View RSS Feed

Questions from Coaches

Education Director Bill Brenner answers your questions

  1. How to introduce an aquatics director to Masters Swimming

    by , December 15th, 2013 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: A new aquatics director was recently hired at the YMCA where I coach Masters. She has no knowledge of Masters Swimming or USMS. What should I tell her when she asks about our club?

    A: I recommend asking for a scheduled meeting when you can privately introduce yourself and talk about Masters Swimming. Although within USMS you have a club or workout group, it's important to refer to Masters as a program when talking with aquatics directors or other facility administrators who may be unfamiliar with Masters Swimming.

    Aquatics directors often have the perception that swim teams overrun the pool and squeeze out members who use the pool for lap swimming. Aquatics directors must manage these concerns and program the pool accordingly. Get in front of this by explaining that Masters is a program, much like water aerobics or swim lessons, but for adults aged 18+ who choose to swim as their form of exercise to live a healthier lifestyle.

    During your meeting, describe how Masters Swimming is diverse in age, gender, and ability. It generates revenue and fulfills a community service-and will often provide expanded opportunities for the facility's existing lap swimmers, not take away their lanes. Give her a copy of the facility booklet that USMS produces to explain why facilities benefit from Masters Swimming programs. This comprehensive guide is very helpful in describing USMS. Copies arrive in club welcome kits each year and can also be ordered online through the USMS Program Resources page.

    Invite the new aquatics director to one of your practices and introduce her to the members of your program. Encourage your members to welcome her at every opportunity. Make her feel part of the program by inviting her to social events. Maybe she's a Masters swimmer and just hasn't realized it yet!
  2. What types of community events can our Masters program host?

    by , November 15th, 2013 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: My club wants to get more involved with the local community and host events. What types of community events should our Masters program consider?

    A: Being a good citizen in the community can be rewarding for your members and can build goodwill with your swimming facility. Hosting community outreach events at your pool will require varying degrees of logistical planning, depending on the size and scope of the event. It's important to assemble a support team that shares in the planning and execution of the events. Don't try to do everything yourself. Have a goal of giving ownership to many volunteers. It will add to the overall success of the event when many hands are working as one.

    Examples of community outreach events requiring pools:

    • Adult learn-to-swim clinic
    • Special Olympics
    • Senior Games
    • Police and Fire Games
    • Wounded Warrior Project, Warrior Games
    • Paralympics

    Updated July 11th, 2014 at 04:19 PM by Bill Brenner

    Categories
    Uncategorized
  3. How can I learn and teach the Masters lingo?

    by , October 15th, 2013 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: I recently registered my fitness swim program as a new club with USMS. Since adding my program's information in the Places to Swim page, I've had quite a few new members join. The problem is, I'm not a coach, and my original members don't understand the vocabulary and etiquette that Masters swimmers seem to possess. Is there a resource I can give them to bring them up to speed?

    A: Congratulations on joining USMS! Although Masters swimmers seem to have a language all their own, it's not too complicated to learn once you integrate it into your daily practices. Jim Harper wrote a Masters 101 series of eight articles in 2012 that explains our language and proper etiquette. Please refer your swimmers to these articles or print copies and hand them out or post them at the pool. Either way, take some time to review the information as a group. USMS values education and this is a fun way for all your participants to learn something new.
    Tags: education
    Categories
    Uncategorized
  4. How do I find a coach for our Masters program?

    by , September 15th, 2013 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: How do I find a coach for our Masters program?

    A: Finding a qualified Masters coach takes time and patience. Before you begin your search, it's important to define the job description. More importantly, you should determine the goals of your program.

    Once you have your program identity and goals defined, you can search for a coach with the same values. It's critical to hire a coach who understands that swimming needs to be fun while helping swimmers and the program meet stated goals and objectives.

    Programs can advertise for a Masters coach in the USMS Discussion Forums, in the local print media, or any number of online employment services. Contact local age group, high school, and college swim teams; they often have swim coaches interested in additional coaching opportunities. The more irons you put in the fire, the greater the chance the most qualified coach will apply for the position.

    Applicants should be required to send a résumé and cover letter. I recommend having applicants write a one-paragraph statement of why they want to coach Masters swimming--give applicants an opportunity to do some homework on Masters.

    After reviewing the applications, determine which applicants are worthy of further review. Schedule phone interviews with out-of-town applicants and in-person interviews with local candidates. Make your final selection and negotiate the compensation and benefits. Both parties should sign a letter of agreement outlining each other's responsibilities.
  5. How can Masters programs get pool time at a local university

    by , August 15th, 2013 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: What creative ways are there to get pool time for my Masters program at a local university?

    A: Aquatic directors at university campuses find Masters swimming programs are a natural fit because:
    • Membership in USMS begins at age 18
    • Masters programs include students, faculty, staff, and alumni
    • Many universities have available pool space at times convenient for Masters swimmers
    • Many campuses are open to the local residents

    Mel Goldstein, coach of Indy Aquatic Masters, created an opportunity to add an additional pool location for his program at a local university campus. Read more of how he did it here.

    Updated July 6th, 2015 at 12:06 PM by Bill Brenner

    Tags: university
    Categories
    Uncategorized
  6. Coaches who are swimmers can do both

    by , July 15th, 2013 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: I'm a Masters swimmer who has been asked to coach a group of Masters swimmers at my pool. Can I coach them while I swim? I don't have time to coach and swim at separate practices.

    A: Yes, you can coach and swim at the same time. Many of the coaches in our organization share the same time constraints as you. In order for the USMS liability and excess accident insurance to remain in effect during your practice, someone with USMS membership must be on deck with "line-of-sight" on all the athletes. This "line-of-sight" requirement is true of pool, dryland, and open water practices.

    If you have lifeguards on duty during the practices that you would like to coach from the water, and your local statutes permit it, register the lifeguards as USMS members. The registration fee is well worth the investment so you can swim while coaching.
  7. Community partnership can grow your club

    by , June 15th, 2013 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: What community partnerships should my program be pursuing?

    A: There are three important categories of partnerships your program should actively pursue: community service, program growth, and financial benefit.

    Community Service
    Identify local agencies that share the same values as you, your program, and USMS. Reach out to the leadership of these programs to explore opportunities for involvement. Once you have a plan for working with these other organization, use your leadership skills by building a support team within your organization. Assign a member of the support team to be responsible for community services. Work together to encourage your members to commit their time, talents, and resources to a common cause.
    Collaboration with diversity programs such as Diversity in Aquatics and Urban Swim Program; local non-profit agencies and charities such as the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army Kroc Centers; and adult learn-to-swim programs, such as those offered by municipal parks and recreation departments and the YMCA of the USA will strengthen your program as a valuable asset to the community, promote growth and retention of your membership, and increase your program’s financial security. Added benefits include offering your swimmers meaningful community service opportunities, program growth, and financial growth.

    Program Growth
    Encouraging adults to swim for a healthier lifestyle is a common mantra that builds strong bridges with other swimming, health and well being, and fitness organizations. Don't assume everyone knows what Masters swimming represents. Make a personal visit to each of these groups and explore ways you can work together to bring more participation to your program. Collaborating with the following groups can raise your program’s profile within the community, while potentially attracting new members.

    • Approach local triathlon, cycling, and running clubs and offer to:
      • Host a swim clinic for their members
      • Offer a trial membership to your program
      • Volunteer at their events. If it goes well, they may in turn volunteer at your events!

    • Ask to make presentations about the benefits of swimming to health clubs and retirement communities
    • Hold an open house during one of your practices, followed by a social event
    • Connect with your local rehabilitation centers and VA hospital and offer to start a free wellness program
    • Invite the director and staff of the nonprofit you’d like to collaborate with to join you for a swim practice

    Financial Benefits
    In addition to doing good in your community, focusing your efforts can also help the local economy by leveraging your members’ purchasing power. If you reach out to local merchants, some may be willing to provide discounts, promotions, giveaways, and donations to your group to spur spending in the community.

    • Sponsorships. Recruit local businesses to become sponsors of your program. My favorite form of sponsorship is a cash donation in exchange for recognition. List your sponsors on your website, along with their logos and a links to their websites. Put their logos on the backs of event T-shirts, or ask them to set up an informational table at a meet where they can demo their products or tell attendees about their services. Advertise your sponsors with a banner, at their cost, to be hung at your facility.
    • Room discounts. When hosting an event, negotiate a block rate of rooms at a local hotel with a percentage of the room charges returned to your program as a cash incentive. Marriott, a corporate sponsor of USMS, is an excellent resource for event hosting.
    • Local merchant contributions or discounts. Smaller, more localized chains and businesses might also be able to help with everything from providing concessions for a meet to printing T-shirts for your open water swim. Local athletic stores might be very interested in setting up a booth at your event to sell swimwear and gear at a discount to participants (and a percentage to your program). Pool supply companies might want to reach out to your members by offering discounted pool installation or chemicals. Vitamin, health, or nutritional supplement stores might also be interested in attending and providing coupons in race goody bags. By working together, both your program and these local entities can benefit.
    • Referral incentive programs. Provide an incentive for the merchants who refer an athlete to your program.

    Updated July 11th, 2014 at 02:34 PM by Bill Brenner

    Categories
    Uncategorized
  8. Keeping your swimmers engaged

    by , May 15th, 2013 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: What are some effective ways to keep my swimmers enrolled in my program?

    A: Membership retention is an important component of a successful organization. Although organic growth is often viewed as the most important measurement of success, retention is the key to evaluating the performance of the organization and those who serve it.

    Coaches, in particular, should evaluate their performance based on their athletes' willingness to renew their membership. Keeping the swimmers engaged has proven to be the most important aspect of membership retention.

    So how can you keep your swimmers engaged and enrolled for the long term? Here are a few ideas:

    • Know your swimmers. What are your swimmers' names, their goals, and their interests away from the pool? The coach should know.
    • Don't get caught in a rut. Challenge your swimmers with new and creative workouts, drills, and events. Encourage them to participate in the Nike Go the Distance challenge, postal events, pool competitions, open water events, clinics, and other activities in which your program participates. For those members who don't want to swim at a particular event, ask them to volunteer. After seeing the event up close, they might feel more comfortable and swim in the next event.
    • Communicate with your club. Write a weekly or monthly e-newsletter. Include a calendar with focus events for your program as well as birthdays and other special occasions.
    • Share the load. Identify individual members' skills and talents and build a support team with those members willing to devote their time and talents for the benefit of the program. Creating a support team can help balance the dynamics of the program and keep the members engaged.
  9. Health Insurance for USMS Coaches

    by , April 15th, 2013 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: Why doesn't USMS provide group health insurance for Masters coaches?

    A: Group health insurance is a policy that is purchased by an employer for the benefit of the eligible employees of the company. Since there is no employee-employer relationship between Masters coaches and USMS, a group plan is not available.
    Masters coaches may have one or more of the following options to secure health insurance:

    • If you are an employee of a facility you may be eligible to participate in your employer's group plan. Ask the human resources department if you are eligible, and if you're not, ask them what it will take to become eligible. Don't be shy about asking. Remember, you're an asset to the facility. You bring your professional skills and knowledge to the pool deck for the benefit of the program and the facility.
    • If your own program employs you and others, you may qualify as your own group. Some states define a small employer group as those that have one to 50 employees. Most states require companies to have two eligible employees to qualify for group coverage.
    • Masters coaches may also apply for an individual health insurance policy. Masters swimmer and insurance agent Blayne Gale of Eagle Strategies in Reno, Nev. says, "Individual policies are rated and priced based on zip codes and the losses being tracked by the insurance companies. Often, healthy insurance candidates can be eligible for the lowest insurance premium." A group policy does not automatically mean a lower rate, so contact an insurance agent for details.
    Tags: insurance
    Categories
    Uncategorized
  10. Building relationships

    by , March 15th, 2013 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: How does my program build a relationship with elected and appointed political leaders in my community?

    A: Establishing political clout within your community can serve your program well-especially in the events of reduced pool availability, pool renovation, and new pool projects.

    Masters swimmers, unlike age group swimmers, have a political voice though their votes. In addition, adults contribute time, talents, and dollars to political campaigns. Although elected officials should fairly represent their constituency, often, the group with the loudest voice and deepest pockets gets the most attention.

    Most programs don't have loud voices and deep pockets. If you do, that's great. If you don't, however, that shouldn't stop you from building relationships with your political leaders. Here are a few ideas on how to do that:

    • Invite an elected official to present a "Swimmer of the Month" award to one of your athletes. That adds up to 12 officials in 12 months.
    • Have an elected official be present at any grand opening or dedication events. This includes a new scoreboard, starting blocks, a pool renovation, anything. Get creative.
    • Recruit an elected official to be the announcer when your program hosts a community fundraiser event such as a wacky relay meet to raise money for a local charity or cause. Invite the local media to cover the event.
    • Recruit an elected official to hand out awards at your swim meet, open water event, and at your program's year-end awards banquet.
    • The more your elected officials know about your program-the diversity, the health and wellness benefits it provides adults, and how vital an asset it is to the community-the more political clout you'll build. Politicians champion great causes. Masters swimming is GREAT!
  11. Club of the Year awards

    by , February 15th, 2013 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: How do I nominate my club for the USMS Club of the Year award? How long does it take to complete the application?

    A: USMS presents two Club of the Year awards each year at the annual USAS convention: one to a regional club and one to a local club. Submission forms for both are posted on the Awards page at usms.org.

    Any USMS club, or its LMSC, can nominate a club for the award. The application consists of a two-page questionnaire and a one-page letter of recommendation. Ray Novitske, chairman of the Recognition and Awards Committee, states, "In each letter of recommendation, we're looking for the intangibles not communicated in the application form ... those special qualities, stories, events, or purposes that set a club apart from others, but are not easily conveyed in the factual data of the application."

    Once you've decided to nominate your club, I recommend you assemble a group of club leaders to complete the submission form and draft the letter of recommendation. The process of gathering the required information builds team unity by addressing the strengths of the organization as well as those areas needing more attention. Once you and your club leaders have gathered the required information for the application, it should only take about a half-hour to complete.

    Updated April 12th, 2017 at 09:27 AM by Bill Brenner

    Tags: club awards
    Categories
    Uncategorized
  12. Masters Coach Certification

    by , January 15th, 2013 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: I'm an ASCA Level 2 age group coach who is interested in coaching a new Masters program at my pool. Can I take the Level 3 USMS Masters coach certification course to become a certified Masters coach?

    A: Since you're not a Level 2 Masters coach, you're not eligible to take the Level 3 Masters course. If you're new to coaching adults, taking Levels 1 and 2 of the USMS Masters coach certification program will provide you with a good foundation for coaching Masters swimming.

    The prerequisites to become a Level 3 certified Masters coach are:

    • Must be a current member of USMS
    • A certified Level 2 Masters coach
    • A minimum of two years coaching Masters swimming
    • Complete the coursework and submit the proper documents for review

    The USMS Masters coach certification program teaches coaches how to work with adult athletes swimming for fitness and pool and open water competition.

    • Level 1 coursework helps both the new and seasoned Masters coach improve coaching skills. In addition, it provides a thorough overview of the USMS structure, the benefits of membership, and how to build a successful Masters program.
    • Level 2 coursework teaches stroke, turn and start construction and correction.
    • Level 3 is our administration course for coaches interested in a more advanced look at the business of Masters swimming.

    Visit the usms.org website to find the dates and locations of our certification courses. http://www.usms.org/content/coachcertsched

    Updated July 14th, 2014 at 09:03 AM by Bill Brenner

    Categories
    Uncategorized
  13. How do I register a new USMS program?

    by , December 15th, 2012 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: How do I register a new USMS program?

    A: To register a new USMS club, you must complete a paper registration form and submit it to the registrar in your LMSC. The USMS fee to register a club is $30, plus any additional fees the LMSC may impose. If your LMSC has a regional club, you may choose to become a workout group of that club, rather than a standalone club. Here are the steps:

    • To determine which LMSC your program is located in, go to usms.org and hover over the "Local Programs" tab.
    • Select "LMSC Info" and you'll find an interactive map with LMSC boundaries.
    • Click on your geographic area and you'll be directed to that LMSC's page, where you'll find contact information for your LMSC officers.
    • Contact your LMSC registrar and request a copy of the club registration form.
    • Once you've completed the form, attach the required payment and mail it to your LMSC registrar.
    • The registrar will assist you with selecting a name for your program and its three- or four-letter/number abbreviation.
    • After the club registration is complete, your athletes will be able to select your club when they register for individual USMS membership.

    If you need additional assistance, Club and Coach Services can help! Contact me directly at the above email or call 941-556-6278. Don't forget to check out our Program Resources page and our "Building a Successful Swim Program" guide.

    Updated July 6th, 2015 at 12:39 PM by Bill Brenner

    Categories
    Uncategorized
  14. 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.
  15. Charging for additional services

    by , October 15th, 2012 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: Should I charge the swimmers in my program for additional services such as video filming and clinics?

    A: It's very common throughout the country for coaches to charge for video, clinics and other coaching services. Unless your program fees specifically cover these services, members in your program should expect to compensate you for your time and skills. Masters coaching is a profession. If you feel you have the skills and talent to properly analyze swimmers' strokes and technique, then you should be compensated for your services.

    Typical fees for videotaping range from $35-50 per stroke per swimmer. Fees for a three hour stroke clinic run from $40-125 with variables such as the ratio of instructors to swimmers, videotaping and instructor credentials.

    An underutilized source of revenue for the Masters coach is private swim lessons for adults. Surveys have shown that adults aspire to swim as the number one method of fitness. Yet, 37% can't swim the length of the pool. That's a staggering number of potential students for Masters coaches to market swim lessons to.

    Due to fears and anxieties, many adults prefer to learn in a private environment and understand the value of the coach's time. Private lesson fees average $55 for a half-hour and $100 for an hour and can be offered to swimmers of all ability levels.

    Consider taking these two courses to enhance your knowledge and marketability:

    Updated May 12th, 2017 at 04:46 PM by Bill Brenner

    Categories
    Uncategorized
  16. Collecting dues

    by , September 15th, 2012 at 12:00 AM (Questions from Coaches)
    Q: My program is growing. I enjoy the additional time I spend on the deck coaching but collecting payments from my swimmers has never been fun or easy. Any suggestions?

    A: Consider using a third party club management company for billing and fee collection, such as Club Assistant. Many coaches resist adding additional costs to their business. However, there is a value to being able to spend more time doing the things you enjoy. With an increase in your productivity, you can spend more time coaching, which benefits you and your members.

    The billing of your members can be customized based on your criteria. I recommend billing in advance either monthly, quarterly, semiannually or yearly. If a member has prepaid the program fee, they are more likely to stay with the program or return to the program after an illness, injury or an extended vacation. Discounts may be offered for specific groups like families, seniors and juniors. I'm especially fond of the family discount. When one or more other family member is participating in our sport, the greater the chance all will continue to participate.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
Page 3 of 3 FirstFirst 123