Open Water Sanction FAQs

Related Documents:
Open Water Sanctions memo from President Nadine Day
Open Water Sanction Guidelines

Q1: I am an LMSC Sanctions Chair.  Does this mean that we are once again allowed to grant open water sanctions, or are we still on hold for that?

A1: The new national open water compliance contractor will begin reviewing sanction requests the week of February 18. Requests will be released to the LMSC sanctions chairs after he has reviewed them.

Q2: We host a small (80 - 100) open water swim each year. The increase in sanction fee may cause us to permanently cancel this event if we cannot get some relief toward the $1000 sanction fee. When will we know this is available and how do we apply?

A2: The USMS Open Water Committee will be responsible for the administration of the relief program if it is approved by the USMS Finance Committee. The relief program will be available to LMSCs and not events.

Q3:  We have one event in our LMSC which was sanctioned prior to all the insurance issues arising.  I just want to confirm that the $1800 surcharge ($1000 LMSC responsibility) would not apply to this event.

A3: For any event not yet hosted, even if the event is already sanctioned or has applied for the sanction, the LMSC will be billed the appropriate insurance surcharge. If the LMSC is not able or does not want to pay the insurance surcharge, they may chose to revoke the sanction.

Q4: Do the requirements for propeller guards apply to professional lifeguarding services, such as the Virginia Beach Lifeguard Service?  Or would they fall under the same category as police and government agency boats?

A4: They fall under the exempt category, like government agencies.

Q5: Would any of these motorized craft be exempt from the propeller guard ruling?  Our swim has been supported the past several years by an all volunteer boat crew including private power boats of various sizes, the City of Sitka Fire and Dive Rescue boat and the US Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteer boats. We also may have support from the Sitka Mountain Rescue volunteers for 2013. None of these boats (some professional rescue boats) have propeller guards installed on their outboards or drive units.

A5: Coast guard, fire, rescue, city, and county boats are exempt from the propeller guard requirement. All others will need to comply with the standards.

Q6: As I read these guidelines, volunteered "motorized watercraft" are required to provide proof of insurance.  I am assuming that this would apply to wave runners and jet skis as well as motor boats?

A6: Any vehicle with a motor will need to comply with the certificate of insurance or proof of insurance standard. Kayaks do not need to provide either.

Q7: Please be very clear.  Is this telling me that if we want our event sanctioned by USMS, we have to pay $1,800?

A7: No.  The memo says that if an LMSC grants a sanction for an open water event, the LMSC will be billed $1,000 for that event. The LMSC can choose whether they want to pay the $1,000, whether the event director has to pay the $1,000, or whether it's some combination of the two.  For example, the LMSC might pay $600 and the event director would be responsible for $400.  It is up to the LMSC to determine their policy.

Q8: How do you define event? We get one sanction for our event that has four races.  Do you agree with that definition?

A8:  Open water swims that are part of the same event, on the same course, and are held on consecutive days would only need one sanction number. This is much like a pool event that is held on Saturday and Sunday.

Q9: If USMS can only sanction a total of 75 events in a year, how will those events be chosen among the 52 LMSCs?  My LMSC sanctions four different open water events.  If every LMSC hosted four, that would be over 200 events total.

A9: There is no limit to how many open water events LMSCs may sanction. The LMSC will be billed the appropriate insurance surcharge by USMS. Our insurer has not placed a cap on how many open water events USMS as a whole may sanction.

Q10: Please clarify if boats owned by government agencies need to show the Certificate of Insurance and Proof of Insurance under OW-102.3.1. It is our understanding that they DO NOT need to show any proof of insurance, but this is not in-line with the current document as written.
A10: Boats owned and operated by Coast Guard, police, fire and rescue, or other government agencies are not required to provide certificates or proof of insurance.

Q11: Please clarify why there are two categories for insurance dealing with hired watercraft and operators. If the watercraft is hired, shouldn’t the insurance cover the operator? Are two insurance documents required, one for the craft and one for the operator? We don’t think that operators will have insurance separate from their watercraft.

A11: It was contemplated that a boat could be volunteered, but the operator would be hired. In that case, proof of insurance would need to be presented for the boat and a certificate of insurance for the hired operator.
Q12: Inboard motors that run on the designated swim course for non-escorted swimming events are required to have prop guards. In order to do a visual inspection and take a photograph of these inboard motors, wouldn’t they be required to be hoisted out of the water?

A12: Inboard motors are not required to have propeller guards. Only outboard motors are required to have propeller guards.
Q13: Please clarify whether a Certificate of Insurance or Proof of Insurance is required for motorized watercraft that are anchored while any swimmer is in the water for the entire duration of the OW event.

A13: Yes, if the watercraft is participating in the event it needs to meet the insurance requirements.
Q14: Why is the sanction fee collected within one month of the sanction? Why can’t this fee be collected after the event occurs so directors can increase their swimmer entry fees to cover the new costs?

A14: Please note, USMS is billing an insurance fee, not a sanction fee, to the LMSC. USMS does not bill the the event host and it is up to each LMSC to determine what charge they will pass onto the event host. The LMSC will be billed at the end of the month the event takes place.

Q15: Is there any indication that this lump sum being charged to USMS will decrease and/or cease after a season (or multiple seasons) with no insurance claims?

A15: The insurance surcharge is only for 2013. We will review once we know our 2014 insurance premiums and make changes accordingly.

Q16: The 2013 National Championship event directors understand that if they run another race in addition to their National Championship event that they are subject to the $1000 sanction fee. They request, however, that their races be included in the original sanction number and they be exempted from repeating the sanctioning process. If USMS is trying to keep its sanction number lower due to the increased fees when total sanctions exceed 75, it makes sense to have all the races included under one sanction as has been in previous years.

A16: The host need apply for one sanction and the LMSC will be billed a $1,000 insurance surcharge for the sanction. The 2013 National Championships are exempt from the insurance surcharge by USMS.

Q17: I run an open water race in a lake that does not allow motorized watercraft. The course is monitored by safety personnel using kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Is there an exemption of the huge sanction fee for events like this?

A17: The insurance surcharge applies to all open water events for 2013, whether motorized watercraft are used or not. It is important to remember the insurance surcharge is being passed from USMS to the LMSCs.  We are finding that most LMSCs are only passing a fraction of this insurance surcharge on to event hosts as event sanction fees.  Please check with your LMSC chair or sanction chair for the sanction fees being charged in your area.

Q18: I intend to host a sanctioned USMS open water event where all the participants will be USMS or USA Swimming members. May I offer a non-sanctioned open water swim on the same day and on the same course that is available for non-USMS or non-USA Swimming members? If so, how should the non-sanctioned swim operate so I am not in violation of the USMS sanction?

A18: So long as you follow the USMS open water sanction guidelines, the sanctioned event and the participants in the sanctioned event will have insurance coverage afforded by USMS. The non-sanctioned swim that is offered to non-USMS or non-USA Swimming members will not be part of the USMS sanction. Therefore, the event director will not be covered by USMS insurance and the participants will not have USMS participant coverage. The event director must provide to USMS a certificate of insurance for the non-sanctioned swim with a minimum of $1,000,000 of liability coverage, including participant coverage. USMS should not be named as additional insured. If the entity hosting the event is a self-insured municipality, it need not provide proof of coverage. The participants in the non-sanctioned swim that includes non-USMS members should not be commingled on the course at the same time as the participants in the sanctioned USMS event.

Q19: Are one-event registrations still allowed at open water events?

A19: Yes, one-event registrations are still allowed if the LMSC chooses to offer them. Information on one-event registrations can be found here.

Q: I have more questions. Whom do I contact?

A: Send your questions to