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Encouraging More Adults to Swim
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Don Mehl - Candidate for BOD Member from South Central Zone

Candidate Information

Name: Don Mehl

LMSC: Border

Nominated for: BOD member from South Central Zone

Summary Statement

I am honored to be nominated for the position of South Central Zone Director.

As the US population ages, adult fitness will continue to grow, and USMS should lead the way. We must promote swimming to everyone, regardless of age or ability. I bring a unique perspective to USMS, as I have worked in every capacity for our LMSC, including 20-years as Chair and 22 years as the USAS delegate. I have been directly involved in United States Masters Swimming as a coach, administrator, and competitor since 1978. I have the knowledge, passion, and skills to help develop growth and continuing interest in Masters swimming.

Response to Questions

Why are you interested in this position and why do you believe you would be a good candidate?

The majority of older Americans currently living in Assisted Care Facilities are there, not because of disease, but because of physical frailty. That is a crime! Those of us who enjoy the enormous fitness and fellowship benefits of Masters swimming must dedicate ourselves to “sharing the wealth” by promoting swimming to everyone, of every age and condition. During my 30 years with Masters swimming as an administrator, coach, and competitor I have developed strong local adult swimming and dryland training programs. I have also worked at the National level for 22 years, learning from many other USMS members how to utilize our resources to encourage and motivate adults to improve their lives with Masters swimming.

What do you consider to be the major issues facing USMS now and in the future? As a person holding an elected position within USMS, how would you address these issues?

The issue that first comes to mind is the position of Executive Director. I was very disappointed with the initial selection process, which determined our first Director. It is important, of course, to hire someone with considerable administrative experience, but I believe it is just as critical that they “eat, sleep, and breathe” Masters swimming! In my 30 years with USMS I have met many remarkable people who have accomplished amazing things for this organization. I am adamant that our next Executive Director be someone who has love and enthusiasm for Masters swimming and the desire to move us forward.

Another issue that I believe USMS should vigorously pursue is joint participation activities with other aquatic/athletic organizations such as USA swimming, USA Triathlon, Senior Games, Special Olympics, Paralympics, etc. Although USMS has liaisons or contacts with most of these groups, I believe more should be done at the local level. Many communities have benefited from coordination and consolidation in regards to administration, coaching, securing water time, and training officials.

USMS and USA Swimming could both greatly benefit from a large number of potential swimming officials from USMS members. However, USMS members are required to register separately (and pay additional registration fees) to USA Swimming to be certified. Why do USMS swimmers need a 2nd registration? USMS and USA Swimming are insured by the same company for the same coverage. I will work to help streamline and facilitate training and certification of officials for USMS members.

Please list USMS committees on which you have served. Include the dates you were on the committees and the names of the committee chairs under whom you served:

Various years, 1986-2007:

  • Coaches Committee Judy Bonning, Steve Schofield, Mike Collins, Scott Rabalais, Ed Nessel, Bob Bruce, Mo Chambers
  • Sports Medicine Committee Jim Miller, Jane Moore, Jessica Seaton
  • Safety Committee (Ad Hoc) Chair unknown

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

As Masters swimming administrator, coach, and competitive athlete:

  • 1978 – founded and coached the first United States Masters Swimming program for adults in El Paso at the Central YWCA
  • 1980 to 2000 – served as LMSC Chair for Border Swimming
  • 985 to 2005 – founded and coached the Rio Grande Swim Club
  • 1986 to Present – represented Border USMS and USA Swimming at United States Aquatic Sports (USAS) conferences, as delegate and serving on Sports Medicine, Safety, and Coaches Committees for USMS
  • 1991 to 1993 – chaired USMS Coaches Committee
  • 1997 to 2004 – developed and taught the Swimming Smarter program for swimmers of all ages at the University of Texas at El Paso
  • 2001 – interned and coached Masters swimmers at the USMS/USA High Altitude Training Camp at the United States Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • 2004 – attended the Adapted Swimming Training Camp at the USOTC, which trains swimmers with disabilities
  • Authored articles for Swim Magazine, Masters Aquatic Coaches Association Newsletter, and on the USMS website
  • Currently certified as USA Swimming and UIL Swimming Official
  • 2000 and 2006 – meet director for the USMS South Central Zone Long Course Swimming Championships
  • 1978 to Present – competed in numerous local, regional, state, national, and world competitions, achieving All-American status (2006) and many Top-10 rankings
  • Honored to receive the 2005 Dorothy Donnelly USMS Service Award

As Medical Training Captain and Health and Fitness Coordinator for the El Paso Fire Department:

  • Coordinate and oversee Medical (EMS) and Health and Fitness training for fire department recruits and veterans
  • Provide education, motivation, and hands-on fitness training to 800+ emergency fire and medical personnel
  • Manage 60+ Certified Fitness Coordinators (American College of Sports Medicine) stationed throughout El Paso who provide guidance and support to other firefighters in their respective districts
  • Coordinate and monitor annual medical physicals for all emergency personnel with contracted Health Care Provider
  • Liaison with City Employee Assistance Program for stress management and debriefing
  • Research, recommend, purchase, and distribute physical fitness equipment for 40 fire stations, administration, and support facilities
  • Develop and instruct various health related courses to recruits and veterans, such as: Back Injury Prevention, Performance Nutrition, Exercise Science, CrossFit Training Protocol, and Emergency Scene Safety
  • Produce and edit monthly Health & Fitness Update newsletter
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