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Thread: USMS Planning Committee wants your help.

  1. #21
    Paint test area ahead Michael Heather's Avatar
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    To all those who have gone ahead as well as those who will come after,

    The idea of USMS owning a facility should give pause to anyone savvy enough to realize just how big an undertaking it would be. But this fact alone is not enough to torpedo the idea, because there are lots of good reasons to initiate just that course of action.

    If we are to grow and expand our membership base, we need to have a place to put all those bodies in water. Of course one pool will not be enough to do that, but it would be a perfect focus to point to when any local group is trying to get pool time in the municipal plunge, and is being met with a bureaucrat spouting obfuscatory gobbledygook. "Look at how many people they put in the water," you would say," every one of them represent money in the bank. Surely you can find a way to serve an affluent, stable, influential group such as the one we represent? Look at what they have done without any help already."

    Once we make the swimming world know that the only way to get out of this sport is by dying, the realization will sink in that USMS is a long term commitment, and high schools, colleges, and USA swimming are all just feeder programs for us.

    Do not discount the power that a self owned facility would bestow upon USMS. A well run, efficient facility will more than pay for itself, and the national campionships could be hosted with obvious financial benefits. Our long desired national media center would have a base of operations. Marketing a place is easier and simpler than marketing the mission.

    There are a pair of pools in Florida that would serve our purposes very well that are currently filled with dirt. I am sure that there are more facilities around the country that will fall into our profile if we choose to expand the commitment. Municipalities are famous for cutting services at pools, when the costs are fixed whether the pools are open or closed. The result? More closed pools, less room and time for swimmers.

    We must be deadly serious about this option (that's two terminal references, sorry), and exercise careful planning, because there is no growth possible if there is no pool to swim in.

    I yam what I yam

  2. #22
    Very Active Member Paul Smith's Avatar
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    Lots of great ideas coming out, can't help but think that this kind of discussion will help long term. One thing that I personally would like to see is an attempt to better coordinate and market the State/Regional meets in different parts of the country. Far to often meets are held on all the same weekends and dont provide people with a chance to go to more than one.

    I'm seeing/hearing more and more as I travel that people have a hard time making it to nationals and would like more oppurtunities to compete in meets that they can shave/taper for. A good example was the Long Beach SCM meet in December. I'm also aware that a number of people will be doing this at the Tucson meet next month.

    Because so many of these regional meets are held at very fast pools and are spread over 3 days they can be great "destination" meets, especially if people can't make nationals. If these meets were coordinated and spread out as well as "marketed" (this new site makes it much easier) I think we'd see particpation grow.

    I would actually love to keep updated by our Canadain, Asian, European & South American friends for that matter!
    I crack myself up. It is jealousy. It is Boredom. I Did not accomplish enough when I was young, and I hate anybody faster/younger than me.

  3. #23
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    Why do I belong to USMS?

    Keeping up with this discussion has made me really think about why I (or anyone else) joined USMS. What aspect of the sport and organization is most important? I love the competition; I love the friends I have made; I love the feeling of health that I have. Most of the time, I love working out. Sometimes I have to talk myself into going, but invariably I feel better after working out. Which one of the above is most important? Or, maybe it should be phrased which one drives the others or causes the others to happen?

    What do members have common? What are most people looking for when they join USMS?

    I'm eager to read what others say and to see what common threads emerge. Can we identify a common goal?
    Betsy Durrant

  4. #24
    Very Active Member Matt S's Avatar
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    Regional Meets

    I agree with Paul's post concerning regional meets. I would like to see them developed into an event that is perceived at "a big meet" and could be used, as he puts it, as a "destination meet." Part of the reason I get so emotional about letting everyone swim at Nationals is that I perceive that meet as being the only one where I can count on close races in my age group.

    What do I mean by that? Well (you may commence eye-rolling), let me tell you a story. I competed in the 1999 Colony Zone SCY Championships. This is a pretty significant meet in a pretty big Zone. I swam some decent times, and was pleased by my efforts. I then took a closer look at the results in my age group, and I noticed that if I had been blazingly faster or painfully slower, I would have finished about the same place. The 500 was particularly noteworthy; I could have set a PR, and still only moved up a couple of spots. Same/same if I had been a minute slower. My point is that even at Colony Zone Championships, the talent was so spread-out we could have scored the event based on seed times, and not been far wrong. And don't get me started on local meets with 3-4 people per age group. I would like to see enough people show-up for a meet that swimming well or swimming poorly makes a significant difference in final place.

    The only meets where that happens consistently in USMS Nationals, and the really big international meets. Just from visiting several masters teams, I am confident the talent is there to have competitive regional meets. The question is how do we interest enough swimmers in showing up for these events that they will be perceived as being a big deal? I think the latter would help the former, but how do we get the feedback loop going?

    Matt

  5. #25
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    Matt:

    Check out the results from NE SCY Championship (www.swimnem.org) and you'll see an example of a very competitive meet. We had 670 swimmers (from an LMSC with less than 2,000 swimmers) and this meet continues to grow. Why?

    1) Very satisfying product

    Results posted five minutes after event AND posted on-line. Lots of valuable pre-meet information that both educates (thereby bringing in the less experienced swimmer) and also helps build the excitement. As the meet gets larger, we pick-up more faster swimmers and that in turn attracts more swimmers from further away. I see this meet growing to 800+ in two years. Also perhaps one of the most efficient meet management teams in the US.

    2) Promotion

    We promote this meet very heavily. Email, web, newspaper and now with NPR radio coverage. Also very active word-of-mouth network and lots of support from local coaches. I think this is where most meets fail. You must approach a large meet as a marketing event. It makes it more fun for everyone.

    I agree 100% with you that we should build the regional meets. This is a way to reach a significant number of our members. It could also be one of the most positive experiences that they associate with USMS/LMSC/Zone if run properly. This build loyalty to a larger organization. USMS Nationals will NEVER be this important because you simply cannot fit enough people (5,000-10,000) at one venue. If we are going to grow USMS to 100,000 members or some other stretch goal then the regional championship meets can really help.

  6. #26
    Active Member hammerheadcm's Avatar
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    I think the key to increasing membership is to attract the recreational swimmers with convenient and appropriate workouts that include stroke instruction for those who need it. Many people who love to swim are not driven to compete, especially in a pool meet. It is more likely for them to want to do a triathlon where the distance is short and you are one of a big group.

  7. #27
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    We had a similar debate/discussion about six years ago in NEM. We then did a survey of members and discovered that the vast majority (70%) had SOME competitive swimming background. Very few swam in college or age group but large numbers had High School, Y and summer rec swimming background. We then did some quick and dirty demographic analysis and realized that we could increase our membership (around 600 then) by a very large factor if we reached out to this group rather than the "fitness swimmer" (in fact the objective of our target group is better mental and physical health through swimming). These people already knew how to circle swim and use a pace clock. Some had a little bit of competitive experience.

    Meets can be really attractive to this group of swimmer because they provide opportunity to socially bond with their fellow swimmers and also provide further motivation to keep swimming. (It can be a lot more satisfying trying to perfect a new stroke or learn a new turn then to try to lose a few more lbs).

    Six years later, our membership is 1,600, a lot of our members partcipate in some kind of meet or "competitive event (One Hour Swim, Open Water Swim) though most of our members still think of themselves as swimming for mental and physcial fitness.

  8. #28
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    Wink

    The problem is many ex-age group swimmers to olympic champs do not want to swim that much as adults. Many probably swim for fitness but don't want to bother with masters. As for southern California, you know as well as I, the fastness growing part of the population is hispanic immirgrants that sometimes have two jobs and don't have time for masters swimming and have limited income resources. Also, states like California and Arizona and New York should targeted the immirgrant populations to swimming in the adult age groups. There are immirgrants that are more middle class that have more time and money.

  9. #29
    Very Active Member Matt S's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Check Out the Discussion Thread "And the ESPY Goes to..."

    Everyone,

    Have you followed the last couple of days worth of posts (Aug 4-6) in the discussion thread "And the ESPY Goes to..."? Those of us who are participating have gotten over our infantile fascination with whether swimming is "underexposed" by the major sports media, and there are some excellent ideas for promoting the sport and USMS. I think the best of the lot is doing a low budget video production of the upcoming LC Nationals (say 30 or 60 minutes worth after editing) and getting a network of USMS members to get that video on their area's "local access" TV Channel. Lots of good brain-storming, and we could also turn to nationally syndicated sports columist/author, and USMS regular at Nationals, John Feinstein for advise and assistance.

    Matt

  10. #30
    Very Active Member Beards247's Avatar
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    I usually stay away from these longer threads, but Matt has done a good job of distilling the functional information.

    I LOVE THE IDEA OF A DISTRIBUTED TAPE! LMSC's can then use this for training, publicity, history.

    I have no idea about the logistics of doing this, and since I have a stupid wedding to attend instead of going to Nationals, I cannot offer much assistance in making the video. But I think this is a great idea.

    John Feinstein could be a good resource on how to distribute it, but if anyone has friends who make documentaries for public TV, want to major in Recreation (probably masters), or are amature movie makers, they could provide the secrets for making the tape.

  11. #31
    Active Member mdhammer's Avatar
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    More on pool availability

    My group swims at a university with a crappy, overused pool I get pool time by pointing out that many of my swimmers are alums, some quite well off financially, and would be a good base of support for a fundraising campaign for a new facility. So far it has worked, though I keep waiting for the campaign to start!

  12. #32
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    Future Planning

    Regarding Future Planning...Because of the large numbers of people participating and the interest in distance events, Schedule the 800/1500 either as a different event or a few days earlier and permit people to do both if they desire. It's the only event that makes people choose one or the other, as opposed to one middle and one distance event. (No one has to choose the 50 free over the 100 free, or vice-versa!)

    Also, the person submitting six events has no way of knowing for certain if the "Sixth Event Rule" is going to be evoked. It seems unethical to keep the entry fees when that situation arises. (It's a free $5,000 if 1,000 entrants go for it and they don't even get to swim through no fault of their own, other than entering.) In my view, it's unethical. Either set the limit down to 5 events or let every swimmer do what they qualified for. I know the rules are set clearly, but the practice has been in place for a long time now, and while it may protect the host from possible low revenue due to low attendance, but there is a surcharge in place for that as well. Ethically, fairness needs to be built in to take the swimmers' position into account as well.




    From,
    stealthtrainer

  13. #33
    Very Active Member Matt S's Avatar
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    Stealth,

    I tend to disagree with your points. First, I do not think it is an imposition to ask someone to pick either the 800 or 1500, but not both. The fact that one swim of these events will take a USMS swimmer anywhere from 9 minutes to half an hour to complete make them fundamentally different from the 50 or 100 in terms of meet management. If every event costs $5 to enter, you're asking an for aweful lot of the meet officials' time if you take say 11 minutes and 23 minutes to finish two of your events (instead of say 30 and 70 seconds for the 50 and the 100). I say this as someone who does compete in the 800 or 1500 from time to time.

    Second, I don't see how it is unfair to have your 6th event contingent on how many entries the meet receives. Everyone knows that is the rule when they enter. Moreover, the alternatives are no 6th event ever, even when the attendance is light and the schedule would support it, or excessively long days of competition for everyone. Now you could accuse me of not sharing the pain because I do not make NQT's and my 3 events are never in doubt. However, I have said before I am willing to change the rule so that everyone has one event at risk (the "3rd" event for those with no NQT's, 4th for those with one NQT, and 5th for those with 2).

    I can see why you find galling the fact that you pay for a 6th event, don't get to swim it, don't get a refund, and swim the same number of events as someone who only paid for 5. However, we are only talking $5 here! How much is that compared to your USMS Team dues or YMCA/pool membership fee, the cost of travel to the meet, and the value of your time training for the meet, and vacation days to participate in it? $5?! Pfiffle! I'd gladly pay that much more in the flat meet entry fee to see the meet officials and unpaid volunteers get the truly lavish hospitality arrangements they deserve. I have a hard time seeing this as an ethical issue.

    Matt

  14. #34
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    Matt, I kind of agree with you on the distance freestyle events that they are so long and its ok to limit each swimmer to one or the other. I'm only swam in one meet this year and qaulified just for the 50 meter breastroke for my age group. And like you said, many people don't make the national qualifying times,especially in the younger age groups. I'm not going to nationals and rather go to some meet closer where I'm at,since I'm about the middle of my age group rather in the 10 ten in the nation. Maybe, next year since nationals is in Tempe for short course and I live in Arizona I might go.

  15. #35
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    Promoting masters is different than USA swimimng. Its seems by looking at the top times that the biggest age groups with the most swimmers are the age groups in the 40's and early to mid 50's rather than the younger age groups or the older age groups. Colleges are fine but many middle aged people are not found there, unless there is a local masters or lap swimming program on the campus. Y's and local community lap programs are another way to get people into masters as some have stated. Perhaps, a local outreach by the master LSMC by putting an ad in the local area to Y's and lap programs might help. Also, tellling people that they don't have to belong to a local club and telling them that they could start in the water instead of diving will also bring more people in. Masters it seems have been sucessful in bringing in ex-school swimmers or age group swimmers from the 1960's and 1970's up until the early 1980's, than the general swim public.

  16. #36
    Very Active Member Bob McAdams's Avatar
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    Here are a couple of suggestions:

    1) Change the name of the organization.

    Currently, the term "masters swimming" is a sort of a secret code that means "adult swimming" to those who are in the know. But those who are not assume it means "people who have mastered swimming". Consequently, people who don't know the secret code, and who know that their swimming abilities aren't anywhere near as good as those of Olympians, often don't even bother to investigate "masters swimming" because they assume it's not for them. Even if someone who is involved in masters swimming tries to tell them that they don't really have to have mastered swimming in order to join, they may not really believe it, but may assume that the person thinks they are better at swimming than they really are.

    2) Work on giving competitive swimming an image similar to the image that competitive running has.

    Most of the people who run in races or marathons don't really believe that they're Olympic level runners. Instead, they believe that it's okay to race even if you don't expect to win or turn in a spectacular time. But many swimmers believe that you need to be "really good" to compete at a swim meet. I know a woman who occasionally runs in races with her husband and son, but who won't even consider swimming in a masters meet, even though she's much more of a swimmer than a runner, because she's "not at that level" in swimming.


    Bob

  17. #37
    Very Active Member Bert Petersen's Avatar
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    so true...

    Bob is exactly right in the way people see our sport. I too have noticed the same comments.
    The big, burning question is, of course, change it to what ???

    Bert

  18. #38
    Active Member dulfin's Avatar
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    Bob, you have an interesting point. If I may ramble for a moment, I first heard of the Masters program several years ago in Self magazine. What the magazine had done was outlined several Masters programs - it's not just Masters swimming or Masters running. Speaking of Masters running - has anyone seen the new Nike commercial with the 50+ woman? It clearly states US Masters running - I found it to be interesting - only in that it proves the point that if you don't know "the code" you would have no idea what the Masters programs is all about.

    It's a very thought provoking question - where to take the program and what to make of the program.

    As a swimmer that's been out of the water since high school, my perspective is this. I can't wait to get in the water again. I can't wait to get in the water to get back into shape. Most of all, I am excited about having the choice to compete again.

    I don't think there is any simple answer to this question and there are as many answers/ideas as there are swimmers in this program.

    That's my two cents...

  19. #39
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    increased membership

    Yes, I too, saw the Nike commercial with the Masters Runner. I said to my wife "See. Masters is getting some exposure!" Perhaps this could be an avenue to follow in terms of increasing public exposure for Masters Swimming.

    Way back when this thread started there was some discussion regarding increasing Masters Swimming's membership. If this is a main goal of USMS (and it sounds like a good one), could someone articulate more of the benefits of increased membership? I think a few posters had mentioned that increased membership would give us more clout in getting pools built, but what else? Thank you.

  20. #40
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    I don't know exact numbers but I am sure the ymca has more master swimming age group participants than anyone else. That being said I believe it would be great if the USMS and the YMCA could put together a national master swimmer "fitness and competivave program". Just a thought . Tim

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