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Betsy
February 28th, 2002, 05:27 PM
To all swimmers ...
Among other things, the USMS Planning Committee is looking at the long range future of USMS. I would like this forum to be an area to brainstorm about what you think USMS could and should be doing in the future. This does not mean let’s change a rule for next year; it means in 5 years or 10 years it would be great if ....
No idea too “far out” to mention. Many times a wild suggestion, when discussed and modified, becomes a great idea.
Rules for this discussion: Positive comments only. The purpose of this forum is not to “shoot down” or ridicule someone else’s comments, it is to put out some ideas for further thought. We’ll miss some good ideas if we make people hesitant to contribute. Making suggestions to modify an idea is good, just do it in a positive manner.
As concepts are developed, I will make sure they are forwarded to the appropriate committee.

Betsy Durrant, Planning Committee Chair

Ion Beza
February 28th, 2002, 06:00 PM
My wish is that USMS publishes annually top rankings by gender in SCY, SCM, LCM that go beyond a TOP10, but use the same database as the TOP10 does.
These rankings that I envision for many hundred places, are indicative in the broader picture than just top 10 places, of how competitive many more people are.

Betsy
March 1st, 2002, 09:17 AM
Here are some ideas sent to me since the November convention...

On the Registration front... five year registration (coinciding with aging up) options, photo registration cards, subscription style registration (your registration renews from the date you signed up, or on your birthday. Spreads out the work of the registrars). How about Facilities? USMS buys or builds a facility, and makes it the home to nationals, or as a training base.

Betsy Durrant

info@randynutt.com
March 1st, 2002, 12:19 PM
Hi Betsy,

You bring up an interesting idea -one that I have thought about in the past. What if USMS were to construct a state of the art facility which would be along the lines of a Masters Olympic Training Center and Masters Headquarters. We could have office space to "run" the business affairs of USMS, a competition pool or two, plus space for all the scientific, testing, and sports medicine related activities. We could even have our own Hall of Champions. I realize this would take some work but rather then USMS being a step child in the sport of swimming I really see the future involving USMS as the leader in the sport. With the knowledge base of our members, from coaches, fitness experts, physicians, to administrators (and yes a few engineers) we have a bright future whichever way we go. Dream Big!

Mark in MD
March 1st, 2002, 01:04 PM
Hi Betsy!

While I am new to this organization, I think a long-term marketing/public information/publicity/media relations (whatever you wish to call it) strategy should be given consideration. Having done public information work myself, I know how hard it is to get one's organization into the media.

This strategy could include a plan which involves each LMSC's utilizing (or most likely finding a volunteer to do it!) their own public relations person to get information out to the media. The reason for each LMSC's participation is to not to place the responsibility on any one person at national level. Persistence may just pay off eventually as the axiom goes, "the sqeaky wheel gets the most oil." I am sure some LMSC's do have folks who publicize their group, but a unified approach might reap greater results.

While I am not sure of the agenda for USMS' Annual Conventions, this could be a venue to bring in a media relations professional, or at a minimum, one who's "been there, done that" to provide guidance on getting the word out on this organization. Attendees in turn could then bring back this "how-to" information to their LMSC and share with those interested in handled media relations. This could also ensure uniformity on how information is provided to the media.

I do not mean to mean encroach upon the baliwick of any standing USMS Committee. Rather, I am only trying make suggestion as an "outsider" looking inside and only offer it as a suggestion. Media relations, in my mind, IS important and hard work, but as I mentioned above, it can pay off.

Matt S
March 1st, 2002, 01:39 PM
These are some interesting ideas, but in some respects they are too specific. I think the broader issue is what kind of organization do we want to have? Do we want to maximise the number of people registered as members of USMS? Do we want to maximise the opportunities for competition at the local level? Do we want elite level meets, or other vehicles which facilitate the very best swimmers having the best opportunities to lower USMS records as much as possible? Do we want to advance the science of coaching mature adults (as distinguished for children and teen-agers)? Do we want to have a training program for masters coaches with its goal being the improvement of the practice of coaching at the local club level? Do we want to offer elite coaching and support for elite masters swimmers (a la the USOC Training Center)? Do we want to publicize USMS more broadly in support of any of those goals (or as a goal itself)? Are things just swell the way they are, and we should try to let the good times roll for as long as possible?

Those are the questions we should be asking. Then, when we think we have identified our most important goal(s), we should ask ourselves whether, for example, a photo ID or a USMS owned and operated swimming facility makes sense. I'm a bit uncomfortable with USMS having its own pool/office complex. A facility like that is a major investment both in terms of capital to build it and operating expenses. I would want to see a plan for how we are going to use it and pay for it before I would support something like that.

One other subject I would like to raise is whether USMS should publicize itself differently. My impression is that most of the information we generate is aimed at swimmers, i.e. us. Is now the time to publicize ourselves to a broader section of the general public? One example of how we could do this would be to contact programs like Bill Littlefield's "Only a Game". This is an NPR radio program that covers athletics which do not appear in the major sports media (and presents off-beat takes on the "major sports"). It seems to me that folks in their 80's racing the 200 fly in Christchurch, New Zealand ought to be an easy story to sell to Mr. Littlefield.

Betsy, this is a subject I have been inarticulately trying to raise for some time now. Thanks for the chance to cork-off.

Matt

Betsy
March 4th, 2002, 03:33 PM
How about some response to Matt's questions? Where do we want USMS to go? Where should our emphasis be? I started this thread because I believe our long range goals come from the members.
Betsy

jackkangaroo
March 5th, 2002, 04:30 PM
I would like to see a greater emphasis on our non-competitive swimmers comrades-in-pool.

Which also falls into the area of 'building' a team/support infrastructure (not necessarily for competition).

jack

seltzer
March 5th, 2002, 05:11 PM
I think its great that Betsy has taken this topic to the discussion forum. I hope this results in a good discussion of the future direction of USMS. The early post that suggests the first place to start is with a mission statement is right on. Based on our experience here in New England things really began to happen once we all agreed on our a vision for the future. Around 1996 we decided as a group to measure all activity against one goal--to increase our membership. Earlier that year, we completed a marketing survey and I was amazed by the fact that most of the people who responded (and presumably our members) had some prior "organized" swimming experience (high school, summer league, age group and college in that order) BUT didn't compete as masters. That meant that our target should be people with some competitive swimming experience but not the "elite" competitors.

We then built a marketing program to reach these people by offering them quality coached workouts. As we increased the number of coached workout in our area our membership increased. As we got more members to participate in meets, mainly through workout-group based relays featured in our championship meet, our retention rate rose from 60% (USMS average) to 85% (highest among large clubs). As a result , our membership doubled over the past four years.

USMS should be the largest aquatics organization in the US. We have the largest demographic pool of swimmers with competitive experience. If USMS grew at the same rate as NEM in the past four years we would now have 100,000 members and not 40,000 members. We should have 1.0 million members.

The biggest constraint to future growth here in New England is lack of pool time. We need lots more 50 meter pools. I suspect this is true in many other parts of the country outside of CA and FL. We need a much larger organization to give us the kind of clout to get those pools built now.

I don't think we should build our own USMS facility until we surpass USA swimming in membership. Then we can see if such a facility will help us reach our goals.

Betsy
March 7th, 2002, 05:03 AM
As a jumping off point for discussion of goals, etc., take a look at the Strategic Plan adopted at the 2000 Convention. The only place that I can find it posted is in Nancy Ridout's President's Report, written prior to convention:
www.usms.org/admin/conv00/officerreports.pdf

The plan was modified/expanded slightly before adoption.
*Under Goals, the original plan called for 45,000 members by the end of 2001. It was expanded to 50,000 members by the end of 2005.
*Under Strategy 7, the target for the Endowment Fund was changed from $100,000 by 2001 to $250,000 by 2005.

If anyone would like me to email an updated copy to you, contact me at durrant6@cox.net

Betsy

breastroker
March 7th, 2002, 11:31 AM
Thank you Betsy for starting a great thread. I agree with many of the people, USMS could have more members that USS swimming. The strategic planning is no different than business, we just have to follow the marketing and surveys, develop strategies to accomplish our goals. Here in Sunny Southern California, SPMA has been stuck at 2500-2700 members for ten years. We have more 50 meter pools than any other area in the country, and probably more ex-high school and college swimmers too. I have adopted a strategic plan for additional growth, but would love to get a copy of the USMS Strategic Plan.

My focus is contacting the pool owners associations, and the USS coaches who are always looking for ways to add to their income. Our web site is actively trying to support all our coaches. We try to mentor the newer coaches so they succeed. We try to give as much value to our members as possible.

If the New England Masters could write up their methods for their exceptional retention and growth, all the LMSCs could benefit. Could you share both the marketing survey and the results?

Wayne McCauley
SPMA Chairman
Southwest Zone Chairman

Steve Ruiter
March 7th, 2002, 03:54 PM
Rather than have USMS build and maintain a great facility out there somewhere, my priority is to have one built near ME!

I'd like USMS to work on assisting people in grass roots movements to establish swimming facilities (where needed) and programs (where needed) in their areas.

I don't know what shape or form this might take, but having some sort of clearing-house of knowledge on how to get an appropriate multi-use pool built, or even some resources on what the issues are (funding, licensing, city planning, etc.) and how things got solved.

A collection of success stories would be valuable...as would some outline of what the budget is for an operating facility.

Maybe sessions at a USMS convention would be appropriate (I dont have any clue what the structure of the conventions are, or if such a thing occurs).

Steve

Betsy
March 17th, 2002, 04:23 AM
USMS goal(s).
Bob Seltzer makes some good points above that I would like to pursue in this discussion.
Bob mentioned that New England decided on one goal - to increase membership. That was accomplished by offering increased workouts. Increased workouts led to increased membership. He also stated that the biggest constraint is the lack of pool time. And, "We need a much larger organization to give us the kind of clout to get those pools built now."

In the past, I have heard a lot of discussion about why we need to grow. Bob's point about having the "clout" to get pools built states it well. Is this where USMS needs to put the emphasis? Increasing membership through publicity, coached workouts, quality events? I recognize the contradiction of increasing workout opportunities if there is a lack of pool time. But, is there where we should put our efforts?
Betsy

Scott Rabalais
March 17th, 2002, 10:55 PM
Thank you, Betsy, for initiating a thread on the long-range vision of USMS. Having read through the replies, I note some very interesting and viable ideas. Keep ‘em coming!

Our Executive Committee met during February in Houston for our “mid-year” retreat. The first three hours of our meeting was devoted to this very topic – our mission. We discussed identity issues, our mission statement, goals and values. It is my opinion that to lead effectively in any endeavor, these “larger” issues must be clarified first, then on to the specifics.

We do see the potential that USMS could be much larger in size than it is now. We, too, threw out numbers such as 100,000 or 1 million. Throwing out numbers is the easy part; developing a step-by-step plan that would allow for such growth is quite another matter.

On a more specific level, I applaud NEM on their success at not only increasing their numbers, but their retention rate. We can learn many lesson from their innovative plans.

On a personal note, I would suggest that there is one major incentive for pools to provide space for Masters clubs – money. While it is typical for USA Swimming club members to fork out $100+ per month for fees, most Masters swimmers pay only a fraction of that amount for monthly dues. For Masters programs to thrive, they will more than likely need a committed, professional coach. And that costs money. So, to obtain the desired pool time and attract quality coaching, it could very well be a factor of what we, as swimmers, are willing to invest.

Thanks to all of your for your interest and I look forward to reading many more great ideas.

Phil Arcuni
March 18th, 2002, 12:44 AM
It is not obvious to me that NEM's methods are the way to go, if the goal is to increase membership, rather than retention rate (they are not the same thing, necessarily). For example, Emmett has described elsewhere how he has de-emphasized competition in order to get the team membership up so that he can make a living. I swim for a large team, but only a small fraction attend meets at least once a year, perhaps 10-20%. Triathletes make a larger percentage and they would never think of going to a pool meet (though they *might* an open water swim.) By far the largest fraction, however, are only (in the sense that that is all they swim for) fitness swimmers. They are quite happy, several-year members, and attend workout regularly. I think some attention should be spent on why they like masters swimming.

michaelmoore
March 18th, 2002, 03:04 AM
I think that Masters swimming is the best fitness adult physical fitness program out there and that we have a great story to tell. For adults who want to compete in a pool, we have great championships at the local and national level. We have great open water events. How many places will draw one thousand competitors like the Lake Berryessa Open Water Swim (for that swim, many will compete and many will be out there just have a great swim out around the island).

To have great programs, Masters need adults who want enjoy a great fitness program. Pools cost a lot of money (accountants may say that most of a clubs costs are fixed). Once you have a place to swim, then you need a coach (I am not sure which come first but both are needed). Coaches need to be paid a living wage or else they will move on to some other occupation.

To find the funds for paying a pool and a coach means that either you get a very wealthy clientel or you get a many swimmers to help share the expenses.

I applaud NEM for going out to recruit new swimmers. When you have a successful Masters program, the words gets out to Aquatic Directors about how how much money a program is bringing in. The ADs are willing then to spend money for adult masters programs. Success feeds upon itself.

With any recruitment there is always going to be some turnover. Some swimmers dont have the time they thought they would have to swim, or they decide swimming is not for them or job/family obligations limit their time to swim. But if you can keep your retention rate high and promote your program, the program will grow.

The growth of USMS is going to depend on the LMSCs and their ability to organize their clubs. The LMSCs are going to have to make a committement to growth. (I have heard that there are some LMSCs dont want to grow as the LMSC leadership thinks that two in a lane is all the can be handled in a pool).

Personally, I would love to see every city with a population over 20,000 in Pacific LMSCs area have a functioning Masters club. There is a lot of work to get that done. It will mean recruiting adquatic directors to start a Masters program. It will mean trying to find men and women who want to make a career of coaching and wanting to coach adults.

I would love to work with other LMSCs that want to grow - Masters is a great program. I think the Masters program can double over the next five years, but that will take a committement from the LMSCs and national.

What I would like to see from national:

1. A list of every pool in the United States
2. Good collateral material to send out to pool owners/aquatic directors
a. about USMS
b. How Masters can make them money
c. How Masters is good for the community
d. Posters to get the swimmer at a pool interested in swimming Masters
3. An idea for a program of how Masters is going to promote Masters swimming to Aquatic Directors.
4. Brochures for attracting people to Masters swimming
a. to get the triathlete
b. to get the "returning" athlete
c. to get the older person who want to take better care of him/herself.
5. Ideas for professional development of coaches.


michael

seltzer
March 18th, 2002, 03:53 PM
I apologize for not responding earlier to Wayne's request for some feedback on how NEM approached the problem of growing membership and agree with much of what Michael Moore stated as necessary. Some of us are very busy right now in organizing the 2002 NE SCY Championship meet and it looks like another record turnout.

Shortly after the meet (scheduled to be held 4/5-4/7) I will try to summarize some of the significant steps we implemented and try to separate them out from our analysis so that people can draw their own analytical conclusions.

Re Emmett's comments. We really don't expect coaches to attend every meet. In fact, we only expect coaches to attend 2 meets a year plus the One Hour swim. I would say that such attendance comes back in fair compensation but as everyone here knows we vastly underpay all coaches at virtually every level of swimming.

RE Phil's comments. The participation in competition is important but still only one in several elements of our success. Like many a good marketing machine it requires more than one moving part.

More on this later.

Beards247
March 19th, 2002, 03:35 PM
Point Blank -

Micheal Moore's points need to be addressed (There should be a goal to have a poster in every pool).

In addition to Micheal's points, my perception of the "swimming path": the "traditional route" seems to be maybe agegroup, ususally Highschool, on to college... And then what? Nothing. I did not know about USMS until I began swimming on my own again after the traditional 5 year layoff after college when someone mentioned USMS as we swam laps.

I feel we need to attach ourselves to the outflow of swimmers from college (or those that recreationally swim):
a. Developing a relationship with our college swim coaches - maybe even a newsletter specifically for them.
b. Having a yearly meeting with local college teams in your respective LMSC.
c. Some way to encourage people out of college to keep on swimming, and not take off 4-5 years as has been the traditional model.
d. Offer USMS up as a network - Of swimmers, practice availability, job networking (almost all other college alumni, frat, etc offer this type of enticement), or something else I have not thought of.

I know competetive swimmmers do not make up all of the USMS. But I am focusing on competetive swimmers out of college b/c they are a concentrated market of people who would be interested in our product.

Is there reason we should not go with this approach? I only ask this pointed question b/c I am working on putting this system together for my LMSC for the Fall...

Chris B

osterber
March 19th, 2002, 04:54 PM
One thing is that a lot of athletic directors don't really care how much a masters team is going to bring in for them. Most college pools these days are already so completely over-used that most ADs would prefer to eliminate programs, not add them. Here at Harvard, in our 25yx50m pool, we have to schedule in:

* Men's varsity swimming
* Women's varsity swimming
* Men's varsity diving
* Women's varsity diving
* Men's varsity water polo
* Women's varsity water polo
* USS club swimming program (with lots of age groups)
* USA Diving club diving program (2 of them, actually)
* Masters club
* Recreational swimming
* Championship events (for any of the above, which impact the scheduling for everyone)
* Events for 'outsiders' (such as the Special Olympics, etc., which have events)
* Other 'program' activities like SCUBA lessons, swim lessons, etc.

The pool is a very crowded place.

-Rick

Steve Ruiter
March 20th, 2002, 09:17 PM
Which comes first, the great pool facility or the great swimming programs?

It seems like most all great pool facilities have above average programs that happen there. (Harvard, Dynamo, Indy, The entire state of California, and the list goes on.)

I am unaware of any great programs at crappy pools.

It seems to me we need to get more great facilities built. I don't know how to make that happen, but USMS should be able to be influential through its planning and membership.

Steve

Michael Heather
March 24th, 2002, 12:57 AM
To all those who have gone ahead as well as those who will come after,

The idea of USMS owning a facility should give pause to anyone savvy enough to realize just how big an undertaking it would be. But this fact alone is not enough to torpedo the idea, because there are lots of good reasons to initiate just that course of action.

If we are to grow and expand our membership base, we need to have a place to put all those bodies in water. Of course one pool will not be enough to do that, but it would be a perfect focus to point to when any local group is trying to get pool time in the municipal plunge, and is being met with a bureaucrat spouting obfuscatory gobbledygook. "Look at how many people they put in the water," you would say," every one of them represent money in the bank. Surely you can find a way to serve an affluent, stable, influential group such as the one we represent? Look at what they have done without any help already."

Once we make the swimming world know that the only way to get out of this sport is by dying, the realization will sink in that USMS is a long term commitment, and high schools, colleges, and USA swimming are all just feeder programs for us.

Do not discount the power that a self owned facility would bestow upon USMS. A well run, efficient facility will more than pay for itself, and the national campionships could be hosted with obvious financial benefits. Our long desired national media center would have a base of operations. Marketing a place is easier and simpler than marketing the mission.

There are a pair of pools in Florida that would serve our purposes very well that are currently filled with dirt. I am sure that there are more facilities around the country that will fall into our profile if we choose to expand the commitment. Municipalities are famous for cutting services at pools, when the costs are fixed whether the pools are open or closed. The result? More closed pools, less room and time for swimmers.

We must be deadly serious about this option (that's two terminal references, sorry), and exercise careful planning, because there is no growth possible if there is no pool to swim in.

I yam what I yam

Paul Smith
March 25th, 2002, 07:58 PM
Lots of great ideas coming out, can't help but think that this kind of discussion will help long term. One thing that I personally would like to see is an attempt to better coordinate and market the State/Regional meets in different parts of the country. Far to often meets are held on all the same weekends and dont provide people with a chance to go to more than one.

I'm seeing/hearing more and more as I travel that people have a hard time making it to nationals and would like more oppurtunities to compete in meets that they can shave/taper for. A good example was the Long Beach SCM meet in December. I'm also aware that a number of people will be doing this at the Tucson meet next month.

Because so many of these regional meets are held at very fast pools and are spread over 3 days they can be great "destination" meets, especially if people can't make nationals. If these meets were coordinated and spread out as well as "marketed" (this new site makes it much easier) I think we'd see particpation grow.

I would actually love to keep updated by our Canadain, Asian, European & South American friends for that matter!

Betsy
April 1st, 2002, 09:11 AM
Why do I belong to USMS?

Keeping up with this discussion has made me really think about why I (or anyone else) joined USMS. What aspect of the sport and organization is most important? I love the competition; I love the friends I have made; I love the feeling of health that I have. Most of the time, I love working out. Sometimes I have to talk myself into going, but invariably I feel better after working out. Which one of the above is most important? Or, maybe it should be phrased which one drives the others or causes the others to happen?

What do members have common? What are most people looking for when they join USMS?

I'm eager to read what others say and to see what common threads emerge. Can we identify a common goal?
Betsy Durrant

Matt S
April 19th, 2002, 02:54 PM
I agree with Paul's post concerning regional meets. I would like to see them developed into an event that is perceived at "a big meet" and could be used, as he puts it, as a "destination meet." Part of the reason I get so emotional about letting everyone swim at Nationals is that I perceive that meet as being the only one where I can count on close races in my age group.

What do I mean by that? Well (you may commence eye-rolling), let me tell you a story. I competed in the 1999 Colony Zone SCY Championships. This is a pretty significant meet in a pretty big Zone. I swam some decent times, and was pleased by my efforts. I then took a closer look at the results in my age group, and I noticed that if I had been blazingly faster or painfully slower, I would have finished about the same place. The 500 was particularly noteworthy; I could have set a PR, and still only moved up a couple of spots. Same/same if I had been a minute slower. My point is that even at Colony Zone Championships, the talent was so spread-out we could have scored the event based on seed times, and not been far wrong. And don't get me started on local meets with 3-4 people per age group. I would like to see enough people show-up for a meet that swimming well or swimming poorly makes a significant difference in final place.

The only meets where that happens consistently in USMS Nationals, and the really big international meets. Just from visiting several masters teams, I am confident the talent is there to have competitive regional meets. The question is how do we interest enough swimmers in showing up for these events that they will be perceived as being a big deal? I think the latter would help the former, but how do we get the feedback loop going?

Matt

seltzer
April 20th, 2002, 05:44 PM
Matt:

Check out the results from NE SCY Championship (www.swimnem.org) and you'll see an example of a very competitive meet. We had 670 swimmers (from an LMSC with less than 2,000 swimmers) and this meet continues to grow. Why?

1) Very satisfying product

Results posted five minutes after event AND posted on-line. Lots of valuable pre-meet information that both educates (thereby bringing in the less experienced swimmer) and also helps build the excitement. As the meet gets larger, we pick-up more faster swimmers and that in turn attracts more swimmers from further away. I see this meet growing to 800+ in two years. Also perhaps one of the most efficient meet management teams in the US.

2) Promotion

We promote this meet very heavily. Email, web, newspaper and now with NPR radio coverage. Also very active word-of-mouth network and lots of support from local coaches. I think this is where most meets fail. You must approach a large meet as a marketing event. It makes it more fun for everyone.

I agree 100% with you that we should build the regional meets. This is a way to reach a significant number of our members. It could also be one of the most positive experiences that they associate with USMS/LMSC/Zone if run properly. This build loyalty to a larger organization. USMS Nationals will NEVER be this important because you simply cannot fit enough people (5,000-10,000) at one venue. If we are going to grow USMS to 100,000 members or some other stretch goal then the regional championship meets can really help.

hammerheadcm
April 21st, 2002, 08:00 PM
I think the key to increasing membership is to attract the recreational swimmers with convenient and appropriate workouts that include stroke instruction for those who need it. Many people who love to swim are not driven to compete, especially in a pool meet. It is more likely for them to want to do a triathlon where the distance is short and you are one of a big group.

seltzer
April 22nd, 2002, 11:33 AM
We had a similar debate/discussion about six years ago in NEM. We then did a survey of members and discovered that the vast majority (70%) had SOME competitive swimming background. Very few swam in college or age group but large numbers had High School, Y and summer rec swimming background. We then did some quick and dirty demographic analysis and realized that we could increase our membership (around 600 then) by a very large factor if we reached out to this group rather than the "fitness swimmer" (in fact the objective of our target group is better mental and physical health through swimming). These people already knew how to circle swim and use a pace clock. Some had a little bit of competitive experience.

Meets can be really attractive to this group of swimmer because they provide opportunity to socially bond with their fellow swimmers and also provide further motivation to keep swimming. (It can be a lot more satisfying trying to perfect a new stroke or learn a new turn then to try to lose a few more lbs).

Six years later, our membership is 1,600, a lot of our members partcipate in some kind of meet or "competitive event (One Hour Swim, Open Water Swim) though most of our members still think of themselves as swimming for mental and physcial fitness.

cinc3100
June 21st, 2002, 11:57 PM
The problem is many ex-age group swimmers to olympic champs do not want to swim that much as adults. Many probably swim for fitness but don't want to bother with masters. As for southern California, you know as well as I, the fastness growing part of the population is hispanic immirgrants that sometimes have two jobs and don't have time for masters swimming and have limited income resources. Also, states like California and Arizona and New York should targeted the immirgrant populations to swimming in the adult age groups. There are immirgrants that are more middle class that have more time and money.

Matt S
August 6th, 2002, 06:38 PM
Everyone,

Have you followed the last couple of days worth of posts (Aug 4-6) in the discussion thread "And the ESPY Goes to..."? Those of us who are participating have gotten over our infantile fascination with whether swimming is "underexposed" by the major sports media, and there are some excellent ideas for promoting the sport and USMS. I think the best of the lot is doing a low budget video production of the upcoming LC Nationals (say 30 or 60 minutes worth after editing) and getting a network of USMS members to get that video on their area's "local access" TV Channel. Lots of good brain-storming, and we could also turn to nationally syndicated sports columist/author, and USMS regular at Nationals, John Feinstein for advise and assistance.

Matt

Beards247
August 7th, 2002, 08:57 AM
I usually stay away from these longer threads, but Matt has done a good job of distilling the functional information.

I LOVE THE IDEA OF A DISTRIBUTED TAPE! LMSC's can then use this for training, publicity, history.

I have no idea about the logistics of doing this, and since I have a stupid wedding to attend instead of going to Nationals, I cannot offer much assistance in making the video. But I think this is a great idea.

John Feinstein could be a good resource on how to distribute it, but if anyone has friends who make documentaries for public TV, want to major in Recreation (probably masters), or are amature movie makers, they could provide the secrets for making the tape.

mdhammer
August 7th, 2002, 10:46 AM
My group swims at a university with a crappy, overused pool I get pool time by pointing out that many of my swimmers are alums, some quite well off financially, and would be a good base of support for a fundraising campaign for a new facility. So far it has worked, though I keep waiting for the campaign to start!

stealthtrainer
August 7th, 2002, 01:35 PM
Regarding Future Planning...Because of the large numbers of people participating and the interest in distance events, Schedule the 800/1500 either as a different event or a few days earlier and permit people to do both if they desire. It's the only event that makes people choose one or the other, as opposed to one middle and one distance event. (No one has to choose the 50 free over the 100 free, or vice-versa!)

Also, the person submitting six events has no way of knowing for certain if the "Sixth Event Rule" is going to be evoked. It seems unethical to keep the entry fees when that situation arises. (It's a free $5,000 if 1,000 entrants go for it and they don't even get to swim through no fault of their own, other than entering.) In my view, it's unethical. Either set the limit down to 5 events or let every swimmer do what they qualified for. I know the rules are set clearly, but the practice has been in place for a long time now, and while it may protect the host from possible low revenue due to low attendance, but there is a surcharge in place for that as well. Ethically, fairness needs to be built in to take the swimmers' position into account as well.




From,
stealthtrainer

Matt S
August 7th, 2002, 07:21 PM
Stealth,

I tend to disagree with your points. First, I do not think it is an imposition to ask someone to pick either the 800 or 1500, but not both. The fact that one swim of these events will take a USMS swimmer anywhere from 9 minutes to half an hour to complete make them fundamentally different from the 50 or 100 in terms of meet management. If every event costs $5 to enter, you're asking an for aweful lot of the meet officials' time if you take say 11 minutes and 23 minutes to finish two of your events (instead of say 30 and 70 seconds for the 50 and the 100). I say this as someone who does compete in the 800 or 1500 from time to time.

Second, I don't see how it is unfair to have your 6th event contingent on how many entries the meet receives. Everyone knows that is the rule when they enter. Moreover, the alternatives are no 6th event ever, even when the attendance is light and the schedule would support it, or excessively long days of competition for everyone. Now you could accuse me of not sharing the pain because I do not make NQT's and my 3 events are never in doubt. However, I have said before I am willing to change the rule so that everyone has one event at risk (the "3rd" event for those with no NQT's, 4th for those with one NQT, and 5th for those with 2).

I can see why you find galling the fact that you pay for a 6th event, don't get to swim it, don't get a refund, and swim the same number of events as someone who only paid for 5. However, we are only talking $5 here! How much is that compared to your USMS Team dues or YMCA/pool membership fee, the cost of travel to the meet, and the value of your time training for the meet, and vacation days to participate in it? $5?! Pfiffle! I'd gladly pay that much more in the flat meet entry fee to see the meet officials and unpaid volunteers get the truly lavish hospitality arrangements they deserve. I have a hard time seeing this as an ethical issue.

Matt

cinc3100
August 7th, 2002, 08:07 PM
Matt, I kind of agree with you on the distance freestyle events that they are so long and its ok to limit each swimmer to one or the other. I'm only swam in one meet this year and qaulified just for the 50 meter breastroke for my age group. And like you said, many people don't make the national qualifying times,especially in the younger age groups. I'm not going to nationals and rather go to some meet closer where I'm at,since I'm about the middle of my age group rather in the 10 ten in the nation. Maybe, next year since nationals is in Tempe for short course and I live in Arizona I might go.

cinc3100
August 8th, 2002, 03:40 AM
Promoting masters is different than USA swimimng. Its seems by looking at the top times that the biggest age groups with the most swimmers are the age groups in the 40's and early to mid 50's rather than the younger age groups or the older age groups. Colleges are fine but many middle aged people are not found there, unless there is a local masters or lap swimming program on the campus. Y's and local community lap programs are another way to get people into masters as some have stated. Perhaps, a local outreach by the master LSMC by putting an ad in the local area to Y's and lap programs might help. Also, tellling people that they don't have to belong to a local club and telling them that they could start in the water instead of diving will also bring more people in. Masters it seems have been sucessful in bringing in ex-school swimmers or age group swimmers from the 1960's and 1970's up until the early 1980's, than the general swim public.

Bob McAdams
July 18th, 2003, 08:07 PM
Here are a couple of suggestions:

1) Change the name of the organization.

Currently, the term "masters swimming" is a sort of a secret code that means "adult swimming" to those who are in the know. But those who are not assume it means "people who have mastered swimming". Consequently, people who don't know the secret code, and who know that their swimming abilities aren't anywhere near as good as those of Olympians, often don't even bother to investigate "masters swimming" because they assume it's not for them. Even if someone who is involved in masters swimming tries to tell them that they don't really have to have mastered swimming in order to join, they may not really believe it, but may assume that the person thinks they are better at swimming than they really are.

2) Work on giving competitive swimming an image similar to the image that competitive running has.

Most of the people who run in races or marathons don't really believe that they're Olympic level runners. Instead, they believe that it's okay to race even if you don't expect to win or turn in a spectacular time. But many swimmers believe that you need to be "really good" to compete at a swim meet. I know a woman who occasionally runs in races with her husband and son, but who won't even consider swimming in a masters meet, even though she's much more of a swimmer than a runner, because she's "not at that level" in swimming.


Bob

Bert Petersen
July 20th, 2003, 11:51 PM
Bob is exactly right in the way people see our sport. I too have noticed the same comments.
The big, burning question is, of course, change it to what ???

Bert

dulfin
July 21st, 2003, 11:20 PM
Bob, you have an interesting point. If I may ramble for a moment, I first heard of the Masters program several years ago in Self magazine. What the magazine had done was outlined several Masters programs - it's not just Masters swimming or Masters running. Speaking of Masters running - has anyone seen the new Nike commercial with the 50+ woman? It clearly states US Masters running - I found it to be interesting - only in that it proves the point that if you don't know "the code" you would have no idea what the Masters programs is all about.

It's a very thought provoking question - where to take the program and what to make of the program.

As a swimmer that's been out of the water since high school, my perspective is this. I can't wait to get in the water again. I can't wait to get in the water to get back into shape. Most of all, I am excited about having the choice to compete again.

I don't think there is any simple answer to this question and there are as many answers/ideas as there are swimmers in this program.

That's my two cents...

snorkel
October 21st, 2003, 01:05 PM
Yes, I too, saw the Nike commercial with the Masters Runner. I said to my wife "See. Masters is getting some exposure!" Perhaps this could be an avenue to follow in terms of increasing public exposure for Masters Swimming.

Way back when this thread started there was some discussion regarding increasing Masters Swimming's membership. If this is a main goal of USMS (and it sounds like a good one), could someone articulate more of the benefits of increased membership? I think a few posters had mentioned that increased membership would give us more clout in getting pools built, but what else? Thank you.

tsh38
December 28th, 2003, 05:18 PM
I don't know exact numbers but I am sure the ymca has more master swimming age group participants than anyone else. That being said I believe it would be great if the USMS and the YMCA could put together a national master swimmer "fitness and competivave program". Just a thought . Tim

2go+h20
March 2nd, 2004, 08:34 PM
Why should distance swimmers have to pick between an 800 and a 1500? If you look at the length of time it takes to run say the 50 free event compared to say the 1500 or 800 which do you think takes more time??? The answer may surprise some .
Distance swimmers are not the 'poor cousins' of swimming. They have talents and ability to compete in these longer events due to more slow twitch fibres.
If distance swimmers have to pick one, then sprint and middle distance swimmers should also have to do the same. (Imagine the uproar if there was a choice between the 50 and 100m freestyle).
Masters is about Fun Fitness and Friendship. It is about watching a 90 year old swim the 800m in the World Championships and get out unassisted, full of life and ready for the next event.
It is also about watching 5 90-94 year old men, from all around the globe at the World Championships, dive from the blocks and race the 50 free.
Masters is part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Training for a goal, no matter what the distance or stroke is what masters strive to achieve. Why make them choose?

Floral Park "Flash"
March 2nd, 2004, 08:55 PM
Let swimmers swim any three events they want 1500, 800, 50 free, whatever!!! How is it fair that a distance swimmer has to wait three or four days to get to the 400 or 500 meter free while all the sprinters get their races in during the convenient days. Why not just set a three event maximum so we cut down on the swimmers that do "filler" events because they are there and save the nationals for three events a swimmer really wants to do? We get stuck with extra nights of hotel stays. Either the crowds aren't there yet, or they've already left. We're away from home and business at an added expense of several hundred dollars because our events take more time.

Distance swimmers should be allowed to do both distance events. If everyone was allowed to swim just three events, the meet could be over in two, maybe three days at the most and no one would be put out financially. How would sprinters feel if their events were set up, let's say the 50 free on opening day, let's say a Wednesday, then the 100 free would be run as the last event on Sunday? Seems fair to me! ...and about time!

Fritz
March 2nd, 2004, 09:27 PM
Another reason it would be over in 2-3 days is a good many of us wouldn't come if you limit it to 3 events.

Michael Heather
March 2nd, 2004, 09:35 PM
Boo Hoo. I guess the extra time in the water numbs the minds of some distance swimmers.

This is not a thing between distance and sprint swimmers, even though some are lazy enough to make it seem that way. The reason for allowing (or not) swimmers to enter more than one distance event is mostly a business decision, made by the meet host. If distance swimmers were to demand to pay entry fees based on yardage covered, or time in the water, I suppose more hosts would be amenable to having all distance meets, where you wouldn't have to put up with those pesky sprinters.

And don't even think about trying to compare the relative times of entire events, unless you are talking about equal numbers of heats.

Since this seems to be generally about the national meets, why not propose that the format be lengthened or shortened, or even put the distance events all on the middle days? I'll tell you why the last won't fly. And most sprinters would love to have it happen. The meet hosts have to deal with staffing and timing events every day, and the first and last are the toughest to run, because they are usually on a weekday, or a Sunday. People do not want to work on those days typically. Many National championships are started off with the two long events so that the meet host may work out any bugs in the system (timing, processing, posting, announcing, etc.) before the stress of the "sprint" days compacts the events to minutes between events, rather than hours.

So quit whining unless you are willing to give up the subsidy you are getting from the sprinters. They would be happy to pay 10 cents per yard/meter as an entry fee. Would you?

hammerheadcm
March 3rd, 2004, 04:37 PM
Michael,please, please, don't start a discussion that would encourage race directors to charge by the yard or meter. it's been a secret pleasure that even though I can't sprint I at least get 20, 40 or 66 laps for my $5 and the sprinters only get 2 or 4 laps.

JPSWMCCH
March 24th, 2004, 09:36 AM
Hi Betsy: We have a great, not so little any more, group of college Masters' swimmers at Western Michigan University. I think they have about 30. About six of those swimmers will not be able to swim in our state championships because they are only 18, though they could swim in meters meet, short or long. The MAC conference schools have been dropping swimming,particularly men's programs. Is it time, soon, to pick up the slack and allow 18 year olds to swim in our short course yards competition?

In years past, an argument not to allow the 19-25 age group was to protect USA Swimming (so they wouldn't lose swimmers). I thinking we are missing an opportunity to encourage enthusiastic participation of swimmers in Masters, particularly if they no longer have a varsity team to swim on. Also, there are many former high school swimmers who would not have swum on a team in college, but Masters Swimming meets (shorter, more like dual meet time commitments) and practices, meet their needs.

I truly do not believe that we would be stepping on any USA Swimming programs and would allow more swimmers to get started in our great Masters programs! Thanks for your consideration. Jennifer Parks (p.s. I have a student right now in my Lifeguarding and Swim Fitness classes who works out, can't swim in the summer because of his job, who would have liked to participate in our State Meet, as well as other meets...he's only 18! Will he still be interested next fall?)

cinc3100
March 26th, 2004, 02:02 AM
I agree with you. Masters back in the 1970's lock up the 19 to 24 age group and started with 25 years . People like myself quit after 2 years of Community College Swimming. So, I end up out of the sport for over 20 years. Actually, USA swimming loses a lot of the slower or late starting swimmers by 18 years old. And like you stated not everyone fits into the 4 year college program.

Alicat
May 26th, 2004, 01:05 PM
How about starting a monthly or quarterly national magizine kinda like Splash or Swimming World/Techniques? --Am I dating myself I am not sure if Swimming World is still published...
Anyway, it could have a the Master's swimming foucs and people could just develop it to what they want.
Ali

Rob Copeland
May 26th, 2004, 01:13 PM
Alicat –

A wonderful suggestion, and for your information such a magazine already exists; Swim, “The World’s foremost authority on adult swimming”. And the best part is that it is free with membership in USMS! Or, available from the publisher for $19.95 per year.

Sorry to sound like and info-mercial!

stealthtrainer
May 27th, 2004, 01:54 PM
While it is true that SWIM Magazine, as Rob Copeland states, covers technique, it is also true that SWIM magazine misses the Mark on a number of issues. As the "Life" or "LOOK" magazine of Masters Swimming, some issues never get covered. Alicat brings up an interesting issue.

If we had our own magazine, it would be a forum where we could see how our fellow masters review...equipment...and run their own tests, set the criteria on technical suits, goggles, snack bars, and other swim related issues. We could do reviews on pools where we train...and discuss the best possible training regimen. Let's face it...some swimmers aren't independently wealthy and have to think economically about meets to enter, equipment to buy, and best workouts for limited time availability around family and work schedules. I'd like to see a discussion about the migration away from pool swims toward open water swims...Safety issues when they're run in bad weather...who tracks to make sure that everyone who enters the water exits....best courses...strategies, etc. (While interest in the 1500/1650 is dying, 5K & 10 K swims seem to be growing in popularity. Endurance swims are in, just not in the pool! Certainly, a topic of interest!)

Then, there's performance enhancing substances. While USA Swimming (2000) and Fitness Swimmer addressed the issue of substance use (Fitness Swimmer March/April 1999, The Creatine Scoop by Martha Capwell Fox, pp 18 & 19...two top Masters discuss their Creatine use), SWIM, despite being asked, does not address the issues. Yet, if the editors of SWIM are truly journalists, they should be telling us not only the workout regimen used by the successful swimmers, but also talk about diet...including the use of Andro, HGH, Creatine, and how these have helped or hurt swimmers. For those who achieved success with the substances, do they still use them? Why or why not? Even include information on whether best swims occur with or without technical suits, etc. We have a number of results forums, but our own Master Magazine may be a better forum for addressing the harder issues.

breastroker
May 27th, 2004, 04:14 PM
You just do not understand the legal issues, it is very difficult to post or print usefull information on Sports Medicine. Any print articles on HGH, steroids etc would be bogged down with attorneys forever.

There have been many reviews of pools we train in, in my humble opinion way too many.

Long distance swimming has also been covered many many times. You just might not have seen it recently if you are new to the magazine.

I think just about every issue you have pointed out has been covered in past issues. Just there is so much information all fighting for publication.

I have every Swim magazine ever published, going back before it was Swim Swim magazine. There was a rival magazine published a few years ago, very commercial but great articles. They also had the same problems of being timely, and only able to fit so many articles in each magazine.

It would be different if you could go online and read every article ever printed in the magazine. Swimming World is there now with the premium service and CDs of past issues.

stealthtrainer
May 27th, 2004, 04:31 PM
Breaststroker,

Your points are valid. When it's all said and done, the only pools of any real importance are the ones that are local... and all of the rest is true. But the subjects themselves weren't important. My point really comes down to this...and this may be personal...I just want a hard, to the point publication that will bypass the candy coating and tell us what works. Tell me about experiments in the workout that failed. Tell me what succeeded. If you're doing Creatine, how much does it take for it to work? Are there side affects? If you've got heart problems, will it kill you in the process of making you faster? Maybe just publish or re-publish medical journal articles. As it stands, I don't even crack open the SWIM Magazine when I get it in the mail any longer.

Every Masters Swimmer has a story...some of them are epic. Some have had great NCAA histories, or Olympic histories, while others have never had that background, yet slip unheralded and unmentioned into the national top ten. All by itself, that presents one of your issues...there are thousands of stories waiting to be told. Does the average Master see former olympians, read about their workouts, and become inspired, or...do they become inspired when someone who has never been there before ranks number 8 or 10 in the country in their age group because they've done something unique in their workouts? I would think a magazine of our own would do that. If our dues already go to support SWIM, why not publish our own Magazine. We would write it and edit...and have the printing and distribution managed/outsourced. I just thought Alicat's idea wasn't bad.

mattson
May 27th, 2004, 05:07 PM
Originally posted by stealthtrainer
As it stands, I don't even crack open the SWIM Magazine when I get it in the mail any longer.
...
Does the average Master see former olympians, read about their workouts, and become inspired, or...do they become inspired when someone who has never been there before ranks number 8 or 10 in the country in their age group because they've done something unique in their workouts?

I've got to agree with Wayne. In the last 6 months, they have covered the stories you are asking about: many different ages, backgrounds, and training styles.

(Then again, you have people like "He Who Shall Not Be Named", who blasted Swim magazine for having "fluff" pieces that he didn't care about. And not enough on late-blooming V02Max. :rolleyes: )

You asked for "a hard, to the point publication that will bypass the candy coating and tell us what works". Have you been reading this forum? :D There are almost as many different "what works" as there are swimmers, a lot of them contradictory.

coach guy
May 27th, 2004, 05:32 PM
I'm new to this forum but reading the different postings many people "don't feel ready to join a team" much less compete. I think the focus should be on getting people to make the initial commitment to join. From there many of the other things should take care of themselves. I would love a lap only pool that didn't have to be set it's temp at 86 degrees to accomodate swim lessons and water aerobics (no offense to either) but until there is more revenue in lap swimming,we are always going to have second rate facilities. I work in a health club and until I can show my genral manager why he should cater to a small percentage of members ($$) I'm going to get left over times and difficult conditions.

Conniekat8
May 27th, 2004, 09:48 PM
Originally posted by coach guy
I'm new to this forum but reading the different postings many people "don't feel ready to join a team" much less compete. I think the focus should be on getting people to make the initial commitment to join. From there many of the other things should take care of themselves. I would love a lap only pool that didn't have to be set it's temp at 86 degrees to accomodate swim lessons and water aerobics (no offense to either) but until there is more revenue in lap swimming,we are always going to have second rate facilities. I work in a health club and until I can show my genral manager why he should cater to a small percentage of members ($$) I'm going to get left over times and difficult conditions.

How do you suggest to reach the non-USMS members? Most people become members when they join a team.
majority of the people who get the swim magazine have already joined one team or another.

Personally, I don't think a magazine is a way to reach those people.

gull
May 28th, 2004, 08:24 AM
I agree with stealthtrainer--but we've had this discussion before. SWIM tries to appeal to the broad spectrum of Masters swimmers, since membership is very diverse. What is lacking is a resource for those Masters swimmers interested in training and competing. Even the texts (like Maglischo) are not written with the Masters swimmer in mind, since what works for age group or college swimmers may not be applicable to the older swimmer. That's not to say SWIM doesn't have good or interesting articles, but the focus of the magazine tends to be fairly broad (and there is fluff--not that there's anything wrong with that).

coach guy
July 5th, 2004, 07:22 PM
Originally posted by Conniekat8
How do you suggest to reach the non-USMS members? Most people become members when they join a team.
majority of the people who get the swim magazine have already joined one team or another.

Personally, I don't think a magazine is a way to reach those people.

I don't either. I joined because I did an open water event and want to do more of them. A lot of people who contribute to these forums don't seem to be members because they don't feel they are good enough to be on a team. Personally I don't have ANY "swimmers" on the team I coach. They are almost all triathletes who want to become better swimmers. Some have developed into exceptional swimmers and all have improved thier swimming. I try to reach out to the recreational lap swimmers or the "lap counters" and show them what coaching can do for them.

bobw
August 26th, 2004, 01:08 AM
My suggestion, as a masters swimmer who works out but seldom enters meets, is to address the length of meets. Many folks have families, kids with commitments, and to spend all day at a meet is simply too hard to do. Suggestions could include (1) offering multiple oportunities for the short events - i.e. why not start each meet with a round of a 50 in each stroke, the end each meet with the same, so swimmer have more flexibility in scheduling/i.e. if you can't spend a whole day, you could spend a morning (or afternoon), then also get to you kid's athletic/other event. Likewise, the distance events simply consume an inordinate amount of time - there is nothing more boring that sitting on the side while a meet runs 11 heats of the 500 free at an average of 10 minutes per heat-especially when the 500 free is set in the middle of the meet agenda. I'd suggest encouraging meets to either schedule distance events at the beginning, with a 30-45 minute warm up before the other event, at the end, or the night before as some meets do. Also, perhaps offer voluntary consolidation to 2 per lane, and let those distance swimmers heats run first. For Championship meets I would agree a "proper" agenda shuld be preserved, but for most meets, try to set a schedule/agenda that allows participants to limit the meet to a half day event. Also, I don't think most master care about gender seperation- I've been to too many masters meets where you see multiple instances of a heat with 4 men, then later a heat of 3 women swimming the same - all this adds up to a very long meet

craiglll@yahoo.com
September 29th, 2004, 03:39 PM
This is a very important topic. Getting new members and reetaining existing members is very important for USMS. I wonder if USMS is now hitting a critical mass point where some reorganziatin is necessary to accommadate the needs of the members. Local grass roots organziatins are fine. They get much of the work necessary to get what needs to be done on a meet level - all the way to nationals. But the top of th eorganization can really get out the word about masters through national media, membership drives, and donation requests.

Swimming is a very expensive sport. People argue with me and say all you need is a suit. But in reality for the organization, you need a pools, trained staff, and active leadership.

Truly, I would like to see the organization spend less time and energy on meets and more time on getting the daily swimmer who does laps involved. If for no other reason than they are the members to provide money to build programs, expand meets (in time)., and grow a stable organization.

Betsy
September 29th, 2004, 06:07 PM
Hi Craig,
Thank you for the suggestion. Coached workouts, whether the participants ever compete or not, seems to be the best way to build membership and serve present members. One of the things the Planning Committee and the Marketing Committee are working on is a brochure for facilities. This is something that a swimmer could take to or send to a facility to show the benefits of a Masters workout. I have not seen the draft, but I think it is close to completion. Another project we are undertaking is to outline how to approach a facility manager.
Do you have any other specific suggestions?
Betsy Durrant, USMS Planning Committee Chair

breastroker
September 29th, 2004, 07:09 PM
SPMA has joined the Southern California Pool Operators Association, and either Julie Heather or myself attend their meetings.

These people are in charge of hundreds of pools, and seem to appreciate the information we give on Masters swimming.

These people are not glorified life guards, they manage dozens of people and must apply all the different laws governing pool operation. They have a lot on their agendas and we "Help" them learn about us.

I would expect every state has organizations that certify pool managers and run the pools. Learning to work with them may give your association or team a leg up when you are trying for pool time and space.

SPMA has also used the Marketing Committees brochure, sending copies to put out to the general adult public at pools with Masters teams. Some of the teams have even asked for more, so we feel they have been a good tool to help SPMA grow. We are not sure all the reasons, but we have grown over 10 % more than our best year ever.

Wayne McCauley
SPMA Chairman

craiglll@yahoo.com
October 23rd, 2004, 03:07 AM
More thoughts. I think that the new magazine must be used as a membership promotion tool. Newsletters & magazines from nonprofits can very easily make great profits through donations - that's why newsletters from charities have envelopes in them. It is very hard though to use them accurately. I fear that the new magazine will become either a glorified newsletter and get bogged down in reporting times & meets and not really explore what swimming is or so specialized that only elite swimmers will be intersted in htecontents. Look at Runner's World. When I first started to read it a very long time ago, it was so boring. Now it is truly a very good magazine because it covers all aspects of running in every issue.

Increasing memberships to large organizations really does need great pushes from the top down. And I mean more than just a brochure. I know so many people who think that USMS is only for those who compete. In many ways this is because that is all that is discussed in the media regarless. More people, so I've read, swim daily for exercise than any other activity. Yet on many competive levels, swimming doesn't exist. The University of Illinois has no men's swim team. This is outrageous. There is so much emphasis on elite swimmers in our contry. Yet that is the area where there are declines in the numbers of swimmers and many entry standards have been lowered recently. And look what happened to the UK & Canada in the Olympics (both countries have very different masters programs and have tried to push competitive swimming through political means).

Also, more people are swimming later into their lives than ever before. This is more true with women than men (many young guys I know say that swimming is a woman's sport). Fitness swimmers make up a (probably) the largest protion of our membership. Yet they are probably the most ignored. What is even worse is that many daily swimmers have never heard of USMS or any other swimming organizaiton besides what is associated with the Olympics. FINA got so much attention because if the SCM world championships in Indy. Now is a great time to go forward with national press. Those who wrote that Swim& other magazinesand books don't focus enough on the master swimmer who wants to compete are very possible totally wrong. Most popel who are not competitive swimmers see nothing within those sources that are applicable to them.

Fitness swimmers can easily be linked to USMS through fitness and, I think, postal events. They're in the pool anyway. I swim both types of events. I've been told that USMS wants to develop more. This summer, I tried to start an IM fitness event. But I was the only one promoting it. It was to benefit my Y which is undergoing a major renovation. No one swam it. But if the national organization got behind postal events, and didn't rely totally on the promotion coming from the LMSC that is/was the awared sponsor, more people would participate. This would be true even if USMS only focused on the state that had been awared the event. Stories about these events in the new magazine have to be a very imortant priority. The first time I heard about the St.Croix swim was through an article about it form a participant point of view. The virtual swims would be far more interesting if they were accompanied by stories about the locations written by poele who had actually swam there!

Another avenue that must be taken is cooperation with other organizations. I used to swim on a team that sat aside one day a month to raise money for a nonprofit health organization. The organization mentioned the event as part of their regular special event fundraisers in its newletter. Not only did it increase the over all money we made for the organization but it increased our size. My boss, who was not a swimmer, mentioned to me that she had read about the work & became a donor.

Collaboration between organizations has been the buzz in nonprofits for about 5 years. Why aren't we going to Y's and being more cooperative with them. Many of us swim in Y's, already. Most Y's already have the organization or at least the tools that can be easily adated/adopted by us. It truly bothers me when people say that USMS doesn't want to give up any controll or that Y's are not willing to work with us. The YMCA oir the USA has an entire branch designed to reach out to other fitness organizations.

Also, where are our national sponsors. In another thread, somone wrote that swimmers are some of the best educated and wealthiest peole in our society. That seems true to my experience. I know very few people who swim regularly who don't have at least a college degree. The magazine can be used to bring in sponsors & then the ads used to help nonmembers recognize their simularities with members.

Only being concerned abouthow USMS is going to help the specific individual isn't goingto get us very far. But wondering how we are all going to get specific help from USMS is going to increase the organizations effectiveness and our participation.
A national work out center would really not be of much benefit. It would take so much money. Pools are getting very expensive to build & maintain. Also, the staff would have be huge. Supposedly, right now raising funds for something that will benefit a very small portion of a rather elite group is gettng very hard. Isn't there some sort of collaboration already with something. Maybe this program could be expanded.

I didn't mean for this to be so long. Oddly, I still have other ideas and some notion of how to make these plans more concrete. Membership is the trickiest segment of fundraising. It also provides the backbone of all successful nonprofits. Without it, you won'tget grants, sponsors, or collaborators.

craiglll@yahoo.com
October 23rd, 2004, 03:14 AM
Bob's comment about runners is truly brillant and exactly the point for getting swimmers who think that they aren't good enough.

Rob Copeland
October 25th, 2004, 01:06 PM
Craig,

Excellent posts! Thanks for sharing these creative ideas!