New to PNA

Ever wonder what your USMS registration number means?

The registration number consists of a part that will change and a part that will not. Everything before the hyphen is variable while the characters after the hyphen are your permanent ID. The registration number looks like:


36 stands for the LMSC number. 36 = PNA = Pacific Northwest Association of Masters Swimmers

3 is the registration year – 2013, so this will change each year

X is a computer-generated check character that changes each year. Although none of us would do it, this prevents someone from falsifying a registration number.

DDDDD is your permanent ID (may contain letters as well as numbers). When you reregister, whether next year or ten years from now, these last five characters belong to you. If you lose your number make sure you tell the registrar that you were once a member.

LMSC? Club? Workout Group? What do these mean?

What’s the difference between a club and a workout group? What in the world is an LMSC (and why in the world do I care)? And... why do I list PSM or BWAQ as my club on each entry form when I swim for my local swim, um, group? Here’s a simple way to make sense of all this:

Think concentric circles, like a target diagram. The outermost ring is FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation), the world governing body for the five Aquatic Disciplines including swimming. Inside that is United States Masters Swimming (USMS), our national organization. USMS is divided into eight zones, including the Northwest Zone – so that’s our next circle. Within each Zone there are multiple Local Masters Swim Committees, in our case, the Pacific Northwest LMSC. Got it so far? Good, because this is where the bullseye gets a little fuzzy...

Within each LMSC, there must be at least one USMS-registered club – but there can be more than one. Approximately 20 of the 52 LMSCs nationally have a single very large club while the rest support multiple swim clubs. Our LMSC has two Clubs: Puget Sound Masters (PSM) and Blue Wave Aquatics (BWAQ). A club may consist of zero or more named teams or workout groups – the two terms are used interchangeably. PSM, for example, has over 40 teams while BWAQ is a single entity (with workout groups in several locations). These groups include the friends and acquaintances you swim with and likely a coach on deck. Those swimmers who join USMS but choose not to be affiliated with a particular club or workout group are considered ‘unattached’ but are still members of the PNA LMSC.

FINA – USMS – Zone – LMSC – Club – Workout Group. Those are the concentric rings of the target.

When does the distinction become really important? During competition! For national events, only members of the same Club may swim on a relay together. For local events (e.g., our Champs meet), only members of the same Team/Workout Group may swim on a relay together. Although we often swim in the same meets and are scored individually and against members of our own age group and gender, when swimming on a relay you must be part of the same Club.

When can I change my Club or Workout Group?

At this time, USMS recognizes only registered Clubs, not Workout Groups or Teams. Therefore, you can change between workout groups or teams at any time without having to notify the Registrar. You can even be a member of several teams. That is up to the individual team.

USMS does care about what Club you are with and has rules about when you can change your Club and when you may swim for a different Club. A change of Club is considered a TRANSFER. Transfers can be done only by the Registrar of the LMSC and Club into which you moving. You may transfer your club when you renew your membership each year and compete for the new club without any waiting period and without paying a transfer fee. However, to transfer your Club affiliation during the year, you must wait 60 days before you may compete for the new Club. This does not mean you may not compete, just that you must swim unattached if it is less than 60 days since you swam for a different Club. During this waiting period you may not swim in a relay. For complete rules on this see and select Registration, General Information/Transfers.