View Full Version : Increasing Revenue for USMS

April 1st, 2003, 12:32 AM
At last yearís annual convention it became apparent that USMS must either reduce the benefits it offers members or find ways to increase revenue. Most members of the House of Delegates would prefer to increase benefits rather than reduce them. Iíd like to explore ideas to increase revenue so that we can continue to offer more benefits to our members.

Perhaps it is time to tap what I consider a huge potential market. I have often heard swimmers say that they compete so that they can see their name in print. Certainly with the growth of the internet there are more possibilities for publishing names.

Records are a largely untapped market. Another swimming organization has expanded the number of records available by narrowing age group ranges from 5 years to 1 year. Numerous other possibilities exist. Why stop at one year? Why not establish records based on day of birth instead of year of birth?

In the first half off the 20th century records were kept in what are now considered odd lengths such as 220 yards. We currently avoid odd-length pools. There are numerous 20 meter and 33 and 1/3 yard pools in the U.S. If we kept records for such pools, meets hosted in them would be very attractive as chances of setting records would be great. We could also consider records for shallow and deep pools

Lotís of other possibilities exist. We could establish records based on occupation, height, or weight. Perhaps I can post the fastest 60 meter butterfly time in a 20 meter pool by an electrical engineer, over 6 feet tall, born in August of 1954.

Fastest times arenít necessarily the only records that we should keep. How about fewest strokes used while swimming a legal breaststroke? Or lowest score in swimming golf (add the number of strokes to your time to establish a score)?

Once we determine whether we should establish ďalternativeĒ records, we will need to agree on an appropriate fee. Probably over 10,000 swimmers compete in at least one Masters meet each year. If we can establish enough records so that everyone can claim at least one, USMS could generate significant revenue.

One option would be to charge a fixed fee for a record application. If we charge $10 per application and have 10,000 records claimed each year, USMS would receive $100,000. I expect that that figure is conservative. We could easily establish 50,000 records each year.

Lotís of other possibilities exist. Please add your ideas to this thread. What other types of records do you think are practical? How much do you think people would be willing to pay to see their name next to a record?

Swimmers can benefit from this proposal. We can spend a few weeks brainstorming ideas, then draft a proposal to submit to the USMS House of Delegates. In the spirit of brainstorming, donít hesitate to post any ideas, no matter how outlandish.

April 1st, 2003, 08:24 AM
I think this is a great idea. I would suggest we also add records based on the age the swimmer actually started swimming.

Rob Copeland
April 1st, 2003, 08:32 AM

You raise some great points. However, your focus on the finishing time significantly narrows the potential revenue generation.

For instance, records and awards based on artistic presentation provide a way for us slower swimmers to excel. For many years I have been working to perfect my cork-screw freestyle and my feet first butterfly. This could be my big chance!!! And, in addition to the revenue generated from the records, just think of the money we could get if we added a 15% tax on all bribes to those judging the competitions.

Other possibilities include judging based on swim attire. The rulebook talks about the ďswim costumeĒ. However, with the notable exception of Paul Windrath., very few swimmers take advantage of the costume. Maybe we could award/sell best in dress records?

April 1st, 2003, 08:36 AM
I've just submitted a proposal to the Executive Committee to add new masters events with the intention of expanding USMS membership into the lucrative triathlon market:

- A special heat of the 500 free that will allow Wetsuits and prohibit flip turns.
- A "Circular" draft-legal 500 in the diving well, with a mass start and buoys at each corner.

Every was quite enthusiastic about it. The full proposal can be reviewed on-line at http://www.MetroTri.com

April 1st, 2003, 09:11 AM
I don't have a strong opinion on the growth in records but somehow the attempt by the other organization referred to in Hugh's post was largely perceived in these parts as nothing more than some internet revenue generating scheme with very little legitimacy. We already have a ton of records and tabulations right now--are we really meeting some important need on the part of existing and potential members to see their name in print?

On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that people will flock in great numbers to quality coached workouts--and stay with masters for the long term. Isn't the financial challenge of USMS the result of it's failure, to date, to significantly grow membership? isnt' that the primary reason for this "trade-off" between benefits and annual fee. Is this too simplistic but wasn't the shortfall a result of a FAILURE to reach a projected membership target. If so, shouldn't we first admit the failure, analyze the reasons behind it and develop a plan to fix it.

Seems to me that we need to identify the primary problem and attack that first. Any other supplemental revenue schemes will only be enhanced once we get our membership up to initial target such as 50,000. Without any increase in our membership I have doubts of the material impact of the other schemes.

April 1st, 2003, 09:36 AM
Wouldn't more records detract from the significance of setting a record? What about corporate sponsorship, like Speedo, Tyr, etc?Personally I'd be willing to pay higher dues, or pay for my Swim subscription separately.

Growth of membership would seem to be a separate problem; consider that only 1/3 of the population (or less) exercise on any sort of regular basis. Advertising the existence of and benefits of membership in Masters swimming would be helpful. Perhaps teaming up with say the American Heart Association and utilizing some well known (and not so well known) Masters swimmers would generate interest. The AHA has advocated 30 minutes of daily exercise for the general population. How many sports are truly lifetime sports?

April 1st, 2003, 09:56 AM

I think the problem is not as big as trying to get the population at large to start exercising or promoting swimming to the 1/3 of the population that excercises.

Let's look at some numbers. In New England there are 5,000 athletes that are members of USA Swimming. They probably represent no more than 1/3 of youngsters who participate in some form of "organized" swimming (HS, Y, JCC, Summer rec, etc). So we can conservatively posit that in NE there are 15,000 youth involved in swimming. Let's assume that are target market is anyone with any kind of organized swimming background. That means that we have at least two generations in our NE market or about 30,000 people (and we have not tried to account for the college market impact--that could be signficant in NE).

NEM has around 1,600 members (note: that NE Swimming does not include Maine so I've excluded the Maine part of the LMSC).
Our membership penetration is slightly better than 5%! Perhaps someone from Pacific Masters (with 10,000 members the absolute success story in terms of membership) and other LMSCs, could provide us with some numbers on their penetration of the target market (as defined above). Regardless of the numbers from other LMSC, I'm pretty sure that we have plenty of room to grow.

What would these organization look like with 10% penetration or even 20% penetration--suppose we looked at three generations rather than two. Aren't we looking at an organization with between 100,000 and 200,000 members. Wouldn't that present other opportunities?

Perhaps we should approach USA Swimming with a plan to grow our support together. A masters organization with 100,000+ members would provide a potential financial base for USA Swimming that would make the USOC totally irrelevant from a financial point of view. A close working relationship (merger?) might allow us to tap some money that we need to grow and develop some kind of alternative for swimmers of all ages that are not going to make the NAG 16 or higher levels of swimming and keep them in the sport for life.

April 1st, 2003, 11:23 AM
How many of those with a background in organized swimming are still swimming (or interested in returning to swimming?) I suspect that the percentage is relatively low. That's the challenge.

Partnering with USS seems like a great idea and would be mutually beneficial. Perhaps some of the ex-Olympians could facilitate this.

April 1st, 2003, 11:49 AM
My personal take on this is that we could combine the aspects of the new database that Jim Matysek is working on with old fashioned money input and the personal desire for records.

Specifically, pools should be equipped with parking-meter-like structures at the starting block end of each lane. Then, when a swimmer approaches the starting block, there would be a sign showing the cost of submitting a time for any particular record. Of course, there would have to be a hierarchy. For example, $1 for a pool or meet record, $2 for a state record, $5 for a zone record and $10 or more for bigger records. The swimmer could then put in the required amount just before the referee readies the next heat. After swimming, if a record is achieved, it would be instantly electronically submitted to the new database and displayed on an appropriate web page.

We could make a bunch of money on this. What are we waiting for?

mel dyck

April 1st, 2003, 11:55 AM
As Bob Selzer points out, the REAL path to growing USMS is through coaches. Sooooooo...I propose that USMS start paying six-figure salaries to Masters coaches and include lots of perks like company car, secretary, a corner office and skybox seats. And an expense account. Through this avenue many coaches will be attracted to Masters, the membership ranks will swell beyond belief and everything will be wonderful.

This would be a big step and it isn't something we should rush headlong into. Perhaps a pilot program where a few select coaches - perhaps USMS Coach of the Year Award recipients - are brought into the plan for a few years and then we assess the results before expanding the program.

April 1st, 2003, 12:01 PM
My understanding is that all the USMS Coaches of the Year ARE already making six figures. Clearly, we should direct this program toward the newcomers. Maybe as a pump-primer, the six-figure coaches would rebate some of their already high salaries into an escrow account to be parcelled out to promising new coaches.


April 1st, 2003, 12:09 PM
Actually the parking meter suggestion has some merit. We debated charging more for distance events since they take up time. Instead we could install USMS certified meters and charge people for the amount of time that it takes to complete an event. We combine this idea with the proposal for new events (2,000 yard breastroke for example) and then you can generate significant revenue.

Rob Copeland
April 1st, 2003, 01:20 PM
As for the parking meter suggestion. The Georgia LMSC will soon be implementing 2 new programs. The first is the addition of a magnetic strip to the back of each registration card, so the swimmers can just swipe their card to enter meets and their checking accounts will be automatically debited for any events. We will also have the swipe machines in each lane so the swimmers can also get credit for warm-ups, there is a slight surcharge for sprint lane access.

The other program is our EZ-Pass program, where each swimmer is provided with a chip that fits easily into their suit. Each time the swimmer passes the flags, in practice or a meet, the lap is automatically counted and the swimmers account is debited. The EZ-Pass program also allows us to monitor who swims where and how often. Once a quarter the swimmers are sent their bill along with a detailed analysis of their swimming, lap by lap for the entire quarter.

Phil M.
April 1st, 2003, 01:42 PM
If USMS is so desperate for $ why not just ask all of the members to send in $10. If you tell me what you want to spend the money on I would be glad to contribute. (I know that I get at least that much value from this website)

If you think that recognition would help raise more $ you can have a "Thanks-to-the-Donors" page and put everyone's name there.

I am sure we have some rich members who wouldn't mind throwing in $100 and become "Gold Members".

April 1st, 2003, 06:10 PM
April Fools?

April 1st, 2003, 08:11 PM
Another possibility it to revisit lowering the USMS minimum age to 12. With the additional revenue that beings in, we'll be able to go head to head with USA Swimming, and maybe buy them out in a couple of years.

April 1st, 2003, 08:55 PM
Well, people have different reasons to join masters. In some places probaby people belong to masters in order to be able to do lap swimming. There are little or no open lap swimming in their area. In my area there you can swim on your own without having to belong to a masters team. Pacific masters pushes lap swimmers or people that do open swims or triathons to sigh up for masters and the area is in a population of 8 to 10 million and it has some of the highest average incomes in the United States. The higher the income, the more likely people are in jogging or swimming for exercise. Someone mention that the problem with most masters programs is that few ex-swimmers join, I finished swimming in AAU way back in 1975 and didn't join masters until I entered a meet in 2002. Also, masters like age group swimming is tied to clubs. While clubs provide a valuable service, some ex-swimmers may have usual working hours and may have to workout on their own. I think that records in 33 1/3 pools or 20 yard pools would be interesting. I sometimes enjoyed swimming in them when I was a novice swimmer as a kid.

April 1st, 2003, 09:33 PM
Perhaps we can combine a few of the ideas that have been posted. Swimmers could set goals based on faster times or better conditioning (i.e. longer distance). Coaches would then get paid based on how much their swimmers improved. If a coach has enough swimmers who all show great improvement, salaries could reach Emmett's goal of six figures (at least if the payment is in yen). We could use Rob's EZ-Pass idea for monitoring swimmers progress. USMS could take care of implementing the program and charge a 50 % fee.

April 1st, 2003, 09:44 PM
Ah, yes, aren't we all April Fools?

Good thing this only comes twice a year...


April 1st, 2003, 10:05 PM
I'm all for the 2,000 yard breaststroke. Let's add a 2,500 too. After reading this thread in the wild colors I feel like I've had my goggles on too tight through a long strange swim.
Cute joke, webmaster.

April 2nd, 2003, 09:28 AM
Thanks everyone for contributing. Mixed in with the outlandish ideas are some sound principles that USMS must keep in mind as we plan our future. If there is any doubt about the sincerity of the thread, please read the fist letter of each paragraph of the original post. ;)

April 2nd, 2003, 05:44 PM
To Rob -

Thanks for the recognition about the various customes I have worn in meets.

Here is the challenge I have for you:

If you wear a thong in the 1650 free at the next SC Nationals and get Danielle to count for you, I will donate $1.00 to USMS for every tight, sommersault flipturn you do.

Any one else want to join me.

Paul Windrath

ps Thong is defined as cover the important front body parts and a single 1mm piece of dental floss covering the back.

April 2nd, 2003, 10:57 PM
Another suggestion is better awards. I remember that the AAU give cheap awards for swimmers who were not top age groupers or elite swimmers. On the other hand, novice use to have a meet where you could accumlate points points and win a throphy. I understand that there are many LSMC that can't afford this and some areas, meets are far and in-between. But maybe medals or large ribbons at the state meets.