The Little Things You Do
by, December 31st, 2009 at 12:51 AM (1094 Views)
"God is in the details."
-Ludwig Meis van der Rohe
During the first meet, a lot of attention was paid to the little things. The goal was to 'put a smile on your face.' I wanted to host a meet differently and one way was to pay attention to the details - make the little things pleasurable and enjoyable. This does two things.
First, little fun things help relieve the pressure and tension of competition, especially for new swimmers. Somehow we pulled it off. Each year, swimmers tell us that our meet has a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
Second, if something does go wrong, swimmers are more likely to overlook and forgive. This was especially important for the first meet, where there was a boatload of things that could (and did) go wrong. A bad experience could result in a tarred and feathered meet director, and could give the meet a bad reputation.
The little things:
- All timers and meet workers wear name tags, and are encouraged to wear their Hawaiian tropical shirts to give the illusion of warmth in winter.
- Inflated tropical fish are hung from the backstroke flags, pink flamingoes grace the warmup gutters, tikis scare away evil from the awards table. I checked the rule book, and there is no prohibition of tropical fish on the flags.
- The luau hospitality room's free food and drink is for everyone to enjoy.
- Every swimmer (and worker) gets a 'cheap lei' at check-in.
- First, second, and third place ribbon awards are teal, purple, and orange.
- Ribbon award labels are printed in color with the meet logo.
- Steel drum, calypso, salsa, and reggae music is played during warmups. Sometimes, the officials will dance for us.
- Swimmers in the 3-person coconut relay can team up with anyone in the meet.
- Small tropical prizes are awarded to the coconut relay winners (shark pens, tropical shirt magnets, hibiscus can coolers)
- We list the swimmers entering their first masters meet on the front of the meet program so there is no hiding.
- Swimmers entering their first meet get a tropical souvenir (hibiscus baseball cap) at check-in.
All this requires more work in planning, setup, and more things to purchase ahead of time. So far, attendance is up and growing. The regular meet attendees are now beginning to respond, too. Last year, several swimmers wore their own tropical shirt 'warmup sweats' between races. A few from Virginia Masters preferred to use muumuus and brought their own leis (making our cheap plastic ones look, well, cheap and plastic.) And some fetching women are now sporting suits with stylish tropical floral designs. These haven't appeared yet on guy's Speedos. Maybe Paul can start a trend this year.