By Phillip Whitten
AUSTIN, Feb. 4. LONGTIME Masters swimmer and coach, Keith Bell, announced the formation last week of a new governing body for the sport of adult competitive swimming in the United States. "The Adult Swimming Association (ASA) will certify records, sanction swimming competitions, and introduce new events and new age groups for participants in the sport who are 18 and older."
"The result," said Bell, a sports psychologist and national Masters champion, "will be an increased appeal and excitement level for many adults who enjoy competitive swimming."
"I've been thinking about this idea for years," said Bell. "Masters swimming is wonderful, but over the years it has expanded to include things that were not in its original mission, such as an emphasis on swimming for fitness. In addition, Nationals are way too long and the competitive conditions at Nationals are poor."
Among the changes Bell envisions are single-year age groups and corresponding records at the state, national and world levels; the keeping of world records for events held in short course yards venues; and holding competitions with differing age groups–such as 18-34, 35-49, and so on."
Reminded that the United States is the only country that has competition in short course yards (25-yard) pools, Bell responded: "We don't have any speed-skating tracks here (in Texas), or in Africa or South America, but there are still world records kept for speed-skating."
"The ASA is not competing with other governing bodies," Bell emphasized, "but is complementing them by increasing swimming opportunities."
"We will recognize performances swum under the auspices of USS (USA Swimming), USMS, NCAA, and Canadian swimming," he told swiminfo. "The ASA is not an alternative to these organizations, but an additional opportunity."
Commenting of Bell's announcement of the new organization, Jim Miller, president of USMS, said:
"USMS stands behind its mission statement, 'To promote fitness and health in adults by offering and supporting Masters swimming programs.'"
Bell said his organization would also sanction meets, and would be far less restrictive in doing so than other organizations. "We'll give meet hosts a much greater degree of flexibility," he said.
Bell said two teams have already registered with the ASA: Team Texas, which he coaches and which has
"almost 100 members," and Great Bay Masters of Dover, N.H., coached by Ed Gendreau.
For more informtion on the ASA, click on the organization's website, www.adultswimming.com