USMS allows boat resting on open water swims

evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
This discussion was created from comments split from: USMS OW SANCTIONING.
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  • IronMikeIronMike Moscow, RussiaCharter Member

    Didn't know where to put this, so please @evmo @loneswimmer move this as you see fit:

    Background: USMS had proposed an amendment allowing swimmers in open water to hang on to the boat during an event. The amendment has passed, by a slim margin.

    My "home" team in Alexandria passed this on to me when I went on their FB page asking them to vote no. (My home team delegates all voted no.)

    Another delegate there asked that the proposal be reconsidered with an amendment that allows event directors to prohibit deliberate contact between swimmers and craft and/or physical objects if it is published in the information letter. The amendment passed, and the rule proposal passed reconsideration.

    @emkhowley linked to a URL and pdf in a FB convo I saw and I thank her for the pointers:

    pdf of the USMS meeting, go to page 179.

    Meeting minutes available here.

    USMS was dead to me a few years ago when this post started. And I could get away from not joining them because I was here overseas where it's not required. But next year we're moving back to the states and I'll be joining a masters team, competing in local events, enjoying the local, club-aspect of USMS. But this move by the long distance committee (you can be sure their various annual "championships" will include the "you can touch the boat" rule) has renewed in my mind the need for a separate open water swim organization in the US.

    If anyone wants to work toward that end, I'll be back in the states next year September-ish, and I'm willing to help.

    HelbeNiekmalinakarosemarymintevmoFlowSwimmersViveBeneallanl16
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member

    You should propose as rule that at USMS meets a swimmer can pull himself along the lane lines and as second rule that the backstroke can be executed belly down. :))

    IronMikekejoyceSydneDMoCo

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • rosemarymintrosemarymint Charleston, SCCharter Member

    @IronMike Count me in as well as willing to help make this a reality. I am about to move to a place where joining Masters is required to participate in organized workouts in the pool and since I saw the news about this last night, I don't know how I can join an organization that clearly doesn't understand or care about this sport.

    I have no idea what's required, but I'm interested in providing as much support as I can to help make it a reality. Based on the rumblings I heard today at the amazing Spuyten Duyvil 10k, I would reckon that there are many swimmers who agree.

    evmosuziedods
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin

    the need for a separate open water swim organization in the US.

    @IronMike, what is your vision for this organization, beyond not-allowing-boat-resting?

  • IronMikeIronMike Moscow, RussiaCharter Member
    edited September 18

    @evmo, thanks for your question.

    My vision is immature at this time, but I've been looking at BLDSA and ILDSA for some years now. I would like an umbrella organization which would allow for members to:


    a) learn about the joys of open water swimming;
    b) compete in a wide-range of OW events, with a natural progression from short to long-distance swims;
    c) crew for events, giving back to the sport;
    d) help and even organize OW events.

    I imagine a series of events at various distances around the country which could serve as championships. Unlike the BLDSA, I would think the ALDSA would have to have regional ones. The U.S. is just too big to require a swimmer who wants to compete at all distances to have to spend serious $$ to fly to various parts of the nation.

    Using the calendar here, I could see an example regional championship series (Dixie) such as:

    under 2 miles: Big Deuce (2 miles), New Hill, NC;
    2-5 miles: Swim Hobbs Island (5 miles), Hobbs Island, AL;
    5-10 miles: Chattanooga Swim Fest (9.2 miles), Chattanooga, TN;
    10+ miles: Swim Around Charleston (12 miles), Charleston, SC.

    I tried to avoid the iconic swims (Tampa, Key West). BLDSA also does divisions like junior, senior, veteran. Could probably adopt that as well. What I would really like would be for the ALDSA to develop a love for open water swimming in younger members. Those swimmers would "grow up" understanding that a cap, goggles and suit (not wetsuit) is all that is required, and that swimming the entire event on your own power is the main point.

    I am not even knowledgeable enough to be called ignorant of the ways of sanction and insurance, but it would be great if the ALDSA could offer sanctioning for race directors who agree to the spirit of open water swimming (which I envision will be strikingly similar to the spirit of marathon swimming).

    Anyway, just an idea. A dream to get away from the OW haters that seem to be in the distance committee of USMS.

    NiekKatieBunsuziedods
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
    edited September 18

    IronMike said: a) learn about the joys of open water swimming; b) compete in a wide-range of OW events, with a natural progression from short to long-distance swims;

    .... also does divisions like junior, senior, veteran. Could probably adopt that as well. What I would really like would be for the ALDSA to develop a love for open water swimming in younger members. Those swimmers would "grow up" understanding that a cap, goggles and suit (not wetsuit) is all that is required, and that swimming the entire event on your own power is the main point.

    but it would be great if the ALDSA could offer sanctioning for race directors who agree to the spirit of open water swimming

    Yep, that's what our swimming federation does.
    They even banned the FINA wetsuit for races over 5 km unless it's a FINA / LEN event. =D>

    Maybe that's why we have so much Olympian, World and European champions among our 17 million inhabitants.

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • Hmmm...boat 'resting' could turn out to be boat 'tipping' especially with kayaks

    IronMikesuziedodsLynnkub
  • MoCoMoCo Worcester, MAMember

    Swimmersuz said: Hmmm...boat 'resting' could turn out to be boat 'tipping' especially with kayaks

    I volunteer for a few tris every year on a kayak, and I think perhaps only once have I ever heard the coordinator of the swim volunteers actually tell them that you need to have the athletes grab the bow of your boat, not the side. But I've also never seen a kayak tipped by an athlete, although I'm sure it happens.

    Either way, not happy with this decision.

  • FlowSwimmersFlowSwimmers Polson, MontanaMember

    As the USMS delegate representing the Montana LMSC, I found the discussion, the process, and the eventual outcome quite interesting.

    Essentially, an event director may allow or prohibit watercraft (or physical object) contact as long as it is declared and published in the event information.

    It is my understanding that "ALLOW" follows USA-Triathlon rules and "PROHIBIT" follows the traditional open water rules.

    Regardless of the option, there may be no forward progress, and it was acknowledged that this would be difficult to monitor in the case of currents, wind, etc.

    It's my opinion that USMS is clearly trying to tap into the much-larger triathlon market, so I would imagine that future open water rules will lean that way.

  • IronMikeIronMike Moscow, RussiaCharter Member

    FlowSwimmers said: It's my opinion that USMS is clearly trying to tap into the much-larger triathlon market, so I would imagine that future open water rules will lean that way.

    I definitely agree with this. One of the delegates commented on a FB thread and she said USMS membership is something like 25% triathletes. (I can't go check because the OP deleted the post.)

  • lakespraylakespray Senior Member

    FlowSwimmers said:

    It's my opinion that USMS is clearly trying to tap into the much-larger triathlon market, so I would imagine that future open water rules will lean that way.

    I think that is the general observation, do you feel that's good or bad? I'm on the bad side, I don't want to cater to the water wings crowd.

    IronMike
  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    I have such mixed feelings about tri-athletes. As a swimmer, I tend to have a bit of distain for these tri-guys. As an athlete, I think triathlon is an incredibly difficult sport and I can't possibly imagine doing one. But I don't think I would impose my world view on their sport just because it's difficult for me. I suppose this is where I have the problem. Wetsuits. Grabbing a boat for support. What's next? I'm a little surprised that USMS would allow this creeping decay.

    Karl_Kingeryssthomaslakesprayj9swimLynnkub
  • I was in attendance at this meeting, and sat in at every long distance and open water committee meeting as well. As with any large organization it will always be difficult to please everyone. I can attest the fact that there is no conspiracy here, rather a genuine interest in trying to get more people to try open water swimming in a safe manner. The rule change leaves it up to the race directors as to how they want their race/ swim to be run. If they want to allow a participant to contact a boat and not be disqualified that is ok, or if they want to run their race by a no contact rule, that is also allowed. As a proud member of USMS who is also just as proud of becoming an active open water swimmer, I can see both sides to this debate- and was asked for 3 days what my thoughts where about this (so I have done a lot of thinking and talking about this). I honestly feel this change is not about me, but if it makes it safer and easier for someone to try an open water event, that's great. For those of us who firmly believe in the long held rules of open water swimming, there is no change- we will continue to swim and challenge ourselves without touching boats.

    malinakaKate_AlexanderBob_SingerJaimie
  • lakespraylakespray Senior Member

    I look at this much more as USMS taking the easy way out and a failure to complete one of there primary missions to train and educate adult swimmers. As an alternative, USMS could spearhead open water clinics explaining the why's and traditions of the rules. They could also could provide and or assist other race promoters in putting on shorter OW races, let's say 300 to 600 meters to help prepare swimmers for the longer and more rigorous events.

    I think some old quotes are relevant:

    “You give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime.”

    "We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard" President John F. Kennedy

    Karl_KingeryNiekIronMikej9swimcurlygregocLynnkub
  • Karl_KingeryKarl_Kingery Denver, COMember

    I am not convinced that this rule makes OW swimming races safer.

    First, it may give new swimmers to the sport the impression that they can "limp" along swimming a little at a time and still count themselves as having completed the swim. It would be the equivalent of doing a 1650 in the pool and standing up to rest on the bottom every 50 yds. In open water, it becomes a more serious issue because there is naturally less safety support available and ill prepared swimmers have a greater risk of having more serious safety issues. This rule exacerbates this.

    Second, It also creates the opportunity for two people to become in trouble rather than one. If the kayaker/SUP/canoe/etc. were to flip, suddenly there is a bigger problem, requiring more race support resources being diverted from their other responsibilities. The lakes and oceans we swim in are not pools where there is a 5 second response time and because of this the ability for first-response kayak/SUP/canoe/etc. support to be successful in responding to individual emergencies is essential to overall race safety.

    In summary: My RD experience has taught me that when things really go wrong, it's not because Plan A fails, its because Plan B fails. This rule opens the door to Plan B taking a bigger role, which is a problem.

    lakesprayevmoslknightNiekViveBeneIronMikeSoloj9swimSydneDcurlygregocsuziedodsKatieBunForeverSwimStephen
  • danswimsdanswims Portland, ORMember

    Not that I think this change is a good idea, but " It would be the equivalent of doing a 1650 in the pool and standing up to rest on the bottom every 50 yds" is not really an argument against. This is not a disqualification in Freestyle unless there is forward propulsion. It is legal in any stroke as long as it happens at the wall during the turn.

  • Karl_KingeryKarl_Kingery Denver, COMember

    danswims said: Not that I think this change is a good idea, but " It would be the equivalent of doing a 1650 in the pool and standing up to rest on the bottom every 50 yds" is not really an argument against. This is not a disqualification in Freestyle unless there is forward propulsion. It is legal in any stroke as long as it happens at the wall during the turn.

    My argument on that point was not whether or not standing on the bottom of a pool during a 1650 was against the rules. It was that:

    Karl_Kingery said: In open water, it becomes a more serious issue because there is naturally less safety support (when compared to pool swimming) available and ill prepared swimmers have a greater risk of having more serious safety issues. This rule exacerbates this.

    I was using the hypothetical example of a person standing on the bottom every 50 yards as an example to contrast how pool swimming is different from open water.

    I also agree with @lakespray that good alternatives and ideas to help with this potential issue would include: > lakespray said:

    As an alternative, USMS could spearhead open water clinics explaining the why's and traditions of the rules. They could also could provide and or assist other race promoters in putting on shorter OW races, let's say 300 to 600 meters to help prepare swimmers for the longer and more rigorous events.

  • FlowSwimmersFlowSwimmers Polson, MontanaMember

    I encourage all of you to get involved with your Clubs, LMSCs, and at the national level.

    Karl_Kingeryj9swimBob_SingerCamilleJaimie
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
    edited September 18

    danswims said: It is legal in any stroke as long as it happens at the wall during the turn.

    Don't try that at official (FINA) events because standing is only allowed with freestyle. And if you proceed with the swim in freestyle pull up the feet first before you start your stroke because a forward propulsion is otherwise easily made.
    FINA rules /page 12 -sw10.5

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member

    Camille said: As with any large organization it will always be difficult to please everyone. I can attest the fact that there is no conspiracy here, rather a genuine interest in trying to get more people to try open water swimming in a safe manner.

    Then USMS should embark on a campaign to increase the availability of open water training and clinics..... not dumb down competitive events. This is the crux of the issue.

    If there were unskilled, untrained persons wishing to enter a pool swimming event, they would not expect USMS to bend the rules to accommodate their lack of training and preparation so they can go home with a ribbon.

    It's so unbelievably patronizing to assume that a DQ would be such a traumatic experience to anyone that they would pass up the opportunity to enjoy a mile or two in the open water.

    I just can't entertain this nonsensical narrative of "we did it for them, not for us".

    evmoViveBeneNieklakesprayssthomasIronMikerosemarymintgregocsuziedodsKatieBunjbsStephenLynnkubMaryStellaBridgetSpacemanspiff

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member

    If they want to attract more triathletes for openwater swimming alone they could split it in a boat hugging fully wetsuited division and a normal speedo's only division.
    Why mix them and ruin it for normal ow swimmers

    wendyv34

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • lakespraylakespray Senior Member

    FlowSwimmers said:I I encourage all of you to get involved with your Clubs, LMSCs, and at the national level.

    I remember a certain swimmer who swam at the gravel pond at Chatfield State Park in Denver under there age group teams permit not under USMS/COMSA permit, just sayin ;-) Anyway, Colorado Represents Open Water Swimming (CROWS) followed suit getting there own permit/insurance when USMS rules became to onerous. I consider many of Colorado Masters Swimming's USMS officials/delgates my friends but I also feel there focused on pool stuff 90% of the time. Open water is just a side show even though it used to provide a significant amount of there yearly revenue, until once again, USMS rules became to burdensome forcing other groups who piggybacked on them to make there own way.

    Just a couple of public comments on Facebook on this subject. Even though they are public on FB I'm deleting there names as I don't know if all of them on this forum.

    I was on the USMS Exec. Comm. years ago (when it was still an all-volunteer organization), I was the very first USMS liasion to USAT way back in the day when USMS wanted to encourage actual SWIMMING and to have the triathlete community learn to actually SWIM. I've seen over recent years many, MANY people that were long-time volunteers, committee leaders and office help leave USMS...I suspect for similar reasons as has been discussed here. It seems to be about the appearance of safety when in reality it would hurt races like Wellington. Take one person in a kayak away from watching the course to help someone who needs to rest and then what happens. What happens if/when that swimmer panics and overturns the kayak...now there are two people in the water needing assistance. Since USMS went to all paid staff, big fancy offices it appears it needs more $$ to pay the bills...and to get that they need people, and to attract people who don't swim, this is what they come up with. Not good. There are other organizations that could sanction an event. If it costs more, so be it. I believe all of the people that enjoy open water swimming (not just open water racing) would be willing to pay. It is sad, very sad.

    From the management team of long time major open water race in Colorado.

    __ We did not find a benefit to the very high cost, and arbitrary rules. We dropped USMS sanctioning at the time that they had a rule that all motorized boats associated with an open water swim must have a specific guard for the prop. It meant that we wouldn't be able to find any boats for dive rescue.__

    I really don't think USMS truly hears this community nor do I think they really want too. I do believe there is demand for USA open water national championships at the Masters level but at this point I'd hope for a new lean non profit organization whose mission statement would support OW racing under the spirit of English Channel/MSF rules and sanction races but not insure them. Leave the insurance to local organization.

    FlowSwimmers
  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member

    lakespray said: . Leave the insurance to local organization.

    There are only a handful of insurance providers out there. I actually like the USMS model of insurance through individual membership.

    Well.... I liked it until the they changed everything

    gregocevmo

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • IronMikeIronMike Moscow, RussiaCharter Member
    edited September 19

    lakespray said: I really don't think USMS truly hears this community nor do I think they really want too. I do believe there is demand for USA open water national championships at the Masters level but at this point I'd hope for a new lean non profit organization whose mission statement would support OW racing under the spirit of English Channel/MSF rules and sanction races but not insure them.

    Come visit us on FB. Search for the "American Long Distance Swimming Association" and join the group.

  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member

    It might be wise to choose a different name.
    The Australian Long Distance Swimming Association https://aldsa.com

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member

    curly said: I have such mixed feelings about tri-athletes. As a swimmer, I tend to have a bit of distain for these tri-guys. As an athlete, I think triathlon is an incredibly difficult sport and I can't possibly imagine doing one.

    I have similar feelings, although probably more negative. I was a cyclist before I got back into swimming. I've seen triathletes do very dangerous, ignorant things on group rides that have endangered people around them, and in some instances, cause crashes. While certainly not all of them, there is a strong streak, similar to what @david_barra alluded to, of limping through events and counting on crutches to help them through events. There seem to be a lot of people with running backgrounds, who are very strong, fit athletes, but rely on wetsuits, calm water, and sometimes hanging on kayaks to get through events. A lot spend money on tech/aero gear on their bikes, instead of putting in the work to ride stronger. I respect their athletic abilities, but in general, I do not want to ride in a large group ride with a lot of people with aero bars on their bikes, and am not overly interested in comparing notes on events with many triathletes.

    FlowSwimmers said: I encourage all of you to get involved with your Clubs, LMSCs, and at the national level.

    While I still lived in Louisiana, I was the Long Distance/Open Water chair for the Southern LMSC (which encompasses Louisiana and Mississippi). It left a pretty bad taste in my mouth. While they did allow me to organize an open water event which went reasonably well in the end, it was an organization very much of two minds. A lot of the board members were older folks who were pretty selfish in their interests. They expressed concern about declining meet membership, but they were opposed to shortening meets to one day, as that might not allow them as many chances at records in their age group (as an aside, while I was counting for a friend in a mile, the older woman counting in the lane next to me said that she was waiting on her competition to die off so she could set some age group LMSC records). They expressed concern about people not attending LMSC meetings, which were generally held after meet sessions, but they would stage extra heats of rarely contested relays in order to attempt to break LMSC records. I stuck around for a little while, but especially as my swimming interest diverged from competing in pool meets, I resigned my post. While I have moved, and not live in Texas, and train by myself, I'd be extremely hesitant to participate in USMS in a role beyond that of athlete.

    IronMikeevmo
  • j9swimj9swim CharlestonSenior Member

    as an adult onset and passionate open water swimmer i have such mixed emotions on getting involved versus walking away. i'm a usms member for training for marathons. most of my teammates don't really get it but i have a handful do participate in shorter open water events, most do swim meets. I'm strongly considering getting involved to try and change things from the inside, better to work at it then bitch about it. but honestly the conversation to date makes USMS sounds like a kid trying to twist themselves into something they're not just to fit in with the popular kids....who still won't accept them.

    Bob_Singer
  • Bob_SingerBob_Singer Member
    edited September 19

    As a USMS delegate and avid open water swimmer I participated in this debate in the Long Distance committee meeting and the House of Delegates vote. The amendment that gives event directors the authority to prohibit resting on a kayak converted a disaster to a disappointment.

    A number of people have asked me what we should do. I do not believe the best response is to turn our backs on USMS and try to ally with a new or existing organization that "gets" open water and marathon swimming.

    I may be loyal to a fault, but USMS is my "home" swimming organization. I am frustrated by members who, albeit well-intentioned, think an open water swim is swimming a few circles around buoys placed 400 yards apart.

    I choose to get more involved in USMS and join the Open Water committee, where there are several vocal members who agree that open water swimming should remain a simple, assistance-free sport. Working from within, I can help shape the organization toward a better direction. I hope US-based MSF members reach out to their delegates and encourage more enlightened rule-making in the future.

    NiekCamilleJustSwimJaimieswimrn62JSwimFlowSwimmers
  • IronMikeIronMike Moscow, RussiaCharter Member

    Bob_Singer said: A number of people have asked me what we should do. I do not believe the best response is to turn our backs on USMS and try to ally with a new or existing organization that "gets" open water and marathon swimming.
    Working from within, I can help shape the organization toward a better direction.

    I think the same thing was said after the boat prop thing and the open water insurance brouhahas from a few years ago. Sounds like some OW / marathon swimmers have tried to effect change from within...and that got us the disappointment.

    rosemarymintNieklakespray
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
    edited September 19

    You had your chances in December 2015 Suzie Dots for president!
    http://marathonswimmers.org/forum/discussion/1295/our-chance-to-seize-control-of-usms ;)

    ssthomasSydneD

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    It sounds like it's going to be up to the race director, so contact RDs and let them know your preference.

    If a RD was going to allow resting without a DQ, it would make sense to supply a floatation device, (like a pool noodle, kickboard or rescue can), to hold onto, rather than have swimmers grabbing the boats.

    I think I can safely say that the people taking advantage of resting aren't going to be taking medals away from anyone who is swimming the entire course without stopping. Personally, I think it should be a DQ, but I get that attendance is important to keeping many events viable. That being said, I don't support encouraging sketchy swimmers to enter events that are beyond their ability, but I think it's a better option than forcing everyone to tow a float or wear a wetsuit.

    CamilleSoloJaimie

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • rosemarymintrosemarymint Charleston, SCCharter Member

    I think @IronMike nailed it. While I am glad there are people on the inside trying to influence USMS, the fact of the matter is that the organization clearly is not interested in recognizing that pool swimming and open water swimming are two different sports and that by creating a system that reflects the rules of a different multi-sport organization to increase participation among multi-sport athletes, they further diminish the sport and standards of open water swimming.

    I used to be an enthusiastic member of USMS prior to the boat/insurance mess. When they passed those rules, my opportunities for open water events (especially the shorter distance ones) diminished rapidly while race directors had to scramble on what to do. Instead of ponying up more money for less safety, they canceled. If those events returned, they did so under different sanctioning (such as USAT or WOWSA) or different courses that were far less interesting or challenging. It kind of felt like if cross country running events were suddenly forced to go to 400m loops around a grassy/muddy track.

    The thing is I am an enthusiastic member of USAT, even though I no longer do triathlons. Why? There are far more open water swimming opportunities for triathletes that are insured under USAT than there are for anything else. In NJ alone, I have at least two different types of groups I can swim with in guarded courses, in open water. While they aren't long, they're the best training grounds I can think of. So I join USAT every year for that opportunity. I don't see USMS having a space for that.

    If I want to join a pool league, I will use USMS to participate in pool swimming. But I no longer consider them to be an organization that sanctions or even understands true open water swimming, let along marathon swimming.

    This is just the final straw in what has been years of feeling this way. I'm sad I joined USMS last year to help a friend out because it meant giving money to an organization that doesn't respect my sport. I normally am not a fan of separatism, but in this case, I feel very strongly that it's time.

    lakesprayevmoIronMike
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

    rosemarymint said:

    The thing is I am an enthusiastic member of USAT, even though I no longer do triathlons. Why? There are far more open water swimming opportunities for triathletes that are insured under USAT than there are for anything else. In NJ alone, I have at least two different types of groups I can swim with in guarded courses, in open water. While they aren't long, they're the best training grounds I can think of. So I join USAT every year for that opportunity. I don't see USMS having a space for that.

    Here in Colorado, our local USMS organization, Colorado Masters (COMSA), has always sponsored swimming at a 900 meter by 300 meter pond, just south of Denver. It's in a state park and the park requires insurance and limits when we can go swim in the pond, which has no motor boats. (That's a stupid rule, but an entirely different issue.) For years, COMSA managed the permits and received insurance through USMS, and if you wanted to swim at the pond, even once, you had to join USMS for a year. Last year, USMS got wind of what we were doing and upped the safety requirements before they'd grant us insurance approval. For a 900 meter pond, we were required to have 6 monitors on shore and a checkin/checkout protocol. Plus, about a million rules about swimming only around the buoys, having to cancel a session for lightning, and more. What did it do? It killed swimming at the pond, without really increasing safety. Many people only join COMSA for the benefit of swimming at the pond (OW options in the Denver metro area are limited). Last year, they limped along, with angry swimmers who would show up, only to find we didn't have enough monitors to swim. This year, there were noticeably fewer swimmers at the pond- and most were with secondary tri groups who had gotten their own permits/insurance for their small groups. COMSA members would get angry when other groups were swimming, but they couldn't. It's sad that the largest swim group in Colorado is losing swimmers- all because of stupid USMS rules that are hurting swimming, not helping.

    Our COMSA reps are avid open water swimmers and pushed and pushed to change the requirements- but got nowhere. USMS has no clue about open water swimming.... I can't see a reason to renew a membership or to try and fight from the inside. They aren't listening.

    evmolakesprayrosemarymintIronMikegregocKarl_Kingery
  • rosemarymintrosemarymint Charleston, SCCharter Member
    edited September 19

    ssthomas said: It's sad that the largest swim group in Colorado is losing swimmers- all because of stupid USMS rules that are hurting swimming, not helping.

    Our COMSA reps are avid open water swimmers and pushed and pushed to change the requirements- but got nowhere. USMS has no clue about open water swimming.... I can't see a reason to renew a membership or to try and fight from the inside. They aren't listening.

    Might want to look at USAT for insurance. It's much more streamlined, believe it or not. Can do one-day licenses too.

    And that's a perfect example of what I mean by USMS doesn't have a space for this. The minute they see something, they make it impossible, while the USAT-insured swims are perfectly safe and reasonable (and far cheaper.)

  • IronMikeIronMike Moscow, RussiaCharter Member

    rosemarymint said: And that's a perfect example of what I mean by USMS doesn't have a space for this. The minute they see something, they make it impossible try to make more money from it...

    There, @rosemarymint I fixed your comment for you. ;)

    Seriously, though, I'm going to look in USAT. I've done some of their events and bought one-day passes for them, but maybe in my new home next year there will be USAT events that I can participate in...

    rosemarymint
  • BridgetBridget New York StateMember

    lakespray said:

    FlowSwimmers said:

    It's my opinion that USMS is clearly trying to tap into the much-larger triathlon market, so I would imagine that future open water rules will lean that way.

    I think that is the general observation, do you feel that's good or bad? I'm on the bad side, I don't want to cater to the water wings crowd.

    Once upon a time, as a USMS swimmer at a USMS event, wetsuits were allowed but DQed. No prizes. No problem. With the onset of two divisions, there is still the integrity of the swim-in-the-skin tradition, and increased participation can make the difference between an event being a go or a cancelation due to lack of participation. So. If we are going to be dealing with boat huggers, or perhaps a safer request for a reaching/throwing assist like extending a noodle, THAT would be something allowed, but no in the "big kid" class. NOT liking the idea-- but if we have a swimmer who needs a bit of a break- like a momentary choking on water sort of thing, just say so in the records. Convert to unofficial, learn, and try again.

    But there would need to be director discretion-- at the Chesapeake Swim, if you go out of bounds, you are DONE. No second chance. The field and list of swimmers is too large for exceptions. On the other hand, St. Croix had a class for fin wearers.

    As a swimmer who has dabbled in triathlon, sure, I wish that some would get over the idea that they need the suits, if only because if they are in a warm water venue, they are not allowed to wear them, and may run into trouble going without. I give one of the guys I train with grief when he passes me-- if that left hand isn't fingers down, I yell at him-- do NOT pass me with bad form. If I have to trail in your wake, I want to do it when your swimming is high quality, not just fast. ;-)

    This response is meandering a bit, but the issue has few facets. I'm all for making swimming more accessible, and helping people feel able to try new things-- but holding onto a boat is not like running against someone with a prosthetic leg-- it is a time out. Sitting on land and floating on the water equate. Holding the boat is more like taking a minute with a skateboard.

    And while I'm a USMS swimmer and coach, I'm mainly solo, because I'm isolated.

    Bob_Singer
  • lakespraylakespray Senior Member

    Clearly by some of the comments I’ve left, I think it’s time to say goodbye to USMS at least for open water purposes. But why purpose a new organization? There are plenty of local & worldwide organizations formal and informal. Starting with the Marathon Swimming Federation (MSF), New York Open Water (NWOW), the Northwest Openwater Swimming Association, Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association (NEKOWSA), Colorado Represents Open Water Swimming (CROWS)…..and many more regional/local open water race organizations large and small that have never used USMS or have moved on from them. Some of these organizations concentrate on Marathon swimming 10K plus, others have races of all lengths, although most of these organizations founders/directors are pro traditions of marathon open water swimming many sponsor wetsuit eligible races etc.

    What reasons are there to start a new organization? What is it that USMS does that were not already getting in these other organizations?

    There is the insurance for all members function however this is also one of the reasons due to past liability awards, the cost of that insurance has greatly increased for USMS. Additionally, it’s a major factor in there increasing burdensome rules and possibly a reason there seeking expansion by lowering standards.

    The other item USMS has done is to facilitate/sanction National Championships. I do think there is a demand for this. This is something many swimmers aspire to and want to have. For me the only reason to create a new national organization would be to sanction National Championships, otherwise what’s the point?

    If such an organization was created I would hope for several points.

    • Open water racing in the sports traditions of no wetsuits and assistance in the spirit of MSF rules.
    • Partner with the existing organizations mentioned.
    • Provide National Championship sanctions for all open water race lengths 1 – mile, 2-mile, 5K, 10K and more……….
    • We would never venture into pool anything including postal type swims. We’d be strictly open water.

    In all deference to @IronMike, I’d call it the American Open Water Swimming Association (AOWSA)

    IronMike
  • Bob_SingerBob_Singer Member
    edited September 19

    I think the same thing was said after the boat prop thing and the open water insurance brouhahas from a few years ago. Sounds like some OW / marathon swimmers have tried to effect change from within...and that got us the disappointment.

    The boat prop mess is a great example of how working from within USMS can result in change. Several people working relentlessly with the insurance agent got this rule modified so that prop guards are no longer required for boats on the course. One of the downsides of having good insurance is that there is a lot of oversight.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

    rosemarymint said:

    Might want to look at USAT for insurance. It's much more streamlined, believe it or not. Can do one-day licenses too.

    We worked it out- there are several tri groups who come, my swim group has found our own insurance, and a few other smaller groups have also done the same. We'll see what COMSA does next year. Problem is, it's harder than ever for people who don't have an "in" with certain groups to get access to open water in Denver. And, it's a lot of work- so most people don't want to take on the burden of monitoring a group, getting insurance, getting a permit, etc.

    IronMikerosemarymint
  • lcolettelcolette Charter Member

    I remember the days when open water was a vital part of USMS but I also remember when we started to feel like the red-headed step child. I was at conferences that said 'it was better to not require defibulaters on a pool deck because if someone died when it was used it could create a legal issue' It was better to just let them die up front. I was there during the fiasco of the insurance, new rules about boats, etc that were impossible for race directors to implement. I don't see USMS changing from a pool oriented organization, they use the other parts for money/dues/etc such as OW/lap swimming, etc.

    lakespray
  • emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member

    FlowSwimmers said: I encourage all of you to get involved with your Clubs, LMSCs, and at the national level.

    This really is the only way to affect changes with USMS rule debates. All rule proposals come from the committees, meaning that the national-level volunteer leadership of USMS (the Long Distance Committee in this particular instance) is responsible for reviewing existing rules and proposing changes or additions annually. Rules proposals DO NOT come from USMS National Office staff members--they originate in the committees. I have seen a few comments floating around out there that seem to suggest that the paid staff are responsible for these rules. As a former full-time employee of USMS, I can assure you that the staff is not involved with proposing or pushing for particular rules. Rule changes come from the committees, and those committees (there's a whole slew of them--not all have rule-making input, but several do) are staffed by volunteers who come from all corners of the country. If you really want to influence USMS rule-making, either find a committee member to lobby or get yourself on the committee.

    Also, just for reference, the rule change pull was labeled LD19. (That's how it's designated when the committee goes to discuss the proposed change.) The actual rules it altered are: 303.9, 303.3.2A, and 303.3.3A.

    gregocrosemarymintssthomasKarl_KingeryFlowSwimmersJustSwim

    Stop me if you've heard this one... A grasshopper walks into a bar... https://elainekhowley.com/

  • i see no further reason to maintain my USMS membership. The diminishing events were enough but this is the nail in the coffin.

    ssthomasgregoclakespraySydneD
  • FlowSwimmersFlowSwimmers Polson, MontanaMember

    @lakespray : You wouldn't be referring to me would you (LOL)? It was pretty funny back in the day when the Moen family and I showed up at the gravel pond and strolled in under the Swim Dogs' permit. Now EVERYBODY'S doing it!

    I definitely have a LOVE/HATE relationship with USMS and it's LMSCs, Clubs, Workout Groups, etc. My feelings flip-flop on a daily basis.

    Like you @lakespray, I'm not sure we need another organization. However, I would support one if created.

    lakesprayssthomas
  • BridgetBridget New York StateMember

    IronMike said:

    Come visit us on FB. Search for the "American Long Distance Swimming Association" and join the group.

    Tried googling and searching Facebook-- only finding Irish and general. Other ideas?

  • IronMikeIronMike Moscow, RussiaCharter Member

    Bridget said:

    IronMike said:

    Come visit us on FB. Search for the "American Long Distance Swimming Association" and join the group.

    Tried googling and searching Facebook-- only finding Irish and general. Other ideas?

    Had to change the name to the US Long Distance Swimming Association due to the Australian one.

  • FlowSwimmersFlowSwimmers Polson, MontanaMember

    Is there any chance that this is actually an opportunity for Race Directors to promote their events "in the tradition and spirit of open water swimming?" Those events could be highlighted in this forum (and other like it), and we could go out of our way to support them.

    flystormsCamille
  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    The Highland Lakes Challenge (TX) is run definitely run in that tradition and spirit, drafting isn't even allowed. I'd highly recommend it. The folks who run it are really awesome and the scenery is lovely. I can't get there this year, but I'm planning to get back for it again, maybe next year.

    flystorms

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • lakespraylakespray Senior Member

    What about creating a seal of approval/assurance/certification for any open water race organization/event that the race, or a specific segment/division of that event will operate in the 100 year old plus spirit of no flotation devices, regular swimsuit, cap and googles, regardless of any other affiliation. I.E. The Marathon Swimming Federation (MSF) seal of approval?

    SoloFlowSwimmersKarl_KingerySydneDflystormsJSwim
  • FlowSwimmersFlowSwimmers Polson, MontanaMember

    That's a great idea @lakespray !

  • OldnslowOldnslow New Member

    I am honestly baffled by people's objections to this. Do you really think you are going to get beat in a race by someone who needs to hold onto a kayak? Stop worrying - those people will be in wave 26, somewhere way behind you, and you'll never see them. But they will cause you to go from finisher number 13 out of 14 to number 13 out of 114, which is awesome. And the more the sport is open to people of all abilities, the more races there will be and the more opportunities there will be for open water swimming. And that is a good thing.

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