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Questions from Coaches

Education Director Bill Brenner answers your questions

  1. How can I encourage my swimmers to join USMS?

    by , November 11th, 2016 at 03:31 PM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: What suggestions can you give me to convince the non-competitive members in my program to join or renew their membership with USMS?
    A: Are you a believer? Seriously. Take a moment to reflect and ask yourself if you believe in U.S. Masters Swimming’s mission to promote health, wellness, fitness, and competition for adults through swimming? The answer may come from your beliefs, love of what you do as a Masters coach, passion for swimming, and commitment to being an advocate who encourages adults to swim. This same answer may help you formulate your own response to your original question regarding membership in USMS.
    Masters coaches have the unique ability to provide more than an on-deck “transaction.” We have the opportunity to create a “transformation”—motivating each of our swimmers to set goals, feel positive, and have a meaningful swimming experience. In many cases, this transformation is a life-altering event; your swimmers may finally become who they always wanted to be or who they never thought they could be. We’re helping them transform their lives to a healthier, happier lifestyle.
    The enthusiasm we as Masters coaches display on the pool deck, day in and out, transfers to the swimmers in the water. Many swimmers carry this positive and enthusiastic attitude with them beyond the pool to their daily lives and are genuinely grateful for their improved self-esteem. Knowing this, use your enthusiasm, and the gratefulness your swimmers feel towards you, to promote membership in USMS.
    Swimming Masters is a journey, not a destination, and membership is a valuable component to enrich the journey. USMS membership gives swimmers valuable tangible benefits and, more importantly, gives swimmers the feeling of being part of something bigger than just a swimmer on a swim team. It gives them the chance to contribute their time, talent and resources to an organization that gives the gift of swimming to adults across America.
    Pledge—and ask your swimmers to pledge—to support our organization, which is working to:

    • Provide more opportunities for adults to learn to swim and swim for a lifetime
    • Educate Masters coaches and instructors, creating a better swimming experience for those they coach and teach
    • Expand the number of aquatics facilities with programs for adults to swim and exercise

    The success of USMS depends on everyone who contributes to the organization’s wellbeing. Each of us—members, coaches, swimmers, volunteers and staff—has a role to play as ambassadors for USMS. Together, we control our destiny. Together, we pave the path for our journey.
    Be a believer in USMS and those you lead will follow.
  2. Q: What can I do to encourage swimmers to register?

    by , June 15th, 2014 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: I coach Masters at a community pool. The facility doesn't require USMS membership for swimmers participating in my program. What can I do to encourage swimmers to register?

    A: Many aquatic facilities across the country don't require USMS membership, but many of those facilities would if they were aware of the benefits USMS provides to the facility, coach, and athlete when each is properly registered. The liability and excess accident insurance provided with membership is one of the most comprehensive policies in the country. With rising litigation nationwide, most facilities would welcome the opportunity to protect themselves and the athletes that use these facilities as well as you, the coach, by adding USMS insurance coverage as an addition to any insurance they currently maintain.

    However, just because the facility doesn't require USMS membership doesn't necessarily mean you, as the coach or a member of the club in a leadership role, can't. There are inherent benefits for you, including protecting yourself in the event of a liability lawsuit.

    Achieving 100% USMS membership participation in your program can be accomplished in several ways:

    • Programs can mandate USMS membership and require each swimmer to renew yearly.
    • Programs can mandate participation in a USMS-sanctioned event (pool, open water, clinic or ePostal), which requires USMS membership.
    • Programs can offer an introductory fee to participate in the program and proactively register each new member with USMS.
    • Program fees collected by clubs and workout groups can be adjusted upward and prorated to accumulate funds to collectively pay to register and renew all participants' USMS membership.
    • Programs can ask athletes to participate in fundraisers to raise money to cover the expense of registering and renewing USMS membership.
    • Programs can find sponsors within the community that support health and wellness; these sponsors can, in turn, donate funds or provide grants for USMS registration.
    • Many health insurance companies refund membership fees for wellness related activities; encourage your athletes to contact their insurance representatives for more information.
    • Encourage your athletes ask their employers to sponsor USMS membership; healthier employees are more productive and help reduce insurance costs. Some employers might cover your program fees as well.

    Working towards 100% participation helps strengthen USMS as a world leader in adult aquatic fitness.

    Updated July 14th, 2014 at 05:06 PM by Bill Brenner

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    Staff Blogs
  3. Q: How do I attract more fitness swimmers to my program?

    by , February 15th, 2014 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: How do I attract more fitness swimmers to my program?

    A: Many adults are afraid they don't belong in a "Masters" swimming program. Their fears and concerns must be overcome before they will consider participating. The list of fears and concerns are daunting but can be minimized or eliminated by a genuinely caring coach. Once a coach demonstrates how much they care--rather than how much they know--a partnership between the athlete and coach can begin to form. Ideally, this partnership will develop into one of mutual trust.

    I recommend hosting a clinic for the first time Masters swimmer or novice. Many Masters programs around the country host an introductory clinic for new swimmers to meet the coach, explore the pool, and get a feel for the program's dynamics. Advertise the introductory clinic at your facility, the local sports shops, and nutrition stores. Ask your current athletes to refer a friend or family member.

    Organizing the clinic by ability level and making each swimmer feel successful during the time they spend with you greatly enhances the chances each swimmer will return. Improvement during this initial clinic should be viewed as a byproduct, not the primary goal; overcoming fears and concerns should be your primary objective of the clinic
  4. Q: What can I do to encourage 100% membership in my program?

    by , January 15th, 2014 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: What can I do to encourage 100% of the swimmers in my program to become USMS members?

    A: Many programs across the country require all swimmers in their programs to be registered with U.S. Masters Swimming. Most programs allow swimmers a trial period of up to 30 consecutive days. During the trial period, coaches should explain the benefits of being a registered member of USMS and explain how a swimmer can join online.

    Another option is to provide an introductory monthly fee equal to or greater than the registration fee for USMS membership and-with their permission-register the new members yourself. Make membership in USMS a benefit for your swimmers. This could be a useful tool in attracting new members and retaining existing ones. Once new members begins to see and receive the benefits of being part of a national organization, they'll be more engaged and likely to continue their participation with your program and the sport of swimming.

    Updated July 9th, 2014 at 04:36 PM by Bill Brenner

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  5. Verifying membership when hosting swim clinics

    by , November 15th, 2012 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: If I host a swim clinic, how do I verify USMS membership of the participants?

    A: It's important to make sure that your clinic information and marketing materials state that USMS membership is required to participate in the clinic. This protects your liability insurance.

    1. Require each participant to show a copy of current membership card at the clinic check-in.
    2. Require each participant to provide current membership number, name as it appears in the USMS database, and LMSC. Verify this information with the LMSC registrars.
    3. Use the third-party event registration vendor, Club Assistant, that can verify the participants as they register for the clinic.
    4. Allow non-members to register for USMS the day of the event. Have a device capable of connecting to the Internet so online registration is possible or have paper entries available. Make sure registrants are aware that online registration requires either a MasterCard or Visa. American Express is not accepted. Checks are accepted for paper registration.

    Any one of these options should ensure that all your participants are registered for USMS.
  6. Lap swimmers are potential members

    by , August 15th, 2012 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: We have several lap swimmers who swim at our pool. How do I get them to try Masters?

    A: Try starting a conversation with lap swimmers after they finish swimming or when they take a break. Make a positive comment about their stroke or work ethic. Introduce yourself as the coach who works with the adult swimmers at the facility. Keep "Masters" out of the conversation during this initial encounter. Ask them leading questions using their first name as much as possible. Develop an idea of what health and fitness goals they might be trying to achieve. The more you know about them as an athlete and swimmer, the better chance you'll have in getting them to accept an invitation to try your program. Remember, the initial conversation should be about them, not you.
  7. How does the 30-day trial membership work?

    by , July 15th, 2012 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: Can new swimmers try out my club without registering for USMS? I thought all swimmers in the water had to be USMS members to be protected under the USMS insurance policy.

    A: USMS insurance allows for a 30-day trial of a Masters program. Potential members who want to swim with your club can swim for 30 days before they have to register with USMS (this is separate from any club fees you may charge).

    To protect your swimmers' USMS insurance coverage, you MUST have the potential member fill out and sign a USMS application for membership. Write "30-DAY TRIAL" across the top of the application and keep it during the trial period. If an incident occurs, the trial swimmer is NOT covered by USMS insurance, but all of your registered swimmers are covered.