USMS, a non-profit organization/governing body, supports swimmers ages 18 and up in a variety of ways, including offering guidelines and insurance to teams and sanctioning meets and events all across the country. In short, it is a pool tourist’s best friend.
Individual USMS membership is generally required in order to practice with a USMS team. As a courtesy, many teams welcome traveling USMS members into their workouts for free. My team offers a free week to visitors, for example, and my project has benefited from similar generosity at the Poughkeepsie Middle School pool with FISH Masters and the SUNY New Paltz pool with the Gunks Masters. Years ago, someone I knew spent the summer traveling across the country and swimming with USMS groups all along the way.
If the opportunity to swim is not rewarding enough, you can track your workouts on the USMS “flog” (aka fitness log) and win free stuff! I am doing this for the first time this year and am waiting for the free cap I’ve earned to materialize. By the end of the year, I hope to score a free swim suit. This in itself more than covers the price of USMS membership, plus it’s good motivation. Nothing annoys me more than my flog telling me, “You need to pick up the pace.” If it only knew how busy I’ll be during summer outdoor pool season, I’m sure it would lighten up.
Should you need training ideas or swim buddies, USMS has you covered there, too. You can choose from a variety of workouts refreshed weekly, read up on stroke techniques, and follow along with other USMS members’ swimming in their blogs, even meeting virtual training partners. Together with an interesting magazine that shows up in the mail every couple of months, these tools help build a strong–and growing–community.
One other member perk coming up is the free Commissioner’s Trophy meet at the gorgeous Flushing Meadows Corona Park Aquatic Center. Scheduled for Sunday, May 6, it’s hosted by City of New York Parks & Recreation and open to all USMS members. It’s a fun event and a good chance to augment your trophy collection, meet other swimmers, and hear about their pools. I’ve only done this meet once before due to scheduling conflicts, but I can make it this year and look forward to it being my 20-something-th pool.