If you have been trying to register for a USMS sanctioned open water event recently, you may have noticed that registration for many events has been on hold. The reason for this is new sanctioning guidelines for open water events.
Insurance premiums increased dramatically for open water events this year after some unfortunate accidents in 2012. A task force was put together to determine how to move forward with open water sanctioning and new guidelines and requirements were recently published. The long and short of the matter is that it is going to cost event directors significantly more ($1,800 per event - $800 paid by USMS = $1,000 per event) to have their events sanctioned through USMS. In addition, safety plans must be reviewed by a third party and there are new rules in place regarding motorized support boats.
A really good summary of what has been happening as well as answers to common questions was posted today on the USMS website.
So what does this mean for our local open water events?
- Utah Masters has been very supportive of our growing open water scene and wants to see these events continue under USMS. They have graciously offered to cover a portion of the sanctioning fee. The remainder of the increased sanctioning cost will have to be paid by the event director. As it is, our three local events (Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim, Deer Creek Open Water Marathon Swim, and Bear Lake Monster Swim) are lucky to break even financially at the end of the event. Unless there are more sponsors who step forward to help these events, part of the increased cost will likely be passed on to the participants in the form of increased registration fees.
- Race directors have been waiting for the new guidelines to be published. Now that they are out, events can begin applying for sanctioning. Registration for many events will likely open later than in years past.
- On the plus side, the new rules and safety plan review were put in place to make events safer for swimmers.
This is going to be a challenging year for USMS sanctioned open water events. Race directors have been put in a tough spot and are scrambling to figure out how to keep their events going under an increased financial burden and stricter safety rules. Race directors will appreciate your patience and understanding as they work these things out.
If you have any questions about the new guidelines, read this article. If you still have questions, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.