Encouraging More Adults to Swim
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Rob Copeland - Candidate for President

Candidate Information

Name: Rob Copeland

LMSC: Georgia

Nominated for: President

Nominated by: Laura Kessler

Letters of Reference from: Michael Heather and Laura Kessler

Summary Statement

USMS has a tremendous group of volunteers and staff who make us the organization we are today. It has been my extreme privilege to be involved in Masters Swimming as a competitor and as a volunteer.  I have met lifelong friends and helped to advance our mission.  It is critical that our elected officers remain focused on achieving the mission and objectives of USMS, by providing leadership to the incredible volunteers and staff who are Masters Swimming.  As president I am committed to provide this leadership.

Response to Questions

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

Those who know me know that I am passionately committed to USMS.  In my 20 plus years of membership in and volunteerism to Masters Swimming, I have served where my experience best fits the needs of the organization.  Now, I feel I can best serve USMS from the office of president.

Having been actively involved in the local and national operations of USMS since 1983, I have been fortunate to see and be a part of the growth and maturing, which has brought us to where we are today.  Also, over the past 4 years I have been actively involved with USMS leaders to develop the governance roadmap for our future growth and success.  With this deep understanding of our rich heritage and of our vision for the future I will work to maintain our high level of quality programs and services while managing the governance changes that will establish our foundation for continued improvement and growth.

In my professional career and through my involvement in Masters, I have been fortunate to have a tremendous group of mentors who have taught me to lead and serve with honesty, integrity, candor, passion and humor.  They also taught me the importance of having a vision and working to fulfill this vision.  I look forward to demonstrating these qualities in working with our leadership, staff and volunteers to mold our vision for the coming years.

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?

Leadership – The duty of our leaders is to set the vision and commit to achieving success in support of our mission. Throughout our history, Masters Swimming has been blessed with strong leaders who have guided us through over 30 years of growth and maturity.  As we continue to grow and mature, it is important that our leaders are responsible to the mission and vision and are responsive to the needs of our volunteers, members and the community at large.  As a long time student of leadership, I understand the challenges we must face and am ready and willing to meet these for our continued success.

Volunteers – Our fundamental strength as an organization has always been our enthusiastic and committed volunteers at the national, local and club levels.  Volunteers are our number one asset.  For our continued success and growth we need to focus on educating, encouraging and recognizing our volunteers and we need to identify and provide opportunities for willing volunteers. I am committed to engaging, encouraging and recognizing volunteerism within USMS.

Coaching – Providing real and virtual coaching for our members is one of the most valuable services available through USMS and is a leading factor in member retention.  Coached programs and Masters coaches provide added value in support of our mission to promote fitness and health in adults by offering and supporting Masters swimming programs. I am committed to investing in programs that will provide more coaches and coaching to our members, and to programs that will increase the numbers of Masters coaches and elevate the coaches knowledge level.

Governance – The Planning, Legislation and Executive Committees have spent a significant amount of time developing a framework of change for the future of USMS.  The first phase of these changes was implemented through legislation last year; the second phase is before us this year.  In the coming years we will continue to introduce and fine-tune how we do business. I am committed to working with our committees and the HOD to finish the good works of Planning’s governance task force. 

Quality Programs – We will grow by providing high quality products and services to our members and to our volunteers.  The change in our organizational structure (the creation of divisional vice presidents and changes to our Board), which the House of Delegates implemented last year was a significant step in aligning how we are organized with how we need to operate to provide continuously improving volunteer and member services.  Our leaders will be responsible for ensuring that our restructured organization works efficiently and effectively in advancing current programs and in developing high quality programs for our members.

Local Support – In addition to developing high quality programs for our individual members and clubs, we need to develop programs to support our LMSC’s.  Many of our smaller LMSCs and some of the larger ones struggle with finding and keeping volunteers to lead and run LMSC operations.  Some LMSC officers have held their positions for decades, out of love for our sport or because no one else is willing to step up. Most LMSCs could operate more effectively.  Our leadership, through the president and vice president of Local Services, must address these issues and the others facing our LMSC’s in order to stabilize our local foundation.

Relationships – USMS maintains excellent relationships with other members of our aquatic sports community, adult athletic organizations and international Masters swimming groups.  Further enhancing these relationships will provide our members with additional training and competitive opportunities, and introduce more adults to the benefits of USMS.  I feel the partnerships we develop at the national and local levels between Masters Swimming and other aquatic and related athletic groups are critical to the future of USMS and I will work to continue to improve upon these.

Growth – For the past few years USMS has not experienced the growth we previously enjoyed.  We need to focus on member services which will attract and retain members and community services which will introduce Masters Swimming to our target audiences.  Providing services which retain members must be high on our list of priorities.  And to borrow a phrase from Nancy Ridout, USMS should “Make Masters Swimming a habit for life.”

Finance – We continue to maintain a strong balance sheet through the fiscal stewardship of our Finance Committee, Executive Committee and controller.  We must continue to responsibly manage the assets of USMS, investing in programs which will benefit the business of USMS.  I also, believe that our new Board of Directors must be more accountable for understanding and managing our USMS fiscal direction and policies.  In the coming years we will likely face a number of financial opportunities, such as 2006 Worlds, insurance, professional executive management, and growth based investments.  The ability of our leaders to effectively manage how, when and what programs and services to invest is a critical attribute, and is a key to our continued strength.  I am committed to growing USMS, while maintaining financial accountability to our board, house and members

Communication – Properly developed and executed communicate plans for our national and local volunteers, our members, peers, partners, sponsors, and the community at large, are critical facets in achieving our objectives and in enhancing the recognition of USMS.  In the past few years, how USMS communicates has drastically changed; usage of email, conference calling, the USMS web site and our national publication have all provided us with communication opportunities and challenges that were not as readily accessible 5 to 10 years ago.  Our leaders need to be responsive to these channels of communication and look for ways to use them in support of national and local programs.

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:

  • Legislation Committee 1987 to 2005, chair 2002 to 2005 (Chairs Art Smith, Jerianne Donnelly, Bill Earley, Elin Zander)
  • Long Distance Committee 1986 to 1993 and 2002 to 2005, chair 1988 to 1993 (Chairs Dave Gray, Peter Crumbine)
  • Ad hoc Rule Book Committee 1990 (Kathy Casey)
  • Rules, ex officio 2002 to 2005 (Chair Leo Letendre)
  • Breadbasket Zone Representative 1985 to 1987 (Chair of ZC Edie Gruender)
  • Dixie Zone Representative 2004 to 2005 (Chair of ZC Lynn Hazlewood)
  • Served on other committees in the 80’s and 90’s

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

In the past 25 years, I have served in many positions at the local level in the Midwestern, New Jersey and Georgia LMSC’s, and in the Georgia LSC.

Additionally, I have served in almost every capacities in the clubs that I have been a member of throughout these years; president, secretary, treasurer, meet director, starter, timer, ...

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