View Full Version : Pacific Masters - 10,000

October 11th, 2002, 08:35 PM
On Friday, October 11th, 2002, Pacific Masters reached a milestone by registering it 10,000th member for the year. Michele Heinz of the Santa Clara Swim Club was the 10,000 registered member this year.

Pacific Masters, the largest regional orgization of United States Mastes Swimming, became the first LMSC to hit the five digit number. Last year Pac Masters was within striking distance of the magic number at year end but finished with 9700 registered swimmers.

Pacific has enjoyed ten years of sustained growth, increasing the membership by about 500 swimmers a year.

"This is really a tribute to the coaches, meet directors and all the volunteers who have worked tirelessly for the athletes" said Chairman Michael Moore. "With the continued support of these volunteers and the emphasis now being placed on physical fitness, I am sure we will continue grow.

Matt S
October 16th, 2002, 04:04 PM

Good job! You've just given me another reason to consider the Pacific Northwest as a place to settle after I get done with this Navy JAGC gig.

I know that USMS and the New England region have implemented comprehensive plans to increase membership. How did you folks reach the 10,000 mark? How has this changed your regional organization or the "masters experience" at the local level? Any lessons learned for the rest of us?


October 29th, 2002, 12:13 AM
I just think that you guys hustle out there. The population of your area is max around 8 million people. But that's nothing compared to Spma in Southern California which is an area of 16 million and Metropoltian-New York City and the surrounding suburbs and parts of New Jersey which is around 20 million. Its just that you guys go out there and try to bring in more members.

November 1st, 2002, 04:34 PM
I have been thinking about that for a while. I have wondered what Pacific does that is different from other LMSCs. At the convention in Kansas City, nine years ago, I was talking to a delegate from Kansas City and was wondering why Pacific did better that other LMSCs. He thought I was an arrogant jerk from Pacific (OK he was insightful), but I was seeing talented people from all over the United States working for a great organization and I could not see how we were doing so much better.

After eight years, I have a few ideas of why we lead the LMSCs. We are blessed with good weather and great swimming facilities, but Southern Pacific has better swimming weather, same facilities and more population. Better weather, same facilities and larger population and we best them in membership.

Why does Pacific do well? First, we have Nancy Ridout. I guess Nancy has been here from almost the beginning. Many years ago, Pacific Masters decided to invest in having person to take care of registration and answer questions from the public. When someone wants information, she gets it to him or her, you want a registration form. She sends it out. We strike when the fire is hot. Which when you are in sales that is very important. We are a non-profit organization, but to grow we have to take care of the needs of the membership. Nancy anwers the phone for Pac Masters five days a week, 6 hours a day.

Next, we have had excellent leadership. When I first started coming to PMS meetings, Dore Schwab was the Chairman. I have always admired his courtliness when running the meeting. Julie Paque (another chairman) was very through and ran a tight meeting.

We have had leadership at the top, but we have also had the leadership from the different committee chair (the people who actually make the LMSC work). Each and everyone who take time out of his life to work for an organization that emphasizes physical fitness and health. They come to a monthly meeting that I know can be boring. Barry Fasbener who makes sure that all the paperwork is done for sanctioning meets, Marcia Benjamin who does what I consider the mind numbing work to be sure we have an open water champion. Joel and Pancho, while not chairmen work very hard to put on the pool championships and three open water meets a year I have been known to do crazy things, but I would not have taken the chairmanship without knowing that there is a great supporting cast.

In a past life, I was an accountant/ financial analyst; I belonged to the National Association of Accountants. Every year they had the point’s competition. To win a banner, only took doing the things that you should be doing on timely basis. Get the dinner speakers and organize a program by a certain date, get the points. Get a copy of the minutes into national by the 20th of the month get the points. We were getting points for things we should be doing. Well that is what we have been doing. We do the right thing on a timely basis, in this case we don’t get the point, we get the members. And we service our members well

What else does Pacific do? For those who want pool competition, put on great pool championships, the spring SCY, the LCM championships, the SCM. The competition is always fast, the pools are fast – we try to run quality championships (and quality local meets).

We put on great open water events. – Lake Berryessa, Lake del Valle, Santa Cruz. Lake Berryessa will have over 1,000 swimmers there. Open water meets allow swimmers who might not have the time for all day pool meets to swim in the morning against good competition and have the rest of the day for the family.

We have great coaches who toil for the swimmers. Kerry O’Brien, Brian Stack, Sharlene van Boer, Regina Brittingham. It is the coaches who will get the swimmers to stay with the local programs. We have had good coaches to coach swimming and the swimmers will follow. Look at Kerry O’Brien, he developed Walnut Creek, Doug Huestis – he took a team with few members and now in about a year BMW is over 150 members.

We have great swimmers Jim Clemmons, Laura Val Margery Meyer Margery Sharpe, Tod Speiker .Great swimmers will bring out the best in the other swimmers

We have great volunteers.
We do all of this and we are not satisfied. We are going to grow. We are not growing just for the sake of growth. We are growing because we have a good storey to tell about adult physical fitness – about how to challenge yourself and about swimming for life.

Later this month Pacific Masters is going to have a “retreat” where we will get together for an extra monthly meeting on a Saturday. We are going to talk about how we can support our clubs. What help do they need. How we can improve our programs. We want to do better.

I don’t think Pacific is unique with its members. I have met many talented volunteers from other LMSCs. Our registrar is very good, but there are people in your LMSC who are enthusiastic about Masters swimming and are willing to share it. It could be that a group of LMSCs could get together to hire someone to answer the phone and take requests for information (800 numbers are not that expensive).

There are other LMSCs that have facilities where clubs can swim. It may just being asking the facility how to get Masters’ club there (or working hard to get a club there).

To put on good meets takes experience, but the only way you can get experience is to do it the best you can, figure what you did wrong, then do it again learning from your mistakes.

Good coaches are hard to find. They are generally underpaid for the work they do. Pacific is working on a mentoring program, so that novice coaches can learn from experienced ones (we want to speed up the learning curve).

I believe Pacific is not unique. It will take a while, but I fully expect that other LMSCs will pull up on Pacific in terms of numbers. But to do it, it will take an LMSC to work hard and to do the little things well.


Phil Arcuni
November 1st, 2002, 08:58 PM
Michael has given good reasons for the success of Pacific. But as he points out, most of the things he outlined - organization, leadership, good weather, large population, dedicated volunteers, good coaches, are other places, also.

Of course, California is a little unique. The joke is that if you ask someone from the east coast "What do you do?" and the answer will be a lawyer, a teacher, a policeman, etc. But if you as someone from California, the answer is running, tennis, geneology, etc. They take their hobbies seriously! Physical fitness is important - while Americans are overweight everywhere, they are less overweight in California than most other places.

But the point I want to make is that masters swimming has reached, or is about to reach, a critical density out here. If Pacific is the center of masters swimmers (in contrast to the center of competitive masters swimming), where I live is the center of pacific masters swimming. Within fifteen rush hour minutes from where I live are at least 8 pools that have daily masters workouts. I would guess that at least 3 have memberships of more than 100 master swimmers, and most of these teams have top-ten swimmers. If it weren't for the rush hour restriction, the number of pools would be significantly larger.

In my sons seventh grade class (not grade) are at least three dads that swim on masters teams regularly. I picked up my daughter at a high school friend's house and found out that the adults there both swam (the clue was the drying suits by the front door.)

When swimming becomes as common as this, and not an oddity, then there are lots more reasons to swim than to keep in shape. In particular, it starts to become a social thing that ties communities together, and it will grow all by itself. Perhaps I say that a little too strongly, but only a little.

[but the weather is nice - not so hot that the pool needs to ever get above 80 degrees, and warm enough that you can swim outdoors all year (even if there is ice on the benches on winter mornings.)]

November 9th, 2002, 10:51 AM
There you go again Phil. California is not any slimmer than the United States as a whole. In fact, my old county Orange has a higher rate of overweight children than the US as a whole. ter. A big reason is a lot of the Children are not the children of upper-middle class people but those of immirgrants whose parents tend to work a couple of jobs to support the family,while the children are in less organized sports and tend to eat junk food more. Stop comparing your experance which is more upper-middle class than the reality of people who are not in the upper-middle class who don't workout as much. And even members of the upper-middle class have people who don't workout. There are plenty of upper-middle class kids too in Orange before someone blasts me for my statement But the fact that hispanics will make up the majority by 2025 in California with a higher than average diabetes rate, is something of concern considering their eating and excercise habits.