*** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE *** Contact: Steven Munatones, U.S. Masters Swimming Phone: (714) 305-7374; email: headcoach@openwatersource.


Protecting Athletes: Open Water Safety Conference
January 24, 2011 – Sharks, jellyfish, currents, waves, hypothermia, hyperthermia and pollution – how are athletes protected in open water swimming events? This is the theme of the March 18 through March 20 “Protecting Athletes: Open Water Swimming Safety Conference” in San Francisco. U.S. Masters Swimming and the Pacific Masters Local Masters Swimming Committee are jointly hosting the conference, gathering numerous open water swimming experts to discuss best practices, planning, protocols and guidelines at the world’s first international Open Water Swimming Safety Conference. Since the inclusion of triathlons at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and marathon swimming at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, a growing number of individuals of all ages, abilities and backgrounds are heading to the open water. Both at the grassroots level and elite competitions, there is a critical and immediate need for swimmers, coaches, race directors, organizations and governing bodies to share knowledge and experiences on all safety issues regarding competitive and recreational open water swimming activities. Conference speakers include Shelly Taylor-Smith and Steven Munatones, both members of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee; Jim Wheeler, a recognized aquatic safety expert; Morty Berger, president of NYC Swim; Dr. Jim Miller, member of the FINA Sports Medicine Committee; Benoit Amyot, race director of the Traversée International du lac St-Jean; Chris Brewster, president of the U.S. Life Saving Association; Chris Sheean, race director of Big Shoulders and U.S. Masters Swimming national championship event in Chicago; Bob Placak, founder of the RCP Tiburon Mile in San Francisco; Yutaka Shinozaki, founder of the Japan International Open Water Swimming Association; Marcia Cleveland, English Channel swimmer and Masters open water national champion; Suzanne Heim-Bowen, marathon swimmer and Masters open water national champion; Lori Bosco, race director for the Swim Around Key West; Kaia Hedlund, president of the Waikiki Roughwater Swim; John Tucker, FINA Open Water Swimming Referee; Maddy Crippen of the Fran Crippen Elevation Foundation; Dean Jackson, Executive Vice President of blueseventy; Dale Petranech, Honorary Secretary of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame; Malcolm Cooper, Safety Director of the Maui Channel Swim; Nelson Vargas of the Acapulco 5K International Swim in Acapulco, Mexico; Bruce Wigo, CEO of the International Swimming Hall of Fame; Karen Reeder, race director of the U.S. Masters Swimming 6-Mile Championship in Colorado; Dick Sidner, race director of the U.S. Masters Swimming 25K National Championship in Indiana; Liz Tucker, Race Director Certification Manager of USA Triathlon and several others.

―The sport now has over 3,600 open water swims in the world – plus an ever greater number of triathlons, charity swims, solo swims and relays,‖ says Steven Munatones, the conference cohost and editor-in-chief of the Daily News of Open Water Swimming. ―Open water swimming presents significant challenges for participants, race directors, coaches and administrators. How do we keep everyone safe – and anticipate everything that might occur in the open water? That is what we are discussing at the conference.‖ Mark Gill, Director of Operations with U.S. Masters Swimming, sees the growth—and risks—of the sport first-hand: ―We host six open water championship events and sanction more than 50 open water swimming competitions from coast to coast. There are many people—including many of our 55,000 members—who swim primarily in open water or triathlons. We see a critical need and huge responsibility to bring in some of the world’s most experienced safety experts to discuss open water safety issues.‖ Michael Moore, Chair of Pacific Masters LMSC, whose LMSC has 10,000 USMS members and sanctions many open water events comments, ―Our race directors have decades of accumulated know-how and practical experience in conducting events in lakes, oceans and other venues that range from 1-mile lake races to swims across the San Francisco Bay. We are tapping into their knowledge, documenting it and coming up with a series of recommendations for the sport.‖ The conference schedule can be fully viewed at http://www.openwatersource.com/open-waterswimming-safety-conference.html. The Conference will provide summary documents of the sessions and case studies that will help raise the standards of safety in the sport and will help race organizers and governing bodies worldwide understand optimal safety practices. The sessions will be video recorded and archived for viewing by interested parties. For more information, please contact Steven Munatones at 714-305-7374 or email: headcoach@openwatersource.com About U.S. Masters Swimming U.S. Masters Swimming, founded in 1970, is a membership-operated national governing body that promotes adult health, fitness, wellness and competition through aquatics. It does so by partnering with more than 1,000 adult swim programs across the country that offer swimming and fitness programs, promotes information via a bimonthly member magazine and www.usms.org, and sanctions and promotes pool, open water and virtual competitions. More than 50,000 adults are registered members of U.S. Masters Swimming. For more information, contact us at 655 North Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34236 or by phone at 941-256-USMS (8767). #

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