premium of $1,800 per event.

In addition to the inflated costs, the new insurance policy requires certain conditions to be implemented by race directors in order to conduct a sanctioned USMS open water event. The insurance underwriter requires that all open water sanction submissions must be registered through the USMS online system, and a further second-level review to ensure that each race complies with the new sanction requirements.

As the requirements for a USMS open water swimming event sanction are more comprehensive, more costly and more difficult to meet than before, there are consequences to non-compliance.  The United States Masters Swimming president (Day) and executive director (Rob Butcher) have the authority to revoke an open water sanction for failure to comply with any safety or administrative procedure. USMS is in the process of hiring new Open Water Compliance Coordinators to confirm that the sanctioned adhere to the new safety requirements (see below).

Day explains the additional costs, "The purpose of the surcharge is to cover part of the $1,800 per event premium under the new insurance policy. The Board of Directors decided that USMS will fund $800 of the per-event premium. An open water insurance surcharge of $1,000 will be charged to Local Masters Swimming Committees (LMSC) for each open water sanction that the LMSC issues. Each LMSC will be billed by USMS monthly for any open water events sanctioned by the LMSC. The LMSC can determine how much of the insurance surcharge it will charge to the event host."

This decision is a major financial support by the governing body for the sport of open water swimming.  Not only will the national office essentially pay for $800 per event, but each LMSC has the option to cover the remaining $1,000 insurance premium cost to the race directors. 

This kind of support is not available to the pool swimming community and is a potentially massive financial boon to race directors of open water events.  Imagine 75 sanctioned open water events are fully supported by the national office and each LMSC.  That support is essentially a $135,000 financial package meant to underwrite the costs of sanctioned open water swimming events from coast to coast.  When the six USMS Open Water Swimming National Championships are included (as part of the USMS national open water program), the total package can potentially be worth up to $145,800.

But there are exceptions to the open water insurance surcharge.  Solo swims such as crossings of the Catalina Channel, previously considered to be individual USMS-sanctioned events, are now required to pay the full $1,800 insurance surcharge, without any USMS contribution. Although USMS will cover the surcharge of its Open Water National Championships, if an Open Water National Championship also hosts additional open water swims in conjunction with the National Championship event, the surcharge will not be waived.

But the national office went even further to support the discipline of open water swimming. "The Board of Directors supported the concept of an open water grant relief program for LMSCs. The criteria for the grant program and an over-budget request to fund it will be prepared by members of the Open Water Committee and submitted to the Finance Committee."

As the next steps, each LMSC is responsible to follow the new Open Water Sanctions Guidelines and will determine which open water events it will sanction for 2013 and the amount of the insurance surcharge, if any, it will charge to open water event hosts. This responsibility will potentially present difficult decisions for each LMSC:

* Do they underwrite open water events at all? 
* In the case where there is more than one open water swim, are all of the events underwritten, either in whole or in part? 
* Are the events financially supported equally or on some sort of pro-rata basis?  That is, are the larger events supported to a greater extent than the smaller events?  Are older events supported at the expense of events that were more recently established? 
* Are charity swims supported to a greater extent than non-charity events?  How are charity events defined?  Are events that support environmental or ecological entities, medical or research themes judged to be more important than events that raise money for non-profit swim teams?

When USMS was faced with increased insurance premiums, it stepped up to the plate and hit a home run. Its leadership and those in its related committees researched the market and acted quickly to shape a well-reasoned and balanced response.  The national office reached out to race directors from New York to California in order to grasp the current situation from the perspective of event organizers.  “I know this was a very difficult process for all involved and especially for those who are very invested in the open water aspects of our sport,” summarized Day who had won 4 consecutive Waikiki Roughwater Swims in Hawaii as a teenager. “I am encouraged by the spirit of cooperation and determination that so many of our volunteer leaders displayed.”

The United States Masters Swimming open water swimming guidelines are posted here. The key new regulations include the following:

1. Each motorized boat operator that is in support of the event or a participant in the event must provide to the USMS National Office a certificate of insurance for $1,000,000 per occurrence and $2,000,000 aggregate naming USMS, LMSC, event host, volunteers, and sponsors. The Certificate of Insurance is required 24 hours prior to the event.
2. Each volunteer boat operator that is in support of the event or a participant in the event must provide to the USMS National office proof of insurance. The proof of insurance is required 24 hours prior to the event.
3. All propeller driven motorized boats, regardless of hired or volunteer, that are supporting the event must have a propeller guard or prop guard. The Event Director must inspect all watercraft prior to the event.

Photo shows the finish of the Midmar Mile, the greatest gathering of masters swimmers in the world.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference

Learn more...
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE

The Global Open Water Swimming Conference is a conference on the sport of open water swimming, marathon swimming and swimming during triathlons and multi-sport endurance events.

The conference which has been attended by enthusiasts and luminaries from 6 continents, is devoted to providing information about the latest trends, race tactics, training techniques, equipment, psychological preparation, race organization and safety practices used in the sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons.

The conference's mission is to provide opportunities to listen and meet many of the world's most foremost experts in open water swimming, and to meet and discuss the sport among swimmers, coaches, administrators, event organizers, sponsors, vendors, officials, escort pilots, and volunteers from kayakers to safety personnel.

Dozens of presentations at the 2014 Conference at the Mount Stuart House cover numerous aspects of the vast and growing world of open water swimming where attendees can learn and share the latest trends, race tactics, training modalities, swimming techniques, equipment, race organization, logistics, operations, and safety practices for open water swimming as a solo swimmer, competitive athlete, fitness swimmer, masters swimmer, triathlete, multi-sport athlete, administrator, race promoter, sponsor or referee.

The conference was first held in Long Beach, California as part of the 2010 USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships. It has since been held on the Queen Mary in California, at Columbia University and the United Nations in New York City, and in Cork, Ireland. This year in September, it comes to another iconic location, the Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

"The Global Open Water Swimming Conference was started due to the desire and need for athletes, coaches, referees, administrators, race directors, promoters and sponsors from around the world to share, collect and learn information about the growing sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons," said founder Steven Munatones. "Other swimming conferences usually offering nothing on open water swimming or perhaps a speech or two, but we thought open water swimming deserves its own global conference. It is great that the community shares its information via the online social network, but there is nothing like meeting other open water swimming enthusiasts face-to-face and talking about the sport from morning to night."

Speakers at the conference include English Channel swimmers, ice swimmers, record holders, renowned coaches, world champions, professional marathon swimmers, renowned race directors, officials and administrators from the Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

"Because the audience is passionate and educated about the sport and its finest practitioners, the Global Open Water Swimming Conference is also the location of the induction ceremonies for the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the annual WOWSA Awards that recognize the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year. Special Lifetime Achievement Awards are also occasionally presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport over their career."

The 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Programme

Wednesday, September 17th
Leave Glasgow to commence 2-day tour of Scotland [closest international airport is Glasgow]

Thursday, September 18th
Stay Mainland, North of Scotland

Friday, September 19th
14:00 - Swim Loch Lomond
17:00 - Head to Isle of Bute
19:30 - Scottish Banquet
21:30 - Dinner Dance

Saturday, September 20th
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
12:20 - Lunch and WOWSA Awards
13:40 – Speeches
15:40 - Round Table
19:00 - International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony

Sunday, September 21st
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
14:30 - Swim in St Ninian's Bay on the Isle of Bute

The luminaries of the open water swimming world who will be honored in Scotland will include:

* Sandra Bucha (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Jon Erikson (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Claudio Plit (Argentina), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Judith van Berkel-de Njis (Netherlands), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* David Yudovin (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Mercedes Gleitze (Great Britain), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* George Young (Canada), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Dale Petranech (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Contributor
* Melissa Cunningham (Australia), 2013 Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award winner
* Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* James Anderson (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Dr. Jane Katz (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Indonesian Swimming Federation, , International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Organisation
* Elizabeth Fry (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year
* Olga Kozydub (Russia), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year
* Bering Strait Swim (international team), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year
* International Ice Swimming Association (Ram Barkai, founder, South Africa), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year

For additional articles on the 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference, visit:

* Olga Kozydub To Be Honored In Scotland
* Pádraig Mallon To Be Honored In Mount Stuart Castle
* Mount Stuart House, Splendid Setting For Swimming
* Colleen Blair To Kick-off Global Open Water Swimming Conference
* The Man Who Swims Better Than He Walks
* Joining In The Sea Goddess At The Hall Of Fame
* Mercedes Gleitze To Be Honored In Scotland
* The Incredible Career Of Merceded Gleitze
* Jon Erikson To Be Honoured In Florida
* The Incredible Career Of Mercedes Gleitze
* St Ninian's Bay To Host International Swim Conference

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac



An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

An almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.

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