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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Melodee Nugent, The Swimming Statistician

Melodee Nugent is a mild-mannered statistician by day and a renowned marathon swimmer by early morning.

Nugent works in the Department of Pediatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and gets up every morning at 2:45 am to get in her swimming.

She has completed dozens and dozens of open water swims from a 1-mile Lake Amy Belle Swim – her first open water swim in 1996 - to her longer swims that included the 36-mile (58 km) Extreme North Dakota Watersports Endurance Test in the Red River in North Dakota, USA (12 hours 27 minutes) and the 30 km Three Rivers Marathon Swim in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 9 hours 15 minutes.

In addition to her work at the Children's Research Institute and own solo swims, Nugent has volunteered as the United States Masters Swimming Wisconsin Fitness Chair/Coordinator where she has promoted participation in fitness and masters swimming postal events, has coordinated local area fitness activities, promoted the United States Masters Swimming Go the Distance event, hosted Wisconsin Water Warriors event. In 2013, she joined a relay team from Evanston Illinois to swim from Chicago, Illinois to Michiana, Michigan where they raised over US$60,000 to benefit cancer research with Swim Across America.

With her statistical experience, Nugent helps race directors around the world by creating surveys and analyzing results about their event. Over 15 swim surveys have been designed and completed on behalf of the S.C.A.R. Challenge in Arizona, Big Shoulders in Chicago, the Alligator Lighthouse Swim in Florida, the United States Winter Swim Championship in Vermont, the Flowers Sea Swim on Grand Cayman, the Kingdom Swims in Vermont, Swim to the Moon in Michigan, Big Swell Swim in Wisconsin, END-WET in North Dakota, and charity swims like A Long Swim by Doug McConnell and Swim for Freedom by Steele Whowell.

She has helped race directors improve their events for the better as a result of these surveys. To date, Nugent demonstrated to different race directors how their swimmers wanted more support boats, more changing tents, more portable bathrooms, and better course markings during their races.

Nugent found that swimmer safety during the races is of utmost importance. She obtains hundreds of responses, all valued and appreciated by the race director including issues such as:

* will swimmers come back and recommend their swim?
* is the pre-race pick-up the night before worth it?
* does the website work correctly?
* what are the impressions of the race logo and t-shirts?
* do the swimmers like the swag items?
* is the post-race food sufficient, accepted, good or of wide variety?
* how did the swimmers learn about the event?
* what sport do the participants focus on: triathlons, pool swimming, open water swimmers?
* what do you think of the participation price?
* how best to fundraise for charity events?
* why do swimmers participate in the event, for fitness, training, socializing or other reasons?
* is the swimmer a first timer or a veteran?
* where is the race information obtained via email or Facebook?
* do the swimmers like the awards?

I like to do the surveys because I am passionate about the sport and I learn about how much effort is put into these events. I have learned that people are pretty honest on surveys - especially if they know they can be anonymous," said Nugent. "There is no pleasing everyone – there will always be complainers."

If you would like to contact Nugent about your event, her e-mail is WIFitness@usms.org.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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