Encouraging More Adults to Swim
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2001 USMS National Elections
James W. Miller, MD
Candidate for President

Why are you interested in being USMS President and why do you believe you would be a good candidate for this position.

I have found a great deal of self-fulfillment through service to USMS over the years in many capacities. My involvement in other organizations both in and out of the world of medicine has served to renew my commitment to our unique body. The concept of an organization of athletes run by their peers with the good of the sport solely at heart is both unique and gratifying. I bring a unique mix of skills to the Presidency. As a corporate owner, I am familiar with the organization and the day-to-day operations of a professional corporation. I believe that USMS requires such a professional management background in its leadership to continue to successfully address the issue of growth with an expanding base of volunteer and paid positions. The time management skills that I have developed over the years will stand me in good stead in allowing me to devote professional leadership to the running of our organization.

Within USMS, I have chaired three committees: Sports Medicine, Coaches, and Ad Hoc One-Day Registration. I have served on two others: Championship and Long Distance. In addition, since l984 I have held the position of coordinator of medical care for our national championships, overseeing the conduct of health delivery systems at each of our long course and short course nationals. I have authored many articles and chapters for USMS as well as USA Swimming. Some of these appear as chapters in medical periodicals and textbooks. They vary between articles on defined topics related to sports medicine to the manual concerning the conduct and running of the cable swim. Between 1993 and 1997, I served as Vice President of USMS and, in that capacity, represented us at international forums and at the National Aquatic Summit. In 1993, I was able to meet with USA Swimming to investigate the potential for Masters swim camps in Colorado Springs. This was a vision which Nancy Ridout has gone on to establish as a regular event. I was fortunate enough to serve as a coach at the first two of these USMS/USA Swimming training camps.

The past four years I have served as one of the eight traveling team physicians with USA Swimming for their national team and have coordinated the speaker series for the USA Swimming Sports Medicine Society. Since 1993 I have also worked with the USOC serving multiple other sports on both a national and an international basis, serving to broaden my background in sports management through exposure to other NGB's.

On the local front, I have remained active within the Virginia LMSC, coaching on a regular basis and contributing within the local committee structure. I have served as LMSC Chair, team president, and meet director for local events as well as for our two-mile cable swim national championships. USMS has recognized and rewarded my contributions by naming me Coach of the Year in 1986 and the recipient of the Ransom Arthur Award in 1999. In return, I would like to dedicate my vision and my unique professional and USMS background to carrying our organization forward.

What do you consider to be the major issues facing USMS in the next four (4) years. As the USMS President, how would you address these issues.

Our organization is struggling with growing pains. On the one hand, we jealously guard the volunteer organization to which we have all given so much time and talent unselfishly for the pure good of a sport which symbolizes a true passion for many of us. Under this guise, any attempt to run our corporation as a service organization with a core of paid employees has met with resistance.

At 42,000 + members, this system has struggled, resulting in the addition of one paid position at a time seemingly without a master plan as to the final corporate makeup. It remains difficult to define or reach our goals without the ultimate end being clearly defined.

I view USMS as a corporation of volunteers with a support staff whose role is to promote and integrate our committee plans and efforts. The leadership and voting power must remain in the hands of the volunteer House of Delegates and the committee structure with the independent contractor positions clearly defined under contract. Thus, one of my platform issues is to establish a committee to map out the future contractor positions for consideration by the House of Delegates with implementation timetables in place.

Having served for many years on the Championship Committee, I have come to realize that we are facing increasing difficulty in conducting our national championships and in attracting quality experienced hosts. USMS must move quickly to take responsibility for running the "paper" side of the meet, thereby allowing the meet host to devote more time to organizational and fundraising efforts and to developing a high-quality support staff of volunteers, timers, and officials. The national championship is our showcase for each of our competitive seasons, but those who run the meets are frequently the least qualified to understand the complexities of such an event. There is no reason for us to continue to suffer through their learning curves year after year. We are currently facing long debates within the Championship Committee regarding the conduct of a quality national championship. Is a 9 PM start time conducive to a high-quality performance? Is a timer who has never worked a swim meet conducive to quality? Are semi-empty heats with two to four swimmers conducive to quality? We need to give as many athletes as possible a chance to experience the thrill of national championship competition by creating a subcommittee within the Championship Committee dedicated to the actual running of these meets. If this is not done, we will see increasing limitations on who and how many can compete. Our first responsibility with regard to the quality of the meet is to run the events as efficiently as possible with head-to-head competition within a timeframe that makes sense. Learning from meet to meet and handling the paper side of the competition is a start in the right direction. This is not a new concept. It was first presented by Championship Committee Co-Chairs Mel Goldstein and Bill Barthold over a decade ago. The time has come to implement it.

USMS has a duty to provide an ever-improving program for fitness and competitive athletes. In multiple surveys, membership retention and growth are seen to be enhanced by creative, quality coaching. Organization at the top of USMS can be no better than the strength of the programs at the local level. USMS must actively strive to expand programs aimed at developing local coaching and leadership. Support of developmental programs must expand, and it is time to raise the level of coaching quality by encouraging educational experiences which will stimulate their interchange of ideas and styles. Utilizing the day prior to the beginning of our national convention to offer a coaching track has been advantageous. It would also be an ideal forum for coaches to receive safety, CPR, or first aid training, moving toward those national safety standards for coaches endorsed by the current Safety Committee Chair, Julie Paque, as early as short course nationals at USC and, more recently, by Scott Rabalais, Coaches Committee Chair. By beginning instruction at this level, it would then be possible to expand these opportunities to the LMSC's via joint efforts of the Safety, Coaches, Sports Medicine, and Marketing Committees.

In further support of our mission, I would propose escalating support for sports medicine and coaching research specific to Masters swimmers in conjunction with the USMS Endowment Fund.

Please list USMS committees that you have served on.

  1. Championship: 1991-current
  2. Coaches: 1987-1989 (Chair), 1989-1997 (member)
  3. Long Distance: 1984-1988
  4. Sports Medicine: 1983-1996 (member), 1996-current (Chair)
  5. Ad Hoc One-Day Registration: 1991-1992 (Chair)

Please list any other experience that relates to your qualifications for office.

My wife and I have dedicated a tremendous amount of our effort, time, and love to helping mold United States Masters Swimming both locally and nationally. Indeed, these standards carry down to our children, who are both now organizing and coaching a swim team together while swimming at the Masters level themselves. USMS is a large part of our family, and I am prepared to devote my considerable energies as well as my broad base of experience to leading it in its next steps forward.

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