A Day in the Life of the U.S. Masters Swimming Secretary
2009 is an election year for U.S. Masters Swimming. Board officers are term limited. This year, at the annual September convention, several positions are up for new leadership. Though it will be sad to see its officers step away from their positions, the torch or to use a swimming analogy - the next leg of the relay - will be passed on.
Meg Smath, current U.S. Masters Swimming Secretary, is nearing the end of her two-year term. As her term is winding down, Meg took time to share her experiences while within office, projects that she has enjoyed and a slightly embarrassing moment that brought her out of her chair whooping and hollering. The U.S. Masters Swimming Executive Committee is serious business, but the fun, the friendships and the laughs never stop. Ashley Gangloff, U.S. Masters Swimming Marketing Coordinator, interviewed Meg.
Ashley: Had you ever held an office prior to U.S. Masters Secretary?
Meg: You could say I have specialized in the office of secretary. I was secretary of the Kentucky LMSC for so many years; I'm not even sure how long. At least 10 [years], I think. I have also been secretary of the Kentucky Society of Professional Geologists and the Central Kentucky Shetland Sheepdog Club. I've also been president of my local team, Wildcat Masters (a workout group of Swim Kentucky Masters) for more than 16 years. The reason I know it's at least 16 years is that's how old my son is, and I know I was already president of the team when he was born!
Ashley: Why did you run for USMS Secretary?
Meg: The short answer is because my predecessor, Sally Dillon, asked me to. I had not actually considered running for the office before she brought it up. I considered myself on of those "worker bees" and did not think of myself as "officer material." But, Sally put the idea in my head that I was, in fact, qualified, and that I could do a good job.
Ashley: Whom do you work most closely with as U.S. Masters Swimming Secretary?
Meg: In general I work most closely with the president, but I also work with the other officers and members of the Board of Directors when I'm assigned a task force or other special project. I also work with the convention coordinator in drawing up convention plans. I've also had the opportunity to work with the executive director, Rob Butcher.
Ashley: What is a recurring task for which the U.S. Masters Swimming Secretary is responsible?
Meg: The biggie would be keeping minutes of all our meetings. The Executive Committee has conference calls every first and third Tuesday, and the Board of Directors about once a quarter. We also have a midyear meeting in February each year. And lots of Board and EC meetings at convention, too.
Ashley: What has been your favorite "project"?
Meg: I was on a task force having to do with the SWIMMER Magazine. I got to work with some people I hadn't worked with before and I was really pleased with the way our different talents meshed and we were able to accomplish our goal on schedule.
Ashley: What skills do you possess that helped you the most as U.S. Masters Swimming Secretary?
Meg: I make my living as an editor, and that's helped me communicate with the membership. It also helps to be reasonably computer-literate. I couldn't take a computer apart and put it back together again, but I know my way around Microsoft Word pretty well, and that really helps.
Ashley: What skills do you wish you had that would have been helpful in your role as U.S. Masters Swimming Secretary?
Meg: I wish I had better time-management skills. I try to get things done as quickly as possible (so I don't forget what I was doing), but sometimes life really gets in the way.
Ashley: How many hours a week/month do you spend fulfilling your responsibilities as U.S. Masters Swimming Secretary?
Meg: I would say I spend, on average, a couple of hours a week working on minutes, making revisions, keeping track of votes. That ramps up during busy times, like before and after convention.
Ashley: What is your best memory of being U.S. Masters Swimming Secretary?
Meg: That would have to be during the 2008 Board of Directors midyear meeting in Dallas when I got a text alert that the Vanderbilt basketball team had just won a big game on a last-second shot. I was in the middle of reading back a very serious motion, but I was so elated that I leaped out of my chair with a primal scream of joy, and was immediately hugged and high-fived by Tracy Grilli, who was sitting next to me. You should have seen the looks on the faces of the other people around the table. They were shocked! But they are wonderful people, and they just GET me! They knew I would get back to business after my happy dance was over. And I could not have been with a greater bunch of people to celebrate with. We were all united by a passion for U.S. Masters Swimming that is just as all encompassing as my joy over that victory was.
Ashley: What are you going to miss most about this position once your term has come to an end?
Meg: I will miss spending so much time with the EC and the Board. It will be nice to have a little bit more free time again, but I will miss just being a part of such a great group of people.
Ashley: What advice to you give to our next U.S. Masters Swimming Secretary?
Meg: Stay on top of things! Keep organized and don't let things get away from you. I would also paraphrase Walt Disney, who said, "I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing-that it was all started by a mouse." I would say the one thing we should not lose sight of is that it's all about the water!
Meg's term will end at the 2009 U.S. Masters Swimming annual convention. If you are interested in running or would like to nominate someone for the position of U.S. Masters Swimming Secretary, please click here to read about the qualification, candidate criteria and nomination and election process. All nominations are due by April 20, 2009.