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How It All Works: Notes on the 2018 USMS Annual Meeting from a Newbie Delegate

Lots of meetings in a labyrinthine conference center. Darting out to forage for food at odd intervals. An enormous blue bridge at sunset. Badges. Bags. Awards. Old friends and new colleagues. The finer points of parliamentary procedure. A remarkable election. Above all, love for the sport.

These are the images and memories in my mind as I reflect on my first USMS Annual Meeting as a delegate representing Pacific Masters Swimming. There was a lot to take in, and a lot that I didn’t get to. But by the end, I had a fuller sense of how Pacific Masters Swimming and the other LMSCs contribute to USMS, and how much USMS relies on its knowledgeable, committed volunteers and staff. In other words, how it all works.
As a language geek in my professional life, I naturally gravitated to the Legislation and Rules committee meetings, both of which devoted considerable time to drafting and revising official language reflecting proposed changes. As discussion progressed, I thought: These people are really smart. And many of them have been doing this for a long time. They offered perfect conditions for a newbie to learn the ropes and conducted their business with sincere courtesy and professionalism.
Another standout part of my first convention was the election of several At-Large Directors to the USMS Board of Directors. An impressive roster of candidates spoke before the House of Delegates, followed by (first-time) electronic voting, resulting in the election of directors who skewed young and female. A change election! It was fascinating to witness such a ringing endorsement of new energy on the USMS board.
Beyond these narrower impressions, my broader takeaway from the Annual Meeting was how closely the professional and the personal work together to help complex organizations such as USMS function and adapt. We legislate, but we also celebrate and tell stories, as I learned from the IMSHOF induction ceremony and USAS awards banquet (which celebrates USA swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming and Masters swimming). And we remember: the Remembrance presentation featuring swimmers who had passed away over the past year was heartfelt and reflective.
I have volunteered at one time or another for environmental organizations, neighborhood groups, and professional associations, and each of these opportunities has helped me to learn and grow. But for all of the reasons I’ve just listed, representing Pacific Masters Swimming “at convention” was a particular honor. I appreciate having had the chance to serve. Thanks, PacMasters!
Written by Peg Flynn.

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