PDA

View Full Version : Has the economy affected your swimming or club?



Rnovitske
February 18th, 2009, 10:19 PM
Is the economic downturn affecting your club in any way, such as a decrease in participation, (or even increase if swimming is seen as a cheap pastime, like movie-going and rentals?) Is your club doing anything as a result, or is it preparing for a bad economy in any way? Any drop or increase in meet participation attributed to it?

tjrpatt
February 18th, 2009, 10:28 PM
I haven't seen it. I was at a USA-S meet this weekend and turnout was pretty big. Plus, parents are still buying their kids a LZR suits.

Ahelee Sue Osborn
February 19th, 2009, 12:48 AM
Every masters meet I have attended in the SPMA and AZ this season - and that has been every single one - have exceeded record number participants.

Our Nova Masters team is larger and more thriving than ever. Especially the new women swimmers.

Hopefully people realize that their health and fitness (and swim times - ha ha!) are some of the most important things to keep on track during haywire times like now.

Rykno
February 19th, 2009, 06:58 AM
clubs over here rely greatly on team sponsorships and swim schools to bring in money to the club, keeping memship and training cost down.

But we have seen an increase in the cost to complete. last year it was roughly $35/ swimmer/ meet and the club picked up the rest, this year it's closer to $60/swimmer/meet. partly due to increase sign up cost, food, and transportation and partly due to decreased sponsorship funds.

aztimm
February 19th, 2009, 10:16 AM
My team typically sees a big increase in swimmers after the new year, and after the Spring semester starts (we swim on campus). While we've had a couple of days with higher numbers, I haven't seen the normal steady increase this year. In fact there have been days when I've had my own lane, which is extremely unusual. Around the holidays there were days when we had less than 10 swimmers (I had never seen that before).

Several swimmers took 2-3 months off at the end of last year, early this year. One guy had recently bought a new home, they are having trouble selling their old one. Since he and his wife work near each other, by not swimming in the morning, he not only saved the swimming fees, but also some commuting costs.


I'm curious about the statement on AZ meets. I took a look at the Polar Bear meet results, and they looked rather skimpy. For my age group, there were several events with no entries, many had just 1-2. When I lived in Tucson and swam with the U of A team, about 50% or more of the team swam in meets, when they were in town. Heck, I've seen higher participation from the U of A team with Phoenix meets.

Meet participation from my current team has been steadily declining over the past few years. Back when we hosted USMS Nationals, my team had a consistent 20%+ who competed in meets, now it is closer to 5%.

Doug Adamavich
February 19th, 2009, 11:31 AM
As of today, AZ LMSC has 665 members, which puts us on pace for a record year. We will exceed 1000 members sometime in June or July if past registration patterns are any guide.

We are seeing new teams form as well. Most are fairly small (around 20 swimmers) but there are a few larger ones in the works as well. Depending upon how successful we are in working with the Maricopa (Phoenix) and Pima County (Tucson) YMCAs, our membership could grow even more.

When you add up the costs, swimming is not nearly as expensive as other activities. I just dropped $370 fixing my mountain bike and I know of others who spend 10x that much on triathlon bikes and gear. Others join gyms that cost as much as masters swimming teams, so it is a matter of where your financial priorities are.

I think where the economic pinch will be felt are some of the "travel" meets (ex. Nationals) that can cost a decent amount. My guess would be people on both ends of the age spectrum would be hurt the most by this just based on simple economics. There will be a cadre of people who have the means and willingness to spend what it takes though to continue going to large meets.

Something else bears consideration. When you are unemployed, you have a lot of time on your hands. So what does one do with that time? From personal experience I can tell you that exercise is at the top of the list for active people, it keeps you sane. You cut back on other things but the modest amount you spend on swimming (or other fitness activities) is SO worth it.

Even though Arizona has been hard-hit by the current economic conditions, more people than ever are swimming. I don't know if this is going to continue but for now, we are looking at a record year for members.

Ahelee Sue Osborn
February 19th, 2009, 12:01 PM
I'm curious about the statement on AZ meets. I took a look at the Polar Bear meet results, and they looked rather skimpy. For my age group, there were several events with no entries, many had just 1-2. When I lived in Tucson and swam with the U of A team, about 50% or more of the team swam in meets, when they were in town. Heck, I've seen higher participation from the U of A team with Phoenix meets.
Meet participation from my current team has been steadily declining over the past few years. Back when we hosted USMS Nationals, my team had a consistent 20%+ who competed in meets, now it is closer to 5%.

The one day meets are always relatively small (and quick) compared to the championship meets. As a swimmer, it makes it hard to race with very little time between events. But it is still good training and worth going in my opinion.

I always make a point of asking the numbers at meets. As I recall, the Polar Bear Meet was up about 25 swimmers from last year.

It is hard work, but I believe the coach drives the interest in meet participation. Usually a core group of meet swimmers develop. If the coach works well with this group they can be excellent recruiters for swim meets. A local 1-day swim meet is a pretty inexpensive and fun social event.

Another thing in regard to loosing swimmers due to the economy that I have noticed is this:
Lost masters swimmers show up to lap swimming!

In Irvine, it costs $4. to swim lap swim sessions.
Maybe they cut back to a few sessions a month/week to save a few bucks instead of paying $65. a month?
Very often, they return to the club.

hnatkin
February 19th, 2009, 01:44 PM
Having recently joined the ranks of the unemployed, I can tell you that while I continue to swim with my team, I have stopped going to an additional Sunday practice at another club in order to avoid the extra fee. While it's only $8, that adds up to an extra networking lunch per week which needs to take priority right now. It will certainly affect my willingness to travel to meets, unless I can find a free bed somewhere. I also have other friends who have decided not to swim due to their financial strains. An $800 annual membership/coaching fee certainly does add up particularly if you don't have the luxury of a working spouse to cover rent or mortgage, insurance, etc.
On the bright side, I definitely do have additional time which is allowing for more cross training!

pshepard
February 19th, 2009, 02:19 PM
In South Jersey, there is very limited Master's swimming. Most groups practice early in the morning between 5:15-7 am. Some groups practice late at night, 8-9 pm. This schedule is impossible for those of us that have to work early in the morning. I have to be at work by 7 am. I have been looking for a Master's swim program with after work hours between 4-7 pm. So far, I haven't found anything. Most facilities cater to the children's groups during these hours. I am willing to pay to join a pool that offers a coached Master's session. In the meantime, I go to swimmingcommunity.com website to get artificial coaching in order to do my own workout at my fitness center. I pay for private lessons/instruction as needed when it fits my schedule. I have spoken with a number of adults with similar situations, that just have to work out on their own schedules. I think that if there were suitable times offered at local clubs with coached sessions, that this would be an untapped resource of funds. :)

Ken Classen
February 20th, 2009, 12:04 AM
Very recently the management of the facility that sponsors our team has cut 3 coached workouts down to 12 from 15 per week. Prior to this we had not lost any members, in fact paid memberships of around 170 has been steady for years. They said it was a money saving thing due to the economy. Membership dues exceed coaches pay by around 4 to 1. The pool is open anyway, they still have to pay for lights, heat, chemicals, lifeguards even if were not there. They don't have any revenue generating replacement for us. This has been pointed out to them and the math works out to a loss of just 11 members and any savings realized would disappear and net revenue would decrease. Several members I know have said they plan to drop there memberships due to the practice cuts not the economy. This seems to be a classic reactive management of show me your doing something, even when nothing needed to be done. :confused: My favorite swim blog writer and swimming colleague has wrote several entries in her blog regarding this.

Winds of Change (http://offthedeck.net/?p=123)

The Mercenary Life (http://offthedeck.net/?p=129)

Leonard Jansen
February 20th, 2009, 08:23 AM
Speaking just for me, being recently unemployed has had a positive effect on my swimming since I now have more time to swim. Going to open water races later this year could be a problem if I am still unemployed, however.

True story: When I was in the meeting where I was being told that I was getting axed, my first three thoughts were, in order:
1) How can a break this to my wife?
2) How will this affect our ability to deal with bills?
3) Will I be able to afford going to open water races this year?

-LBJ

Muppet
February 21st, 2009, 11:10 AM
Our club has a pretty high turnover rate, just due to the nature of our facility (at a major university), but there are plenty of new folks coming in.

Ray, you hosted a meet already this year - how was attendance? (Mollie and I were out of town, so we couldn't make it this year)

pwb
February 21st, 2009, 11:44 AM
I haven't seen a change at our club in either direction. I do sense, though, that we're getting a general positive impact at Masters across the country. I don't know if that's a "Dara Torres / Olympic" effect or the impact of the new outreach efforts from USMS leadership. Regardless, my hunch is that Masters' swimming will survive the economic downturn fairly well as it is still an exceptionally cheap way to get structured exercise in and to compete.

On an anecdotal note, talking with my Dad this morning, he says he feels like the Virginia Masters community is experiencing a small growth surge.



I'm curious about the statement on AZ meets. I took a look at the Polar Bear meet results, and they looked rather skimpy. For my age group, there were several events with no entries, many had just 1-2. When I lived in Tucson and swam with the U of A team, about 50% or more of the team swam in meets, when they were in town. Heck, I've seen higher participation from the U of A team with Phoenix meets.


Tim, this was the first year I went down to the Polar Bear meet. You are absolutely right that more folks from Tucson will come up to the Phoenix area. I think the main reason is that we folks in the greater Phoenix area get spoiled by having meets here and not having to travel. I, for one, will make more of an effort to head to Tuscon and Flag whenever I can to compete.

KEWebb18
February 21st, 2009, 06:48 PM
The economy is one of the reasons that I came back to swimming. I had done half-marathons and other running events for a couple of years, but when I found that I didn't have as much money to save, I cut back. It really became the difference of having to shell out $90 for shoes that last a few months plus the minimum of $70-100 to run a race versus spending $40 on a poly suit that lasts practically forever (some I have had for 2 years and they still function great!) and my monthly fee at the local ymca. If anything, the economy has helped my swimming. I just hope that other people are optimistic enough that things aren't going to be this way forever.

I would also be interested in seeing if meet attendance is up or down.

Doug Adamavich
February 23rd, 2009, 07:16 PM
Tim, this was the first year I went down to the Polar Bear meet. You are absolutely right that more folks from Tucson will come up to the Phoenix area. I think the main reason is that we folks in the greater Phoenix area get spoiled by having meets here and not having to travel. I, for one, will make more of an effort to head to Tuscon and Flag whenever I can to compete.

Both Tucson and Flagstaff hold some really good meets. Coach Jim Stites at Ford Aquatics runs well-organized meets that I have enjoyed being a part of over the years. I highly recommend any meets that he runs down there at the U of A pool.

Flagstaff can be a bit more of a challenge, being at 7000' and all. However, Coach Liz Hobbs ran a Saturday swim clinic and Sunday meet this past October. It was great, the weather was perfect and I drove up to Snow Bowl at the crack of dawn to see the fall colors. People really had a good time though and attendance is building for that event.

The larger point is not to be afraid to get outside your metro area for meets. You may just discover there are some hidden gems an hour or two away.

Rnovitske
February 23rd, 2009, 07:55 PM
Our club has a pretty high turnover rate, just due to the nature of our facility (at a major university), but there are plenty of new folks coming in.

Ray, you hosted a meet already this year - how was attendance? (Mollie and I were out of town, so we couldn't make it this year)

Our 5th annual meet this February attracted 22 more entries than last year, a 15% increase. (and a larger number of swimmers bought the meet tee shirt. The 3.6 events per swimmer held steady.) Our club membership is up ahead of last year, so we have not cut back lane rentals or workouts.

The reason for my post is that our club administration has been contemplating possibilities for the club and program in the bad economy, but it appears the bad economy hasn't had much effect...yet. I wanted to know what others were experienceing, and planning (if you actually plan:)) I wanted to know if our club's experience is unique.

Maybe our club is in a more recession-proof town than most (government-lobbyist-defense contractor laden Washington DC). Maybe there's a continuation of the "Michael Phelps factor:" when he started winning gold, new members to our club started coming out of the woodwork.

It's good to see that some of you swimmers have not stopped swimming altogether although finances are surely putting a strain on things. Thanks for your thoughts and explanations on your swimming through a recession.

Is there any way we can market a swimming program in a recession? Is there anything a club can do short of cutting back to reduce fees? Would that really make a difference, or would it drive other people away if a program starts deteriorating?

osterber
February 24th, 2009, 04:02 PM
The economy hasn't hurt our meet this year. The New England LSMC SCY Champs will be a record size. Our previous record was in 2007 with 847 swimmers. This year, we were over 850 by the 'on-time' deadline. I'm turning away people left and right who missed the regular deadline but wanted to swim.

This is despite us raising entry fees slightly in response to increased facility rental. (Everyone's trying to increase revenue!)

-Rick

Muppet
February 25th, 2009, 12:26 AM
The reason for my post is that our club administration has been contemplating possibilities for the club and program in the bad economy, but it appears the bad economy hasn't had much effect...yet. I wanted to know what others were experienceing, and planning (if you actually plan:)) I wanted to know if our club's experience is unique.

Ray, Good to hear the Tropical Splash meet was another success!

I agree with you that we're in a unique area. The government will always be here - as will the contractors - and with the administration turnover, we'll probably see some transplants coming into town in the next several months.

As for the rest of the country, a couple things I thought of are:
1 - hold a meet! hire your teammates to time, get some sponsors to help offset costs (ie local sub shop for food). if membership dwindles, you still have to pay for a coach and lanes - and this is a good way to raise funds for things like those.

2 - Katie had a good point about running. Most runners and triathletes spend a good deal of money on new gear - especially for the bike - throughout the year. From where I sit, if money is tight and my bike equipment is working just fine, why not spend the money i have on training... and that is where we (USMS) come in. The same $500 that I would be spending on a new crankset could also come in handy for a summer pool membership.

Doug Adamavich
February 27th, 2009, 04:31 PM
Apparently things are getting even better in the masters swim market, at least in Arizona. We have two new teams starting up next week (one in the Phoenix area, the other in Tucson) and one old team is in the midst of re-forming. There is another team in Sierra Vista (south of Tucson) that is forming as well.

Generally the economy in AZ is in pretty bad shape due to the collapse of the real estate market. However, just in the past week or so we have new teams starting up. This is a pleasant surprise indeed, I hope it continues despite macroeconomic conditions.

Ahelee Sue Osborn
February 27th, 2009, 06:44 PM
Such excellent news from Arizona!

My hope is that all the LMSCs will make it affordable and easy for swimmers to continue swim training in these tough times.

Be there when the athletes need you most. They will not forget.

USMSarah
March 19th, 2009, 10:42 AM
Jason Lezak is having trouble...

http://www.foxnews.com/video/index.html?playerId=videolandingpage&streamingFormat=FLASH&referralObject=3838164&referralPlaylistId=playlist

tjrpatt
March 19th, 2009, 01:00 PM
Well, it didn't help that he lost his Nike endorsement deal when they got out of the swimsuit business. But, isn't still under contract with them. Speaking engagement are great sources of income. Also, he should have gotten some endorsement deal with his heroics in the relay. Plus, the guy is 32 and swimming faster than ever.

Doug Adamavich
March 19th, 2009, 03:03 PM
Jason will be fine, he is actually highly sought-after (#3 after Phelps and Dara) for clinics and public appearances. It may get lean for a bit but he will do OK. Plus, his wife has a steady job as a nurse so they have that going for them. He is a great guy too who knows a lot about swimming and is a natural with people. Maybe he will join Rowdy in the booth one of these days...

Things are still rockin' with membership here in AZ. We are at 750 now and will get more due to the open water series that will start later this spring. I am projecting 1000-1100 members for 2009, which will be a record. From what I can tell, people are still in the water.

Slowswim
March 19th, 2009, 03:33 PM
Before I left, I saw an up-tick in swimmers. Usually, the resolutioners die off during January.

Maybe they are returning because the membership has been paid or the Christmas gift is free and available. For whatever reason, the pool hasn't been that crowded in the past three years.

orca1946
March 19th, 2009, 03:35 PM
YES, I collect money to pay for our coach, who does not take a pay for all she does. This year fewer are giving & less when they do.

KEWebb18
March 19th, 2009, 09:37 PM
Jason Lezak is having trouble...

http://www.foxnews.com/video/index.html?playerId=videolandingpage&streamingFormat=FLASH&referralObject=3838164&referralPlaylistId=playlist

I actually watched that the other day on Fox News. Could not believe it! I am sure that he will find something. He is such a great swimmer, such a hard worker.

tjrpatt
March 19th, 2009, 09:49 PM
I actually watched that the other day on Fox News. Could not believe it! I am sure that he will find something. He is such a great swimmer, such a hard worker.

He is probably getting 10K for each of these speaking engagements that he does. I know that there is a website to find out what athlete gets what. I am sure that he does enough to make a 6-figure income. I hope that he gets some big endorsement deal soon because he more than deserves it.

orca1946
March 19th, 2009, 10:43 PM
Here in Ill , we also have a pretty bad job market. Sorry Az is in bad shape also.

Doug Adamavich
March 20th, 2009, 03:21 PM
He is probably getting 10K for each of these speaking engagements that he does. I know that there is a website to find out what athlete gets what. I am sure that he does enough to make a 6-figure income. I hope that he gets some big endorsement deal soon because he more than deserves it.

His rate varies based upon the time he spends at an event. We did a series of events with him along with a club in Tucson and the Save ASU Swimming group. I know his rate but won't disclose it...you will have to talk to his agent to get that info :)

Keep in mind too that he lives in Orange County, which is not the most affordable place to live in the US. That said, him and his wife are doing fine. It may be more difficult for him to train and pay his expenses than it was in the recent past though. He's still going to be a force for a while...