It hasn’t ended there. This past year, in its continuing need to demonstrate growth and in its continuing pattern of not actually doing anything to improve the sport, Swim Ontario set its target on MSO (Masters Swimming Ontario). MSO has a membership base of approximately 3,000 athletes. If Swim Ontario took over MSO it could then start to implement additional policies and procedures to count even more of those associated with masters swimming (e.g. officials, coaches, and volunteers) as members, and it could begin the process of strip mining masters clubs of their finances as well.
MSO took a stand against Swim Ontario, opposed its hostile takeover, and continues to stand; however, it now stands like OFSAA unrecognized by FINA because Swim Ontario replaced MSO with its own masters swimming committee. A few hundred masters have signed up with Swim Ontario, but the vast majority of masters did not. The majority of clubs and masters swimmer signed on with MSO. Why?
A comparison of registration processes between Swim Ontario & Masters Swim Ontario will shed some light:
Swim Ontario Masters Swim Club Registration Procedure
Masters Swim Clubs must be/have:
– Incorporated non-profit organizations (cost $500-2000)
– NCCP certified coaches (course $250)
– Pay an annual membership fee to Swim Ontario (cost 1st yr waived, 2nd year $750)
Masters swimmers must also register individually (cost $75) and are subject to all Swim Ontario’s policies including but not limited to policies such as its Code of Conduct. At the outset, Masters swimmers had to associate with a Swim Ontario registered club, unattached registration was not permitted.
Masters Swim Ontario Club Registration Procedure
Masters Swim Clubs must register their organization with MSO (cost $45)
Masters swimmers must also register individually (cost $10)
Masters Swimmers who are not members of a club are allowed to compete ‘unattached’ either registered for the entire season (cost $10) or can register for a single day membership for a swim meet (cost $5)
TOTAL COST with SWIM ONTARIO: $$ THOUSANDS $$
TOTAL COST with MSO: $45
The majority of masters swim clubs in Ontario are not incorporated, are coached by volunteers who may or may not have NCCP coaching credentials, are typically a casual group of swimmers who simply want to swim together as reflected by the motto of MSO: Fitness, Fun and Friendship. Typical fees for masters swim clubs are designed to cover pool rental costs and whatever minor office expenses (e.g. website) arise with a sports team. Most clubs operate by breaking even year over year, only a few clubs (<5) managed to create and maintain a reserve fund. All clubs depend on volunteers to make their clubs viable. Most masters swimmers do not compete, most just want to swim for fitness, fun and friendship. Based on this, the decision by Masters Swimming Ontario to support ALL clubs, not just the clubs that could afford Swim Ontario makes sense.
In realizing its failure to “capture” all masters in Ontario, Swim Ontario offered an alternative to these teams… amalgamate with your local age group (as in youth) swim team. Why would Swim Ontario offer this solution?
As with all cronyism and nepotism trace power, control, and money to their origins in the organization and the real agenda arises: the Board of Swim Ontario realized that many masters swim clubs could throw off the balance of power that they have established which allows them to retain their Board positions hence their control over the sport. The risk that many independent masters swim clubs creates is that at the Swim Ontario AGM these clubs could unite and vote to replace the existing Board members with those who do not endorse the status quo. The risk to a loss of power, control, and the flow of benefits to the private interests of “the friends of Swim Ontario” is unacceptable.
There is no interest at either Swim Ontario or Swimming Natation Canada to represent masters. Why? Because these two swim organizations are obsessed with only one thing: the podium of international level competitions. Masters do not stand on those podiums, therefore masters are merely a fringe benefit to SO & SNC as opportunities to strip financially to support projects that have nothing to do with masters.
For Masters Swimming Ontario to stand its ground, especially with members arguing against separating from Swim Ontario it took courage, it took vision, it took strength in character to do the right thing. Although many members still do not grasp the extent to which Swim Ontario pursues control and power and money and criticize the decision of MSO harshly, it is my hope that the masters swimming community now will have a wider perspective on how the business of swimming is operated in Ontario and will rally in support helping masters swimming to start to thrive for our generation and all future generations of masters athletes.
It is also my hope that Dan Thompson realizes that he was offered the position of President of the Swim Ontario Masters Committee because of his reputation, and his good name within the swimming community. Although that is a worthy reason to be offered the position, realizing that it is his reputation and his good name that Swim Ontario wants to use for the sole purpose of subordinating all masters swimmers to their policies and procedures and not for the benefit of masters swimmers… perhaps he will reconsider the position and resign to show his support for MSO.
With two attempted and one successful hostile takeover, Swim Ontario’s pattern to obtain absolute control over the sport and its members or it works to destabilize the sport is at least one thing… consistent. Its hostile takeovers of OSOA and its attempted takeovers of OFSAA and MSO demonstrate an agenda of absolutely nothing to do with the well being, the growth of the sport of swimming, only the intent to control, monetize, and profit from those who love the sport of swimming.
Masters swimmers of Ontario you have a choice… support an organization that wants to control you and use you exclusively for their own benefit, or support an organization that is fully invested into making masters swimming in Ontario accessible, equitable, fair and most of all fun for all.