The MSO Board will be hosting its 2nd member information meeting on Sunday, February 26th following the Thornhill meet. In preparation for this meeting, below is a summary of the current situation. We look forward to speaking to you on Sunday!
MSO and Swim Ontario have managed to coexist over the years. MSO has been left alone to provided services to its members; the largest masters community in Canada. MSO has sanctioned masters meets in Ontario for many years through a “block sanction” from Swim Ontario. When Swim Ontario insurance proved inadequate, MSO filled the gap to protect its clubs, swimmers, coaches and volunteers. MSO has contributed and promoted many initiatives and programmes for national-wide implementation by MSC, e.g., the Million Metre Challenge.
Since 2015, MSO has been under fire from SNC, SO and MSC.
- On April 8, 2016 MSO provided a short summary of the events in 2015 affecting the MSO Sanction. Clubs and swimmers were invited to further discuss these events on April 2nd at Provincials.
- On May 8, 2016 MSC signed an agreement with SNC in spite of grave concerns from MSO. As predicted, the agreement has had significant negative impact on Masters swimming in Canada. Neither MSC nor SNC published the text of the agreement. MSC has refused to respond to questions from its member clubs and registered swimmers. On August 17, 2016 MSO finally posted the text of the agreement on its site.
- In the summer of 2016, MSO learned that the MSC agreement and SNC’s new Sanctioning policy would result in major changes for masters swimming in 2016-2017. On August 17, 2016 MSO notified its members of the changes and called an early AGM.
- In the fall, the new MSO board continued to negotiate with SO to keep the competition on track. SO did not confirm many meets sanctions until a week before the event. The issues revolved around SO’s demand, supported by MSC, that MSO’s entire registration database be uploaded to SNC-SO system. The board was concerned about its responsibilities under privacy laws. These concerns were confirmed to be legitimate, especially in light of SNC’s own declaration that registration data is subject to PIEPDA (Privacy legalisation).
- On January 20, 2017 MSO informed its members that SNC had declared the sanctions for all MSO meets void. MSO further communicated on the services that would allow swimming, at least in Ontario, to continue. This notice describes the “Status Quo”.
- On February 1, 2017 MSO received a message from MSC saying that “He [Doug Hannum] and the MSC Board believe that MSO is redundant now that SO will be directly managing Masters competitions in Ontario and further, MSC is supporting SNC and SO in this position.” The President of MSO recommended that MSO begin to wind down. The Board rejected the proposal to wind down as being premature and the President, being alone in his view, resigned.
The MSO is communicating with MSC and SO regarding the future so that MSO member clubs and swimmers may be advised. MSO has organized meetings to respond to questions and seek the views of its members (February 12th Burlington (live streamed), February 26th Thornhill).
At this time the following is being explored.
1. Current Situation
The January 2017 SNC letter to its Provincial Sections, states that only clubs registered in the SNC system can apply to SO for an event sanction. Only swimmers who are registered in the SNC system and with a club in good standing can enter a SNC sanctioned events.
Impact on Ontario is described in MSO’s January 21, 2017 notice. In short,
- Ontario has viable, if restricted, swimming programmes
- Training continues under MSO insurance
- Competition continues within Ontario under an MSO-only sanction and MSO insurance
- Out-of-province and international swimmers may compete by purchasing MSO insurance via MSO’s Single-Event Registration
- All meets outside of Ontario are sanctioned by one of Swim Canada’s Provincial Organizations, i.e., SNC sanctions. Ontario swimmers cannot compete in these events unless registered with SNC / SO.
- Swimmers may compete in USMS events by purchasing their insurance under One-Event Registration
- Swimmers may compete in any and all “GAMES” since they are independent of FINA, e.g., World Masters Games, IGLA etc.
- Restrictions impact only competitive swimmers, approx 20-25% of MSO registrants
- MSO registrants cannot compete in SNC sanctioned meets UNLESS they register as a Swimming Canada Competitive Masters (SCCM), i.e., the $2 solution
- The $2 solution is for the 2016-2017 season to allow MSO swimmers to compete in MSC’s 2017 National Championship, 2017 FINA Masters in Budapest or any event in another province (e.g., clubs competing in Manitoba).
- SNC is unlikely to authorize FINA records swum in Ontario to be submitted; impacts 2-5 swimmers annually
- MSC’s recognition of Canadian masters records set in Ontario continues to be unclear; this is a position that MSO considers indefensible.
- MSC’s decision to bypass MSO and work directly with SO and SNC is equally indefensible and may be outside what is permitted by the MSC bylaws.
Likely Impact of the Status Quo ongoing
- Swim clubs will decide independently whether or not to affiliate with SO; some will, some will not. The masters environment under SO is in discussion but not entirely clear.
- Individual club decisions would not have the advantage of an organized body to advocate for the collective.
- Further fracture of the masters swimming community and ultimately a loss of membership
- Swim clubs may seek self-insurance and split their clubs so that only competitive swimmers are registered…. Further loss of membership.
MSO’s current Actions
- MSO is advocating for Ontario masters clubs and swimmers, and is reaching out and try to negotiate with SO and MSC on issues both present and for the future.
- MSO is seeking more information from SO and MSC. While there is discussion there is little tangible information that can be presented to clubs and swimmers.
- MSO continues to communicate with Ontario masters swimmers.
2. A modified status quo?
Could MSO continue to function with its own membership and competition structure but with no formal relationship to SO, SNC or even MSC?
- It would be the least disruptive given the majority of MSO members are non-competitive.
- Ontario currently has a viable competitive programme, albeit with the restrictions noted above.
- Potential to recruit dissatisfied swimmers, clubs and Provincial committees, and begin again.
- Swimmers independently choosing to register with USMS, an SO affiliated club, another province, would disperse the masters community and would negatively impact Masters swimming at all levels; clubs, MSO and MSC.
- Severance from MSC precludes National every being brought to Ontario, notwithstanding that Nationals could be held in Ontario even under the status quo
3. Moving away from the Status Quo
Under the January 2017 SNC letter, swim clubs wishing to host a sanctioned meet must be affiliated with SNC-SO. Ontario swimmers in Ontario must be registered directly with SO.
SO has created a masters committee to “deal with Masters swimming”. The entire committee is made up of SO Board members and staff, although at least some are also Masters swimmers. There is no representation from MSO at the committee. Communications have been largely MSO initiated. Information is “conversational” in nature; i.e., no more than what might be gleaned over a cup of coffee.
In all provinces except BC, Manitoba and currently Ontario masters swimmers are represented via a Masters Committee, where one exists. In some provinces the chair of the Masters Committee is on the PSO’s board, but not always. Anecdotal information suggests that only one province feels either well represented or well served by their PSO.
It is speculated that clubs will make decisions for the new season with or without reliable information; with or without knowing what kind of voice they will have under SO or knowing what services will be offered. MSO is making every effort to be the negotiator for its clubs and swimmers. This cannot be left to MSC given their performance in the past two years and their inherent secrecy.
Clubs and their swimmers will see affiliation with SO as:
- Resolving the current lack of mobility for Ontario competitive masters swimmers.
Note that swimmers from other provinces can currently swim at meets in Ontario under the Single-Event Registration.
- Allowing world records to be recognized;
Note that MSC’s position on Canadian records has never been defensible.
- Advantage of SO affiliation for clubs is not yet
- Clubs may feel an SO sanctioned provides greater certainty, however, with the exception of World records there is little difference to the current Ontario environment. If anything there will be more restrictions based on what is known of SNC sanctioning processes.
- SO and SNC have insisted since September that the entire MSO registration database needs to be transferred to SNC. The January SNC letter makes no mention of “competitive swimmers” being registered. Current SO policy requires all competitive and non-competitive swimmers to be registered; for age group clubs this is enforced via fines.
- Clubs may choose not to register non-competitive swimmers or simply self-insure. This would lead to a decline in membership and negatively impact masters swimming in the future.
- The SO bylaws make no mention of Masters swimmers or Masters clubs. SO has commented that the SO bylaws would need to be changed, at the earliest in September 2017. MSO will seek opportunities to represent its members while SO creates a structure that includes Masters.
- In recent conversation, SO raised the possibility of a Masters Committee with members elected by Masters swimmers. SO insisted that the chair be an SO appointee.
- There is no information on fees under SO affiliation. Fee structures on the SO website and those in other provinces suggest increases may be expected.
- Masters may end up subsidizing youth programs.
- It is unclear if increasing masters enrolment would be a priority for SO.
- Masters swimmer numbers will be used by SO for government grants. There is no information on whether affiliation with SO will allow grants to flow to Masters. This has not been the case to date in Ontario or nationally.
Swim Canada (SNC)
OUR VISION STATEMENT
We inspire Canadians through world leading
performances to embrace a lifestyle of swimming,
sport, fitness and health.
We create and develop an environment that allows people to achieve sustained success and leadership;
We ensure a welcoming and safe environment;
We promote our brand so that Canadians view swimming as a premier sport and activity in Canada;
We drive growth through innovation, quality programming and partnerships;
We lead and govern with organizational excellence and business performance.
Mission Statement Swim Ontario,
Its affiliates and stakeholders shall provide an environment through which its participants lead Canadian swimming on all levels.
Masters Swimming Canada
Vision: Every adult swimmer in Canada should be aware of and have access to swimmer programs and resources that enhance their swimming experience.
Masters Swimming Ontario
Mission: To promote life-long health and fitness in adults through participation in Ontario Masters swim programs.
Vision: To be the leading resource for adult swimmers of all ages and abilities and to grow participation in the sport of swimming in Ontario.