Finswimming in the USA

Underwater sports

The sport of finswimming is growing in the United States with scattered pockets  popping up around the country. Texas leads the country in the number of finswimmers and competitions. Most finswimming training outside of Texas and California consists of cross training for swimming.

USA Fin Swimming is the national governing body of finswimming in the United States. It’s  a charter of the Underwater Society of America (USOA). The USOA is a member of the United State Olympic Committee (USOC) and the Dive Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA).

The Underwater Society of America is the public diving organization of the United States. It was formed in 1959 by the skin-diving councils to represent the North American divers.  It is controlled by its executive committee, the board of governors and delegates of the member councils and clubs.

USOA is a member of the Sports Committee of the World Underwater Federation (CMAS). This means that it can function as the sanctioning body for all underwater sports in the US. .

USOA sanctions yearly local, regional and national underwater championships in Scuba, Underwater Hockey, Underwater Rugby, Finswimming, Underwater Orienteering, Spearfishing and Underwater Photography. The Society is also eligible and sends teams to the World Underwater Sports Championships.

The president, Carol Rose from San Francisco, California, can be contacted at this email address: croseusoa@aol.com. The secretary is Michael Gower from San Jose and his email address is usafin@aol.com.

Championships and events

United States championships were held for only a brief period in the 1990s. Up till now, they haven’t taken place since 1998, when California hosted the event.

United States’ Finswimming teams have competed at the World Championships sporadically since the early 1980s, achieving rather limited success on the international scene.

Texas has hosted the Texas Open Finswimming Invitational, the Gulf Coast International Finswimming Invitational, along with the Texas State Finswimming Championships. Unfortunately, this was in the past and the organising body of these events doesn’t even exist anymore!

Locations

Finswimming is gaining competitors in the States, especially in states like New Jersey, Connecticut and New York, where sports like Underwater Rugby and Underwater Hockey are well known and very popular.

In the USA, there are two major visible groups. One is in the East Coast, led by coach Dr. Alvaro Prieto. The other one is in Texas. There are also a number of finswimmers in California, Rhode Island and Florida.

Details of the American Finswimming clubs can be found throught the Finswimming Magazine Club Finder or on USA Finswimming.

Texas

Coach Robert Kelly from Pasadena was the person behind all the open finswimming invitational tournaments and the Texas Finswimming Association (which unfortunately doesn’t exist anymore).  Executive Director and Coach John Hoskins is another person who deserves a lot of credit.

Austin has the largest concentration of finswimmers in the USA, including the suburbs of Pasadena and Deer Park.

Ricardo Ramirez is part of the USOA Finswimming’s coordination team working towards the development of the sport in the US.
You can also check out the online information published by the University of Texas.

Contact information:

USA fins
http://www.facebook.com/usafins
http://usafins.wordpress.com

Underwater activities team of the University of Texas at Austin
http://fb.com/Texas.Underwater
http://utuw.blogspot.com

California

There is some finswimming activity around San Francisco, which is the location of the national headquarters for USA Fin Swimming.

Rhode Island

Finswimming in Rhode Island mainly takes place around Providence.
The World Scholar-Athlete Games and the United States Scholar-Athlete Games at the University of Rhode Island have included finswimming competition as a part of their Games program since 1999.

Florida

There’s a number of finswimming individuals living in Florida.

New Jersey

If you are a finswimmer of New Jersey, you can contact one of the main persons that are looking to develop finswimming in that state: Dr. Alvaro Robinso Prieto, who’s doing a great job coaching two girls competing in U-16 finswimming. Their names are Luisa and Julia Gomez.

Hawaii

In Hawaii, the yearly Ala Moana fin swim meet takes place every year.

Slow development of finswimming in the USA

The development of USA finswimming is somewhat obstructed by a number of things. For example, the fact that it isn’t an olympic sport makes it less known by the public. But there are other sports that aren’t part of the olympic games - like golf, NASCAR, american football, etc. – that still enjoy immense popularity in the United States.

Another reason could be the lack of a sanctioning body equivalent to Masters Swimming or USA Swimming, that could definitely improve the visibility and the attention of finswimming. More attention would also mean more sponsors, better athletes, better results leading to more visibility, etc.

Another blocking point is the very high cost to rent a pool for training sessions.

A case study: cyclocross

I would like to ask all of you not to give up hope. There’s a pretty amazing example of a niche sport that has grown overly popular in Europe and is now starting to get a lot of momentum in the States: cyclocross.

Cyclocross was first performed by cyclists wanting to stay into good shape during the winter, and it was also the ‘little brother’ of the global cycling federation, UCI.
But nowadays, in a number of European countries, but especially in Belgium, the sport is booming with incredible amounts of live spectators and very successful live national television broadcasts.

The Americans have picked up the cyclocross vibe the last few years and they have been organizing a lot of events. In the country’s good old tradition, they’ve added some spectacular features to the races like e.g.  evening cyclocross races in Las Vegas, where the spectators are allowed to hand dollar bills to the slower riders. It’s gone so far nowadays that the 2013 World Championships will be held in Louisville, Kentucky! All this is to say that a small niche sport has the potential to grow very popular, if more people are enthusiastically practicing it and/or if some elite athletes with a prominent personality are creating some excitement about it.

 

What about you?

 

Are you an American finswimmer? Use the comment section to notify other readers of where you train and compete to extend the finswimming community!

 

Do you have ideas to promote the sport in the States? Do you know good athletes or sponsors? Share your information here and help American finswimming grow!

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