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Thread: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

  1. #141
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    I am an active member of USAT and now USMS. I am a former NCAA Div II Swim champ. Lost interest in swimming for a number of years, then started bike racing and then was talked into Triathlons 5 years ago. Swimming and Bike are my strong legs of a Tri and this year I will be competing in the World Triathlon Championships in London representing Team USA, I also won the Aquabike Nationals for my age group this past year. So I joined the Boston College Masters Swimming Team to improve my swim time. Well now I am signed up for the New England Masters Swimming Championships this coming weekend at Harvard, the bug came back so to speak to compete in a meet.
    I sit on the USAT Aquabike (swim/bike of a Triathlon) taskforce. We have had much success in growing this event within a Tri due to injured or older folks that cannot run anymore. We are also finding more swimmers and bikers getting involved.
    My ideas:
    1. Have the CEO of USMS and the CEO of USAT talk about joint efforts. For open water swimming some Triathlon Race Directors are looking to add a wave for open water swimmers in addition to Aquabike athletes. Many within USMS are interested in Open water swimming, perhaps there could be a dual membership for swimmers USAT/USMS
    2. Many Tri coaches are not good swimming coaches. The majority of Triathletes are weak in the swim. With a good working relationship between USMS and USAT, there could be referrals to swimming coaches and the swim coaches in turn could convince the swimmers to try a few events at a swim meet.
    3. Many good Triathletes that were also good swimmers could be enticed during the long off season to participate once again in swim meets to improve the swim competitiveness. This happened to me and brought me back into the fold.

    Just some ideas to potentially tap into swimmers in the Multi-Sport World.

    Mike McCombs

  2. #142
    Very Active Member Bill Sive's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Last month I dialed in to our local LMSC monthly conference call asking for marketing materials they are supplying, upon request. Received nothing. Last evening I dialed in again. This time they stated I needed to send an e-mail to our Registrar. Will see how long this takes. Yes I am skeptial after waiting a month just to be told to send an e-mail. Guess they were not paying attention on the conference call.

    In any case, believe it or not, I swim, upon occasion, at two different pools in Los Angeles County that do not have 1) USA-Swimming program, and 2) US Masters program. I have all types of persons approaching me at these pools wanting to know more about US Masters, however, find it difficults to obtain the marketing items I need in a timely manner.

    Last week I swam at a pool, which has a US Masters program. The Lifeguard at the pool, is a part time coach for the Master team. The Lifeguard/Coach was un-aware of the availability of USMS swim meets. I went to extra effort to print him a newsletter, with an extra page for all the upcoming swim meets for the balance of the calendar year. This particular swim club focuses on swim workouts and open water swimming during summer. They do not promote swim meets.

    Suggest that somehow all swim coaches are knowledgeable in all areas of USMS. If a small fish, like myself, is asking for marketing materials to supply to potential USMS members, or existing members who are less knowledgeable than myself, that the response is timely. I would not be asking if I did not have a need for it.

  3. #143
    Very Active Member NJMastR's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    @Bill,

    I would recommend calling the National Office directly 800-550-SWIM (7946) to request USMS Marketing Material. They can provide plenty of brochures, caps, club welcome kits. Just ask for Kyle Deery and let him know what you are trying to do. His email address is marketing@usms.org.

    I am sorry that the LMSC was not more forthcoming with a response to your inquiry.

    Your efforts are greatly appreciated. Let us know how it goes.

    Chris

  4. #144
    Very Active Member jroddin's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by freestyle7819 View Post
    I am an active member of USAT and now USMS. I am a former NCAA Div II Swim champ. Lost interest in swimming for a number of years, then started bike racing and then was talked into Triathlons 5 years ago. Swimming and Bike are my strong legs of a Tri and this year I will be competing in the World Triathlon Championships in London representing Team USA, I also won the Aquabike Nationals for my age group this past year. So I joined the Boston College Masters Swimming Team to improve my swim time. Well now I am signed up for the New England Masters Swimming Championships this coming weekend at Harvard, the bug came back so to speak to compete in a meet.
    I sit on the USAT Aquabike (swim/bike of a Triathlon) taskforce. We have had much success in growing this event within a Tri due to injured or older folks that cannot run anymore. We are also finding more swimmers and bikers getting involved.
    My ideas:
    1. Have the CEO of USMS and the CEO of USAT talk about joint efforts. For open water swimming some Triathlon Race Directors are looking to add a wave for open water swimmers in addition to Aquabike athletes. Many within USMS are interested in Open water swimming, perhaps there could be a dual membership for swimmers USAT/USMS
    2. Many Tri coaches are not good swimming coaches. The majority of Triathletes are weak in the swim. With a good working relationship between USMS and USAT, there could be referrals to swimming coaches and the swim coaches in turn could convince the swimmers to try a few events at a swim meet.
    3. Many good Triathletes that were also good swimmers could be enticed during the long off season to participate once again in swim meets to improve the swim competitiveness. This happened to me and brought me back into the fold.

    Just some ideas to potentially tap into swimmers in the Multi-Sport World.

    Mike McCombs
    The largest masters club in Potomac Valley has over 750 registered members. Part of it is because they manage workouts at numerous facilities in VA, MD and DC. But a huge reason is because they are partnered with one of the largest triathlon clubs in the region - one that particularly caters to novice triathletes (and whose owner has a competitive swimming background). Therefore once these new triathletes join the triathlon club, they have to join USMS in order to participate in the swim workouts - where they have access to "real" swim coaches. It is a relationship that has greatly benefited PV masters and USMS.

    Jeff Roddin
    PV Registrar

  5. #145
    Very Active Member Bill Sive's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    .....so the other day I went for a swim workout and shared a lane with a very nice lady. This lady is a former USMS Master Swimmer. The particular pool we were at has a HUGE aquatic program: a) swim lessons etc from the city parks and recration; b) USA-Swimming; USMS; Water Polo, and Synchronized Swimming. With the exception of the swim lessons provided by the City Parks and Recreation, each group has teams.

    This nice lady has told me her daughter did not want to swim anymore and wanted to try another sporting activity, so being the nice lady/mother that she is, she let her daughter quit the swim team. Then the USMS program kicked out this nice lady. She was informed if one member of the family quits the entire family has to quit, or get booted out.

    I say SHAME on this USMS Team. The lady wants to participate, be healthy etc., and she gets booted out because her daughter wants to try something else. I told the nice lady she could share my lane anytime she sees me at the pool. I also told her to re-register with USMS as un-attached and do what she wanted to do, however, she liked the structured workouts, and team comaraderie.

    USMS needs to re-think their membership policies for allowing somthing like to happen. Needless to say this lady now has nothing nice to say about this particular USMS Team, and USMS.

    Change your goal to 99,999 members.
    Last edited by Bill Sive; July 23rd, 2013 at 09:42 AM.

  6. #146
    Very Active Member swimmieAvsFan's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Sive View Post
    ....I say SHAME on this USMS Team. The lady wants to participate, be healthy etc., and she gets booted out because her daughter wants to try something else. I told the nice lady she could share my lane anytime she sees me at the pool. I also told her to re-register with USMS as un-attached and do what she wanted to do, however, she liked the structured workouts, and team comaraderie.

    USMS needs to re-think their membership policies for allowing somthing like to happen. Needless to say this lady now has nothing nice to say about this particular USMS Team, and USMS.

    Change your goal to 99,999 members.
    I would be willing to bet *my* USMS membership that is a team policy, not a USMS policy. I have never heard of this happening elsewhere, and if it were a USMS policy, I'm sure I've been around long enough (and been involved enough) to hear of this policy.

    I don't think that USMS would even be able to do something about this situation if it is a team policy, as it sounds like the USMS club is affiliated with an umbrella team based out of this aquatic facility, and as such, the team can set its own rules.

    Mollie Grover
    Potomac Valley Top Ten Recorder and Sanctions Chair
    USMS Rules committee

  7. #147
    Paint test area ahead Michael Heather's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Not only is it likely to be a team policy, but an extraordinarily short sighted one.
    Release the Kraken!

  8. #148
    Very Active Member Bill Sive's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    .....so Team Policy supercedes USMS Policy. Then why are we having a USMS convention this year and/or any other year? Consistency throughout an organization is what maintains it.

    Negative comments on this USMS team, or any other USMS team, reflects on the USMS entity itself.

  9. #149
    Very Active Member swimmieAvsFan's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Sive View Post
    .....so Team Policy supercedes USMS Policy. Then why are we having a USMS convention this year and/or any other year? Consistency throughout an organization is what maintains it...
    Assuming the team policy isn't in direct conflict with a USMS policy, then yes, team policy would supersede USMS policy. Since, in this case, there is no USMS policy to speak of, the team can do what it wants. This is no different than a USA-S team saying that 12&U are not allowed to wear tech suits unless they have Sectional (or higher) cuts. Plenty of USA-S teams do that, but plenty don't. USA-S has no rule explicitly stating when kids can start wearing tech suits, so the teams are free to make their own rules, just as this team is free to say that if your kids quits the USA-S team, mom and dad aren't welcome on the USMS team. While it is definitely a short-sighted rule (as Michael Heather said), it's not in violation of any USMS rules currently on the books.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Sive View Post
    ...Negative comments on this USMS team, or any other USMS team, reflects on the USMS entity itself.
    This statement, I will whole-heartily agree with. But there are far too many USMS teams with far too many different structures and policies for USMS to be involved in monitoring this level of policy and rule making.
    Last edited by swimmieAvsFan; July 23rd, 2013 at 10:13 AM.

    Mollie Grover
    Potomac Valley Top Ten Recorder and Sanctions Chair
    USMS Rules committee

  10. #150
    Very Active Member Bill Sive's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Almost forgot the most important lesson here in this situation. What has the nice lady's daughter learned about team swimming in general (USA-S and USMS)? If the daughter decides to swim later in life will she join USMS, knowing she can be booted off the team for no fault of here own? How to you think the daughter felt once she learned her mother is no longer welcome in the USMS team because of her decision. This type of situation is part of the key of long range planning and membership levels.

    Is that "swimming for life"?, or "swimming for life with USMS"?

  11. #151
    Paint test area ahead Michael Heather's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Sive View Post
    Almost forgot the most important lesson here in this situation. What has the nice lady's daughter learned about team swimming in general (USA-S and USMS)? If the daughter decides to swim later in life will she join USMS, knowing she can be booted off the team for no fault of here own? How to you think the daughter felt once she learned her mother is no longer welcome in the USMS team because of her decision. This type of situation is part of the key of long range planning and membership levels.

    Is that "swimming for life"?, or "swimming for life with USMS"?
    Confusing the issues does not clarify any problems here. Projecting a bad policy made by a USA-S team (which obviously owns the Masters club in this case) onto USMS is pointless.

    If the nice lady and her daughter think that all of USA Swimming and US Masters Swimming are defined by the actions of one club, they have received poor counseling (or none).
    Release the Kraken!

  12. #152
    Moderator Rob Copeland's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Sive View Post
    USMS needs to re-think their membership policies for allowing somthing like to happen. Needless to say this lady now has nothing nice to say about this particular USMS Team, and USMS.

    Change your goal to 99,999 members.
    I’m not sure which membership policy you are referring to; can you let me know which one it is?

    Also, the 100,000 membership is not technically a USMS goal, it is the title to this thread. USMS goals can be found in on page ix of the current rulebook, as well as various other USMS materials.
    Last edited by Rob Copeland; July 23rd, 2013 at 02:17 PM.
    The opinions expressed in the above post are mine and not those of U.S. Masters Swimming.

  13. #153
    Participating Member melondash's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    To grow USMS, we need to provide a way for beginners to begin. Currently, there is no program for this, though the April Adult Learn to Swim month is a start. Beginners are adults who are afraid in water or those who aren't that afraid, but who don't "know the water." Both of these populations are unaware of how the water works. There are 109 million adults who are afraid in water just in pools in the U.S. (46% of the adult population). That means they cannot swim: someone who knows how to swim is not afraid in deep water. There is an established program to teach adults who are afraid in water to swim which is highly successful. It should be plugged into ALTS month... all year.

    A second thing we need to grow USMS is to define the term, "knowing how to swim." Half the country thinks knowing how to swim means being able to do freestyle. The other half thinks it means being able to rely on yourself for your safety in deep water, whether you can do freestyle or not. That means many people who think they can swim actually can't. In LTS, safety has to come first. If a boat captain took a load of tourists offshore on a sunset cruise and the yacht capsized, the captain would not be asking, "Who can do a tidy freestyle to shore?" He/she would ask, "Who is safe out there and who do I need to worry about?" The ones who can be in the water and keep their wits about them, waiting patiently for rescue are the ones who can swim. The ones who are losing it are the ones who have no idea that water holds them up and that they can rest there. They have no idea how to prevent panic because they have not learned any more than, "Don't panic." And that has not been learned.

    Knowing how to swim means being able to rely on yourself for your safety in deep water, whether you can do freestyle or not. Once someone learns to swim, then s/he has attention to spare for learning strokes: s/he's no longer focused on survival. Strokes are simply advanced techniques of swimming which add tremendously to efficiency.

    The third thing we need to grow USMS is coaches and instructors who know that teaching strokes and mechanics does not help someone overcome their fear of deep water. We have so many teachers who teach people to stroke in shallow water, but this does nothing to make them safe in deep water. Telling people, "The deep works the same as the shallow" does not help! If people can do laps in the shallow but can't swim or be safe in the deep, we have not taught them to swim. We have taught them to stroke. People are not satisfied with this. It's the old, "Yes, but." "Yes, I can do freestyle, but, I can't really swim yet: I'm afraid in the deep."

    It takes 48 hours of classes for an adult who's afraid in water to go from being afraid to put his/her face in the shower to being completely free in deep water for 10 minutes, or however long they want to be there. Imagine if all USMS coaches knew how to teach this. It takes 30 hours or less for people who can swim to learn freestyle. It takes 42 hours to learn back, breast, and fly...legally. It takes a month or two to help people overcome their fear of being on a masters team. But if there were groups for these newbie graduates to step into, comprised only of others like them, then we'd have a step-by-step ladder for anyone to enter swimming and become masters swimmers.

    This is what is needed.
    Last edited by melondash; April 9th, 2014 at 10:15 PM. Reason: delete extra words

  14. #154
    Paint test area ahead Michael Heather's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by melondash View Post
    To grow USMS, we need to provide a way for beginners to begin. Currently, there is no program for this, though the April Adult Learn to Swim month is a start. Beginners are adults who are afraid in water or those who aren't that afraid, but who don't "know the water." Both of these populations are unaware of how the water works. There are 109 million adults who are afraid in water just in pools in the U.S. (46% of the adult population). That means they cannot swim: someone who knows how to swim is not afraid in deep water. There is an established program to teach adults who are afraid in water to swim which is highly successful. It should be plugged into ALTS month... all year.

    A second thing we need to grow USMS is to define the term, "knowing how to swim." Half the country thinks knowing how to swim means being able to do freestyle. The other half thinks it means being able to rely on yourself for your safety in deep water, whether you can do freestyle or not. That means many people who think they can swim actually can't. In LTS, safety has to come first. If a boat captain took a load of tourists offshore on a sunset cruise and the yacht capsized, the captain would not be asking, "Who can do a tidy freestyle to shore?" He/she would ask, "Who is safe out there and who do I need to worry about?" The ones who can be in the water and keep their wits about them, waiting patiently for rescue are the ones who can swim. The ones who are losing it are the ones who have no idea that water holds them up and that they can rest there. They have no idea how to prevent panic because they have not learned any more than, "Don't panic." And that has not been learned.

    Knowing how to swim means being able to rely on yourself for your safety in deep water, whether you can do freestyle or not. Once someone learns to swim, then s/he has attention to spare for learning strokes: s/he's no longer focused on survival. Strokes are simply advanced techniques of swimming which add tremendously to efficiency.

    The third thing we need to grow USMS is coaches and instructors who know that teaching strokes and mechanics does not help someone overcome their fear of deep water. We have so many teachers who teach people to stroke in shallow water, but this does nothing to make them safe in deep water. Telling people, "The deep works the same as the shallow" does not help! If people can do laps in the shallow but can't swim or be safe in the deep, we have not taught them to swim. We have taught them to stroke. People are not satisfied with this. It's the old, "Yes, but." "Yes, I can do freestyle, but, I can't really swim yet: I'm afraid in the deep."

    It takes 48 hours of classes for an adult who's afraid in water to go from being afraid to put his/her face in the shower to being completely free in deep water for 10 minutes, or however long they want to be there. Imagine if all USMS coaches knew how to teach this. It takes 30 hours or less for people who can swim to learn freestyle. It takes 42 hours to learn back, breast, and fly...legally. It takes a month or two to help people overcome their fear of being on a masters team. But if there were groups for these newbie graduates to step into, comprised only of others like them, then we'd have a step-by-step ladder for anyone to enter swimming and become masters swimmers.

    This is what is needed.
    Dealing with fear of deep water is less a recruitment tool than identifying an irrational phobia, better left to mental health professionals. Most coaches are not such people, hence the,"Don't panic," and "The deep works the same as the shallow." That is what one would say to a rational person, which is what most coaches encounter.

    Effective and successful recruitment plans will target wide cross sections of the population, not dwell on one aspect of the learning cycle. Bringing many people into the sport will bring many different points of view and levels of comfort, but always should be pointed at healthy attitudes toward water and enjoyment of the medium.
    Release the Kraken!

  15. #155
    Administrator Rob Butcher's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Coaches are in the people business. Here are 12 easy steps coaches (and other Masters Swimmers) can implement to make your program more welcoming: http://forums.usms.org/entry.php?336...o-new-swimmers

    Rob Butcher
    Rob Butcher
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    U.S. Masters Swimming

  16. #156
    Paint test area ahead Michael Heather's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Butcher View Post
    Coaches are in the people business. Here are 12 easy steps coaches (and other Masters Swimmers) can implement to make your program more welcoming: http://forums.usms.org/entry.php?336...o-new-swimmers

    Rob Butcher
    Good points made in the article, but this thread is about how USMS can grow to 100,000 members. Coaches are good at dealing on the spot with swimmers but not really a tool that USMS can readily use to attract more members/clubs/programs. Kind of like herding cats.
    Release the Kraken!

  17. #157
    Very Active Member Chris Stevenson's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Heather View Post
    Coaches are good at dealing on the spot with swimmers but not really a tool that USMS can readily use to attract more members/clubs/programs.
    I don't agree. I think masters coaches and their training are one of USMS' most valuable assets and are potentially a limiting resource. The ability to swim in a (well) coached masters workout -- or even get access to the online workouts -- is arguably a more valuable and widely appreciated benefit of USMS membership than, for example, the accessibility of well run masters competitions.

    In terms of this particular article, how welcoming masters clubs are to new swimmers would undoubtedly be a factor in their decision to retain their USMS membership, or (in the case of clubs that offer a trial period) in their decision to become a first-time member.

    If you want to attract new masters swimmers then it seems a no-brainer to me that coaches should understand how to be welcoming to those swimmers, particularly those who don't come from an extensive competitive swimming background. Coaches who are used to USA-S clubs and transition to masters coaching do not necessarily appreciate how intimidating practices can be to new adult swimmers.
    These opinions are mine mine mine and not USMS'.

  18. #158
    Very Active Member thewookiee's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Stevenson View Post
    I don't agree. I think masters coaches and their training are one of USMS' most valuable assets and are potentially a limiting resource. The ability to swim in a (well) coached masters workout -- or even get access to the online workouts -- is arguably a more valuable and widely appreciated benefit of USMS membership than, for example, the accessibility of well run masters competitions.

    In terms of this particular article, how welcoming masters clubs are to new swimmers would undoubtedly be a factor in their decision to retain their USMS membership, or (in the case of clubs that offer a trial period) in their decision to become a first-time member.

    If you want to attract new masters swimmers then it seems a no-brainer to me that coaches should understand how to be welcoming to those swimmers, particularly those who don't come from an extensive competitive swimming background. Coaches who are used to USA-S clubs and transition to masters coaching do not necessarily appreciate how intimidating practices can be to new adult swimmers.
    Chris,

    I have to agree with your comments. USMS coaches and swimmers are the first step in attracting new members. How coaches/swimmers deal with potential members will go along way in retaining those people.

    If newcomers are welcomed, encouraged, feel as they are getting a benefit from usms, they will likely stay.

  19. #159
    Very Active Member cjr's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    To answer the title of the thread, What Does USMS Need to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Answer (IMHO) Marketing & build/forge Relationships.
    First step - simply marketing to people outside the swimming world (TV ad, USA Today, Magazines such as GQ, Self, etc.). USMS members already know who we are. Great opportunity for all USMS members, coaches and non-coaches alike, to go out and tell people about ourselves. Spread the news about all the neat and wonderful things that go on in our organization.

    Second step, develop stronger/deeper relationship (a bit of marketing overtone) with USA Swimming and YMCA Swimming. Not all places in the country that has age group programs have Masters Teams, which maybe one reason why USMS does not get as many 18-24 year old swimmers. Plus some of those swimmers really don't know about USMS. If USMS could partner with USA & YMCA to have those organizations help USMS with spreading the word about Masters swimming, it could bring us new swimmers.

    It is up both the coaches and the existing swimmers in the program to recruiting and retain those new members.
    Last edited by cjr; August 20th, 2014 at 08:46 PM.

  20. #160
    Paint test area ahead Michael Heather's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Need to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Stevenson View Post
    I don't agree. I think masters coaches and their training are one of USMS' most valuable assets and are potentially a limiting resource. The ability to swim in a (well) coached masters workout -- or even get access to the online workouts -- is arguably a more valuable and widely appreciated benefit of USMS membership than, for example, the accessibility of well run masters competitions.

    In terms of this particular article, how welcoming masters clubs are to new swimmers would undoubtedly be a factor in their decision to retain their USMS membership, or (in the case of clubs that offer a trial period) in their decision to become a first-time member.

    If you want to attract new masters swimmers then it seems a no-brainer to me that coaches should understand how to be welcoming to those swimmers, particularly those who don't come from an extensive competitive swimming background. Coaches who are used to USA-S clubs and transition to masters coaching do not necessarily appreciate how intimidating practices can be to new adult swimmers.
    When coaches are good on deck, they help retain members. I never said that coaches could not recruit new members, only that they were not well suited for that job. If all USMS coaches spent extra time out on the town getting people to try swimming, I would say that, yes, they do in fact attract new members. But since the usual first contact with a coach happens after the swimmer has already walked onto the pool deck, I would say that someone or something else got them there.

    Maybe it would be more palatable if I were to say that it is unfair to expect coaches to do recruiting of new members, since it is not their primary duty. Besides, coaches have historically shied away from poaching of other clubs' swimmers. Actively trying to attract new members may be uncomfortably similar.

    This is a good dialogue. Coaches have a lot to say, but in reality have a pretty narrow function path. If they can be activated to recruit, so much the better for USMS and the world.
    Release the Kraken!

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