Masters Swimming Canada’s Million Metre Challenge is Ten Years Old Today..
Posted below are some insights and history about the event from Chris Smith
MILLION METRE CHALLENGE TURNS TEN YEARS OLD ON SEPTEMBER 1, 2015
That’s right, the MMC became an official program of Masters Swimming Canada on September 1, 2005, how time flies when one is having fun. This great program which encourages our members to swim and stay fit by keeping a record of individual metres swum, to reach new levels, to receive swim caps indicating these plus the monthly contest between clubs has been an important service to our members for ten years. How did it all start?
As for many things in swimming it started with the Australians, by the Australian Union of Senior Swimming Inc., AUSSI for short, which was in many ways the model for “Masters” swimming in the World. They developed a number of programs decades ago to encourage their adult members to stay fit, including the Million Metre Challenge in the 1970s. This program came to the attention of some MSC members in the 1990s and they wondered if MSC could develop something similar. Unfortunately MSC was not capable of dealing with this or other issues at the time due to serious challenges. I started using the Australian MMC program in 1999 to see how it worked.
Their program at the time was very different in its administration than the current MSC MMC program we are using. Members of AUSSI received a form, on which they filled in all the metres they had swum for the month and at the end of the month they would mail it in to the AUSSI head office in Melbourne. Once every six months or so AUSSI would post results on their website showing where everyone was and highlighting those who had reached a new level. Unfortunately this has not changed much, in Australia.
Although there was some interest in the program among a few Canadian Masters there did not seem to be any way to implement it, certainly not at the national level. Events in 2003 started to change this, there was a real movement across Canada to find out what was wrong with MSC’ structure and fix it by both the MSC Board and membership. Developing new programs was an issue of this initiative, however, the logistics of operating the Australian MMC here seemed daunting.
Lindsay Patten joined the Board in late 2004 as the representative of New Brunswick, yes the Board at that time had one member from each province, another story! Lindsay’s interest and expertise was in computer and internet technology. We explained the AUSSI MMC program to him and asked if he could produce such a program here but using the internet for its operation. Lindsay put the current program together over the spring and summer of 2005, a few of us tested it during the month of August and it was opened to the members on September 1. 2005, with 107 members from 21 clubs putting in their metres that first month. It has grown a lot since then! We now often have over 100 clubs and 1000 members participating in a month. There is still room for growth so if you or your club are not participating, check it out.
So, for those who are, don’t forget to put your metres in for this month!
As some of you know the Australians recently changed their name to Masters Swimming Australia, MSA, some of their masters preferred the sound of AUSSI.
Chris Smith, August 31, 2015