USMS OW SANCTIONING

124

Comments

  • david_barradavid_barra Charter Member
    evmo said:

    USMS may or may not know what they are doing. We have no way to know, because they don't make much effort to communicate the facts and reasoning behind their decisions. Indeed, they seem to actively avoid such pro-active communication.

    Best case scenario, they know what they are doing but are terrible at PR. To me, that seems overly optimistic.

    I am in agreement here. Questions seem to get passed around in circle until the effort of asking them exceeds any possible satisfaction from an answer. Still, most members probably feel like they are being well served even if the only thing they receive for their membership dues is an 11 million dollar insurance policy covering their workout group's practices.

    I don't really know how to proceed.....

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • Niek said:

    Q1/ How was the decision reached to only foot the bill for 75 events?

    There is no 75 event limit and foot the bill may not be the most accurate statement, since USMS is sharing it insurance expense with its LMSC’s. And some LMSC’s are passing some of the expense along to event hosts as sanction fees, while some LMSC’s have decided to cover their part and keep sanction fees at 2012 levels.

    2013 USMS insurance includes the first 75 sanctioned open water events as part of the bas insurance premium. For each sanctioned open water event, over 75, USMS will pay the insurer $1,800 per event. So, if there are 100 USMS sanctioned open water swims in 2013, USMS will pay the additional $45,000 in insurance costs.

  • Rob_CopelandRob_Copeland Member
    edited March 2013
    timsroot said:

    There is more to the process this year, and even with the vague rebate program that national has communicated, I don't think that all of the LMSCs know how they are going to deal with the extra $1000/sanction bill.

    Tim,

    I agree there is more process this year and LMSC’s are wrestling with how they will absorb and/or pass along the insurance surcharge.

    As for the “vague rebate program” please send any questions on the program to [email protected] . We are already seeing a number of applicants and the first round of rebates should be going out in the next week or two.

  • As for the “vague rebate program” please send any questions on the program to [email protected] . We are already seeing a number of applicants and the first round of rebates should be going out in the next week or two.

    Rob, do you have to have to have an approved sanction, or a paid sanction fee to apply for the rebate?

  • bobswimsbobswims Charter Member
    edited March 2013
    Here is a brief article on page 6 by Bob Bruce who sits on the USMS Open Water Task Force, and USMS Open Water and Long Distance Committee with a bit of info. Bob coaches in Bend and is the go to guy for open water events (which he does a great job with) and sits on the OMS Board heading up long distance events.

    http://www.swimoregon.org/AquaMaster/2013/April2013.pdf
  • evmo said:

    USMS may or may not know what they are doing. We have no way to know, because they don't make much effort to communicate the facts and reasoning behind their decisions.

    Trust me. I know. I worked for them. They have no clue what they're doing. They hired an E.D. who thought it was OK to repeatedly ask if I was married. Does that sound like an organization that knows what it's doing???
  • bobswims said:

    Here is a brief article on page 6 by Bob Bruce who sits on the USMS Open Water Task Force, and USMS Open Water and Long Distance Committee with a bit of info.

    Interesting that their LMSC can figure out how to work a per swimmer surcharge, and national can't...
  • timsroot said:

    Rob, do you have to have to have an approved sanction, or a paid sanction fee to apply for the rebate?

    Tim, the rebates can be applied for and awarded before the event is sanctioned. In these cases the insurance surcharge will be deducted from the amount due from the LMSC. For example if an $800 rebate is approved prior to the sanction, then the LMSC would be billed only for the $200 net difference for that event. If this same rebate were approved after the event was sanctioned and the LMSC paid the insurance surcharge, then the LMSC would receive a check for the $800.

  • trouble said:

    I'm truly confused by this entire conversation. Everyone is talking like USMS has changed somehow

    Yes, the organization changed. A lot. It actually started before they hired the snake oil salesman from NASCAR as executive director, when the wrong people took control of the organization. Someone had to hire the guy, right? Mismanagement and lack of ethics has led USMS to where it is today, and it really must suck to be them right now. Schadenfreude, as far as I'm concerned.

    Keep asking the hard questions, people:

    Where is the rebate money coming from? Is it coming from the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation? Is that the foundation's purpose? Can the foundation sustain the program longer than a year? How does the amount of money designated for the rebate program compare with the amount of money USMS took from SSL to pay for Omaha Nationals? How does the insurance company really feel about USMS? Will they try to raise the premiums again? And if so, why?

    Kudos to all the people who are finding insurance elsewhere and pulling their events from the USMS calendar.
  • Keep asking the hard questions, people:

    Where is the rebate money coming from? Is it coming from the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation? Is that the foundation's purpose? Can the foundation sustain the program longer than a year? How does the amount of money designated for the rebate program compare with the amount of money USMS took from SSL to pay for Omaha Nationals? How does the insurance company really feel about USMS? Will they try to raise the premiums again? And if so, why?

    HI Bill!

    Great questions. I can only answer a couple.

    The rebate money is coming from the USMS general reserves. No Swimming Saves Lives Foundation funds are used for the rebate program or for the increased insurance premiums. The USMS Open Water Committee went to the Board of Directors to seek funding for the rebate program, we did not ask for Foundation funding, so I can’t guess how the Foundation Board of Trustees would have looked on any such request. But I think I agree with you that subsidizing LMSC’s in support of open water events isn’t really a perfect with the foundations’ Swimming for Life mission.

    I hope this helps a little.

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited April 2013
    USMS just posted this article to their Facebook and Twitter accounts, without a trace of irony:

    http://www.bradenton.com/2013/04/02/4463192/swimmers-get-out-of-the-concrete.html

    "Among the most popular open swims are the 28.5-mile Manhattan Island Marathon in New York, the 9.6-mile Maui Channel Relay in Hawaii, and the 12.5-mile Swim Around Key West."

    (none of which will be sanctioned by USMS this year!)
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    that made me titter
  • evmo said:

    USMS just posted this article to their Facebook and Twitter accounts, without a trace of irony:

    http://www.bradenton.com/2013/04/02/4463192/swimmers-get-out-of-the-concrete.html

    "Among the most popular open swims are the 28.5-mile Manhattan Island Marathon in New York, the 9.6-mile Maui Channel Relay in Hawaii, and the 12.5-mile Swim Around Key West."

    (none of which will be sanctioned by USMS this year!)

    They also mentioned the pam am champs. I question the wisdom of holding a 3k race for old people in 85+ degree water, contrary to the safety standards of USMS
  • evmo said:

    (none of which will be sanctioned by USMS this year!)

    That helped a little!! =))
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember
    edited April 2013

    I question the wisdom of holding a 3k race for old people in 85+ degree water, contrary to the safety standards of USMS

    The only rule I found was:
    302.5 Water Conditions
    For swims of three miles or more, the swim shall not begin if the water temperature
    exceeds 85° F.

    So they start early when the water isn't that high yet. Besides the length is only 3 km. Problem solved.
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • timsroottimsroot Member
    edited April 2013
    Niek said:

    So they start early when the water isn't that high yet. Besides the length is only 3 km. Problem solved.

    I get that. But nothing like sidestepping the spirit of the rules...
  • timsroot said:

    Let's hope USMS or FINA don't get any bright ideas from the world of cycling:

    You obviously don't remember the issue around the latycar Pan Am championships meet. The story was someone on one of the Fina boards got a burr up their ass about the latycar meet calling themselves the Pan Am championships, this had been done for a few years and at that time FINA didn't have a Pan Am championship meet.

    In the end, the latycar meet's sanction was pulled and any masters swimmer who did the meet would have their masters membership revoked.

    So this has already been done by masters swimming.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    Interesting research by Julie on the fallout from some of the recent goings-on at the USMS forum:

    http://lieshurtbutwhocares.blogspot.com/2013/04/social-media-policy.html
  • evmo said:

    Interesting research by Julie on the fallout from some of the recent goings-on at the USMS forum:

    http://lieshurtbutwhocares.blogspot.com/2013/04/social-media-policy.html

    LOL (AWKward!)
    >:)
  • In regards to social media, most solid business and corporations use there moderators to keep things civilized. If something controversial is going on they generally instruct the moderators to say nothing or only messages that have been pre-approved by the PR, legal and or compliance departments. Generally debating, adding fuel to the fire, getting there buds to respond and posting under a pseudonym is strictly prohibited.
  • lakespray said:

    most solid business and corporations...

    USMS does not operate like a business or corporation. As a result, the organization is on very shaky ground.

    In the real world, the moderator would immediately be removed and forced to resign from the Board of Directors. And let's not forget, the person at the center of this debacle is the 2011 recipient of the Ransom Arthur Award, the organization's highest honor, given annually to the person who has "done the most to further the objectives of Masters swimming."

    These folks clearly do not know the difference between good and bad, or right and wrong. No wonder USMS open water sanctioning is such a big fat ugly mess.
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember

    USMS does not operate like a business or corporation. As a result, the organization is on very shaky ground.
    These folks clearly do not know the difference between good and bad, or right and wrong. No wonder USMS open water sanctioning is such a big fat ugly mess.

    Maybe that's why their insurance broker could afford to raise the insurance so high.
    Nobody capable to object.
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • Well, USMS has cost me lifeguard coverage unless I can find something else. USMS's insurance provider refuses to name the company that was supplying lifeguards as additionally insured, and the lifeguard's insurance company won't cover them for a race.

    I really think it's bullshit that USMS no longer covers their volunteers. It sends a horrible message, and leaves a potentially big liability gap, which they supposedly were trying to cover with the new requirements.

    Last time I try to work within the arbitrary USMS requirements as a race director.
  • edited April 2013
    Niek said:

    Maybe that's why their insurance broker could afford to raise the insurance so high. Nobody capable to object.

    I still feel like the rate hike was partly in response to the devolving culture of USMS.

    Having unethical, inept and arrogant leaders creates liability in a variety of ways. It can't sit well with the insurers, and they're right to want to protect themselves from USMS. Raising the rates could also be a way to drive USMS away. If I was running the insurance company, knowing what I know about USMS, I would not want to continue doing business with USMS.
  • timsroot said:

    I really think it's bullshit that USMS no longer covers their volunteers. It sends a horrible message, and leaves a potentially big liability gap, which they supposedly were trying to cover with the new requirements.

    As I understand the 2013 USMS insurance, all officials and volunteers are covered for liability at USMS sanctioned events. At least that is what it says in the insurance coverage grid in http://www.usms.org/admin/lmschb/gto_ins_general.pdf Tim, can you let me know who told you that volunteers are not covered for liability? If this is true it’s news to me and I would agree, this leaves a big liability gap.

  • david_barradavid_barra Charter Member
    edited April 2013
    timsroot said:


    Last time I try to work within the arbitrary USMS requirements as a race director

    I'm still dealing with the can of worms that opened up just from researching the various new insurance and equipment requirements of USMS. Even with an independent insurance carrier, there have been unforeseen consequences for us.... a royal f-ing pain in the ass for sure.

    I don't have any reason to believe that things will improve much in the future as I was told this past weekend not to expect any sweeping policy changes, but who knows.
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • david_barradavid_barra Charter Member

    As I understand the 2013 USMS insurance, all officials and volunteers are covered for liability at USMS sanctioned events. At least that is what it says in the insurance coverage grid in http://www.usms.org/admin/lmschb/gto_ins_general.pdf Tim, can you let me know who told you that volunteers are not covered for liability? If this is true it’s news to me and I would agree, this leaves a big liability gap.

    Rob, I know that you are aware that USMS sanction requires certificates of insurance from volunteer boaters, and a $1,000,000 policy from hired boaters.... so it would appear that sanction requirements and insurance coverage are the two different heads of this monster.
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • As I understand the 2013 USMS insurance, all officials and volunteers are covered for liability at USMS sanctioned events. At least that is what it says in the insurance coverage grid in http://www.usms.org/admin/lmschb/gto_ins_general.pdf Tim, can you let me know who told you that volunteers are not covered for liability? If this is true it’s news to me and I would agree, this leaves a big liability gap.

    Looking through the email chain (which I forwarded to you), apparently it is because I am hiring them instead of having them volunteer. I was told pretty plainly that they couldn't be covered or named as additionally insured.

    Something seems inconsistent, at best, and f'ed up, at worst. I'm thinking it's leaning toward f'ed up.

  • david_barradavid_barra Charter Member
    timsroot said:


    Looking through the email chain (which I forwarded to you), apparently it is because I am hiring them instead of having them volunteer.

    At the OW safety conference hosted by USMS in March of 2011, one of the recurring themes was "hire professional safety personnel"
    It doesn't seem like USMS took this detail to heart, or maybe the only folks they think are worthy of a paycheck are in Sarasota?
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • At the OW safety conference hosted by USMS in March of 2011, one of the recurring themes was "hire professional safety personnel"
    It doesn't seem like USMS took this detail to heart, or maybe the only folks they think are worthy of a paycheck are in Sarasota?

    Hard to say. I know nationally USMS is remarkably tone deaf. Between the LS bullshit last week, and the ongoing struggles with open water sanctioning, they've made that pretty clear. Another thing adding to my frustration is that my local LMSC leadership doesn't seem to know what all it takes to put on an open water event, even in the sheltered puddle category like I'm trying to pull together. I'm sure other LMSCs are different, but there seems to be a lack of understanding, locally, how different an open water event is from a pool event.
  • I'm curious in all that is happening with USMS, besides the Kingdom Swim have other event directors on this board contacted the World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) and if so have they proven helpful or not?
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
  • bobswimsbobswims Charter Member
    timsroot said:

    As I understand the 2013 USMS insurance, all officials and volunteers are covered for liability at USMS sanctioned events. At least that is what it says in the insurance coverage grid in http://www.usms.org/admin/lmschb/gto_ins_general.pdf Tim, can you let me know who told you that volunteers are not covered for liability? If this is true it’s news to me and I would agree, this leaves a big liability gap.

    Looking through the email chain (which I forwarded to you), apparently it is because I am hiring them instead of having them volunteer. I was told pretty plainly that they couldn't be covered or named as additionally insured.

    Something seems inconsistent, at best, and f'ed up, at worst. I'm thinking it's leaning toward f'ed up.

    So let me get this straight. USMS has their insurance rates jacked up because (in part) they had 3 big claims, one of which was related to an open water event. To try to limit the amount of the increase in premium they place restrictions and requirements on OW events. Once of those is that the insurance acquired (and paid for) through USMS for an event , will only cover inexperienced volunteers, but not trained professionals.

    However, if you go forward with volunteers instead of professionals and reduce safety for the event, the likelihood of a claim against USMS increases. This could lead to higher rates once again, which will ultimately raise the cost of insurance in the future and potentially lead to USMS pulling out of OW completely. Am I missing something?
  • bobswims said:

    So let me get this straight. USMS has their insurance rates jacked up because (in part) they had 3 big claims, one of which was related to an open water event. To try to limit the amount of the increase in premium they place restrictions and requirements on OW events. Once of those is that the insurance acquired (and paid for) through USMS for an event , will only cover inexperienced volunteers, but not trained professionals.

    However, if you go forward with volunteers instead of professionals and reduce safety for the event, the likelihood of a claim against USMS increases. This could lead to higher rates once again, which will ultimately raise the cost of insurance in the future and potentially lead to USMS pulling out of OW completely. Am I missing something?

    That seems to be about the way I read it.

    The quotes from the email chain:

    USMS Insurance Contact asks while forwarding my question:

    I presume the lifeguard service is being paid since a contract is being drawn up. Shouldn’t they be including USMS as Additional Insured rather than USMS adding them as AI?...

    Underwriter contact responds:

    absolutely...If I hire and pay someone to perform a service for me, they are the ones that should provide me with proof of insurance and A/I status. USMS should receive the cert w/A/I status in favor of them. They should also attempt to be protected in the contract through positive indemnification in the event of any negligence by the lifeguards.

  • bobswimsbobswims Charter Member
    timsroot said:

    Underwriter contact responds:

    absolutely...If I hire and pay someone to perform a service for me, they are the ones that should provide me with proof of insurance and A/I status. USMS should receive the cert w/A/I status in favor of them. They should also attempt to be protected in the contract through positive indemnification in the event of any negligence by the lifeguards.

    What the underwriter is talking about is an indemnification hold harmless agreement. It can be a complicated analysis and depends on the claim and policy language. However, it is a provision that seeks to relieve one insurer and their insured (who would be named as an additionally named insured) from the negligence of others who hold such the primary policy.

    For example. You hire lifeguards through a company. The lifeguard screws up and someone is injured solely as a result of their actions. If you get sued and you are additionally named insured on their policy, then it is the lifeguards insurance company that is on risk for the claim. As a result they must defend you and pay the claim if necessary. This makes your insurer who is off the hook very happy. It can also be good for you.
  • @bobswims - That part makes sense, but wouldn't it be acceptable in many situations to have both parties name the other as additionally insured? Or is that usually only a one way arrangement?
  • bobswimsbobswims Charter Member
    It is typically only one way. In essence in a master/servent relationship the master does not want to be responsible for his servent's screw ups. Importantly, it is usually the master that has the deep pockets. Keep in mind that an Indemnification/Hold Harmless Agreement has to do with liability, and goes beyond insurance coverage issues to ones personal assets.
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    All this gibberish does for me is make me never want to plan to put on an OW swim. Jeez louise.
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    Same here. I appreciate my do-it-yerselfers even more now
  • david_barradavid_barra Charter Member
    IronMike said:

    All this gibberish does for me is make me never want to plan to put on an OW swim. Jeez louise.

    If it were easy: smart people would do it
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • gregocgregoc Member
    After a long search we found an insurance company that would underwrite the 2013 Boston Light Swim with proper coverage. Most of the companies that we contacted had event insurance policies that contained a "watercraft exclusion". This exclusion meant that any damage or injury involving a motorized watercraft of any size would not be covered. The 8-mile BLS uses motorized escort boats so event policies with this exclusion would have been useless. We finally found an insurance provider that has an adaquite event policy. It does have a watercraft exclusion, but only for boats over 51 feet.

    Here is the contact information for the provider:

    Kara Stone
    Sports Insurance
    www.sportsinsurance.com
    1-866-889-4763x23
    [email protected]
  • Thanks gregoc - just reached out to her for our "To the Bridge & Back" event in October.
  • FilFil The Clubhous, Derby, VermontMember
    For what it's worth, We ended up getting coverage through our regular carrier which insures us as a non profit organization. It includes coverage for 25 days of running, biking, swimming and kayaking events. It covers volunteers and employees. It includes big swims like Kingdom Swim but also our many smaller swims, like our Swim the Kingdom series with seven lakes over the course of nine days, some of which will have 20 to 30 swimmers (like Willoughby) and others 5 to 10. If a swim is affiliated with a charitable purpose, folks may want to strengthen the link and get coverage through that organization's coverage rather than attempt specific event coverage, i.e., the event is actually put on by the YMCA or a local hospital, etc.
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    Just got reminded of this discussion yesterday when I registered for the 2014 Jim McDonnell Lake Swim. It was a bit more than usual: $60. I think I paid $30 or 35 in 2010. I made a comment on my registration about the cost and the swim director wrote me back, saying:

    ...yeah the cost seems high, unfortunately what's happened is insurance at the national level has increased and passed down to the events. We tried to minimize the impact, but had to raise base price for all to defer some of the costs.

    I feel for them, but don't think it'll affect numbers that much as this swim (two swims actually, plus a Saturday clinic) is very popular in this area. We'll see if the numbers of participants are affected or not.
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    Bumping this up due to the update today from USMS. First glance seems the propeller guard thing has an alternative now (swimmer spotter).

    N.B., this is a pdf link:
    http://www.usms.org/admin/lmschb/USMSRiskManagementandInsuranceMemo.pdf
  • I followed this a bit from afar. I am (as is Niek) from The Netherlands.
    Perhaps a view from our neck of the woods can help.

    In our country each organizer is responsible to insure itself. The regular insurance is only about damages to goods of others or damage to the water or it's surroundings (think about a ship ramming through one of our smaller dikes... It can leave a whole town onder water...). These are a very unlikely events.

    Events are sanctioned if there is no insurence - we (federation) do not actually check as far as I know. A sensible referee however will ask about it and not be referee if there is no insurance.
    Damages to the swimmers is insured by the federation at low cost. That fee is part of the membership fee. I believe is is about € 10 per annum. {Sidebar.... This insurance can only be used if the swimmers own insurance is insufficient (it almost always is - our national insurance system is copied in what US citizens call Obama-care - therefore excellent for the basic care) for instance in event of death the max would be a few thousand euro. We do not have the tradition to sue anybody when an accident occurs. Accidents occur and are not on purpose. No need to claim with the "offender". }

    A local council will not give permit/licence to organize or make use of the water if the organizer does not promise to have proper insurance.

    Am I correct that a swim will not be sanctioned without insurance via the federation? If I ensure elsewere - no sanctioning = number of participants decimated? No proper judging and timekeeping? No proper safety provided by licenced life savers etc? That is not a good way to treat the members.

    Concerning costs: Swims with very high cost and doomed not to last long on the calendar. Expensive swims (in The Netherlands and Belgium) are any swims over 10 euro (say 15 dollars?). The price becomes a (or the) reason not to swim.

    Are the insurers finishing off/killing the organizations in the USA? I hope not!
    Is USMS finishing off/killing the organizations in the USA? I should hope not!

    I suggest to rethink this to save the sport - if my suspitions are correct.
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    The USMS OW chair is having a "peer-to-peer teleconference" on the 13th of March. Announcement here at the USMS forums: http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?23670-Open-Water-Peer-To-Peer-Teleconference

    I find it interesting that the insurance word hasn't been raised (yet).
  • david_barradavid_barra Charter Member
    Bump....
    http://www.usms.org/admin/conv/2014/owfuture140918.pdf

    ...anyone around here participating in this?
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • david_barradavid_barra Charter Member
    2014 USMS Convention — Jacksonville, FL The Future of USMS Open Water Swimming
    A discussion to be led by Rob Copeland, Vice Chair Open Water Committee Meeting Thursday, September 18, 2014 3:30-4:45 pm. City Terrace 7
    In the past 2 years we have seen a 50%+ drop in the number of USMS sanctioned events, while during this same period other organizations have seen moderate to significant growth in the sport. Are we comfortable with this trend?
    1. Update from the Board of Directors Open Water Task Force 2. Open W ater Safety Education for members, event management, coaches, LMSC’ s, non-members
    a. We have made progress in producing content in this area. Has it been enough? b. What else needs to be done? c. Do we as volunteers have the necessary skills and time to accomplish what we plan?
    3. Event Development for new/veteran event management, coaches, LMSC’s
    a. How do we deliver event development content that is helpful without being perceived as additional rules and overhead?
    b. What services can we provide as a “value add” to event hosts? 4. Open Water Training for novice to expert swimmers and coaches
    a. What can we do to provide swimmers and coaches with the tools to safely become better open water swimmers?
    b. Can we develop a clearinghouse of certified Open Water coaches and clinicians? 5. Open W ater partnerships
    a. There are a number of organizations that serve the open water community, are there some that we should reach out to develop a partnership for co-branded events and other services?
    b. How do we do this while ensuring the USMS brand? 6. Infrastructure and Communication (Web site, OW Guide to Operations, Swimmer, social media, webinars)
    a. We currently have a lot of available material on open water swimming, how do we effectively make this readily accessible by our members?
    b. How do we need to work with staff regarding open water information and publications? 7. Definition of success for USMS open water and set any long term goals for achieving that success
    a. How do we define success for USMS open water activities? b. How do we see the USMS Open Water product in 3-5 years? c. How do we define success for the Open Water Committee? d. How do we define success for us individually as committee members?
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
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