A Day in the Life of the USMS President
"Never, never, never give up!"
More than one president in this country is making waves, however this man is the only President to have 52 top ten swimming finishes under his belt. Rob Copeland will be completing his second two-year term this fall and shares with us what it takes to be U.S. Masters Swimming President, what he's learned as U.S. Masters Swimming President and what advice he has for the next U.S. Masters Swimming President.
Ashley Gangloff, U.S. Masters Swimming Marketing Coordinator, interviewed Rob.
Ashley: Have you ever held an office before U.S. Masters Swimming President?
Rob: The presidency is the first nationally elected office that I have held; however I have served for many years in various positions at the local level. And, I have served at the national level as chairman of the Long Distance Committee, the Legislation Committee and a Zone Representative.
Ashley: Why did you run for U.S. Masters Swimming President?
Rob: The decision to run for president was sparked by Jim Miller, my predecessor. Before talking with Jim, I was planning to run for vice president. Jim helped to convince me that I could better serve Masters Swimming by running for president. Also, I had spent a great deal of time working with Betsy Durrant and her governance task force to define the current structure of officers and our board. I felt the best way to make sure we successfully implemented the structure was as president.
Ashley: Who do you work most closely with as U.S. Masters Swimming President?
Rob: Prior to Rob Butcher joining U.S. Masters Swimming, I would say that I worked most closely with the other officers and Tracy Grilli. Now with Rob on-board, I would say I am working most closely with him,
Ashley: What is a recurring job/task for which the U.S. Masters Swimming President is responsible?
Rob: The president is responsible for the volunteer side of Masters. The president is the chair of the executive committee, board of directors and house of delegates, in addition the president is ultimately responsible for the national committees. The president also serves as Masters Swimming's representative to the other aquatic governing bodies.
Ashley: What has been your favorite "project" as U.S. Masters Swimming President?
Rob: We have seen tremendous success of a number of very significant projects during my tenure as president, with the real credit of these going to our volunteer leaders. Projects such as the hiring of our first and second Executive Directos, the hosting of the largest FINA world championship, the initiation of our club development program, online registration, and the establishment of a permanent national headquarter. Of these and the myriad other projects, I would say my favorite project was the hiring of Rob Butcher, not because of the process, but because of the results.
Ashley: What skills do you possess that have helped you the most as U.S. Masters Swimming President?
Rob: The most important skill I possess that has helped me as president is listening. I am a huge fan of personal leadership authors like Stephen Covey, Ken Blanchard, Marcus Buckingham, James Autry and others. Covey's 5th habit, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." Listening to and understanding the needs of our members, staff, volunteers, corporate partners and the swimming community are critical for me to successfully serve.
Ashley: How many hours a week/month do you spend fulfilling your responsibilities as U.S. Masters Swimming President?
Rob: I would break this down as before hiring Rob [Butcher] and now. Before we hired Rob [Butcher], I would typically spend 20 to 40 hours per week on Masters work; now that number is more like 10 hours per week.
Ashley: What is your best memory of being U.S. Masters Swimming President?
Rob: I believe my best memories from my tenure as president will be of the amazing people I have had the opportunity to work with. We are blessed with phenomenally talented and passionate volunteers and leaders.
Ashley: What are you gong to miss the most about this position?
Rob: I'm not sure. It's not like I plan on swimming off into the sunset. I hope to be actively involved as long as the organization will put up with me. For me, the most important things have always been about how I can best serve U.S. Masters Swimming, it has never been about a title.
Ashley: What advice do you give our next U.S. Masters Swimming President?
Rob: Be approachable, be responsive, be honest and open, be thick-skinned, be forgiving of others and yourself, be visionary, be a leader. And, in the immortal words of Winston Churchill, "Never! Never! Never! Never give up!"
If you are interested in running or would like to nominate someone for the position of U.S. Masters Swimming President, please click here to read about the qualifications, candidate criteria and nomination and election process. All nominations are due by April 20, 2009.