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MAY 2015

Many thanks to the Coaches Committee for working so hard to staff our national meets and for organizing USMS's first National Coaches Clinic--read on for more information!

Swimming for Life,
Your Friends at U.S. Masters Swimming
The Wetsuit Factor
As OW season approaches, Coach Terry "Speed" Heggy answers all your wetsuit questions

Yes, it's true that a well-designed wetsuit can make a dazzling fashion statement--especially if it has superhero muscle designs painted on it. But the real advantage of wearing a wetsuit in open water competition is performance.


Let's examine why a wetsuit makes you faster, and what you can do to take advantage of those qualities. We'll also look at how you can simulate some of those advantages even if you don't have a wetsuit.


Continue reading >>>

Core Stability Drills for Open Water and Triathlon
Coach Erica Smith offers drills and tips to help your swimmers prepare for OW and tri swims
open water, swimmer, buoy

In order to maximize pool workouts for triathlon, training should focus not only on building aerobic endurance, but also on technique appropriate for efficient swimming in a dynamic open water environment. Within the context of triathlon, there are additional concerns beyond performance of the swim itself. The following drills focus on the principle of "whole-body swimming," that is, emphasis on core control to work in harmony with arm stroke and kick.


Continue reading >>>
New USMS National Coaching Clinic
Learn from the best next month in Nashville June 5-7

The Coaches Committee presents an exciting learning and networking experience for Masters swim coaches. The USMS National Coaches Clinic is presented by award-winning USMS coaches. The three-day weekend will include stroke technique workshops, classroom presentations, and more. More information is available online. Register today! 


Open Water and Long Distance Championship Series Coming!
A packed schedule of open water and ePostal championships is right around the corner
Open Water, swimming, swimmers, race, 1v1, Tropical Splash

Open water season will be upon us quickly, and registration is now open for the  USMS Open Water National Championship series.

We hope to see you at some or all (!) of the great events listed below:

  • June 13: 6-9-Mile National Championship (10K) Lake Del Valle, Calif. - Register Online
  • June 14: 1-Mile National Championship, Lake Del Valle, Calif. - Register Online
  • June 20: 9+ Mile National Championship (9.3 miles) Morse Reservoir, Noblesville, Ind. - CLOSED. Email to be added to the waitlist, or register for relay or 5K events
  • June 27: 2-Mile Cable National Championship, Foster Lake, Sweet Home, Ore. - Register Online
  • Aug. 29: 1-3-Mile National Championship, (1.55 miles) Lake George, N.Y. - Register Online
  • Sept. 12: 3-6 Mile National Championship, Lake Michigan, Chicago, Ill. - 

5K and 10K ePostals Open May 15!

The 5K and 10K ePostal season is now open! Coaches: use these events to build team camaraderie and offer your swimmers a taste of national level competition without leaving the comfort of your home pool. Hosted this year by Central Oregon Masters, the 5K and 10K ePostals must be swum between May 15 and September 15 in any 50-meter pool. All swims must be completed by September 15 and submitted online by September 25 to be eligible for competition.


Whom Do You Know?
Recognize the volunteers who make USMS work

Each year U.S. Masters Swimming recognizes the extraordinary efforts of our members beyond the water's edge. USMS's success is a result of the amazing contributions of our talented and dedicated volunteers. Help us identify initiative and performance by nominating people you know who fulfill the ideals of the following awards. Deadline for nominations is July 1. Please review the submission instructions for each award and help recognize an amazing volunteer.

  • Speedo USMS Coach of the Year
  • Dot Donnelly Service Award
  • Kerry O'Brien Coaching Award
  • Club of the Year Award
  • June Krauser Communications Award
  • Fitness Award
  • Open Water Service Award

Let us know who deserves to be recognized!


Records Fall, Fun Times Had at Spring Nationals
USMS members broke more than 50 records in San Antonio
Spring Nationals 2015
What a fun, fast event. Congratulations to all the competitors who came out to the Northside ISD Aquatic Complex for the 2015 Nationwide Spring National Championship. We hope you made new friends, personal bests, and lots of great new memories. Results are now posted. We look forward to seeing you all again at the 2015 USMS Summer National Championship to be held at the SPIRE Institute in Geneva, Ohio, Aug. 6-9.

Going to Pan-Ams?
Like the Facebook page and follow the group on Twitter
social media
If you're headed to the Pan-Am Masters Championship next month (June 16 through 25 in Medellin, Columbia) then join the Facebook group to stay updated on all things Pan-Am, in addition, follow @PanAmMaster2015 on Twitter! More information about the event, which includes water polo, synchronized swimming, open water, diving, and pool competitions, is available online
Swimming Saves Lives Grant Applications Open
Apply by July 24 for a $5,000 grant to teach adults to swim 
Swimming Saves Lives Foundation
Inspired by the positive changes you can make in your local community by teaching adults how to swim? Want to do more? Then apply today for a $5,000 grant from the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation, USMS's charitable arm, to fund your adult Learn-to-Swim program. Applications can be filed online, and the deadline for applying is July 24. Good luck!

USMS Staff Position Open
Want to channel your passion for swimming into your day job?
USMS is seeking a talented professional to fill the position of:

Business Development Manager
Management of sponsorships, advertising, licensing, and other revenue-generating partnerships. 

Bidding for 2017 OW/LD Events Open
Want to make your event a national championship?
open water, triathlon, swimmers
Want to host an ePostal or open water National Championship long distance event in 2017? The bidding process is open to events that have run successfully for three years in a row before bidding. Hosting a national championship provides lots of national exposure, which can help your event grow substantially. Bidding information is available on the  Long Distance Championship page at usms.org. Selection will be based on the overall suitability of the bid received, and in the case of open water, the committee will also be considering the area in which the event is to be held, safety, and the annual event schedule as a whole. For more information and detailed instructions, check out the Championship Bid Information page. Applications for both ePostal and open water events can be completed online and are due by July 15. Apply today!

What Rule is THAT?!
Kathy Casey, USMS Rules Chair, answers your questions

The Coach Asks: We saw backstroke ledges at nationals in San Antonio and tried them out during warm ups. What are the rules for using backstroke ledges? What else do we need to know about the ledges?


Answer: The backstroke ledge start rule reads: "When using a backstroke ledge at the start, the toes of both feet must be in contact with the end wall or face of the touchpad." (101.1.2B). Many swimmers are unaware that the rule requires the toes to touch the wall or the face of the touchpad, not just the ledge itself. If swimmers remain unaware of this rule, officials will have to instruct most swimmers in every backstroke heat on the correct placement of the toes when using a backstroke ledge.


There are several different models of backstroke ledges; some models require manual placement in and removal from the water by officials or timers for every backstroke heat. The model at San Antonio retracted automatically to the deck after the start, causing some swimmers difficulty keeping the ledge in place before securing their feet to it. At this point, not all starters and officials are trained in using and officiating backstroke starts with ledges. See article 107.12 for the dimensions of the backstroke ledge.


A swimmer is not required to use a backstroke ledge if ledges are available for use in competition. Backstrokers should take advantage of any opportunity to learn to use a backstroke ledge, either in practice or during warm up in a sprint lane, whenever ledges are available for use.


The FINA website has a good video demonstrating the use of the backstroke ledge.


All rule references are from the 2015 USMS Rule Book. For any questions about competition rules in Part 1, contact Kathy Casey, USMS Rules Chair.

Questions from Coaches
Bill Brenner, Education Director, answers your questions

Q: What should I be doing to successfully "coach beyond the workout" for a Masters program?


A: In many cases, developing a successful Masters program is more than writing good pool workouts. Good coaches take the time to familiarize themselves with their athletes, learning their names, abilities, goals, motivations, outside interests, and a little about their families. Each piece of information can be used to create the most positive environment and outcome possible for your athletes every day on or off the pool deck.


Your workouts will be more impactful if you can customize the delivery of the workout to each individual. Are you going to write 30 different workouts for 30 different swimmers? Probably not. However, you can make it a point to speak to athletes individually during practice and ask them to work on something specific to their needs. This could be technique, pace, speed, or effort. Acknowledge success and commitment. Provide feedback. Point out something done well before addressing something that needs to change.


Take the time to further your coaching knowledge. Read, research and write.

  • U.S. Masters Swimming publishes SWIMMER magazine bi-monthly, delivers monthly electronic newsletters, and maintains a website - usms.org - that's constantly updated with articles that provide the reader with valuable information.
  • Attend the USMS National Coaches Conference and learn from several of our organization's most successful coaches. Several LMSCs host regional coaches' clinics for the benefit of their coaches and members. If you're a coach, make sure you're included on email correspondence for information on all LMSC coaching activities.
  • Become a USMS-certified Masters coach. The USMS certification course was developed by Masters coaches specifically for coaches who work with adult athletes. The course is presented in a classroom setting and student participation is encouraged.
  • Consider becoming a member of the American Swimming Coaches Association, the leading advocacy group for all echelons of swimming coaches. Member benefits include a monthly magazine and newsletter. ASCA hosts a yearly World Clinic that brings the leading authorities of swimming to one location. Presentations are given throughout the clinic including several by Masters coaches. ASCA also hosts regional clinics several times a year.
  • Research other successful Masters coaches, make contact and ask if you can visit during a practice. Observe how they manage the deck and look for ideas you can bring back to your program.
  • Write an article and submit it to the USMS Coaches Committee for review and possible publication. Nothing cements an idea more solidly than having to explain it in writing. Share something you're doing successfully so that others can duplicate. The Masters community grows stronger from sharing ideas and stimulating creativity.

Other suggestions for activities outside the standard pool workout:

  • Host a clinic. I recommend a series of clinics each lasting no more than 2 hours. Stroke technique, starts, turns, and open water are all good topics you can cover. Consider a videotaping session for your swimmers. Many swimmers haven't seen themselves on film.
  • Take members of your program to a swim meet. Swim meets can be fun and a great way to measure the progress of each athlete. Make sure you market the meet as a social event with a team sitting area, relays, and a social event for athletes, friends, and family at the conclusion of the meet. Encourage 100% participation. 
  • Host a swim meet. If you've never hosted a meet before, start with a 1-day meet with limited events. As you become savvier at hosting meets, you can expand the number of days and events. Developing a support team and group of dedicated volunteers is imperative to running a successful meet. Be in charge but delegate certain responsibilities to others you can trust.
  • Hold open water practices. If you don't have access to open water, take the lane lines out, put makeshift buoys in for turns, and hold an open water practice in the pool.
  • Celebrate accomplishments. Take time during practice to recognize the accomplishments of your athletes. Everyone is a winner even if they don't win a race. Maybe someone did well at a triathlon, swam butterfly for the first time, or competed in a first swim meet. It's up to you to know your athletes and their goals and when they achieve those goals. Having a year-end banquet is another social activity that includes everyone and their families. Don't underestimate the power of celebration and fun. If you don't have the time to organize social activities, appoint a social director. Depending on your program's practice schedule, celebrate birthdays and anniversaries after practice by going out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  • Develop and maintain a website and use social media to attract and retain members. Your program should either have its own website or a page on a group website. Develop a Facebook page, use Twitter, and send pictures through Instagram. Contact the USMS marketing department for more information on how to maximize the benefits of social media. 
Don't limit yourself to this list only but use it as a springboard to becoming a better coach on and off the pool deck. Use your ingenuity and creativity to enhance your program for the benefit of your members. The key is to have fun in a positive environment. Once you know your athletes and meet their needs on and off the pool deck, you'll have more fun coaching than ever before.

Questions about growing your club, managing club business, or becoming a better coach? Education Director Bill Brenner has answers.

Want to read past questions? Then check out Bill Brenner's "Questions from Coaches" blog, and see if he's already found solutions to your coaching quandaries.

Coach Certification Schedule
Upcoming Coach Certification Classes
Want to become a better coach? Then get certified and up-to-speed on the latest coaching techniques. Our Education Department offers certification classes for coaches who want to become Level 1, 2, or 3 certified in various cities all over the country.

See the full list of class dates and locations on our  Coach Certification Schedule page

ALTS Instructor Certification Schedule
Upcoming ALTS Instructor Certification Classes

Our innovative, one-day Adult Learn-to-Swim Instructor Certification Course begins with several hours of classroom training in how to approach the various types of adult nonswimmers you might come across while offering lessons. After talking theory in the classroom, all attendees have an opportunity to practice what they've just learned in the pool. At the conclusion of the class, you'll be a certified USMS ALTS instructor, ready to help people who come to you for swimming lessons.


More information about the course is available online along with a schedule for upcoming classes around the country. Please check the schedule frequently, as we're constantly adding new dates and locations.


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About U.S. Masters Swimming
U.S. Masters Swimming, founded in 1970, is a membership-operated national governing body that promotes health, wellness, fitness, and competition for adults through swimming. It does so by partnering with more than 1,500 adult swim programs across the country; promoting information via the bimonthly member magazine, SWIMMER, monthly e-newsletters, STREAMLINES, and website, usms.org; and by sanctioning and promoting pool, open water, and virtual events and competitions. Nearly 60,000 adults are registered members of U.S. Masters Swimming.
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