Demystifying USMS

United States Masters Swimming (USMS)

United States Masters Swimming (USMS) is a national, membership-operated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides membership benefits to over 60,000 masters swimmers across the country.  These benefits include insurance, SWIMMER magazine, sanctioned events and many others.  USMS and its 52 Local Masters Swimming Committees (LMSCs) provide direct support to more than 1,500 smaller clubs and workout groups.

USMS has an executive director and paid staff but is otherwise governed and run by volunteers, including the USMS president, board of directors, national committees and LMSCs.  USMS bylaws and rules are subject to the approval of the USMS membership via the House of Delegates at the annual USMS national convention.

When organized adult swimming started to become popular in the 1960s and 70s -- the early years of USMS -- the intent was for adults to stay in shape through swimming.  Today about 25 percent of the USMS membership enters pool or open-water competitions.  Most USMS members do not compete.

Southern Pacific Masters Swimming Local Masters Swimming Committee (SPMS LMSC)

The Southern Pacific Masters Swimming LMSC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit subsidiary of USMS that serves as USMS's regional governing and administrative body, meaning it handles registration, sanctioning, officiating and other such matters in Southern California and Southern Nevada.  The SP LMSC has 5,000 USMS members.

Masters swimming clubs and workout groups come in all shapes and sizes -- big, small, incorporated, not incorporated, for-profit, not-for-profit, associated with a facility or organization (gym, university, YMCA, etc.) or not.  These clubs and workout groups are not owned or operated by USMS, but register with USMS, offer USMS programs and utilize USMS policies and procedures.

The structure and organization of USMS programs vary and are driven by factors such as pool availability, instructor or coach availability, community support, finances and insurance considerations.  Most locations offering USMS programs have on-deck coaches who write workouts and provide feedback and instruction.

Southern Pacific LMSC membership directory and club rosters

Club affiliations are encouraged but not required.  USMS members who choose not to affiliate with a club are considered "unattached" and assigned a club designation consisting of the letters "UC" followed by their LMSC number (the first two digits of their USMS #).  For example, unattached USMS members in the New England LMSC have a club designation of UC33.  The purpose of this designation is to keep USMS in compliance with FINA (international governing body) rules concerning FINA top ten and world records, but unattached (UC) swimmers are still ineligible to score points for a team or participate in relays at sanctioned meets.  A swimmer who wants to score team points or swim in relays must be formally affiliated with a USMS-registered club as indicated on his USMS card.

Competition Eligibility: Club Affiliations

When a member of a USMS-registered club competes at a sanctioned national or international meet -- where workout groups are not recognized -- he must represent the club team with which he is affiliated on his current USMS card (e.g., LVM).  Unattached (UC) swimmers register official times but are ineligible to score team points or participate in relays.

When a swimmer submits an application to transfer from one club to another, the transfer cannot take effect until 60 days have elapsed since the swimmer last represented the former club in competition -- the only exception is when the transfer takes place at the time of annual registration.

A swimmer may declare unattached status at any time without written application.  However, a swimmer intending to compete in an event after declaring unattached status must notify the LMSC registrar of the declaration of unattached status prior to the event.  The registrar shall change the club affiliation of the swimmer to UC and note the effective date.

Once a swimmer has swum in the first event at a meet the swimmer's club affiliation cannot change for the remainder of the meet.

Individual & Club Registration

For information on how to join USMS, register a club or workout group, print your membership card or other registration-related issues, see the USMS Membership page, the SP-LMSC Registration page or contact the Southern Pacific LMSC Membership Coordinator at