After a great weekend in San Francisco I’m back to real life at home today. My trip started with a swim in Aquatic Park with friends from Chicago and New York followed by a trip to the South End’s Sauna and dinner overlooking the bay. The next day I went on an awesome adventure with Swim-Art (highly highly highly recommend going out to swim with them!) where we swam from the Golden Gate Bridge to Aquatic Park, again followed by a trip to the South End’s Sauna. I hung out at FINIS and got a tour of the offices… no follow up trip to a sauna on this one but I did get some new swim toys to check out :) Eventually I made it to the site of USMS Open Water Swimming Safety Conference. A day after the conference closed down I’m still processing things I learned and contacting people I met there to follow up on some ideas for the future. This was a very good trip for me and very well timed… I have a lot of things I’m working on right now that were majorly benefited by this outing.
At the conference I was really encouraged by 1. how many people came out and 2. how many of them were just concerned swimmers that want to make their sport better and paid their own way. There were plenty of race directors and LMSC representatives, but then there were people like my Laguna Beach Oak Streeter friends Lynn and Roni who paid out of pocket and came just because they wanted to. That’s awesome.
I don’t know that I could do an effective job of rehashing the conference, there was a lot of information and I took intermittent networking breaks that weren’t scheduled into the conference, but my buddy Gords from Utah (who I got to finally meet in person!) took some excellent notes and I’d recommend checking out his post on the conference. I really liked listening to Shelly Taylor Smith talk at the opening of the conference, and I also really enjoyed Chris Brewster, President of USLA. I found the perspective of aquatic professionals not involved in swimming to be very useful especially since they exist completely outside of the sphere of influence of USAS/USMS/USAT and didn’t hold back on sharing their opinions even if they’d be unpopular with NGBs or race directors. I ordered the USLA’s Open Water Lifesaving Manual in hopes that I can learn things from it to make me an asset to my friends in the water if I happen to be present for an in ocean emergency. I want to take surf lifesaving classes but short of applying for a job as a beach lifeguard I haven’t really found a way to get that accomplished, at least with this I can try and get book smart and maybe supplement it with a pool lifeguarding class.
I made some really valuable personal connections in San Francisco and the conference really energized my move forward into a new Rob Aquatics project that you guys will probably start hearing about in a month or so. When the video from the conference gets posted to the USMS website I’ll make sure to post it so you all can check it out from home.