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USMS Apology for Letter to the Editor

Dear USMS Membership,

We want to personally apologize to all our members for the pain and anger that the publication of Glenn Welsford’s letter to the editor in the January-February 2011 issue of SWIMMER magazine may have caused. USMS does not endorse or support Mr. Welsford’s opinion.

For those unfamiliar with the issue, Mr. Welsford submitted a letter to the editor in response to a feature story in the September-October 2010 issue of SWIMMER magazine. In that issue, we ran a five-page feature story profiling and celebrating Tyler Duckworth, an openly gay swimmer and reality TV star. In the same issue, we also ran a half-page book review of Jeff Commings’s autobiography Odd Man Out, in which Mr. Commings tells his story as a gay black swimmer. Editor Laura Hamel penned her editorial for that issue celebrating the inclusiveness of swimming and highlighting the acceptance of our differences that our members share with one another.

We should have used better judgment during the editorial review of Mr. Welsford’s letter. We could have asked him to resubmit his letter and made sure it met with stricter standards for such letters. And if we had deemed the second letter appropriate to print, we should have printed an explanation adjacent to it due to the sensitive nature of the topic. And we could have chosen to ignore the letter. While, again, we do not endorse or support Mr. Welsford’s opinion, we respect his right or any other member’s right to have an opinion on a topic we have introduced in the magazine and have it considered for publication.

Language is included in the masthead of the magazine on page 4 that opinions expressed by authors and advertisers do not necessarily reflect the policies of USMS. In our next issue, we will add more substantive language that letters to the editor do not reflect the opinions of USMS either. We will also clarify and publish our policies on accepting letters to the editor so that we can continue to allow healthy dialogue within that department. Recognizing the pain and anger that Mr. Welsford’s letter may have caused, we have destroyed all remaining issues of SWIMMER that would have been mailed to members who register past the mailing date and removed his letter from the online version of SWIMMER.

In addition, we would like to publicly apologize to Tyler Duckworth for the publication of Mr. Welsford’s letter.

Swimming for Life,

Rob Butcher                                                                  Laura Hamel
Executive Director                                                         Editor in Chief
U.S. Masters Swimming                                                U.S. Masters Swimming

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