The coronavirus pandemic has impacted all USMS members, clubs, coaches, volunteers, and events. Although we don’t know how long the pandemic will affect us, we will continue to put our members’ health and wellness at the forefront of everything we do.
Here's a list of projects we’ve completed over the past several months to serve our organization’s wide range of stakeholders. We will continue to build on these and add more as time goes on.
We produced numerous informative and human-interest articles related to COVID-19, as well as multiple dryland workout options for members who didn’t have an opportunity to swim because of pool closures. As pools began to reopen, we released our revamped Workout Library, which provides members an easier way to access and customize workouts and have them delivered directly to their inbox or smartwatch. We launched the 2020 Toyota USMS Virtual Championships Powered by Swim.com in August, and 1,500 swimmers took advantage of the opportunity to compete in this fun event. We also added a dryland option to allow participants to complete the 2020 SmartyPants Vitamins USMS Summer Fitness Challenge in case they didn’t have access to a pool or body of open water. And we also worked with our partners to provide discount codes to our members.
With clubs facing revenue losses caused by pool closures, we created the USMS COVID-19 Relief Program for clubs to support their efforts to restart when safe and appropriate in their area. The program matched funding provided by each club’s LMSC and made $250,000 available to help clubs navigate headwinds from the pandemic. We raised an additional $42,000 through the Virtual Championships, the SmartyPants Vitamins USMS Fitness Series, and an online auction. We also provided clubs a restart guide to provide them the steps necessary to get their program going again despite the many challenges they’re facing because of the pandemic.
We provided our coaches with resources to help them navigate their club through the pandemic. The Coaches Committee began a monthly webinar to provide best practices, tips, and tricks for coaches across the country, and we beta-tested a free virtual Level 1 coach certification course as part of our vision for the future of USMS coach and club development.
We released Volunteer Central which provides easier navigation to volunteer information and added the COVID-19 Volunteer Hub to supply USMS volunteers with information to help them communicate with members, clubs, and events in their areas, and worked with the volunteer leadership at the LMSC level to establish the framework of the USMS COVID-19 Relief Program for clubs. Following the cancellation of this year’s USAS Convention, we also created a virtual annual meeting for our volunteers to meet to discuss important rule changes, conduct elections, review business plan assumptions, and more via Zoom. Trainings took place with committee leadership and to the House of Delegates members for the past several months to prepare for a seamless transition to the virtual annual meeting.
With in-person events canceled during the pandemic, we created the Virtual Championships to provide members an opportunity to compete and continued efforts to conduct the Summer Fitness Challenge and the USMS 5K/10K ePostal National Championships. We created the new Open Water Central to streamline open water resources and information into an easy-to-navigate section of usms.org. We’ve also created a sub-committee to evaluate how to progress with events and create best practices to return to events. We will begin Phase 1 on Nov. 1, 2020.
To provide prospective members with a clear pricing option, we created in conjunction with our LMSCs a modified Year-Plus membership that allowed prospective members to renew their membership or join through Dec. 31, 2021, for a flat fee of $60.
USMS has joined 30-plus water-safety and competitive water sports organizations nationwide to form the Aquatics Coalition. This group is continuing to develop direction and tools to advocate for a safe return to purpose-driven, instructional aquatics, including resources and education for local swimming facilities and programs to create guidelines for their pools and petition their local governments to allow them to safely re-open. We encourage you to visit the Aquatics Coalition website, follow them on social media, sign the petition that the group is currently circulating, and share the resources the group has developed for a safe return to the water.