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View Full Version : What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?



Rob Copeland
August 3rd, 2010, 02:31 PM
One of Jeff Moxie's goals is to grow to 100,000 members. I'd like to hear suggestions on the programs, services, and support needed to to exceed this goal.

jroddin
August 3rd, 2010, 03:40 PM
I'd be curious to get our end of year totals for the past 10 years. If there is a general trend, we can do a simple curve fit to predict when 100k might happen, despite whatever marketing efforts we may employ. In other words, if/when we hit 100k will it be simple growth or will it be a result of our time and efforts to woo people to our organization.

swimshark
August 3rd, 2010, 04:18 PM
I think getting the word out to more older kids (teens) that their swimming doesn't have to end when high school. college, what ever ends. If we can hook them early, I think we can retain them longer.

Peter Cruise
August 3rd, 2010, 05:20 PM
How about becoming North American Masters Swimming? Seriously.

ALM
August 3rd, 2010, 05:30 PM
I'd be curious to get our end of year totals for the past 10 years. If there is a general trend, we can do a simple curve fit to predict when 100k might happen, despite whatever marketing efforts we may employ. In other words, if/when we hit 100k will it be simple growth or will it be a result of our time and efforts to woo people to our organization.

Our membership history can be found in our Guide to Operations:

Go to the main USMS page, then:
>> Administration tab >> Guide to Operations >> LMSC Membership History

waves101
August 3rd, 2010, 09:53 PM
I agree that we need to educate high school and college swimmers about masters swimming. If we can catch them early they may learn to incorporate masters swimming into their lifestyles. I believe we should have reps in the schools or utilize coaching relationships to spread the word. Possibly invites to state meets, etc.

Bobinator
August 3rd, 2010, 10:45 PM
I think we need to build more pools! The ones I practice in are very crowded, we'll need room for all these new people! :)

ALM
August 3rd, 2010, 10:47 PM
It has been suggested that one way to hit the 100,000-member mark is to better retain the members that we already have. Historically we have experienced about 35% turnover each year. Some of those members come back a year or two later; many do not.

As of August 3,2010...

51,159 people are current USMS members.
19,660 people were USMS members in 2009 but have not yet renewed.
15,205 people were USMS members in 2008 but have not renewed since.
12,364 people were USMS members in 2007 but have not renewed since.
11,695 people were USMS members in 2006 but have not renewed since.
11,372 people were USMS members in 2005 but have not renewed since.
11,153 people were USMS members in 2004 but have not renewed since.

That's a total of 81,449 members that we have "lost" over a 6-year period.

jim thornton
August 3rd, 2010, 11:18 PM
How about becoming North American Masters Swimming? Seriously.

This is a great idea. Add Canada and Mexico and the Bahamas, and very quickly we would have a lot more members.

I think one of the best ways masters swimming will continue to grow is just all the kids seeing their parents swimming competitively now. They will grow up thinking this is a normal thing to do.

I also agree with Bobinator's idea about more pools, or at least more pool time available for masters practices in existing pools. I continue to think that USMS could take the lead nationally, for instance, on bringing rational lightning policies to indoor pools (there has never, ever been a recorded death from this, yet pools routinely close down for a half hour at the most distant rumble of thunder.)

Rob Copeland
August 3rd, 2010, 11:34 PM
I think in addition to more pools/pool time, we need more Masters Coaches.

LindsayNB
August 4th, 2010, 12:51 AM
I would say that USMS's biggest "competitor" is lap swimming, here in Canada Statistics Canada numbers say that there are 750,000 people who swim at least twice a week and consider swimming their primary form of exercise. We only have 10,000 Masters members or 1 in 75 of these swimmers. If the numbers scale with population there would be approximately 7.5 million lap swimmers in the US, so USMS would have 1 in 150 lap swimmers. You could reach 100,000 just by bringing your proportion up to Canada's!

Anyway, if you could find a way to make it worthwhile for Joe lap swimmer to join you would likely surpass your target.

I would guess that good coaching is one big advantage you could offer over individual lap swimming. Anything you can do to raise the coaching bar is likely to pay off. Your SwimFest program is probably a good start. If you could find a way to capture more of the expertise that was around that pool deck and make it accessible to your membership as a whole that might have some amazing results.

I think programs like Go The Distance are a good start in having something that appeals to non-competitive swimmers.

I have no idea what the revenue stream of SwimSmooth.com is but I suspect that it is completely dwarfed by the USMS annual budget. If you could direct a larger proportion of your revenue to producing enduring resources like the stuff on their website you ought to be able to build something pretty awesome. That would help raise your visibility and attract new members.

swimshark
August 4th, 2010, 06:43 AM
I think a good portion of lap swimmers would balk at paying coaching fees and USMS membership fees. I know of several "lap swimmers" who compete who have been given the opportunity to swim under a coach who led an Olympic swimmer but they don't want to pay the coaching fee. I think it's a resource to tap in to but I think it's one that won't attract as many as hitting up current, younger swimmers or ones who watch their parents swim.

jim thornton
August 4th, 2010, 09:32 AM
I think in addition to more pools/pool time, we need more Masters Coaches.

I am not sure I agree with this about the coaches, especially if you mean "highly professional coaches with various degrees of certification." Every masters team I have swum on with one exception has had a "player coach" who writes the workout and swims it, too. These "player coaches" have invariably been former college swimmers who take the sport seriously but not too seriously. To me, the key to building camaraderie that sustains people coming back, time and again, to practice is understanding that the social component is at least as important as the workouts themselves.

Sometimes, I think "professionalizing" masters coaching works against this because there is the pressure to generate revenue to pay the coach, who then must justify his or her job by some measurable metric (our team did X in competition Y), and pretty soon the good natured workout becomes yet another area of our lives "striving for excellence!"

Truth is, in my opinion, we need low pressure, "striving for mediocrity" venues, too, and goofball nice guy joking-around (albeit still knowledgable) former swimmer/volunteer coaches seem to be ideally suited for this.

(Parenthetically, let me add that some of the most "certified" coaches I have met, with all kinds of titular accoutrements behind their names, ASA this, USSwimming Level that, etc., have, in fact, been the least effective coaches of all. In fact, at the risk of being just a wee bit incendiary here, I would go so far as to say that most masters coaches that insist on being referred to as "Coach X"--as in Coach Hortense, or Coach Freddie, or Coach Michelina--are almost invariably going to cause you, the swimmer, problems. But perhaps this is just an idiosyncratic pet peeve of mine.)

Not that the amateur player-coach sans title approach necessarily means the swimmers thusly coached can't swim fast. Someone recently posted a link to a gigantic California team with hundreds of swimmers and 30 workouts a week, etc. I looked at their team records and was pleasantly surprised to discover that our little YMCA team here in Amish mudhole territory, lead since its inception by player coaches who only recently started to get minimum wage for their efforts, a team alloted exactly three lanes (including an end lane into whose space hand-busting ladder railings intrude) for three one-hour increments a week, whose practices are regularly cancelled because of thunder, and whose swimmers' lungs bare the scarring of poorly controlled pool chemicals roiling around in superheated waters, would nevertheless break many of that particular California team's records. (Perhaps we could arrange a David vs. Goliath virtual meet sometime?)

I think one thing that would really grow USMS membership ranks is if the organization could make forays of some (admittedly not clearly defined) nature to employers and health insurers, who would then be able to offer regular swimmers some sort of financial reward for participation in the form of reduced health insurance premiums, free health club memberships, or any of the other perks that companies and insurers sometimes offer to keep their ranks healthy.

swimshark
August 4th, 2010, 10:02 AM
I think one thing that would really grow USMS membership ranks is if the organization could make forays of some (admittedly not clearly defined) nature to employers and health insurers, who would then be able to offer regular swimmers some sort of financial reward for participation in the form of reduced health insurance premiums, free health club memberships, or any of the other perks that companies and insurers sometimes offer to keep their ranks healthy.

Jim, you got me thinking... what about coaches group health insurance provided as a group through USMS buying power? That could bring in more coaches. The hard part would be making sure the coaches were actually coaching and such.

Bobinator
August 4th, 2010, 10:17 AM
I would say that USMS's biggest "competitor" is lap swimming, here in Canada Statistics Canada numbers say that there are 750,000 people who swim at least twice a week and consider swimming their primary form of exercise. We only have 10,000 Masters members or 1 in 75 of these swimmers. If the numbers scale with population there would be approximately 7.5 million lap swimmers in the US, so USMS would have 1 in 150 lap swimmers. You could reach 100,000 just by bringing your proportion up to Canada's!

Anyway, if you could find a way to make it worthwhile for Joe lap swimmer to join you would likely surpass your target.

I would guess that good coaching is one big advantage you could offer over individual lap swimming. Anything you can do to raise the coaching bar is likely to pay off. Your SwimFest program is probably a good start. If you could find a way to capture more of the expertise that was around that pool deck and make it accessible to your membership as a whole that might have some amazing results.

I think programs like Go The Distance are a good start in having something that appeals to non-competitive swimmers.

I have no idea what the revenue stream of SwimSmooth.com is but I suspect that it is completely dwarfed by the USMS annual budget. If you could direct a larger proportion of your revenue to producing enduring resources like the stuff on their website you ought to be able to build something pretty awesome. That would help raise your visibility and attract new members.
YES, YES, and YES to all of Lindsay's ideas. I think we need to appeal to all the lap swimmers who think they are "not good enough" for Master's Swimming! The GTD, hour swim, and various Postal swims might be right up their alley. I also think the Coaches who post workouts on the Forum is a GREAT RESOURCE for solo swimmers!
I am always amazed by how many of our current members who do not know these tools are here and available on the website! I always have team mates asking me about my GTD caps, or where I found the great workouts!
Maybe we need to advertise our benefits a bit more at places like community centers, YMCA's, health clubs, basically anywhere with pools.

LindsayNB
August 4th, 2010, 01:19 PM
I suspect that there may be a divide in expectations of coaches depending on the level swimmers have previously swum at. A swimmer at the college level may not value technique coaching as much as someone relatively new to the sport.

What would be really interesting would be to look at those statistics of the number of swimmers who didn't renew and divide them into people who swam meets while they were members and those who did not.

When I have tried to recruit lap swimmers to our club the number one reason for not joining was the workout schedule. Those larger clubs that have a lot of different slots available are able to draw in a larger number of lap swimmers.

floswimmer
August 5th, 2010, 09:58 PM
:2cents:Masters swimming is open to people at every skill level yet some groups are very unfriendly and actually rude to those who are not as skilled as they are. I don't know if this can be changed but I do know that a lot of people are turned off to Masters swimming because of this. Maybe the stats should be looked at to see who are the clubs who are losing the most people and maybe a survey could be taken to find out the reasons why those swimmers left. It takes a lot of perserverance and commitment to continue despite these outright "snobbish" attitudes and lack of support. More accurately there is a speedism that exists among some people and it's only discrimination. Members come to Masters swimming with diverse personal and professional backgrounds and people should be valued for who they are and not only for how fast they swim.

aquaFeisty
August 6th, 2010, 09:57 AM
Our club has had a lot of success gaining new members by offering "levels" or classes that lead up to being on the masters team to pull in some of the lap swimmers, or even non-swimming adults.

We have swim classes:
Beginner - for adults that can barely swim, can float a bit, or just never had any swim instruction
Beginning Stroke - focuses on backstroke/freestyle

Then there are 3 levels within the masters team itself:
Beginner
Intermediate
Advanced

There is a lot of shifting between the levels. Some practices are geared toward one specific level, some are open to all (and quite frankly, the coaches are extremely flexible with letting you swim at a different level practice due to family/work issues...)

Anyways, the team has picked up a fair amount of people who started with the lessons that probably would have been wayyyy too intimidated to join a masters swim "team". Unfortunately, I don't know how applicable this idea is across other organizations, because you need to have the pool time to pull it off. Our team is based out of a private health club and (I believe) is the biggest money-maker for the aquatic department at the club. The lessons are really a win-win for the health club (great revenue stream) and our team (pipeline of new members, in addition to 'former' swimmers who return to the sport...)

bzaks1424
August 6th, 2010, 10:16 AM
I don't know what sort of P.R. or Advertising we can afford - but honestly in my area (northern burbs over Chicago) MANY people don't even KNOW about Masters Swimming.

I have a few of the logos and my times decorating my cube at the moment and people are always asking "What's that?". Its always fun to tell people and get them excited but then most people don't even want to take the 15 minute drive to the nearest LMSC :/

couldbebetterfly
August 6th, 2010, 05:16 PM
I think a good portion of lap swimmers would balk at paying coaching fees and USMS membership fees. I know of several "lap swimmers" who compete who have been given the opportunity to swim under a coach who led an Olympic swimmer but they don't want to pay the coaching fee. I think it's a resource to tap in to but I think it's one that won't attract as many as hitting up current, younger swimmers or ones who watch their parents swim.

I agree that getting the younger ones in is the way forward. However as a teen my father (who officialled but never swam) used to joke about the "wrinklies" meets that he was asked to officiate at, how the timekeepers needed calenders and getting in/out of the pool was challenge enough for some swimmers. I hope this attitude towards Masters is not widespread...... if it is, there's a big problem.

LindsayNB
August 7th, 2010, 12:16 AM
That brings up another interesting statistic that the powers that be could check on, the distribution of ages that swimmers first joined Masters at. I'm not convinced that swimmers just finishing up their age group careers are likely to be the biggest source of new swimmers, which is not to say you shouldn't pursue that avenue, just that I wouldn't put all your eggs in that basket.

LindsayNB
August 7th, 2010, 12:34 AM
I think a good portion of lap swimmers would balk at paying coaching fees and USMS membership fees.

That is no doubt true, however you only have to attract 1 out of every 150 lap swimmers to double your membership. That doesn't sound unreasonable does it?

Again, go after the young'uns too, both approaches hold promise. How many swimmers does USA Swimming "graduate" each year?

ViveBene
August 7th, 2010, 07:31 AM
Taking at face value the premise that meeting or exceeding 100k swimmers registered with USMS is good:
1. General population growth will take care of part of it.
2. I agree with concept of attracting "noncompetitive" swimmers: Jim Thornton's "striving for mediocrity" programs and AquaFeisty's multi-level workouts are a welcome mat for the hesitant ones ("I don't want to compete; I just like to swim"). "Masters" in the name of the org is a deterrent because it suggests a high level of skill is required.
3. I agree with an opinion expressed elsewhere by Steve Munatones that near-term growth is likely to come from OW swimming (my paraphrase), which addresses (in small part) the very big problem of:
4. Inadequate facilities, pools closing, limited workout time segments for adults to choose from.
5. Jayhawk's mention of about 35% turnover each year, with some returning in later years, can be looked at as a positive rather than a negative: that many folks got interested enough in Masters swimming to give it a try for at least a year's worth of membership.
6. I would certainly hope that teens and young adults who have devoted thousands of hours to swimming go off and do something completely different.
7. Reduce participation fees for geezers!
8. The eternal question, and not one I care about much but others do: how do USMS fees for membership and event participation stack up against fees in other sports, such as triathlons?

Returning swimming to its status as a natural activity and teaching "just enough" that ppl can enjoy swimming safely in a local watering hole might entice swimmers into a formal affiliation with USMS. As a corollary, water comportment and safety classes for children, with a requirement that parents join USMS, might be a useful program.

At some point, swimming got technocrized and pace clocked, ogres with whistles around their necks appeared, and swimming till one hurled became a matter of tribe pride. This is only one room of the much larger swimming mansion.

:)

Rob Copeland
August 7th, 2010, 12:56 PM
There a lot of organizations out there supporting health and wellness through exercise. Should USMS pursue partnerships with these groups?
If so, should we look only at non-profits, or should we also look at for profit and government programs?

The Fortress
August 7th, 2010, 08:54 PM
car magnets

bzaks1424
August 7th, 2010, 09:05 PM
car magnets

How about just giving away free cars? That might drive up membership.

Chris Stevenson
August 7th, 2010, 10:03 PM
Some lap swimmers are perfectly content with their lot. They are the swimming equivalent of people who get on the treadmill and do their 30-60 min of daily exercise and then get off.

So what does masters offer them? I think: (a) coached workouts (they don't have to worry about what to do; (b) a social network; (c) probably better fitness. The latter because I think most lap swimmers "dial in" to a certain exertion level and stay there, whereas most good masters practices hit more of the various HR zones.

But there are potential disadvantages with USMS too: it costs money, and the practice times are usually not as flexible as lap swim times. Also there is the intimidation factor. Some lap swimmers simply decide the trade-offs aren't worth it to them, and that's fine.

The intimidation factor certainly can be an issue. There are way too many lap swimmers who think you need to be fast, or need to have swum competitively in HS or college, to swim masters. They are not always reassured when they show up for practice, they hear a lot of jargon they don't understand, maybe see some very fast swimmers, and they are not always greeted warmly.

I know plenty of USMS members who are essentially lap swimmers, in the sense that they are not at all interested in competition or getting faster. They just want to keep fit and they like a coach telling them what to do, and they like having people to talk to during practice.

I would like to see more ties between USA-S and USMS. Dual sanctioning is a good start, and it would be nice to see more dual-sanctioned meets; this could be beneficial to both parties if pool rental fees (or pool availability) is an issue. I swim with a masters group that shares a pool with a large age-group team, and I think that's a good idea too.

Both of these practices increases the visibility of USMS among age-groupers AND THEIR PARENTS.

stillwater
August 7th, 2010, 10:03 PM
Why does USMS need to grow to 100,000 members?

Chris Stevenson
August 7th, 2010, 10:15 PM
That brings up another interesting statistic that the powers that be could check on, the distribution of ages that swimmers first joined Masters at. I'm not convinced that swimmers just finishing up their age group careers are likely to be the biggest source of new swimmers, which is not to say you shouldn't pursue that avenue, just that I wouldn't put all your eggs in that basket.

Perhaps. I remember seeing the demographics behind Anna Lea's "non-renewal" numbers: the ages with the biggest turnover/non-renewal rates are the youngest ages. This is not at all surprising, of course. Money may be more of a factor, as are the demands of new families/careers.

Often when a young person contacts me about masters in Richmond, one of their first questions is about the ages of the people in the various workout groups. This is also not that surprising: they are as interested in social networking as swimming, and are not necessarily all that interested in a team if the majority of members are over 50.

OW races are definitely one possible way to entice "graduating" age-groupers. It is dissimilar enough from what they've been doing that they might be interested in it. Another advantage is that the times are pretty meaningless, not comparable to what they did in college or HS. Finally, many of them might be interested in giving triathlons a try.

I mentioned that my masters group shares a pool with an age-group team. There are actually 3 USMS members who swim with the AG-ers; they are all college-age and they all joined USMS so that they could do OW swims over the summer. They mostly train with the young kids but also sometimes join us old folks (when they need a bit of a rest :)); it is clear they feel comfortable with masters swimming.

Oh, actually I do have one more suggestion: make it possible to do one-event registration electronically. Having it as paper-only is a hassle administratively, and a pain for the swimmer.

jim thornton
August 7th, 2010, 11:28 PM
During today's coverage of Phelps, etc., there was a commercial for swimming. I can't remember the exact tag line, but it was something like, "I am America's swim team!" Then it showed a bunch of famous swimmers, but it also showed kids. I was thinking that USA Swimming must have paid for that ad, and got it produced, but it was a shame that it didn't include a few folks like Rich Abrahams, Laura Val, and other masters swimmers who could probably still compete on college teams. Think of the visibility one little ad would have given USMS! And the message that America's swim team is not just for the greats and the up and coming greats!

swimshark
August 8th, 2010, 08:51 AM
During today's coverage of Phelps, etc., there was a commercial for swimming. I can't remember the exact tag line, but it was something like, "I am America's swim team!" Then it showed a bunch of famous swimmers, but it also showed kids. I was thinking that USA Swimming must have paid for that ad, and got it produced, but it was a shame that it didn't include a few folks like Rich Abrahams, Laura Val, and other masters swimmers who could probably still compete on college teams. Think of the visibility one little ad would have given USMS! And the message that America's swim team is not just for the greats and the up and coming greats!

Good idea, Jim. A USMS ad during USA televised meets is a great way to reach out to people, future swimmers, parents watching.

Yes, that is a USA Swimming ad. Check out their web site and you'll see the tag lines and such on there. It's a good marketing campaign.

jim thornton
August 8th, 2010, 11:06 AM
Good idea, Jim. A USMS ad during USA televised meets is a great way to reach out to people, future swimmers, parents watching.

Yes, that is a USA Swimming ad. Check out their web site and you'll see the tag lines and such on there. It's a good marketing campaign.

Isn't USMS part of USA Swimming? Along with US Diving and US Water Polo and US Water Ballet?

I think we, as dues paying members, deserve to have a spot in their ad for the "I am America's Swimming Team" campaign.

Perhaps show someone like me and have the tagline: "USMS: where sad old men go to die."

Then show me struggling to finish the last 10 m. of a 200 free where I have misjudged the pacing. Perhaps even a quick cut to a worried look on the lifeguard's face as she reaches for the hook and the defibrillator paddles...

I finish, the camera zooms in on my face, and I manage to choke between gasps for air, "I am America's Swimming Team!"

A perfect metaphor, perhaps, for what my generation has done to the nation as a whole? (Or is that hole?)

Rob Copeland
August 8th, 2010, 11:17 AM
Isn't USMS part of USA Swimming? Along with US Diving and US Water Polo and US Water Ballet?
No. USMS is not part of USA Swimming. USMS, USA Swimming, USA WP, USA Diving and USA Syncro are all members of United States Aquatics Sports. But each of the 5 is a separate organization.

jim thornton
August 8th, 2010, 01:22 PM
No. USMS is not part of USA Swimming. USMS, USA Swimming, USA WP, USA Diving and USA Syncro are all members of United States Aquatics Sports. But each of the 5 is a separate organization.

Okay! So we can't begrudge the commercial for not including a reference to USMS: Where Old Men Go To Die.

Probably just as well, now that I think about it.

floswimmer
August 9th, 2010, 12:32 AM
:applaud:
Our club has had a lot of success gaining new members by offering "levels" or classes that lead up to being on the masters team to pull in some of the lap swimmers, or even non-swimming adults.

We have swim classes:
Beginner - for adults that can barely swim, can float a bit, or just never had any swim instruction
Beginning Stroke - focuses on backstroke/freestyle

Then there are 3 levels within the masters team itself:
Beginner
Intermediate
Advanced

There is a lot of shifting between the levels. Some practices are geared toward one specific level, some are open to all (and quite frankly, the coaches are extremely flexible with letting you swim at a different level practice due to family/work issues...)

Anyways, the team has picked up a fair amount of people who started with the lessons that probably would have been wayyyy too intimidated to join a masters swim "team". Unfortunately, I don't know how applicable this idea is across other organizations, because you need to have the pool time to pull it off. Our team is based out of a private health club and (I believe) is the biggest money-maker for the aquatic department at the club. The lessons are really a win-win for the health club (great revenue stream) and our team (pipeline of new members, in addition to 'former' swimmers who return to the sport...)
:applaud:This is a great strategy....plus it helps to have members with good people skills who are friendly and supportive of the other swimmers.

ViveBene
August 9th, 2010, 10:01 AM
Some lap swimmers are perfectly content with their lot. They are the swimming equivalent of people who get on the treadmill and do their 30-60 min of daily exercise and then get off.

So what does masters offer them? I think: (a) coached workouts (they don't have to worry about what to do; (b) a social network; (c) probably better fitness. The latter because I think most lap swimmers "dial in" to a certain exertion level and stay there, whereas most good masters practices hit more of the various HR zones.

But there are potential disadvantages with USMS too: it costs money, and the practice times are usually not as flexible as lap swim times. Also there is the intimidation factor. Some lap swimmers simply decide the trade-offs aren't worth it to them, and that's fine.

The intimidation factor certainly can be an issue. There are way too many lap swimmers who think you need to be fast, or need to have swum competitively in HS or college, to swim masters. They are not always reassured when they show up for practice, they hear a lot of jargon they don't understand, maybe see some very fast swimmers, and they are not always greeted warmly.

I know plenty of USMS members who are essentially lap swimmers, in the sense that they are not at all interested in competition or getting faster. They just want to keep fit and they like a coach telling them what to do, and they like having people to talk to during practice.

I would like to see more ties between USA-S and USMS. Dual sanctioning is a good start, and it would be nice to see more dual-sanctioned meets; this could be beneficial to both parties if pool rental fees (or pool availability) is an issue. I swim with a masters group that shares a pool with a large age-group team, and I think that's a good idea too.

Both of these practices increases the visibility of USMS among age-groupers AND THEIR PARENTS.

Intimidation factor is probably high. When I first talked to a Masters coach, he managed to get into his first sentence that I didn't have to be fast or good to swim Masters workouts. That significantly cleared the way for me to participate.

In re Rob Copeland's thought bubble of a partnership, I would be cautious. Easy to get into, difficult to get out of. I would do some one-event trial runs.
Often what looks like a good partnership turns out to have sufficiently incompatible missions (and bottom lines) that it becomes a burden on one or both parties. :worms:
There are other ways to work toward associations for health and fitness that don't involve high-profile partnerships.

bzaks1424
August 9th, 2010, 10:35 AM
Intimidation factor is probably high.

When I tell people I swim in Masters they immediately assume it's something I've been doing my whole life... Perhaps part of our intimidation is just in our name?

LindsayNB
August 9th, 2010, 05:36 PM
It might be interesting to think about what the two parts of USMS would look like if it were split into two separate organizations with competition going in one part and non-competitive stuff in the other.

I would guess that the competition side would look pretty familiar, just with reduced membership size.

But what would the non-competitive organization look like?

Completely separately from that question, it seems to me that the vast majority of masters swimming activity occurs at the club level. Which would lead me to ask, what can USMS do to enhance activities at the club level?

ViveBene
August 9th, 2010, 06:54 PM
... it seems to me that the vast majority of masters swimming activity occurs at the club level. Which would lead me to ask, what can USMS do to enhance activities at the club level?

The club level - brilliant! :canada: I imagine a lot of new membership comes from friends bringing in friends, or something that interests ppl who are around the facility and start watching the Masters workouts, or a new OW swim (as happened last wkend in Illinois).

Facilities are an issue. Sandlot baseball disappeared when sandlots disappeared.

knelson
August 10th, 2010, 03:26 PM
The intimidation factor certainly can be an issue. There are way too many lap swimmers who think you need to be fast, or need to have swum competitively in HS or college, to swim masters. They are not always reassured when they show up for practice, they hear a lot of jargon they don't understand, maybe see some very fast swimmers, and they are not always greeted warmly.

This is true. One of the earlier posters suggested there is "speedism" in masters swimming, and although I don't agree per se, I can see where's she's coming from. I think the majority of masters teams are geared toward swimmers with a competitive background. It's not that novices are discouraged, but neither are they encouraged. It's difficult for a single coach on deck to give novice swimmers the coaching they need while also working with the more experienced swimmers.

Queen
August 10th, 2010, 05:18 PM
My local club requires " Participants should be able to swim 200 yards (8 lengths) continuously. "

A couple of examples of people who don't join - I swam competitively for many years but I'm not a member because I have shredded rotator cuffs now and can't do 200 yards without stopping these days. A good friend is a fantastic marathon runner (Boston, Chicago, NYC, etc) but a mediocre swimmer. He is now too injured to run but would love to compete in swimming... right now his stroke is inefficient enough that 200 yards is challenging (doable in the near future, I'm helping him improve his stroke).

Lots of running events offer "Fun Walks" as part of their events, perhaps is USMS could follow that lead and make it so other, less competitive people would consider joining?

jethro
August 10th, 2010, 10:08 PM
The intimidation factor certainly can be an issue. There are way too many lap swimmers who think you need to be fast, or need to have swum competitively in HS or college, to swim masters. They are not always reassured when they show up for practice, they hear a lot of jargon they don't understand, maybe see some very fast swimmers, and they are not always greeted warmly.

This has certainly been my observation, although I have only swam with maybe 3 or 4 different masters groups. What I've experienced when showing up for a practice for the first time with a new team is nothing...nobody says anything. That's not a problem with me, since I'll just introduce myself to whoever is nearby and say something like, "hi, I'm the new guy" and break the ice, but I see how that can be off-putting to others.

Still, I think just getting someone to a practice is 90% of the battle. I know plenty of folks who would do fine, enjoy the workouts, and genuinely seem to want to go, but for some reason don't ever show up to see firsthand that there is a place for everyone.

jim thornton
August 11th, 2010, 12:01 AM
My local club requires " Participants should be able to swim 200 yards (8 lengths) continuously. "

A couple of examples of people who don't join - I swam competitively for many years but I'm not a member because I have shredded rotator cuffs now and can't do 200 yards without stopping these days. A good friend is a fantastic marathon runner (Boston, Chicago, NYC, etc) but a mediocre swimmer. He is now too injured to run but would love to compete in swimming... right now his stroke is inefficient enough that 200 yards is challenging (doable in the near future, I'm helping him improve his stroke).

Lots of running events offer "Fun Walks" as part of their events, perhaps is USMS could follow that lead and make it so other, less competitive people would consider joining?


Part of the problem here is pool space. As I may have mentioned elsewhere on the forums, our little Y team gets three lanes for three one-hour sessions per week. We try to always have fast, medium, and slow workouts to accommodate as much range of speed as possible. This tends to translate into one group that can do 100 SCY repeats on 1:15-1:20; another group that is closer to 1:30-1:40; and a third group that is closer to 2:00 to 2:10.

If someone wants to swim who has to stop every length and rest, it makes it pretty hard for the rest of the people in the lane to do the written workout.

In running and fun runs/fun walks, facility space is not a problem--you have the great outdoors, roads, etc.

But in a pool, where the entire team must split three lanes, it makes it tough on the very fast (people who should probably be swimming 100 repeats on 1:05-1:10) and the very slow (people who can't repeat 100s on any interval.)

In the case of the faster swimmers, they can always add lengths--do 125s, for instance, on already tight 100 intervals. But those who can't make it at all, as much as it would be nice to have them swim with our team, it's just not practical.

What people end up doing is practicing on their own until they build up the stamina necessary to do the slowest practices.

If we had 8 lanes, a bevy of coaches, and unrestricted hours, this would not need to be the case.

I don't mean to sound defensive here, but some folks seem to be implying: "Oh, you fast meanies! You will not let us join in your reindeer games!" When the truth of the matter is that maybe you are not ready to swim practices yet and should not expect others to downgrade their workouts to accommodate you.

Perhaps a more accurate declaration is, "Oh, you slow meanies! You are trying to ruin practice for those who making due with inadequate facilities!"

Queen
August 11th, 2010, 10:22 AM
Part of the problem here is pool space. As I may have mentioned elsewhere on the forums, our little Y team gets three lanes for three one-hour sessions per week. We try to always have fast, medium, and slow workouts to accommodate as much range of speed as possible. This tends to translate into one group that can do 100 SCY repeats on 1:15-1:20; another group that is closer to 1:30-1:40; and a third group that is closer to 2:00 to 2:10.

If someone wants to swim who has to stop every length and rest, it makes it pretty hard for the rest of the people in the lane to do the written workout.

In running and fun runs/fun walks, facility space is not a problem--you have the great outdoors, roads, etc.

But in a pool, where the entire team must split three lanes, it makes it tough on the very fast (people who should probably be swimming 100 repeats on 1:05-1:10) and the very slow (people who can't repeat 100s on any interval.)

In the case of the faster swimmers, they can always add lengths--do 125s, for instance, on already tight 100 intervals. But those who can't make it at all, as much as it would be nice to have them swim with our team, it's just not practical.

What people end up doing is practicing on their own until they build up the stamina necessary to do the slowest practices.

If we had 8 lanes, a bevy of coaches, and unrestricted hours, this would not need to be the case.

I don't mean to sound defensive here, but some folks seem to be implying: "Oh, you fast meanies! You will not let us join in your reindeer games!" When the truth of the matter is that maybe you are not ready to swim practices yet and should not expect others to downgrade their workouts to accommodate you.

Perhaps a more accurate declaration is, "Oh, you slow meanies! You are trying to ruin practice for those who making due with inadequate facilities!"
The original question was how to increase membership, I don't think "meanies" has anything to do with it, at least not to me. I understand space issues, but I guess if you're out of space already, increasing the number of members isn't a good idea.

knelson
August 11th, 2010, 02:16 PM
A year or so ago PNA hosted a session intended for swimmers who had never competed before, but were interested in swimming a meet. The thought being that this is somewhat intimating for newbies. Perhaps the same kind of thing would be useful for people interested in joining a masters team, but who have never participated in coached swimming before. Things like training etiquette, using the pace clock, workout terminology, etc. could all be very useful to new swimmers. Not to mention it would be a good forum to explain that USMS is not just for fast swimmers interested in competing and also to discuss the services USMS offers to swimmers. Everything from the magazine, to the workouts in this forum, to fitness events and competitive events.

BillS
August 11th, 2010, 04:18 PM
A year or so ago PNA hosted a session intended for swimmers who had never competed before, but were interested in swimming a meet. The thought being that this is somewhat intimating for newbies. Perhaps the same kind of thing would be useful for people interested in joining a masters team, but who have never participated in coached swimming before. Things like training etiquette, using the pace clock, workout terminology, etc. could all be very useful to new swimmers. Not to mention it would be a good forum to explain that USMS is not just for fast swimmers interested in competing and also to discuss the services USMS offers to swimmers. Everything from the magazine, to the workouts in this forum, to fitness events and competitive events.

We offered a "Masters 101" program through community ed. It was coached by a very gentle, kind, non-intimidating woman, and covered clock, strokes, turns, and basic workout jargon. It brought quite a few new swimmers to our team, who in turn brought a few of their friends in. Perhaps USMS could come up with a pre-packaged 101 format with supporting materials and get it out to the LMSC's.

The tri thing seems like a rich vein to tap. As much as it pains me to say it, maybe tri-specific workouts (read: normal distance day workouts cleverly marketed as being tri-specific) are a way to increase numbers in some of the major population areas.

LindsayNB
August 11th, 2010, 07:36 PM
I second what Kirk and Bill suggest!

A report looked at by the Swimming Science web site shows that participation in national meets drops from the first to the fifth year of each age group:

http://www.swimmingscience.net/2009/12/gender-and-age-effects-for-master.html

It would be interesting to know if the membership is similar skewed, or whether it is just meet participation. If the membership is also skewed then there might be potential to find ways to keep people participating between age groups.

Chris Stevenson
August 12th, 2010, 04:43 PM
That's interesting, Lindsay: thanks for posting the link.

LindsayNB
August 12th, 2010, 10:21 PM
That's interesting, Lindsay: thanks for posting the link.

I should acknowledge that Budd Termin pointed me at the swimmingscience.net website, although in reference to a different article so I can accept a little of the credit.

In Canada the spikes in the first year of each age group do show up in Nationals participation starting at age 45:

https://mymsc.ca/ShowMeet.jsp?id=333&demographics=true

Although there are a couple anomalies, with spikes at 48 and 54.

But the membership doesn't appear to follow that pattern, it's a much smoother distribution:

https://mymsc.ca/AgeDistribution.jsp

floswimmer
August 12th, 2010, 10:33 PM
We offered a "Masters 101" program through community ed. It was coached by a very gentle, kind, non-intimidating woman, and covered clock, strokes, turns, and basic workout jargon. It brought quite a few new swimmers to our team, who in turn brought a few of their friends in. Perhaps USMS could come up with a pre-packaged 101 format with supporting materials and get it out to the LMSC's.

The tri thing seems like a rich vein to tap. As much as it pains me to say it, maybe tri-specific workouts (read: normal distance day workouts cleverly marketed as being tri-specific) are a way to increase numbers in some of the major population areas.
:applaud:Bravo.....another great strategy!!!!!

Chris Stevenson
August 12th, 2010, 11:51 PM
I was curious, so I did the distribution for the SCY Nationals in Atlanta (at >3 times as large as LCM nationals, I figured it would be a little less noisy). I've attached the results.

A few things stick out:
-- there is a clear dip in the 30s. Presumably people are busy with careers and family and have less time for nationals. Note that this dip is evident in both men and women (not shown, didn't want to clutter the plot)
-- there may also be a dip in the ages 55-64 (possibly people spending less money to travel to nationals just before retirement?)
-- there are some spikes in the "bottom" (youngest age) of each age group, but sometimes they are obscured by larger patterns
-- highest participation is in the 3 age groups 40-54

I have also attached our general membership distribution. I only had the distribution by age groups and not the individual ages so I couldn't check for spikes in the younger parts of each age group (I doubt they would be present). Note that the dip in the 30s is still evident but not 55-64.

aquageek
August 13th, 2010, 02:29 PM
Chris - in your 30s you are starting a family and career which can limit funds and time. In your 40s you can leave your kids at home and enjoy life. In your 50s and early 60s your kids have kids and you have to go be a granparent which limits your funds and time.

Redbird Alum
August 13th, 2010, 04:16 PM
[QUOTE=LindsayNB;223204]I second what Kirk and Bill suggest!
A report looked at by the Swimming Science web site shows that participation in national meets drops from the first to the fifth year of each age group:
[QUOTE]

Perhaps people don't want to pay to travel to nationals as their times drop off with age. We tend to be the reverse of youth age group, where you want to be the senior in your age-group.

That said, perhaps we should be surveying the 35% who drop off the USMS rolls, or drop out of nationals each year, asking why and what would have kept them aboard. They did show the interest, and had to make the decision to stop, so they have the best retention factor information. We're just guessing.

We could also more regularly survey the current masters, asking what they think is working, and what's not.

Similarly, perhaps we should be sending surveys to obvious locations (like YMCA's, National Health Club Chains, Colleges with/without swimming programs) to ask if they have considered sponsoring or promoting USMS, and if not, what would help them decide to do so?

These are straight-forward marketing survey ideas, not rocket science. The problem is they take money, time and staff to pull off and analyze. And they are not one-shot wonders. You have to collect data regularly to identify trends.

Just MHO on seeking data from the source(s).

Ahelee Sue Osborn
August 13th, 2010, 06:10 PM
We offered a "Masters 101" program through community ed.
Perhaps USMS could come up with a pre-packaged 101 format with supporting materials and get it out to the LMSC's.


I have a Masters 101 format I am happy to share with anyone who might need a start. Send me a PM.

We created this class while I was assistant coach at Nova and had every new swimmer go through the first basic session. I worked with Mike Collins on this project and we went on to create a 101 for each of the strokes and a starts & turns 101 as well.
I've gone on to use the same class format at Mission Viejo Nadadores Masters and now at Conejo Valley as well.

At Nova we gave a printed voucher to swimmers who completed the 101 session so that they could go into the sponsor swim shop and collect their team swim cap and t-shirt. (everyone likes team schwag)
And while there, they could pick up any additional gear they might need for workouts.

Chris Stevenson
August 13th, 2010, 06:27 PM
That said, perhaps we should be surveying the 35% who drop off the USMS rolls, or drop out of nationals each year, asking why and what would have kept them aboard. They did show the interest, and had to make the decision to stop, so they have the best retention factor information. We're just guessing.

I think that is in the works. Heck, before this year, I never even used to see the retention rate numbers, much less broken down by age group. (It shouldn't be too shocking to note that the highest non-renewal rate is in the youngest age groups.)

Ahelee Sue Osborn
August 13th, 2010, 06:33 PM
Send the USMS "A" Team to JAPAN!!

Japan has ONE MILLION REGISTERED MASTERS SWIMMERS.

Hire a translator and go on a tour of some Japanese Masters clubs and meet with their Japan Masters national office.


I have been to Japan twice as a hosted athlete.
Once for a triathlon.
The second time for a 1/2 Marathon running race.
Both were lifetime highlights.

My experience has always been that Japanese athletes love to share - training, racing and fun social events.
They set-up "sister-clubs" similar to the idea of sister-cities. Exchanging information, racing, and hosting athletes.

On a more local note, last year I went to several meets in Arizona. I made many friends I would enjoy seeing more often.
The cost of travel between California & Arizona isn't so bad. But we discussed the idea of exchange hosting so that we could attend more meets in each others regions.

Sister-clubs or LMSCs could be a bit like the Discussion Forums offering information, support, and a positive impact on growth.

Ahelee Sue Osborn
August 13th, 2010, 07:16 PM
Host basic swim clinics for upcoming triathlon events.

USMS partner with either a local club - or LMSC to host a great clinic or series of clinics leading up to the event.

Most triathlons are selling out these days.
They are full of novice swimmers who are nervous about swimming.

Fee might be single event or regular USMS registration - period.

Ahelee Sue Osborn
August 13th, 2010, 07:19 PM
Our college swimmers (local & home for the holidays) and various pool staff swim for free.
No dues.

But they do have to register with USMS.

Ahelee Sue Osborn
August 13th, 2010, 07:31 PM
Why does USMS need to grow to 100,000 members?

Gift to humanity - at least the swimming part.

Not saying here that every lap swimmer or triathlete should be USMS registered. Good for them - they're already exercising!

Why not introduce swimming to individuals who have little or no activity in their lives.

Not every masters club can handle adult learn to swim programs, but some can - a lot can.
Those would be new members a club retains for life.

Peter Cruise
August 13th, 2010, 08:40 PM
Just one point to add to the life stages theory of participation: when I was swimming 30-34, 35-39 in the eighties they were always the biggest groups in meets i.e. us baby boomers. We skew any analysis through sheer numbers.

Rob Butcher
August 14th, 2010, 12:04 AM
Please keep sharing your ideas! We are genuinely interested in hearing ideas on both membership retention as well as growth. Membership represents 75% of USMS annual revenue. Sponsorship has grown considerably the past two years and is now our 2nd biggest line item at around 15% of annual revenue.

With our additional financial resources, USMS is able to invest back into a variety of new services (examples: Go the Distance and Fitness Logs are now 100% online, enhancements to event rankings and Top 10, monthly addition of original content in STREAMLINES sent to members, and STREAMLINES for Coaches, improvements in SWIMMER magazine content, SwimFest coaches experience, Masters coaches certification, daily video highlight show from our Nationals, we provide product support to USMS pool and open water events, video profiles of USMS pool and Open Water events via our YouTube page, online marketing of our usms.org, USMS Facebook and USMS Twitter pages, free distribution of swim caps, polos, banners, bag tags, stickers, club visits, etc.

We are also working with Clay Daughtrey who is a USMS member and Chair of Marketing at Metropolitan State College of Denver. Clay and two of his professors are helping us develop and will administer surveys targeted at three specific groups:

a) the 40,000 members who have not renewed the last two years
b) the current active membership
c) Masters coaches

We want to know what is each groups perception of USMS, why they are members or why they did not renew, and what we can do better retain members. We need to be prepared that the survey feedback may challenge and perhaps require us to change the way we do business. Our goal is to administer the comprehensive surveys in the fall.

As always, you can send me your comments and suggestion; rob@usms.org

Zulu
August 17th, 2010, 11:26 PM
Here's why I joined and maybe it would help get more: PARENTS EVENTS AT SWIMMEETS. Encourage teams/leagues to do this!!! Reach out to coaches to get parents involved then, spread the word about USMS

Also, many officials are ex-swimmers or at least involved parents. Get an ad in the USSWIM rulebooks that officials get and go over the benefits of USMS membership.




I started on teams at 4 years old and swam and played waterpolo through college. I was a breaststroker, but also got stuck in the IM pretty often.

I finally convinced my older daughter to join a Y team because we had run out of sport/activities that she wasn't either terrible at or disgusted with the politics. She amazingly really kicked booty. She started off as a backstroker because she hated putting her face in the water so I taught her that first, then breaststroke because her face was out of the water about half the time. By the end of her first season she won division championships in the 8-under 25 breast.

In her Summer season, we found out that one of the team's invitationals had a couple of parents' events. I was 20 years of no swimming and WAAAAYYY too out of shape to enter. I did a few things over the year to try to trim down, but I didn't really hit the pool seriously.

Another Y season came around and I became an official so I could get a better "seat" at meets...as well as help explain DQ rules to my kid. Summer started again and I remembered the invitational with the parent events. I was chicken to sign up for the individual event (50 free) but we put together a B relay.

We were pretty slow, but I managed to pull us up on the anchor leg out of last place to 3rd in our heat and 8th overall. My kids were cheering for me like nuts, and I got a ribbon and a t-shirt.

I decided I was going to do that again next year, and maybe enter the 50 free too. Then, parents on our team were talking about adding some parents events to our invitational, like other strokes, IM, and a Medley Relay...so I'd have a reason to work on breaststroke.

I was asked if I was interested in coaching when some of the coaches saw me working with my daughter on pull-outs and other things I learned from sitting in and paying attention at clinics my daugher has attended.

I thought I might like to do that. But, I'd like to have some more recent credentials and better grasp on new technique if I end up doing that.

So, I signed up USMS so I can enter meets, get some workout tips, and qualify for nationals next Summer.

But, it all started because one team had Parents races at an invitational.

bzaks1424
August 18th, 2010, 11:27 AM
Here's why I joined and maybe it would help get more: PARENTS EVENTS AT SWIMMEETS. Encourage teams/leagues to do this!!! Reach out to coaches to get parents involved then, spread the word about USMS

While I'm not sure how well USA-S will react to this - I think this is truly a brilliant idea.

Chris Stevenson
August 18th, 2010, 12:20 PM
While I'm not sure how well USA-S will react to this - I think this is truly a brilliant idea.

I remember 2-person parent-child relays at meets (AAU at the time) back when *I* was a child. I did a couple with my dad. They were a lot of fun and they would be a definite blast for kids, I think.

But in this age of liability concerns and all that, who knows?

gdanner
August 25th, 2010, 05:46 PM
From a 29 year old male perspective...

I haven't taken off more than 3 months (straight) since I started year round at the age of 7. But, I didn't register for USMS until I was 25. Up until that point, attending USA-S meets was much more comfortable and competition is limited in the 18-24 bracket anyways.

The vast majority of USA-S swimmers are registered by their club and college teams each year with the costs built into their annual dues. If there was an optional dual membership form (perhaps with a reduced combined price), you could get club and college coaches to pass it along to their older swimmers. Good way to raise membership, but not necessarily heavy participation. Then again, the question wasn't about active members. If Top 10 times and LMSC/Zone/National records were recognized automatically at USA-S meets combined with that dual membership, I think it would interest people. Even if they don't compete at USMS events, the increased membership revenue will improve the organization and its members' benefits.

Another issue is legitimacy. I know several former college swimmers who rolled their eyes when I mentioned Masters swimming. They assumed it was just old people playing in the water. I had to set them straight on that one. However, that could be a regional problem or my sample size of friends is just too small. I agree that advertising alongside USA-S meets would be beneficial in this regard.

The number of available local meets could be a problem for some LMSCs. I know it is for mine (Niagara), especially in the summer. We haven't had a LCM meet in our LMSC in several years. I don't think many people want to burn money and/or vacation time to travel for an out of town meet unless it is a Zone Championship or Nationals. Maybe USMS can develop goals for each LMSC for a certain number of meets per year and try to work with the LMSC toward reaching them. Although I suspect there might not be enough USMS staff to support such a system.

Lastly, offer automatic recurring memberships. Set them up to hit a debit/credit card account. The less work people have to do, the better.

Karl_S
August 25th, 2010, 07:03 PM
Here's why I joined and maybe it would help get more: PARENTS EVENTS AT SWIMMEETS. Encourage teams/leagues to do this!!! Reach out to coaches to get parents involved then, spread the word about USMS
...[stuff cut]...
So, I signed up USMS so I can enter meets, get some workout tips, and qualify for nationals next Summer.

But, it all started because one team had Parents races at an invitational.

I think Zulu is onto something here. This is very similar to my story and that of some other "swim parents" that I know. There is nothing like taking your 8&under to her/his first swim meet to make you realize how much you want to get in and race! In our summer league the oldest age group is "unlimited". Nominally that's 15 and over, but occasionally some parents swim. At one of the other team's home meets the pool manager races. We had two moms on our team this summer, both of whom are now expressing interest in USMS meets during the winter season. One team even managed to field an entire relay of dads. This is prime recruiting territory for USMS.

Of course USMS does not have direct influence over what happens in summer leagues, but there are some local swim meets that are nominally "Masters" meets but allow swimmers of all ages so parents and their kids can compete in the same meet. One such meet has a family "T-shirt" relay. Encouraging participation by the entire family in this way seems to me to be a good way to grow and sustain USMS membership.

Another idea is to offer a few non-traditional events at meets. I've seen quite a few posts where people have said that they would like to do a 75, or a 3-stroke IM, or a distance breaststroke event, or... These could be fun, but I think that there is also another appeal. For those of us who had a "former swimming life" we tend to remember our times and it can be discouraging to see how much age, (or a desk job, or too many beers, or whatever) has taken its toll. But no-one ever raced a 3-stroke IM before, (well not in recent memory) so no such comparison is possible. Of course such events would not be eligible for national records or TT, just for fun.

Peter Cruise
August 25th, 2010, 10:15 PM
Perhaps combine these last two younger observations with a change of terminology. We could become "advanced" or "adult" or "mature" or ? swimming where "masters" does not suggest a particular golf tournament or "mastery" of swimming, yet implies a mature, sophisticated involvement with the sport. BTW I was serious suggesting that we should form a North American organization...

jim thornton
August 25th, 2010, 10:25 PM
BTW I was serious suggesting that we should form a North American organization...

USMS becomes NAMS? (North American Masters Swimming).

Or MUSCMS? (Mexico United States Canada Masters Swimming).

Or, if Quebec secedes, MUSQCMS? (Mexico United States Quebec Canada Masters Swimming).

I don't know. I am no Glenn Beck, and I don't own a blackboard to do the charting, but it seems to me, Mr. Cruise, that your suggested change is taking us Americans from one era of conflict--North and South Vietnam, or NAMS--to another era of conflict--MUSQCMS--which is how Glenn's supporters often spell Muslim when they are inebriated and have their spell checkers turned off.

bzaks1424
August 26th, 2010, 11:24 AM
I don't know. I am no Glenn Beck, and I don't own a blackboard to do the charting, but it seems to me, Mr. Cruise, that your suggested change is taking us Americans from one era of conflict--North and South Vietnam, or NAMS--to another era of conflict--MUSQCMS--which is how Glenn's supporters often spell Muslim when they are inebriated and have their spell checkers turned off.

Jim - please. Glenn Beck supporters don't drink. They are so inebriated with love for America that they find alcohol just ruins their buzz.

jim thornton
September 3rd, 2010, 01:45 PM
When I turned 50, and for the first time in my masters swimming career, started to make the occasional Top 10 time in various events, it had a highly motivating impact on my willingness to renew my USMS membership every year, this despite the fact that there are very few, if any, USMS meets in the Pittsburgh area (I end up having to drive to Colonies Zones or Indy.)

I think a lot of people are motivated by the chance to make the Top 10. It is, however, not the easiest thing to do, so I also think a lot of good but not great swimmers, especially in very difficult age groups, don't get this turbocharge of motivation on a regular basis.

A couple ideas:

* Keep the Top 10 but also add a larger category that can be made by more swimmers--a Top 25 perhaps? Not only would this give middling swimmers new goals, but people who regularly make the current Top 10 in certain events might be more likely to try "off" events that they normally avoid because there's no chance such swims will "count" in the record books.

* Consider, more or less just for fun, keeping Top Times by individual year. Lots of folks stop competing towards the end of an age group because a 64 year old is at such a competitive disadvantage (on average) against a 60 year old. But if there would be some easy way to sift the Event Rankings data by year, you could find, for instance, that even though you are 14th in your age group, you are the No. 1 64-year-old in a given event. Silly? Perhaps. But if it's not difficult to program, why not provide yet another little layer of motivation?

* Consider adding an "age grading" feature to different times, as well, and keep a list of the 25-50 Top Times in each individual event so that Rich Abrahams, for instance, can see wear he stacks up against Nathan Adrian. Chris Stevenson has posted a fun age grade calculator here: http://www.vaswim.org/cgi-bin/rcalc.cgi

* Finally, there is an excellent thread on masters motivational times here: http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=15722

It seems to me that if lists of folks (again, probably culled from the Events Rankings part of the competition site) who make various "cuts" were automatically added after meets are posted, it would (in my view) generate a lot more interest and goal setting in swimmers for whom the Current Top 10 alone are a nearly impossible goal.

Note: I am not a computer programmer, and I know it's easy to suggest things that seem like they'd be easy enough to do (write a few lines of code, stuff the numbers in, and await the delectable sausage!). The above may be impractical, and I don't intend for long suffering Jim Matysek to have to write all this stuff. But surely in our diverse membership there exists programming hobbyists who could create programs for all the above.

Just as it took the Go the Distance idea a while to come to fruition, and this is now one of the most popular features on the site, I think all of the above would also give USMS new ways to entice swimmers to join and maintain their membership.

bzaks1424
September 3rd, 2010, 03:12 PM
Note: I am not a computer programmer, and I know it's easy to suggest things that seem like they'd be easy enough to do (write a few lines of code, stuff the numbers in, and await the delectable sausage!). The above may be impractical, and I don't intend for long suffering Jim Matysek to have to write all this stuff. But surely in our diverse membership there exists programming hobbyists who could create programs for all the above.

Well Jim - the problem isn't that its just a couple of lines of code. Depending on architecture it could easily just be 10-15 lines, or it could be a total rewrite of certain pieces of code. However - when dealing with a publicly available website like this - you're bound by the restrictions of "what does the business want?". So basically - while these all appear to be stellar ideas to me - they have to be properly conveyed to the business as a means of "this should be legit and displayed to the general public."

sjstuart
September 3rd, 2010, 04:34 PM
I think any and all of these are excellent ideas.

Personally, I need quantifiable benchmarks to aim for to keep me in the pool. I know not everyone has this personality quirk, but surely some do. For odd ducks like us, the more of these benchmarks the better.

USMS does already publish not just a top 10, but also top 25, top 93, top whatever-you-want list in the individual event rankings. You don't get a fancy patch, or anything, but it's quite easy to check whether you made the top N.

Chris Stevenson
September 4th, 2010, 12:44 AM
These are all good ideas. I'd add one more: having events like the UK's (age-adjusted) swim decathlon

http://www.swimming.org/britishswimming/masters/british-swimming-masters-decathlon-competition/

or a "freestyle pentathlon" where people compete (across age barriers) based on points accumulated from five freestyle events, allowing sprinters and distance folk to slug it out.

Either one of these competitions can be placed out to 25, 50 or 100 places.

All of these ideas depend on near-100% submission of meet results to the Meet Results Database:

http://www.usms.org/comp/meets/

The DB is the basis of the "current event rankings" that sjstuart refers to. Unfortunately we aren't even close to that level of submission; the DB is very incomplete and the times (and swimmers) are not subject to the same level of scrutiny that occurs for top ten submissions.

That obstacles to having a complete MRDB are formidable, both on the IT side of things and on the volunteer side of things (sanction chairs, meet directors, top ten recorders). Just as a small example, consider that some meets do not even use meet management software, or at least not a program that is compatible with the USMS database.

A big project ("end-to-end management") is in the works to build up to all this, where from the sanctioning process on down every meet will be added to the DB, including results. It will take some time -- a few years -- but it will happen eventually. Then we will have "Top N times" and competitions like those I described will be much more manageable.

One good development (hopefully) is a commitment to increased resources for IT. Check out the latest board meeting minutes under "USMS IT Strategy."

https://www.usms.org/admin/minutes/bod-2010-7-10-1.pdf

jim thornton
September 4th, 2010, 01:09 PM
One good development (hopefully) is a commitment to increased resources for IT. Check out the latest board meeting minutes under "USMS IT Strategy."

https://www.usms.org/admin/minutes/bod-2010-7-10-1.pdf

Paul Williams, PhD, of the Life Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory started the National Runners' Health Study in 1991, and the data that has subsequently been collected on over 120,000 runners during the past 20 years has been used in studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Archives of Internal Medicine, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, International Journal of Obesity, and the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

I continue to think that USMS is sitting on a treasure trove of data that would be tremendously useful to anyone studying the effect of regular exercise on human health. The burgeoning popularity of Go the Distance, where multiple participants actually write down their workouts on a daily basis (rather than trying to recall this from memory after the fact weeks or months later), seems to me an extremely detailed data set for mining. Factor in meet times for the same individual, often over the span of many years, and it just seems to this layman that the USMS archives hold tremendous potential.

I wonder if any of our members--David Costill or Joel Stager come to mind--might have grad students who are looking for projects? Maybe an NIH grant could help pay for some computer upgrades for USMS, provided the data can be used for scientific study purposes? I, for one, would be proud to contribute my own workout records and meet performances to such a study.

bzaks1424
September 4th, 2010, 10:30 PM
I wonder if any of our members--David Costill or Joel Stager come to mind--might have grad students who are looking for projects? Maybe an NIH grant could help pay for some computer upgrades for USMS, provided the data can be used for scientific study purposes? I, for one, would be proud to contribute my own workout records and meet performances to such a study.

I completely second that. I write down 90% of my swimming workouts in detail as well. As a "young'n" on these boards - I would be more than happy to show off what I have for years and years to come.

Kurt Dickson
September 5th, 2010, 10:14 PM
I'm OK with North American Masters as long as that does not mean automatic US citizenship and, of course, it does not violate any NAFTA provisions:canada:

If you want more members, go steal them from the sexier and way more popular triathlon. I used to be able to get a lane anytime I wanted until triathlon got so popular. Play to their competitive nature and the fact that triathlon is deadly hard on your body when you are old(er).

Put an ad in all the triathlete magazines...

"You've done hundreds of triathlons, including ironman. Your adrenals have just produced the last ounce of norepinephrine/cortisol that they can muster; your knees and back have forgotten what cartilage feels like except when it's impinging on your spinal cord, shooting knife-like pain down your legs, causing you to soil yourself. What are you going to do with that competitive spirit and the realization that one foot of your broken down carcass is already in the grave?....masters swimming of course." (Probably could combine this with an airbrushed picture of Jim Thornton with a menacing Mr. T look). :agree:

jim thornton
September 5th, 2010, 10:52 PM
I'm OK with North American Masters as long as that does not mean automatic US citizenship and, of course, it does not violate any NAFTA provisions:canada:

If you want more members, go steal them from the sexier and way more popular triathlon. I used to be able to get a lane anytime I wanted until triathlon got so popular. Play to their competitive nature and the fact that triathlon is deadly hard on your body when you are old(er).

Put an ad in all the triathlete magazines...

"You've done hundreds of triathlons, including ironman. Your adrenals have just produced the last ounce of norepinephrine/cortisol that they can muster; your knees and back have forgotten what cartilage feels like except when it's impinging on your spinal cord, shooting knife-like pain down your legs, causing you to soil yourself. What are you going to do with that competitive spirit and the realization that one foot of your broken down carcass is already in the grave?....masters swimming of course." (Probably could combine this with an airbrushed picture of Jim Thornton with a menacing Mr. T look). :agree:


Kurt, I think this is a great idea in theory, though perhaps less great in practice.

When your average 30- or 40-something chiseled triathlete, with his or her clearly delineated 30-pack of abdominal muscles, mounts the blocks next to a monstrous tub o' goo in a man bear suit and the vapors of the boneyard pouring out of his wheezing lungs, and then that same tub 'o goo beats them badly, well it's enough to put them off swimming for good.

Which most of them do, in my experience.

Most of them do.

Kurt Dickson
September 6th, 2010, 12:13 AM
It doesn't matter how or why you steal them from triathlon, but that is the crowd you could build from.

I've read ridiculous statistics like the average salary of Ironman triathletes is 100K. With that kind of bank, you don't have to steal them. They certainly could afford both USMS and USA tri licenses if you offered them things that they would be interested in like open water races (Currently there is a 5 race series here in Arizona and as far as I can tell, most are triathletes evidenced by rather pedestrian times).

Peter Cruise
September 6th, 2010, 12:27 PM
You would have to promise not to make fun of their rather large bag o' toys...

jim thornton
September 6th, 2010, 01:17 PM
You would have to promise not to make fun of their rather large bag o' toys...

Are you referring to the kangaroo pouch Amanda "Chicken of the Sea" sent me to carry my family jewels around in?

Peter Cruise
September 6th, 2010, 08:47 PM
Jim, I was thinking of something visible to the naked eye...

Conniekat8
October 1st, 2010, 01:54 AM
One of Jeff Moxie's goals is to grow to 100,000 members. I'd like to hear suggestions on the programs, services, and support needed to to exceed this goal.

Make masters swimming look more hip and popular to the younger demographics (under 40... or under 30 etc...).

Most of those who swam as kids, highschool and college have quit, I hear because it's of a serious competition burnout... and they're still not in the mode of "oh, I need to stay in shape" till after they have kids or start getting older.

They want to have fun.

The Fortress
October 14th, 2010, 10:01 PM
Not eliminate the discussion forums, as is sometimes threatened. (Maybe only some people seriously use it, but many newbies come here and many others lurk.) And why cut off an avenue of potential growth?

Promote the blogs more. Half of the good training discussions/analyses/videos/workouts are there.

Have some creative events at meets, instead of being so traditional.

I like Kurt's idea of race "series."

Or start using some ads like this one from Triathlon Lab: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1668910403464&set=a.1025115708999.2004358.1258446196&ref=nf.

jim thornton
October 16th, 2010, 04:59 PM
Promote the blogs more.

Have some creative events at meets, instead of being so traditional.

Leslie, do you mean promote blogs like this one? http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?u=26

I think promoting blogs like this-- http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?u=26 -- is, indeed, an excellent idea!

How do you suggest promoting http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?u=26 more?

Perhaps just by good-old fashioned repetition, http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?u=26 will attract the audience it so richly deserves--a win-win not just for http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?u=26, but also for all the many potential fans of http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?u=26 that have very little idea what abject swimming-related (sometimes) joy awaits everytime they click on http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?u=26 .

Anyhow, excellent idea.

As for alternative meets, Carnegie Mellon is hosting the Hour of Power continuous 1-hour relay meet on Nov. 9th. It's a fun event to raise money for cancer research (each person pays $20, then teams of four do continuous all-out relays for an hour.)

Many college and age group teams across the country participate in this, but I think that if we made it a USMS postal meet, we could get tons of masters teams across the nation to sign up and contribute to this very worthy cause.

Maybe I can write more about this at some point in my vlog at http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?u=26

jadie
October 17th, 2010, 11:07 PM
This is simply business. Find out what the long term successful teams are doing and copy them on a larger scale. It all comes down to recruiting and retaining.

Ahelee Sue Osborn
November 15th, 2010, 05:03 PM
Mixing it up with the future of our sport sure makes sense!
Some of the smart masters clubs are doing it already :)

In Colorado:

http://gb.live.boldernet.net/media/sports/water-sports/whippin-the-whippersnappers-5605.html#content_tabs

In Southern California:

YouTube - LMU Masters Meet Thank You 2010

Dual in the POOL - LMU vs. SCAQ Masters!

Ahelee Sue Osborn
November 15th, 2010, 09:32 PM
Make USMS membership FREE

Direct USMS staff time & resources solely into creating fee based programs (clinics at all levels & swim events) for revenue.
And benefits for swimmers, coaches and clubs.

Free membership will give USMS the numbers it needs to actually sell significant sponsorships and attract positive media.

Those who enjoy gathering at convention each year might not like the idea.
Thousands of $$ spent for something that does not produce thousands of new members - or benefit all athletes, coaches, and clubs.
The convention "meeting expense" should be re-evaluated.

This is not my idea but I believe in the possibilities.

Anyone in sales will understand the need for bigger numbers than the near 50,000 we have had at USMS for quite a long time.
Swimming is the #2 activity in the USA next to walking, but our collective USA Swimming/USMS membership numbers don't reflect this.

The idea comes from one of the best businessmen in the sport of swimming.
They call it the AARP Model.


(I am over 50 and I like it)

aztimm
November 16th, 2010, 11:26 AM
Swimming is the #2 activity in the USA next to walking,

What is your source?

According to the US Census Dept (http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2010/tables/10s1212.pdf) swimming is ranked #3, behind walking and, "exercising with equipment."

norascats
November 22nd, 2010, 09:54 AM
The foot note indicates that the person participated at least six times per year.

Redbird Alum
November 22nd, 2010, 12:50 PM
So to help everyone better contribute, perhaps we need to ask "WHY" does USMS want to increase USMS membership beyond 100,000. Is it just an arbitrary goal?

Is there a desire to increase USMS penetration in underrepresented areas/states/counties? Is the underrepresented area figure determined basedc off USAS membership figures, population, or what?

Is there a desire to increase USMS revenues? (Through memberships, increased clinic attendance, increased advertising fees?)

Is there a desire to increase competition space or pool availability for practices and we need the numbers to justify it?

The problem is that while the 100,000 number seems a nice figure, all of these elements come down to very local (or with solo swimmer, individual) issues and attention. The war, as it were, has to be engaged locally, with local footsoldiers. So the mission needs to be clear to each.

SCAQ Member
January 1st, 2011, 07:30 PM
I think we need to focus on open water events and make them media related. For instance, Rob Dumochel has completed a 10k pier-to-pier swim across Avila Bay at Pismo beach. This has the potential to become a premier New Years day, "Polar Bear Event," for the state of California. Rob was even profiled on the front page in the local paper. Spectacles such as this were great for getting Triathlons on the map and open water events such as this provide the scenery and the "touch of madness" needed to garner attention.

Conniekat8
February 7th, 2011, 09:37 PM
I think we need to focus on open water events and make them media related. For instance, Rob Dumochel has completed a 10k pier-to-pier swim across Avila Bay at Pismo beach. This has the potential to become a premier New Years day, "Polar Bear Event," for the state of California. Rob was even profiled on the front page in the local paper. Spectacles such as this were great for getting Triathlons on the map and open water events such as this provide the scenery and the "touch of madness" needed to garner attention.

SPMA, for example, has a marketing committee. They are welcome to do that kind of stuff, starting at the local level.

bjcarter
May 27th, 2011, 10:23 PM
With so many men and some women's swimming programs being disbanded in college, perhaps USMS could make a more concerted effort to promote club programs at these universities. These programs could be similar to that seen for water polo and ice hockey at some of the local colleges and universities in California. Many of these programs are self-funded by the students and each competes in National club championship events. Perhaps USMS could propose a "sanctioned" means of enabling these schools to compete against one another. Not only would USMS be recruiting future USMS membership but they'd be offering youngsters in high school a viable, competitive alternative to ending their careers abruptly upon HS graduation. Conservatively, if you can find 100 teams with 20 competitors each, you suddenly have 2,000 additions to your membership with a high probability of retention beyond college and with a new crop of swimmers joining the ranks each year...

jim thornton
June 3rd, 2011, 11:41 AM
With so many men and some women's swimming programs being disbanded in college, perhaps USMS could make a more concerted effort to promote club programs at these universities. These programs could be similar to that seen for water polo and ice hockey at some of the local colleges and universities in California. Many of these programs are self-funded by the students and each competes in National club championship events. Perhaps USMS could propose a "sanctioned" means of enabling these schools to compete against one another. Not only would USMS be recruiting future USMS membership but they'd be offering youngsters in high school a viable, competitive alternative to ending their careers abruptly upon HS graduation. Conservatively, if you can find 100 teams with 20 competitors each, you suddenly have 2,000 additions to your membership with a high probability of retention beyond college and with a new crop of swimmers joining the ranks each year...

I think this is an excellent suggestion.

Michael Heather
June 27th, 2011, 07:42 PM
It is part of the strategic plan, but I do not know where it currently resides on the priority list. We also are going to try to reach out to the military to create clubs for the services.

All ideas are welcome, but there are only so many dollars and hours that the USMS staff can use to chase the elusive member. We rely mostly on volunteers, and if anyone has a burning desire to do something creative and constructive, please contact the national office or any board member with suggestions. The forums are read by some of the board, but the volume alone is too much for us to winnow out the pearls of wisdom from the rest of the postings.

notsofast
July 3rd, 2011, 10:08 AM
It has been suggested that one way to hit the 100,000-member mark is to better retain the members that we already have. Historically we have experienced about 35% turnover each year. Some of those members come back a year or two later; many do not.

As of August 3,2010...

51,159 people are current USMS members.
19,660 people were USMS members in 2009 but have not yet renewed.
15,205 people were USMS members in 2008 but have not renewed since.
12,364 people were USMS members in 2007 but have not renewed since.
11,695 people were USMS members in 2006 but have not renewed since.
11,372 people were USMS members in 2005 but have not renewed since.
11,153 people were USMS members in 2004 but have not renewed since.

That's a total of 81,449 members that we have "lost" over a 6-year period.

To summarize: USMS has lost more members in the past six years than it currently has. It looks like retention is only around 65-70%, which sounds really low to me. Clearly, the organization needs market research to learn why those 80,000 people left. Had retention been 90%, you'd probably be at your 100,000 goal already.
Some of the nonrenewals are driven by finances, judging by the sharp increase in the recession years. But the numbers imply there is something more. It would be valuable for the organization to figure out what.
My :2cents::
I am not a member, but I have followed your discussion groups for several years. Basically, I don't know all four strokes and don't swim fast enough to make it worthwhile to join.
Despite numerous unequivocal denials, there appears to be an incredible bias to fast swimmers, either in the organization or in the forums or both. As example #1, I point to the 'Attaboy' thread, which started out as a way to honor people returning to the pool after surgery or swimming 100 fly for the first time but now basically congratulates swimmers for posting top 10 times.
For example #2, I point to the 'death to all noodlers' thread, which I thought was kind of amusing till I realized that, to some USMS members, I am a noodler.
My workouts are based on 100 yards at 1:40, and I've never found anything at your web site geared to a time slower than 1:15, even when access to the workouts section was open. (Well, there was one exception.) If this has changed, well, I have no way of knowing it.
And all the workouts I've seen presuppose mastery of all four strokes, a level of proficiency that eliminates probably 99% of all swimmers, including the vast, vast majority of triathletes, which would seem to be a logical source of new USMS members. (I'm not a triathlete, BTW.)
And, while my times are pokey relative to what gets posted here, they are absolutely blazing compared to the average, noncompetitive swimmer. Other swimmers compliment me on my form. They admire how fast and effortless I seem. I don't pretend to greatness; I just want to show the gap between the typical swimmer and what USMS seems to think is a typical swimmer.
So if you equate 'fast' with 'elitist', I think USMS looks from the outside like an organization with an elitist name ('Masters'), an elitist exercise regimen and elitist discussions.
Of course, I suspect that 99% of members are nice guys, are loads of fun once you get to know them, really don't care how fast anyone swims, etc. But that really isn't the image I'm left with, and I've been following you guys for several years.
Based on all that, I'm not prepared to buy a membership on the chance that an individual club is different from everything else I've observed.

pwolf66
July 3rd, 2011, 10:18 PM
Based on all that, I'm not prepared to buy a membership on the chance that an individual club is different from everything else I've observed.

This seems very short sighted to me. Would you buy a car without test driving it? A house without touring it? Then why assume that you couldn't contact a local club and drop by to try it out?

Our program has folks that can do repeat 100s in short course meters on 1:20 and those who are find 2:00 challenging. Some who can swim all four strokes and some who just do one.

It doesn't matter your ability, it just matters that you give 100% of your ability. And having someone else to share the experience with, to help encourage you to push yourself, to be there with you during a hard workout is the true value of Masters.

notsofast
July 3rd, 2011, 10:46 PM
Remember the point of this thread is not to make me a masters swimmer. It is to structure the organization so that more people want to join. It is to get people to take that "test drive."
To push your metaphor a bit further, one would not test drive an auto if its design and its marketing campaign made the car seem like a lemon. And it wouldn't matter how good that car actually performed. All those people who failed to take a test drive would be making a mistake, but to blame them is to suggest they should see through the fog of weak image control.
The question this thread posed is, essentially, "How do we better market USMS?"
It may well be true that the name of the organization, the nature of the workouts it posts and the tenor of its discussion forum are all deceiving. If that's the case, I'd suggest those are areas that need work.

Chris Stevenson
July 4th, 2011, 09:46 PM
My workouts are based on 100 yards at 1:40, and I've never found anything at your web site geared to a time slower than 1:15, even when access to the workouts section was open. (Well, there was one exception.) If this has changed, well, I have no way of knowing it.
And all the workouts I've seen presuppose mastery of all four strokes, a level of proficiency that eliminates probably 99% of all swimmers, including the vast, vast majority of triathletes, which would seem to be a logical source of new USMS members. (I'm not a triathlete, BTW.)

And, while my times are pokey relative to what gets posted here, they are absolutely blazing compared to the average, noncompetitive swimmer. Other swimmers compliment me on my form. They admire how fast and effortless I seem. I don't pretend to greatness; I just want to show the gap between the typical swimmer and what USMS seems to think is a typical swimmer.

Thanks for the feedback. May I assume based on your post that you've examined workouts in the forums, including the (now unavailable) workout section and the blogs, but haven't given any actual clubs a try? I encourage you to seek out local USMS clubs or workout groups. I have swum with at least half a dozen clubs for lengthy periods of time (1 year or more) and have visited dozens of other clubs. The vast majority had the following features:

-- AT LEAST one lane of swimmers your speed or slower. Heck at one of my more recent clubs, we set aside a lane for a single elderly person who was using swimming (successfully) to relieve her arthritis. She was much slower than you, and did a modified version of the "regular" practice.

-- flexible workouts, where either the intervals or the repeat distances were tailored to the speed of the lanes. And as long as you don't disrupt those around you, most swimmers and coaches don't mind you altering the workouts to suit your needs. You should talk to the coach beforehand if you have specific concerns (eg, a desire to do only freestyle).

-- numerous swimmers (generally triathletes) who only did freestyle, eschewing the other strokes.

-- a "grace period" (usually 3-5 practices) where you could attend without paying to evaluate the program. If the program lacks that, they will have a reasonably drop-in fee. (Better that than committing to a month of a program you may not find suitable.)

As Ahelee noted, forumites are not generally representative of the general masters population (most of whom may not even KNOW about the forum). I don't pay close attention to the workouts on that section of the forum, but I would imagine they aren't set in stone. If a given interval is too fast or slow, certainly you should feel free to modify. Same thing with strokes: take what you need, modify them as you wish.

You mention 100s on the 1:15. I am sure there are some "super clubs" out there, but I have never practiced with any club that had more than 4-5 people (ie, one lane) in a given practice that can handle that interval. Definitely do NOT think this is the typical level of swimming at a masters club.

If there is one nearby, I encourage you to seek out a coached practice and give it a try. It is nice to have a coach tell you what to do and help with technique, and to have people to swim with. If all you can (or want to) do is freestyle, most clubs will be accommodating.

notsofast
July 5th, 2011, 11:14 PM
I really appreciate the efforts to get me, personally, to join a club, but that wasn't the point of my post.
I was trying to express what I see as obstacles to enrollment from the perspective of a person who would be a likely recruit. As I said previously, I'm sure clubs are full of great people and great experiences. However, the comments I read, the workouts I've seen and, for pete's sake, the name of the organization all lead one in a different direction. I pass this information along not to be persuaded to join but to give an outsider's view of USMS.
I was hoping to show that the organization should over time retool its marketing message to be more attractive to a typical swimmer. As it is, the promises of camaraderie, etc., have to overcome a message that the organization is intended for people who have, well, mastered swimming.
It would be more productive if those promises were accompanied by a more welcoming overall message.

Zelig
July 7th, 2011, 02:47 AM
And all the workouts I've seen presuppose mastery of all four strokes, a level of proficiency that eliminates probably 99% of all swimmers, including the vast, vast majority of triathletes, which would seem to be a logical source of new USMS members. (I'm not a triathlete, BTW.)
And, while my times are pokey relative to what gets posted here, they are absolutely blazing compared to the average, noncompetitive swimmer.

OK, so are you pokey or blazing? Here's a hint: no one cares but you.



Other swimmers compliment me on my form. They admire how fast and effortless I seem. I don't pretend to greatness; I just want to show the gap between the typical swimmer and what USMS seems to think is a typical swimmer.

Huh? So you now know what USMS thinks? You are needed at the national office, stat.



Of course, I suspect that 99% of members are nice guys, are loads of fun once you get to know them, really don't care how fast anyone swims, etc.

This suspicion will continue until you actually join and prove it to be oh so false.

Ahelee Sue Osborn
July 7th, 2011, 12:27 PM
In many instances, Forum regulars have remarked that we are not the snapshot of the typical USMS member. I agree.

But The Forum does represent a segment of very passionate adult swimmers, of varied speeds, who are willing to take the time regularly to connect with each other on varied subjects. Lots of excellent information exchanged. Some trash.

As well, most all agree that the word MASTERS is a problem in our organization's name.
I am 100% sure that the name deters many from joining. I hear it and have to explain it often. I would be happy to see it changed.

If you are on deck and coaching a masters club, you see that competition and elitism has very little to do with why most of our members show up to practices.
The athletes in "the cruiser" lanes very often want to improve their technique or get faster just like the elite swimmers.
In my experience, these are the members who want, ask for, and need the most attention. And these swimmers are some of the most rewarding to work with day in and day out.

I think USMS is on track, but with a huge task in front of them yet, by investing in EDUCATING CLUB COACHES.

Not that any "certification" makes a better coach... God only knows there are weak coaches with a slew of credentials.

The reality is:
Coaches bring new members.
Coaches build clubs.
Coaches communicate on deck and in their communities.
Coaches nurture members and retain them - or not.

Maybe a club's board is charged with marketing...
But most retention is coaching business - if it isn't the athlete's life situation causing a dropout.

I swim and coach and understand the impact that lane & team mates can make on a potential new member. Sometimes its good and sometimes it isn't.
Elitism can happen in the lanes right under the nose of a "great coach" and that coach will loose members.

A sensitive and aware coach can change everything.
One nasty swimmer in a lane can also change everything.

I sat for the first USMS Coaches Certification. (and several other coaches clinics over the last few years)
It wasn't the book study or testing that was valuable.
Most excellent was gathering the different levels of coaches to exchange ways of improving themselves. And how to further help their athletes and experiences in building their clubs.

Building membership and retention will happen faster when more coaches better understand building a community out of their club. Complete with all different kinds of members who love and or need to swim for whatever reason.
Some coaches are real masters at building communities and we have a few in USMS. I admire them the most.

Zelig
July 7th, 2011, 01:03 PM
One nasty swimmer in a lane can also change everything.

How much damage can a nasty coach do?

bzaks1424
July 7th, 2011, 01:10 PM
How much damage can a nasty coach do?

Is he or she rolling a D20?
http://forums.usms.org/album.php?albumid=180&pictureid=1892

Ahelee Sue Osborn
July 7th, 2011, 01:18 PM
We all know - a lot! Any member can seriously impact a club good or bad.

A savvy masters coach can create an environment where each personality type can offer their skill & good qualities.

Chris Stevenson
July 7th, 2011, 04:05 PM
I really appreciate the efforts to get me, personally, to join a club, but that wasn't the point of my post.
I was trying to express what I see as obstacles to enrollment from the perspective of a person who would be a likely recruit. As I said previously, I'm sure clubs are full of great people and great experiences. However, the comments I read, the workouts I've seen and, for pete's sake, the name of the organization all lead one in a different direction. I pass this information along not to be persuaded to join but to give an outsider's view of USMS.
I was hoping to show that the organization should over time retool its marketing message to be more attractive to a typical swimmer. As it is, the promises of camaraderie, etc., have to overcome a message that the organization is intended for people who have, well, mastered swimming.
It would be more productive if those promises were accompanied by a more welcoming overall message.

Well, good point. I guess mine is that my actual experience of USMS clubs does not at all match your impression of what that experience would be like. As you say, that is a PR/marketing problem.

Putting aside the name thing -- tho I guess I have a hard time thinking that one word really makes so much difference? Would changing "masters" to "adult" really add another 20,000 members? -- I think some of the issue is: what is the purpose of these forums and the member blogs? Are they (solely) a marketing tool? Are they a venue for current members to discuss and/or debate swimming-related issues? Something else?

I am not a marketing person but I would have a hard time "depending" on the discussion forums as a marketing tool, with the exception of the members-only workout portion. The other forums are just too uncontrolled, even with moderators, to give any kind of marketing message. And participation in the forums is not a "benefit" that will draw a lot of people, while thorough sanitation of them will probably turn of many of the people who do use them.

As an aside: if someone of your ability finds the workouts in the Workout section too intimidating, that's a serious problem IMO.

I was curious, so a quick snapshot: at this time there are 44 people viewing the "General Swimming-Related Discussions" forum and 14 viewing the "Workout" forum; these were the two most popular places on the forums, by far. (I'm curious how many people view the blogs vs the forums.)

Ultimately I agree with Ahelee: the best marketing that USMS can do is through the coaches and club experience. That -- together with opportunities for competition -- is what USMS is about. Somehow the message of that experience needs to be disseminated. (Heck, "outsiders" may even be under the impression that all USMS members participate in OW or pool competitions, when that number is more like 30%.)

thewookiee
July 7th, 2011, 04:15 PM
How much damage can a nasty coach do?

A lot. A bad coach can be very harmful to members. A bad coach can cause a swimmer both mental and phyiscal harm. Swimmers with years of experience aren't affected as much, because of our experiences.

New swimmers(ie less experienced) to usms may not be able to tell when a coach is good or when a coach has no idea what he/she is doing. This can led to injury to the swimmer.

Rob Copeland
July 7th, 2011, 04:29 PM
The question this thread posed is, essentially, "How do we better market USMS?"As the guy who started this thread, The question I posed was what programs, services, and support needed to exceed this goal? And while I agree marketing U.S. Masters Swimming is important to attracting new members, it is our efforts in coaching and club development, and the associated programs and services that I was interested in hearing.

Personally, I couldn’t imagine my life without Masters Swimming. The friends I’ve made through swimming and the fitness benefits make this a great organization and sport. I guess the marketing aspect of it may get some folks to look into swimming, but to me the real important message is for adults to get active and keep active through swimming. If they want to get faster, great. If they want to compete, great. But neither of these is as important as the exercise and camaraderie you find at a Masters workout.

jerry clark
July 9th, 2011, 04:52 PM
I tend to think that more and better qualified coaches would draw more lap swimmers to local Masters workouts. Costs such as the USMS & LMSC registration fees, any Club fee or pool membership fees plus the coaching fee, are always a factor. I'd suggest that a coach might waive the coaching fee for a month after a new person joins his/her workout group. This would allow a new swimmer to get familiar with the program and if he/she decided to not be coached, he/she would still get the benefits of USMS membership.

Were the USMS-ASCA accredation courses to be offered online, that would help solve the problem of requiring coaches to travel to clinics or USMS staff travel to outlying workout groups across the country. Yes, someone would have to create the online courses so the instructor and the student could communicate via visual tools and emailed questions/answers. That would allow way more coaches to learn not only how to write better workouts and teach better technique, but also to market their programs to the lap swimmers.

notsofast
July 9th, 2011, 11:17 PM
As an aside: if someone of your ability finds the workouts in the Workout section too intimidating, that's a serious problem IMO.

I haven't looked at the workout section in a couple of years. You have to be a member for access, right?

Chris Stevenson
July 11th, 2011, 07:18 AM
I haven't looked at the workout section in a couple of years. You have to be a member for access, right?

There are two parts to the workout forum: one that is written by coaches who are (I think) paid a modest stipend to post workouts regularly, and another section with workouts posted by "normal" forumites (some of whom are also coaches). I believe that everyone has access to this latter section; at least, when I logged out of the forums I could still see those threads.

Many (most?) of the blogs are also accessible to nonmembers, depending on the settings the blogger chooses.

Redbird Alum
July 13th, 2011, 03:50 PM
As the guy who started this thread ... it is our efforts in coaching and club development, and the associated programs and services that I was interested in hearing.



Rob -

Then does the real question become, how does USMS increase the number of clubs, and thus the number of coaches and members?

Have saturation studies been done to map out (graphically) the clubs in existance by state/LMSC, along with their relative registered participant sizes? This might help target areas that lack coverage, or where too many clubs are in the same space.

For Club development, is it the LMSC's responsibility to seek out people who might be able to form up a club, or are most taking the wait and see approach? Are we relying purely on the chance that "someone" will want to take on the effort, and have the finances and spare time to do so?

Not sure if these are the types of data that will help formulate a way forward, but the re-statement of the question appears to be important.

Ahelee Sue Osborn
July 16th, 2011, 10:48 PM
Then does the real question become, how does USMS increase the number of clubs, and thus the number of coaches and members?
Have saturation studies been done to map out (graphically) the clubs in existance by state/LMSC, along with their relative registered participant sizes? This might help target areas that lack coverage, or where too many clubs are in the same space.
For Club development, is it the LMSC's responsibility to seek out people who might be able to form up a club, or are most taking the wait and see approach? Are we relying purely on the chance that "someone" will want to take on the effort, and have the finances and spare time to do so?
Not sure if these are the types of data that will help formulate a way forward, but the re-statement of the question appears to be important

Matt - I think you have nailed it on the head!

Even in my home state of California, where most people think masters swimming is gigantic, it is not at all saturated.
Yes, there are some cities that have more than one club - for whatever reason.
But in both Northern and So CAL, there are many large areas that have excellent aquatic facilities and no masters club. Believe it or not, it's true.

I have a thing about visiting (new for me) competition pools. You can not imagine the wonderful lanes of water that go unused day after day.

Perhaps the local funding for club development is right there in an LMSC bank account.
But who is asking how the $$ is spent? Every coach in the LMSC should have concern about this money because he has a say in it. The LMSC committee decides how to spend their money.

Who is setting the goals and the path for the growth?
Is there a goal and budget for continued education and mentoring new (and experienced) coaches?
I hope so. Because it is a coach and the assistants who will make the launch of a new club take hold and work.

A potential new masters swimmer probably has no idea there might be funds available to help start a masters club in his town. He might not even know there is such a thing as masters swimming.
And why would a current masters member who is happily swimming in an established USMS club be concerned about creating a new club? Unless he personally needed something more convenient?

How are we utilizing our registration fees and $$ locally. And nationally?
Check it out. All the numbers and minutes are public.
Where is the cash going?
How is the committee time spent communicating, planning and implementing?
Is the environment positive and inclusive for any member to contribute ideas?

If coaches want help with clubs, education, and expansion, they need to be aware of the decisions their LMSC is making on their behalf.
If a coach is not on an LMSC committee or an LMSC convention delegate, is he aware of the current issues or decisions delegates are representing for his club? Not to mention decisions regarding the spending of his own member's contribution? (registration fees)

Also consider how the LMSC Committee is publicly representing and marketing the LMSC & clubs.
Pitching the wonders and greatness of masters swimming to facility management might be a one time or rare opportunity and should be done well.

By the way.
The next US Aquatics Sports convention and meeting of the USMS (including elections) is September 14-18 in Jacksonville, FL.

http://www.usms.org/admin/conv/2011/

Election information:
http://www.usms.org/admin/election11/



Do you know the LMSC delegates who are representing
you and your club?

Michael Heather
July 18th, 2011, 04:57 PM
Rob -

Then does the real question become, how does USMS increase the number of clubs, and thus the number of coaches and members?

Have saturation studies been done to map out (graphically) the clubs in existance by state/LMSC, along with their relative registered participant sizes? This might help target areas that lack coverage, or where too many clubs are in the same space.

For Club development, is it the LMSC's responsibility to seek out people who might be able to form up a club, or are most taking the wait and see approach? Are we relying purely on the chance that "someone" will want to take on the effort, and have the finances and spare time to do so?

Not sure if these are the types of data that will help formulate a way forward, but the re-statement of the question appears to be important.

Matt,

No, saturation studies have not been done. With only 55,000 members nationwide, there is really no need. The fact is that some LMSCs actually do try to get new clubs started, and it is rarely possible for one person to accomplish it.

In southern California, the LMSC has joined SCCPOA (southern California public pool operator's association). By attending monthly meetings with information, answering questions and making a few informational presentations, our club base has grown from a static number of around 57 to over 80 in the last 6 years. Membership also went up, from around 2700 to a high of 4800. Most of the real work was done by one person who is no longer with the LMSC (and was not a coach or club director). There is considerable growth potential still available, but the pool operators have got to be convinced that is it a good ($$) idea for them. By having formerly skeptical operators telling one another that it is a true benefit, others are much easier to convince.

There is a group in Florida called the U.S. Pool and Spa Association that can help with finding facilities that may be approached. My guess is that many areas in the country have an association like the one in SoCal. That is where we can get the most bang for our buck. New clubs = more new members. Some clubs have been created primarily for triathlon training, some only for the extra insurance coverage. There are many tools we can use if we know when and where.

Ahelee Sue Osborn
July 18th, 2011, 05:48 PM
Matt, No, saturation studies have not been done. With only 55,000 members nationwide, there is really no need.

I actually thought this was a good start in PACIFIC's region.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=http%3A//www.pacificmasters.org/general/PacMasters5.kml&ie=UTF8&om=1&ll=37.688167,-120.541992&spn=3.399164,4.136353&t=h&z=8

or try:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=http%3A//www.pacificmasters.org/general/PacMasters5.kml&ie=UTF8&ll=37.688167,-120.541992&spn=3.399164,4.136353&z=8&om=1


In southern California, the LMSC has joined SCCPOA (southern California public pool operator's association). By attending monthly meetings with information, answering questions and making a few informational presentations, our club base has grown from a static number of around 57 to over 80 in the last 6 years. Membership also went up, from around 2700 to a high of 4800.
There is considerable growth potential still available, but the pool operators have got to be convinced that is it a good ($$) idea for them. By having formerly skeptical operators telling one another that it is a true benefit, others are much easier to convince.

New clubs = more new members. Some clubs have been created primarily for triathlon training, some only for the extra insurance coverage.
There are many tools we can use if we know when and where.

By visiting MANY competition pool facilities and coaching at quite a few as well, I have very often had the opportunity to speak with pool operators.

And you know what?
They are nearly all very pro-adult swim programs. What isn't to like about lane rentals and other potential revenue for their facility?

The problem they do have?
Finding and keeping quality - reliable SWIM COACHES!
Most pool operators say we are preaching to the choir pitching adult swim programs.

I am not saying we should not be out there trying to get facility administrators to start up USMS programs.
But if we're doing so, we had better be ready to help them locate QUALITY RELIABLE SWIM COACHES to run practices.

USMS cannot move quickly enough in educating, mentoring, and promoting current and new coaches.

gdanner
July 25th, 2011, 01:36 PM
By the way.
The next US Aquatics Sports convention and meeting of the USMS (including elections) is September 17-21 in Jacksonville, FL.


That's 2014 :) Same place.

It's September 14-18 this year.



USMS cannot move quickly enough in educating, mentoring, and promoting current and new coaches.I agree with this. I think the support resources are mostly in place, but the challenge is recruiting coaches and making it worth their time. There are a lot of college swimmers who love the sport enough to coach, but the money isn't there compared to other industries. That and starting your own team (business) can be a daunting task. I see a lack of quality age group coaches as well.

joesflyer
September 6th, 2011, 08:57 PM
Help pass legislation that makes it easier to facilitate pool openings, fight to keep insurance fees realistic so as to encourage community swimming facilities, encourage learn to swim programs for all age groups, encourage lifeguard training programs. Andy Kurtzman

Drmst6
December 26th, 2011, 08:07 PM
U.S. Military Promotional Campaign - USMS Promotional Packets should be provided to recreational directors and aquatic facilities at all U.S. military bases with follow-up by LMSC and/or local club officials. Various USMS programs and opportunities available to the military should be discussed with responsible officials. Military officers I have spoken with are pleasantly surprised that USMS membership begans at 18 years of age--USMS must do a better job promoting that fact!

There is a great "disconnect" between the adult civilian swimming community and the soldiers on military bases. U.S. Masters Swimming should be the model for aquatic activities for military personnel and their families world-wide. I believe the opportunity (and responsibility) to provide aquatic education and services to all military branches is enormous and U.S. Masters Swimming should lead the way.

jroddin
December 27th, 2011, 10:44 AM
U.S. Military Promotional Campaign - USMS Promotional Packets should be provided to recreational directors and aquatic facilities at all U.S. military bases with follow-up by LMSC and/or local club officials. Various USMS programs and opportunities available to the military should be discussed with responsible officials. Military officers I have spoken with are pleasantly surprised that USMS membership begans at 18 years of age--USMS must do a better job promoting that fact!

There is a great "disconnect" between the adult civilian swimming community and the soldiers on military bases. U.S. Masters Swimming should be the model for aquatic activities for military personnel and their families world-wide. I believe the opportunity (and responsibility) to provide aquatic education and services to all military branches is enormous and U.S. Masters Swimming should lead the way.





Since I've been registrar in the Washington DC area there have been registered USMS programs at the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC, folded due to lack of interest), the Pentagon (PMAC, there is even a lap pool there but the team folded due to lack of interest), Walter Reed Hospital (TWAR, part of the Wounded Warrior program but they only have 2-3 registered swimmers) and Fort Belvoir (FBST, ATHN/CUBU). Perhaps we can do more outreach to keep the interest level higher, but they certainly know about USMS as evidenced by them forming USMS clubs at these military bases.

Jeff Roddin
Potomac Valley Registrar since 1996

Bill Sive
January 24th, 2012, 11:41 AM
Involvement in swimming activites in any way shape or form.

What has motivated me this calendar year? Check out this link from the United Kingdom: http://www.swimming.org/

I love their website, they offer so much. I signed on for the SwimFit Challenge. My immediate goal is to swim the length of the Thames River (215 Miles) by the time the Olympics start in London. As of now I am at 18% of my goal. (I signed up for Go The Distance again this year. Last year 575 miles.)

I also am doing the British SwimFit competitive training program, and next month I'm going to start their Get Ripped program.

Masters does not teach non-swimmers how to swim. I say, reserve one day per week to teaching non-swimmers. I'll be the first volunteer to step up. Try implmenting one of the programs from the United Kingdom.

Many of the Masters Swimmers I have met have lost their swimming excitement. Find a way to get excited again.

Look for me in a bright neon orange swim brief this year. Relax, have a laugh. What's funny? Me getting 1st place in my age group in the 200 IM at my last swim meet. That's hilarious. Me getting placing anything above 10th place is even more hilarious.

Balance the serious with the fun.

Regards,

ViveBene
February 9th, 2012, 12:43 PM
Send announcements of S.W.I.M. Fitness Challenge (lose weight, Super Bowl Sunday to start of Illinois state meet on April 19, ILMSA being the host LMSC) to Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Biggest Loser, and Crossfit.

One doesn't have to know how to swim or even get wet to participate in the S.W.I.M. Fitness Challenge; one need only be a member of USMS.

As a long-term outreach effort, working with Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig to do an annual promotion of benefits of swimming, maybe with assistance on finding a pool or coach for interested nonswimming adults, combined with a dedicated goal of weight loss should prompt a nice bulge in membership.

Bill Sive
March 8th, 2012, 03:27 PM
Rob,

I have been thinking about this for a while. I believe I can assist. Give me a couple of weeks to put an outline together for you.

In the interim. sign me up for the next USMS conference call when this topic is up for discussion.

Regards,

Rob Copeland
March 8th, 2012, 04:27 PM
Bill,

I look forward to seeing your outline.

As for the next conference call to discuss this, I’m not aware of any call dedicated to a discussion of this. However, frequently the Executive Committee and Board of Directors meet and discuss membership programs, services, growth, etc.

I will make sure your suggestions get to the proper groups.

FR.LLC
April 19th, 2012, 06:57 PM
As of August 3,2010...
51,159 people are current USMS members.
19,660 people were USMS members in 2009 but have not yet renewed.
15,205 people were USMS members in 2008 but have not renewed since.
12,364 people were USMS members in 2007 but have not renewed since.
11,695 people were USMS members in 2006 but have not renewed since.
11,372 people were USMS members in 2005 but have not renewed since.
11,153 people were USMS members in 2004 but have not renewed since.

There was a 2011 post in this thread that stated 55,000 members. Is there an exact number for 2011 membership that can be shared?

ALM
April 19th, 2012, 10:40 PM
There was a 2011 post in this thread that stated 55,000 members. Is there an exact number for 2011 membership that can be shared?

Yes, you can find our membership totals for 1982 through 2011 in this document:
http://www.usms.org/admin/lmschb/gto_num_of_members.pdf

Chris Stevenson
April 25th, 2012, 10:27 AM
I did a quick plot of the membership data (anything to avoid grading exams...). The USMS numbers over the last three decades are actually reasonably well described by a linear fit; if you extrapolate this line you would get a prediction of 2048 to hit 100,000 members.

But if you think that the uptick in membership growth rate over the last 5 years is more predictive of the next decade, you would predict 2025 for hitting 100,000.

Michael Heather
May 11th, 2012, 11:40 AM
There are things that we can do to accelerate the growth. Easy, simple programs. They have been done on the local level with excellent results. All hail the parabola.

jroddin
May 21st, 2012, 03:48 PM
I did a quick plot of the membership data (anything to avoid grading exams...). The USMS numbers over the last three decades are actually reasonably well described by a linear fit; if you extrapolate this line you would get a prediction of 2048 to hit 100,000 members.

But if you think that the uptick in membership growth rate over the last 5 years is more predictive of the next decade, you would predict 2025 for hitting 100,000.

It would be interesting to see an overlay of annual Nationals attendance to the membership annual totals. I think they are unrelated. Perhaps regional totals are affected when Nationals are closeby, but I have a feeling the overall totals are not affected.

wwoelbel
June 5th, 2012, 02:34 PM
Send announcements of S.W.I.M. Fitness Challenge (lose weight, Super Bowl Sunday to start of Illinois state meet on April 19, ILMSA being the host LMSC) to Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Biggest Loser, and Crossfit.

Just to add 2 cents from the perspective of a USMS noob who came back through the general health/ lose weight channel: This presents a marketing challenge for swimming as a weight loss exercise. The general feeling in the weight loss community is that swimming is inferior to dry land exercise for the purpose of weight loss on two counts: The colder water inhibits extended calorie burn, and you float so you lose gravity as a resistance mechanism. While none of the sources spouting this are citing actual reviewed literature, this sentiment is quite common (in the forums that I have been reading).

Do any of our more scholarly folks know of any actual peer reviewed medical studies related to swimming and weight loss? It doesnt quite cut it for me to testify that I lost weight like crazy once I got back into swimming...


bill

[Please delete this if I shouldnt post here]

Michael Heather
June 23rd, 2012, 12:07 AM
Water is 14 times more dense than air, so to move through it you have to use quite a bit more energy than just walking. Just getting back and forth doing laps expends a considerable amount of caloric output - if you work at it instead of floating on a noodle. The buoyancy vs. gravity loss actually saves joint damage, making it a superior activity for an extended life of health.

To get back to the point of the thread, if more people would examine the benefits of water as a weight reduction device, 100,000 should be coming up soon.

jaadams1
June 23rd, 2012, 12:17 AM
To get back to the point of the thread, if more people would examine the benefits of water as a weight reduction device, 100,000 should be coming up soon.

The thing is...they are looking to the water for these benefits. Problem is they're grabbing a noodle and then :blah: with the others and calling it swimming and water exercise.

SLOmmafan
June 26th, 2012, 01:02 PM
What about specifically targeting younger master age swimmers? For instance, USA Swimmers who are moving beyond age group? Why let all those kids who spent 10 years of thier life in a pool just quit for the next 20 years?

Show them masters can be fun, but less high pressure then age group. Advertise at USA swim meets, etc.

JWes
July 6th, 2012, 11:31 AM
I don't know if this has been mentioned or not, but maybe there could be an incentive for more age group teams to offer masters programs. The reason I almost didn't join masters was because none of the masters teams offer workouts in the evenings, which is the only time I can go due to my work schedule (and I've spoken to a few other masters swimmers who would prefer swimming in the evenings as well). All age group teams have evening practices so maybe if they can get something out of it, more would be willing to offer a masters program.

If any of that makes sense.

andrears
July 7th, 2012, 11:12 PM
Congrats on the weight loss Bill. :)
I am new to swimming (just completed level 1 of a Red Cross accredited swimming course). I am really excited about swimming as a form of weight loss and fitness. I believe there could be others like myself who are frustrated with land based exercise programs. My swimming instructor is very good and has offered me lots of helpful tips, and I try to practice every day, and read up on my own. I joined the USMS to learn more about swimming as a fitness activity, and to improve my technique. Maybe I will compete one day, when I've completed all the levels ... but fitness and technique improvement are my priorities right now.

I'm not up to speed with all of the USMS public outreach activities, but new members could be attracted through public education endorsing swimming as an weight loss and fitness activity. This would certainly be in keeping with the USMS stated goal of inclusiveness of swimmers of all levels. I completely endorse ViveBene's idea of strategic alliances with popular fitness and weight loss programs.

I found a few references on the health benefits of swimming on the CDC's web site. Honestly, those articles helped me take the plunge (pun intended) to begin swimming classes on May 26 ... just a few weeks ago...that's how new I am to swimming!!

Here are the results of my Google search on the CDC's position on the benefits of swimming as a form of exercise.
https://www.google.com/search?q=benefits+swimming+cdc&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a (http://forums.usms.org/member.php?u=7008)


The following CDC web page lists some references to water vs land based exercise
[URL]http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/health_benefits_water_exercise.html
Swimming beats getting sweaty and miserable walking in the park on a hot day. I can't swim very fast, but I lost 4.3 lbs since I started swimming almost 8 weeks ago. :bliss:
Wish I had discovered it before....better late than never :)

I trust that my comments have offended no one.



Just to add 2 cents from the perspective of a USMS noob who came back through the general health/ lose weight channel: This presents a marketing challenge for swimming as a weight loss exercise. The general feeling in the weight loss community is that swimming is inferior to dry land exercise for the purpose of weight loss on two counts: The colder water inhibits extended calorie burn, and you float so you lose gravity as a resistance mechanism. While none of the sources spouting this are citing actual reviewed literature, this sentiment is quite common (in the forums that I have been reading).

Do any of our more scholarly folks know of any actual peer reviewed medical studies related to swimming and weight loss? It doesnt quite cut it for me to testify that I lost weight like crazy once I got back into swimming...


bill

[Please delete this if I shouldnt post here]

DonF
July 16th, 2012, 11:41 PM
As a new swimmer one of my highest goals this year is to swim in a masters program. I think it would bring me to a level I can't achieve otherwise. The great impediment though is intimidation. Most of the swimmers in the masters group i would swim with are life long swimmers with background in competitive and long distance swimming. For example, I drive up the the aquatics center where I swim when masters swim practice is going on and it is very common to see Ironman stickers on most of the cars. From a newbie standpoint that is very intimidating. I think to grow to 150,000 you need to spilt into two groups, a) the expert competitor group, and b) the beginner/novice group, swimming at separate times. Folks like me then would feel less intimidated and could get into a program that would give them the instruction and direction needed to eventually be able to swim with the big girls. :bow:

zacademic
July 17th, 2012, 10:01 AM
I agree with the suggestion about doing something to increase attaching Masters teams to existing age group teams. I just moved to an area with an unorganized group of USMS swimmers but several well organized age group teams with access to (otherwise restricted) great pools. If only they had separate Masters teams! I think age group teams are reluctant to do this unless pushed by parents or insiders. Some kind of incentive that is well advertised through USA swimming, easy to obtain, and comes from the top would make this more feasible. Along with an incentive should come clear guidelines about what to expect from adding a Masters team, which should be written from the perspective of addressing the main concerns age group coaches have (that we are too much trouble, insurance liabilities, etc) and highlighting the benefits we bring. I think you would get an uptick in membership just from parents of age groupers alone, many of whom are former swimmers... And age group swimmers would then be exposed to swimming after 18/college.

Bill Sive
August 7th, 2012, 11:16 AM
Here is a great opportunity to grow US Masters.
See today's (08/07/12) Wall Street Journal.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443545504577567472616437732.html

Also, a money generator too. Look at the prices for the lessons. $100 to register, $1,200 for 10 private lessons. What swim club/team couldn't use those funds!?

I guess I am the exception rather than the rule. All my fellow swimmers had lessons, or were in/on swim teams/clubs as they grew up. I've never had a lesson. I swim all four strokes. Taught myself the Butterfly too.

Regards,

Michael Heather
November 17th, 2012, 11:56 AM
It is estimated that 37% of the adult population does not know how to swim. Even if we give away lessons with no pressure to join, we could generate a lot of new members.

ekw
March 7th, 2013, 12:15 PM
I just saw something interesting on another thread - apparently USAT offers the option to upgrade from a one-day membership to the yearly membership by paying the difference. Does USMS do this?

I think that having more meets that offer one-day memberships and offering the upgrade might be a way to recruit more people to competing. I've had conversations with people at my pool (particularly college students who used to swim age group/high school/summer league - we don't have a swim team) who I think are interested in trying out a meet but who don't want to get a full membership without knowing if they'll like meets. Of course I also talk up the other things membership gets you.

With some college students, meet entry fees are an issue too, but at my university the student running club gets appropriations from student government for entry fees for races. I think in the future the student swimmers here might look into that.

Chris Stevenson
March 14th, 2013, 08:57 AM
I just saw something interesting on another thread - apparently USAT offers the option to upgrade from a one-day membership to the yearly membership by paying the difference. Does USMS do this?

I think that's a good idea. Some people resist the idea of one-day membership but I think if you are proud of your product then you let as many people as possible experience it.

If I remember correctly, I think USAT also does "rolling registration" where you get one year's worth of membership from whenever you sign up. USMS works on the calendar year instead, which provides an increasing disincentive to join as the year progresses because you get less for your money. I understand there are some reasons -- perhaps technical? -- for doing this but I can't really think of any that justifies a mild barrier to entry.


With some college students, meet entry fees are an issue too, but at my university the student running club gets appropriations from student government for entry fees for races. I think in the future the student swimmers here might look into that.

I have long thought that USMS should provide a discounted membership for younger adults, maybe the 18-24 age group but possibly even the 25-29 age group. Sure you possibly lose some revenue but you have the potential to gain life-long (paying) members; depending on the retention rate you might more than make up for it.

College club swimming is huge and growing (as are IM club sports in general). A main concern with USMS is demographics: for the most part college club swimmers mostly want to interact with other college club swimmers; even swimmers aged 25-29 often hold significantly less appeal for those in the 18-22 age bracket.

In our LMSC we do have a team that is basically just a college club, but they only registered their club with USMS for insurance purposes. Their participation in USMS meets and interaction with other USMS members seems pretty low to me.

Recent college graduates -- maybe especially club swimmers -- are maybe an better target market. Demographics is also an issue here, you need enough people under 30 to make USMS attractive to them. When I first joined USMS it was soon after college and a major draw was the fact that the club I joined had a lot of young people who did things together. We also went to plenty of meets.

freestyle7819
March 14th, 2013, 03:27 PM
I am an active member of USAT and now USMS. I am a former NCAA Div II Swim champ. Lost interest in swimming for a number of years, then started bike racing and then was talked into Triathlons 5 years ago. Swimming and Bike are my strong legs of a Tri and this year I will be competing in the World Triathlon Championships in London representing Team USA, I also won the Aquabike Nationals for my age group this past year. So I joined the Boston College Masters Swimming Team to improve my swim time. Well now I am signed up for the New England Masters Swimming Championships this coming weekend at Harvard, the bug came back so to speak to compete in a meet.
I sit on the USAT Aquabike (swim/bike of a Triathlon) taskforce. We have had much success in growing this event within a Tri due to injured or older folks that cannot run anymore. We are also finding more swimmers and bikers getting involved.
My ideas:
1. Have the CEO of USMS and the CEO of USAT talk about joint efforts. For open water swimming some Triathlon Race Directors are looking to add a wave for open water swimmers in addition to Aquabike athletes. Many within USMS are interested in Open water swimming, perhaps there could be a dual membership for swimmers USAT/USMS
2. Many Tri coaches are not good swimming coaches. The majority of Triathletes are weak in the swim. With a good working relationship between USMS and USAT, there could be referrals to swimming coaches and the swim coaches in turn could convince the swimmers to try a few events at a swim meet.
3. Many good Triathletes that were also good swimmers could be enticed during the long off season to participate once again in swim meets to improve the swim competitiveness. This happened to me and brought me back into the fold.

Just some ideas to potentially tap into swimmers in the Multi-Sport World.

Mike McCombs

Bill Sive
April 19th, 2013, 11:06 AM
Last month I dialed in to our local LMSC monthly conference call asking for marketing materials they are supplying, upon request. Received nothing. Last evening I dialed in again. This time they stated I needed to send an e-mail to our Registrar. Will see how long this takes. Yes I am skeptial after waiting a month just to be told to send an e-mail. Guess they were not paying attention on the conference call.

In any case, believe it or not, I swim, upon occasion, at two different pools in Los Angeles County that do not have 1) USA-Swimming program, and 2) US Masters program. I have all types of persons approaching me at these pools wanting to know more about US Masters, however, find it difficults to obtain the marketing items I need in a timely manner.

Last week I swam at a pool, which has a US Masters program. The Lifeguard at the pool, is a part time coach for the Master team. The Lifeguard/Coach was un-aware of the availability of USMS swim meets. I went to extra effort to print him a newsletter, with an extra page for all the upcoming swim meets for the balance of the calendar year. This particular swim club focuses on swim workouts and open water swimming during summer. They do not promote swim meets.

Suggest that somehow all swim coaches are knowledgeable in all areas of USMS. If a small fish, like myself, is asking for marketing materials to supply to potential USMS members, or existing members who are less knowledgeable than myself, that the response is timely. I would not be asking if I did not have a need for it.

NJMastR
April 27th, 2013, 11:25 PM
@Bill,

I would recommend calling the National Office directly 800-550-SWIM (7946) to request USMS Marketing Material. They can provide plenty of brochures, caps, club welcome kits. Just ask for Kyle Deery and let him know what you are trying to do. His email address is marketing@usms.org.

I am sorry that the LMSC was not more forthcoming with a response to your inquiry.

Your efforts are greatly appreciated. Let us know how it goes.

Chris

jroddin
May 6th, 2013, 04:39 PM
I am an active member of USAT and now USMS. I am a former NCAA Div II Swim champ. Lost interest in swimming for a number of years, then started bike racing and then was talked into Triathlons 5 years ago. Swimming and Bike are my strong legs of a Tri and this year I will be competing in the World Triathlon Championships in London representing Team USA, I also won the Aquabike Nationals for my age group this past year. So I joined the Boston College Masters Swimming Team to improve my swim time. Well now I am signed up for the New England Masters Swimming Championships this coming weekend at Harvard, the bug came back so to speak to compete in a meet.
I sit on the USAT Aquabike (swim/bike of a Triathlon) taskforce. We have had much success in growing this event within a Tri due to injured or older folks that cannot run anymore. We are also finding more swimmers and bikers getting involved.
My ideas:
1. Have the CEO of USMS and the CEO of USAT talk about joint efforts. For open water swimming some Triathlon Race Directors are looking to add a wave for open water swimmers in addition to Aquabike athletes. Many within USMS are interested in Open water swimming, perhaps there could be a dual membership for swimmers USAT/USMS
2. Many Tri coaches are not good swimming coaches. The majority of Triathletes are weak in the swim. With a good working relationship between USMS and USAT, there could be referrals to swimming coaches and the swim coaches in turn could convince the swimmers to try a few events at a swim meet.
3. Many good Triathletes that were also good swimmers could be enticed during the long off season to participate once again in swim meets to improve the swim competitiveness. This happened to me and brought me back into the fold.

Just some ideas to potentially tap into swimmers in the Multi-Sport World.

Mike McCombs

The largest masters club in Potomac Valley has over 750 registered members. Part of it is because they manage workouts at numerous facilities in VA, MD and DC. But a huge reason is because they are partnered with one of the largest triathlon clubs in the region - one that particularly caters to novice triathletes (and whose owner has a competitive swimming background). Therefore once these new triathletes join the triathlon club, they have to join USMS in order to participate in the swim workouts - where they have access to "real" swim coaches. It is a relationship that has greatly benefited PV masters and USMS.

Jeff Roddin
PV Registrar

Bill Sive
July 22nd, 2013, 05:33 PM
.....so the other day I went for a swim workout and shared a lane with a very nice lady. This lady is a former USMS Master Swimmer. The particular pool we were at has a HUGE aquatic program: a) swim lessons etc from the city parks and recration; b) USA-Swimming; USMS; Water Polo, and Synchronized Swimming. With the exception of the swim lessons provided by the City Parks and Recreation, each group has teams.

This nice lady has told me her daughter did not want to swim anymore and wanted to try another sporting activity, so being the nice lady/mother that she is, she let her daughter quit the swim team. Then the USMS program kicked out this nice lady. She was informed if one member of the family quits the entire family has to quit, or get booted out.

I say SHAME on this USMS Team. The lady wants to participate, be healthy etc., and she gets booted out because her daughter wants to try something else. I told the nice lady she could share my lane anytime she sees me at the pool. I also told her to re-register with USMS as un-attached and do what she wanted to do, however, she liked the structured workouts, and team comaraderie.

USMS needs to re-think their membership policies for allowing somthing like to happen. Needless to say this lady now has nothing nice to say about this particular USMS Team, and USMS.

Change your goal to 99,999 members.

swimmieAvsFan
July 22nd, 2013, 05:56 PM
....I say SHAME on this USMS Team. The lady wants to participate, be healthy etc., and she gets booted out because her daughter wants to try something else. I told the nice lady she could share my lane anytime she sees me at the pool. I also told her to re-register with USMS as un-attached and do what she wanted to do, however, she liked the structured workouts, and team comaraderie.

USMS needs to re-think their membership policies for allowing somthing like to happen. Needless to say this lady now has nothing nice to say about this particular USMS Team, and USMS.

Change your goal to 99,999 members.

I would be willing to bet *my* USMS membership that is a team policy, not a USMS policy. I have never heard of this happening elsewhere, and if it were a USMS policy, I'm sure I've been around long enough (and been involved enough) to hear of this policy.

I don't think that USMS would even be able to do something about this situation if it is a team policy, as it sounds like the USMS club is affiliated with an umbrella team based out of this aquatic facility, and as such, the team can set its own rules.

Michael Heather
July 23rd, 2013, 02:36 AM
Not only is it likely to be a team policy, but an extraordinarily short sighted one.

Bill Sive
July 23rd, 2013, 10:38 AM
.....so Team Policy supercedes USMS Policy. Then why are we having a USMS convention this year and/or any other year? Consistency throughout an organization is what maintains it.

Negative comments on this USMS team, or any other USMS team, reflects on the USMS entity itself.

swimmieAvsFan
July 23rd, 2013, 10:59 AM
.....so Team Policy supercedes USMS Policy. Then why are we having a USMS convention this year and/or any other year? Consistency throughout an organization is what maintains it...

Assuming the team policy isn't in direct conflict with a USMS policy, then yes, team policy would supersede USMS policy. Since, in this case, there is no USMS policy to speak of, the team can do what it wants. This is no different than a USA-S team saying that 12&U are not allowed to wear tech suits unless they have Sectional (or higher) cuts. Plenty of USA-S teams do that, but plenty don't. USA-S has no rule explicitly stating when kids can start wearing tech suits, so the teams are free to make their own rules, just as this team is free to say that if your kids quits the USA-S team, mom and dad aren't welcome on the USMS team. While it is definitely a short-sighted rule (as Michael Heather said), it's not in violation of any USMS rules currently on the books.


...Negative comments on this USMS team, or any other USMS team, reflects on the USMS entity itself.
This statement, I will whole-heartily agree with. But there are far too many USMS teams with far too many different structures and policies for USMS to be involved in monitoring this level of policy and rule making.

Bill Sive
July 23rd, 2013, 11:32 AM
Almost forgot the most important lesson here in this situation. What has the nice lady's daughter learned about team swimming in general (USA-S and USMS)? If the daughter decides to swim later in life will she join USMS, knowing she can be booted off the team for no fault of here own? How to you think the daughter felt once she learned her mother is no longer welcome in the USMS team because of her decision. This type of situation is part of the key of long range planning and membership levels.

Is that "swimming for life"?, or "swimming for life with USMS"?

Michael Heather
July 23rd, 2013, 12:22 PM
Almost forgot the most important lesson here in this situation. What has the nice lady's daughter learned about team swimming in general (USA-S and USMS)? If the daughter decides to swim later in life will she join USMS, knowing she can be booted off the team for no fault of here own? How to you think the daughter felt once she learned her mother is no longer welcome in the USMS team because of her decision. This type of situation is part of the key of long range planning and membership levels.

Is that "swimming for life"?, or "swimming for life with USMS"?

Confusing the issues does not clarify any problems here. Projecting a bad policy made by a USA-S team (which obviously owns the Masters club in this case) onto USMS is pointless.

If the nice lady and her daughter think that all of USA Swimming and US Masters Swimming are defined by the actions of one club, they have received poor counseling (or none).

Rob Copeland
July 23rd, 2013, 01:14 PM
USMS needs to re-think their membership policies for allowing somthing like to happen. Needless to say this lady now has nothing nice to say about this particular USMS Team, and USMS.

Change your goal to 99,999 members.I’m not sure which membership policy you are referring to; can you let me know which one it is?

Also, the 100,000 membership is not technically a USMS goal, it is the title to this thread. USMS goals can be found in on page ix of the current rulebook, as well as various other USMS materials.

melondash
April 9th, 2014, 08:43 AM
To grow USMS, we need to provide a way for beginners to begin. Currently, there is no program for this, though the April Adult Learn to Swim month is a start. Beginners are adults who are afraid in water or those who aren't that afraid, but who don't "know the water." Both of these populations are unaware of how the water works. There are 109 million adults who are afraid in water just in pools in the U.S. (46% of the adult population). That means they cannot swim: someone who knows how to swim is not afraid in deep water. There is an established program to teach adults who are afraid in water to swim which is highly successful. It should be plugged into ALTS month... all year.

A second thing we need to grow USMS is to define the term, "knowing how to swim." Half the country thinks knowing how to swim means being able to do freestyle. The other half thinks it means being able to rely on yourself for your safety in deep water, whether you can do freestyle or not. That means many people who think they can swim actually can't. In LTS, safety has to come first. If a boat captain took a load of tourists offshore on a sunset cruise and the yacht capsized, the captain would not be asking, "Who can do a tidy freestyle to shore?" He/she would ask, "Who is safe out there and who do I need to worry about?" The ones who can be in the water and keep their wits about them, waiting patiently for rescue are the ones who can swim. The ones who are losing it are the ones who have no idea that water holds them up and that they can rest there. They have no idea how to prevent panic because they have not learned any more than, "Don't panic." And that has not been learned.

Knowing how to swim means being able to rely on yourself for your safety in deep water, whether you can do freestyle or not. Once someone learns to swim, then s/he has attention to spare for learning strokes: s/he's no longer focused on survival. Strokes are simply advanced techniques of swimming which add tremendously to efficiency.

The third thing we need to grow USMS is coaches and instructors who know that teaching strokes and mechanics does not help someone overcome their fear of deep water. We have so many teachers who teach people to stroke in shallow water, but this does nothing to make them safe in deep water. Telling people, "The deep works the same as the shallow" does not help! If people can do laps in the shallow but can't swim or be safe in the deep, we have not taught them to swim. We have taught them to stroke. People are not satisfied with this. It's the old, "Yes, but." "Yes, I can do freestyle, but, I can't really swim yet: I'm afraid in the deep."

It takes 48 hours of classes for an adult who's afraid in water to go from being afraid to put his/her face in the shower to being completely free in deep water for 10 minutes, or however long they want to be there. Imagine if all USMS coaches knew how to teach this. It takes 30 hours or less for people who can swim to learn freestyle. It takes 42 hours to learn back, breast, and fly...legally. It takes a month or two to help people overcome their fear of being on a masters team. But if there were groups for these newbie graduates to step into, comprised only of others like them, then we'd have a step-by-step ladder for anyone to enter swimming and become masters swimmers.

This is what is needed.

Michael Heather
July 22nd, 2014, 03:08 AM
To grow USMS, we need to provide a way for beginners to begin. Currently, there is no program for this, though the April Adult Learn to Swim month is a start. Beginners are adults who are afraid in water or those who aren't that afraid, but who don't "know the water." Both of these populations are unaware of how the water works. There are 109 million adults who are afraid in water just in pools in the U.S. (46% of the adult population). That means they cannot swim: someone who knows how to swim is not afraid in deep water. There is an established program to teach adults who are afraid in water to swim which is highly successful. It should be plugged into ALTS month... all year.

A second thing we need to grow USMS is to define the term, "knowing how to swim." Half the country thinks knowing how to swim means being able to do freestyle. The other half thinks it means being able to rely on yourself for your safety in deep water, whether you can do freestyle or not. That means many people who think they can swim actually can't. In LTS, safety has to come first. If a boat captain took a load of tourists offshore on a sunset cruise and the yacht capsized, the captain would not be asking, "Who can do a tidy freestyle to shore?" He/she would ask, "Who is safe out there and who do I need to worry about?" The ones who can be in the water and keep their wits about them, waiting patiently for rescue are the ones who can swim. The ones who are losing it are the ones who have no idea that water holds them up and that they can rest there. They have no idea how to prevent panic because they have not learned any more than, "Don't panic." And that has not been learned.

Knowing how to swim means being able to rely on yourself for your safety in deep water, whether you can do freestyle or not. Once someone learns to swim, then s/he has attention to spare for learning strokes: s/he's no longer focused on survival. Strokes are simply advanced techniques of swimming which add tremendously to efficiency.

The third thing we need to grow USMS is coaches and instructors who know that teaching strokes and mechanics does not help someone overcome their fear of deep water. We have so many teachers who teach people to stroke in shallow water, but this does nothing to make them safe in deep water. Telling people, "The deep works the same as the shallow" does not help! If people can do laps in the shallow but can't swim or be safe in the deep, we have not taught them to swim. We have taught them to stroke. People are not satisfied with this. It's the old, "Yes, but." "Yes, I can do freestyle, but, I can't really swim yet: I'm afraid in the deep."

It takes 48 hours of classes for an adult who's afraid in water to go from being afraid to put his/her face in the shower to being completely free in deep water for 10 minutes, or however long they want to be there. Imagine if all USMS coaches knew how to teach this. It takes 30 hours or less for people who can swim to learn freestyle. It takes 42 hours to learn back, breast, and fly...legally. It takes a month or two to help people overcome their fear of being on a masters team. But if there were groups for these newbie graduates to step into, comprised only of others like them, then we'd have a step-by-step ladder for anyone to enter swimming and become masters swimmers.

This is what is needed.

Dealing with fear of deep water is less a recruitment tool than identifying an irrational phobia, better left to mental health professionals. Most coaches are not such people, hence the,"Don't panic," and "The deep works the same as the shallow." That is what one would say to a rational person, which is what most coaches encounter.

Effective and successful recruitment plans will target wide cross sections of the population, not dwell on one aspect of the learning cycle. Bringing many people into the sport will bring many different points of view and levels of comfort, but always should be pointed at healthy attitudes toward water and enjoyment of the medium.

Rob Butcher
July 28th, 2014, 12:48 PM
Coaches are in the people business. Here are 12 easy steps coaches (and other Masters Swimmers) can implement to make your program more welcoming: http://forums.usms.org/entry.php?33654-How-can-I-make-my-program-more-welcoming-to-new-swimmers

Rob Butcher

Michael Heather
August 12th, 2014, 12:02 AM
Coaches are in the people business. Here are 12 easy steps coaches (and other Masters Swimmers) can implement to make your program more welcoming: http://forums.usms.org/entry.php?33654-How-can-I-make-my-program-more-welcoming-to-new-swimmers

Rob Butcher

Good points made in the article, but this thread is about how USMS can grow to 100,000 members. Coaches are good at dealing on the spot with swimmers but not really a tool that USMS can readily use to attract more members/clubs/programs. Kind of like herding cats.

Chris Stevenson
August 18th, 2014, 08:08 AM
Coaches are good at dealing on the spot with swimmers but not really a tool that USMS can readily use to attract more members/clubs/programs.

I don't agree. I think masters coaches and their training are one of USMS' most valuable assets and are potentially a limiting resource. The ability to swim in a (well) coached masters workout -- or even get access to the online workouts -- is arguably a more valuable and widely appreciated benefit of USMS membership than, for example, the accessibility of well run masters competitions.

In terms of this particular article, how welcoming masters clubs are to new swimmers would undoubtedly be a factor in their decision to retain their USMS membership, or (in the case of clubs that offer a trial period) in their decision to become a first-time member.

If you want to attract new masters swimmers then it seems a no-brainer to me that coaches should understand how to be welcoming to those swimmers, particularly those who don't come from an extensive competitive swimming background. Coaches who are used to USA-S clubs and transition to masters coaching do not necessarily appreciate how intimidating practices can be to new adult swimmers.

thewookiee
August 18th, 2014, 09:06 AM
I don't agree. I think masters coaches and their training are one of USMS' most valuable assets and are potentially a limiting resource. The ability to swim in a (well) coached masters workout -- or even get access to the online workouts -- is arguably a more valuable and widely appreciated benefit of USMS membership than, for example, the accessibility of well run masters competitions.

In terms of this particular article, how welcoming masters clubs are to new swimmers would undoubtedly be a factor in their decision to retain their USMS membership, or (in the case of clubs that offer a trial period) in their decision to become a first-time member.

If you want to attract new masters swimmers then it seems a no-brainer to me that coaches should understand how to be welcoming to those swimmers, particularly those who don't come from an extensive competitive swimming background. Coaches who are used to USA-S clubs and transition to masters coaching do not necessarily appreciate how intimidating practices can be to new adult swimmers.

Chris,

I have to agree with your comments. USMS coaches and swimmers are the first step in attracting new members. How coaches/swimmers deal with potential members will go along way in retaining those people.

If newcomers are welcomed, encouraged, feel as they are getting a benefit from usms, they will likely stay.

cjr
August 20th, 2014, 05:53 PM
To answer the title of the thread, What Does USMS Need to grow to 100,000+ Members?

Answer (IMHO) Marketing & build/forge Relationships.
First step - simply marketing to people outside the swimming world (TV ad, USA Today, Magazines such as GQ, Self, etc.). USMS members already know who we are. Great opportunity for all USMS members, coaches and non-coaches alike, to go out and tell people about ourselves. Spread the news about all the neat and wonderful things that go on in our organization.

Second step, develop stronger/deeper relationship (a bit of marketing overtone) with USA Swimming and YMCA Swimming. Not all places in the country that has age group programs have Masters Teams, which maybe one reason why USMS does not get as many 18-24 year old swimmers. Plus some of those swimmers really don't know about USMS. If USMS could partner with USA & YMCA to have those organizations help USMS with spreading the word about Masters swimming, it could bring us new swimmers.

It is up both the coaches and the existing swimmers in the program to recruiting and retain those new members.

Michael Heather
August 22nd, 2014, 02:37 AM
I don't agree. I think masters coaches and their training are one of USMS' most valuable assets and are potentially a limiting resource. The ability to swim in a (well) coached masters workout -- or even get access to the online workouts -- is arguably a more valuable and widely appreciated benefit of USMS membership than, for example, the accessibility of well run masters competitions.

In terms of this particular article, how welcoming masters clubs are to new swimmers would undoubtedly be a factor in their decision to retain their USMS membership, or (in the case of clubs that offer a trial period) in their decision to become a first-time member.

If you want to attract new masters swimmers then it seems a no-brainer to me that coaches should understand how to be welcoming to those swimmers, particularly those who don't come from an extensive competitive swimming background. Coaches who are used to USA-S clubs and transition to masters coaching do not necessarily appreciate how intimidating practices can be to new adult swimmers.

When coaches are good on deck, they help retain members. I never said that coaches could not recruit new members, only that they were not well suited for that job. If all USMS coaches spent extra time out on the town getting people to try swimming, I would say that, yes, they do in fact attract new members. But since the usual first contact with a coach happens after the swimmer has already walked onto the pool deck, I would say that someone or something else got them there.

Maybe it would be more palatable if I were to say that it is unfair to expect coaches to do recruiting of new members, since it is not their primary duty. Besides, coaches have historically shied away from poaching of other clubs' swimmers. Actively trying to attract new members may be uncomfortably similar.

This is a good dialogue. Coaches have a lot to say, but in reality have a pretty narrow function path. If they can be activated to recruit, so much the better for USMS and the world.

Michael Heather
January 7th, 2015, 01:41 PM
OK, coaches have not yet stepped up to recruit. That's not unexpected. The title of this discussion is how does USMS get to 100,000 members?

How about why? There are many current members who will see the growth very personally and in a negative light, feeling that they have to share a training lane with 2 more people. USMS sould be actively going out and getting new clubs started and on a sustainable growth path. Still, why? USMS tries very hard to attract outside money for operations. This is done primarily from the national office and is the main reason we even decided to hire an executive director. USMS has been told more than once by very large potential sponsors that 100K was the magic number of members.

Shall we continue to follow the current path of having one or two people in the NO make calls begging for money? Or make a concerted effort to rapidly attain the goal of 100K members in order to ease the burden of costs that mainly fall upon the membership in constantly rising dues?

Shall we continue to slavishly pander to the tiny OW segment that we have been chasing for 6+ years in hopes there was a growth opportunity not yet exploited? Doing that only cost USMS $1+ million in elevated insurance premiums over the last 3 years. Great plan, huh? And we continue to plaster OW pictures and stories in the magazine. Apparently someone thinks the insurance companies are stupid. Perhaps if we went back to putting OW in perspective; as a part of the organization that is to be supported by USMS commensurate with its actual membership, rather than making it a poster child that costs USMS bundles of money in premium payments for as long as we persist with this program.

JPSWMCCH
November 10th, 2015, 11:53 AM
Michael: Think we do it by encouraging more facilities, newer or non-USMS, to have Masters programs, particularly in winter. Baby boomers are aging, want to be healthy, and not always have good weather to run or bike. Why not swim more, particularly in winter? Do we send out information packets, target those facilities? We, in our area, are one of the Top 25 Swimming cities, yet we have few formal Masters programs on this side of our State, MI, whether they be a club, like our own Michigan Lakeshore Aquatics Masters, or a workout group, like Stray Cats, of the Regional Club, Michigan Masters, based on the other side of the state. Think targeting those facilities would help move us toward 100,000 members, without crowding lanes already in use, or begging for $$/sponsors. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, MH; I'll listen/read others' comments, now. JP

cjr
April 8th, 2016, 02:58 PM
:2cents:Growth is equal to Marketing:2cents::2cents::2cents::2cents: - It's all about bringing the product to the market space. We current Master swimmers are good at telling ourselves our own story. We do it on the forums. We do it at convention every year. We need to be telling the Non-Master swimmer about us. It is those individuals at the facilities that are “just lap swimmers”. The folks that swam summer league during their youth. Look at our mission statement, “To promote health, wellness, fitness and competition for adults through swimming.” The second word is key (IMHO), PROMOTE. There needs to be an initiative at a NATIONAL level. Much like the article that ran last August in the Wall Street Journal, we need an advertisement/communication say as an example in the USA Today newpaper. A one page ad that showcases the logo and website would catch people’s attention. Thinking outside the box is what is going to help us expand that box. We have three Core Objectives; “Service the membership”, “Educate the membership”, and “Build the membership”. We have performed admirably on the first two, now we need to execute on the third.:2cents:

Nichollsvi
June 5th, 2016, 09:07 PM
One area that is a problem is there is not much that encourages people who learned to swim as adults (or will learn) into the program. Unless one goes to meets, there's not a forced reason to be in USMS. There isn't a lot of support you get otherwise in terms for your money, and do people really need to improve or want to improve, their strokes? You can talk about the discounts you get for being a member.

Otherwise, if I just learned to swim, what is in it for me? What do the Y's or other groups, what can they do, in terms of promoting things when it is very small the # of people who swim due to expense and time?

f1refl1es!
October 24th, 2017, 11:32 AM
The mission statement was key for me to get interested in USMS. I guess it's because I have been working in nonprofits now for a long time, and mission statements are a big deal there. Did you notice, that mission statement does NOT imply anything at all about when you began swimming? It focusses on the positive things swimming does for the swimmer. I wonder what proportion of Americans swim competitively as students in high school or college? I suspect it has been small relative to the proportion that played baseball, basketball and football or soccer. So if we pursued only those who swam as youngsters, I don't think expanding membership is very realistic.

But the gap out there, is there is not a nationwide organization that is strictly promoting swimming, full stop. I don't know whether I will EVER compete. I'm just starting to learn how to swim (although I "swam" as a kid on vacations, etc.). I have found these forums a very friendly, encouraging space. If you want to really expand membership, then it would be good to have promotions of the competitive side (for former competitive swimmers) and also, promotions for the more individual or social, or whatever, other "side." I like the swim log, and I like having caps and lanyards with the USMS logo on them.

Running has made nearly every track event into a kind of running festival - maybe swim meets do the same? (I haven't been to any yet) Have vendor spaces, and work with aquatic businesses to show off fun, new swim aids and accessories?

Far too few adults I meet around pool facilities, swim, themselves. Over the summer, nearly every adult at the pool where I went, was there because their kids were splashing around. I wonder if this is the same, around the world? It would be lots more fun if parents (and grandparents) in the pool with the kids, would swim at least a little, as well as keep an eye on the kiddies. Or at least, that's my personal view. (I am definitely a swimming grandmother - I share watching with my son and daughter-in-law and the great lifeguards, and I SWIM sometimes).

Nichollsvi
October 25th, 2017, 10:23 AM
Great comment. There are 2 sides to the coin. The problem is that people who don't compete, don't join clubs, have the practices listed, and that's about all they want/need. I think there is also little promotion that masters' events are not like the competition when younger. They will include those people who are welcome to swim but don't swim as fast, but removing that mindset is hard to do. Its even harder for those who have never competed before.

How does USMS remove that mindset? I don't know. How do they remove the stigma that meets are only for people who learned to swim as kids and were competitive? I don't know. I say that as I've told people, but its encumbent on the people to put that into their mindset. That is also if they want to.

Second, I think USMS has also a drama/political issue that has never been resolved. That could also factor into it. There are other venues than USMS to swim in, so why pay for drama?

Allen Stark
May 30th, 2018, 10:47 AM
How about have a user friendly website to help grow membership?

pwb
August 27th, 2018, 10:54 PM
How about have a user friendly website to help grow membership?:lolup: