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

  1. #41
    Very Active Member Queen's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    My local club requires " Participants should be able to swim 200 yards (8 lengths) continuously. "

    A couple of examples of people who don't join - I swam competitively for many years but I'm not a member because I have shredded rotator cuffs now and can't do 200 yards without stopping these days. A good friend is a fantastic marathon runner (Boston, Chicago, NYC, etc) but a mediocre swimmer. He is now too injured to run but would love to compete in swimming... right now his stroke is inefficient enough that 200 yards is challenging (doable in the near future, I'm helping him improve his stroke).

    Lots of running events offer "Fun Walks" as part of their events, perhaps is USMS could follow that lead and make it so other, less competitive people would consider joining?

  2. #42
    Very Active Member jethro's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Stevenson View Post
    The intimidation factor certainly can be an issue. There are way too many lap swimmers who think you need to be fast, or need to have swum competitively in HS or college, to swim masters. They are not always reassured when they show up for practice, they hear a lot of jargon they don't understand, maybe see some very fast swimmers, and they are not always greeted warmly.
    This has certainly been my observation, although I have only swam with maybe 3 or 4 different masters groups. What I've experienced when showing up for a practice for the first time with a new team is nothing...nobody says anything. That's not a problem with me, since I'll just introduce myself to whoever is nearby and say something like, "hi, I'm the new guy" and break the ice, but I see how that can be off-putting to others.

    Still, I think just getting someone to a practice is 90% of the battle. I know plenty of folks who would do fine, enjoy the workouts, and genuinely seem to want to go, but for some reason don't ever show up to see firsthand that there is a place for everyone.

  3. #43
    Very Active Member jim thornton's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by DeepLiquid View Post
    My local club requires " Participants should be able to swim 200 yards (8 lengths) continuously. "

    A couple of examples of people who don't join - I swam competitively for many years but I'm not a member because I have shredded rotator cuffs now and can't do 200 yards without stopping these days. A good friend is a fantastic marathon runner (Boston, Chicago, NYC, etc) but a mediocre swimmer. He is now too injured to run but would love to compete in swimming... right now his stroke is inefficient enough that 200 yards is challenging (doable in the near future, I'm helping him improve his stroke).

    Lots of running events offer "Fun Walks" as part of their events, perhaps is USMS could follow that lead and make it so other, less competitive people would consider joining?

    Part of the problem here is pool space. As I may have mentioned elsewhere on the forums, our little Y team gets three lanes for three one-hour sessions per week. We try to always have fast, medium, and slow workouts to accommodate as much range of speed as possible. This tends to translate into one group that can do 100 SCY repeats on 1:15-1:20; another group that is closer to 1:30-1:40; and a third group that is closer to 2:00 to 2:10.

    If someone wants to swim who has to stop every length and rest, it makes it pretty hard for the rest of the people in the lane to do the written workout.

    In running and fun runs/fun walks, facility space is not a problem--you have the great outdoors, roads, etc.

    But in a pool, where the entire team must split three lanes, it makes it tough on the very fast (people who should probably be swimming 100 repeats on 1:05-1:10) and the very slow (people who can't repeat 100s on any interval.)

    In the case of the faster swimmers, they can always add lengths--do 125s, for instance, on already tight 100 intervals. But those who can't make it at all, as much as it would be nice to have them swim with our team, it's just not practical.

    What people end up doing is practicing on their own until they build up the stamina necessary to do the slowest practices.

    If we had 8 lanes, a bevy of coaches, and unrestricted hours, this would not need to be the case.

    I don't mean to sound defensive here, but some folks seem to be implying: "Oh, you fast meanies! You will not let us join in your reindeer games!" When the truth of the matter is that maybe you are not ready to swim practices yet and should not expect others to downgrade their workouts to accommodate you.

    Perhaps a more accurate declaration is, "Oh, you slow meanies! You are trying to ruin practice for those who making due with inadequate facilities!"

  4. #44
    Very Active Member Queen's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by jim thornton View Post
    Part of the problem here is pool space. As I may have mentioned elsewhere on the forums, our little Y team gets three lanes for three one-hour sessions per week. We try to always have fast, medium, and slow workouts to accommodate as much range of speed as possible. This tends to translate into one group that can do 100 SCY repeats on 1:15-1:20; another group that is closer to 1:30-1:40; and a third group that is closer to 2:00 to 2:10.

    If someone wants to swim who has to stop every length and rest, it makes it pretty hard for the rest of the people in the lane to do the written workout.

    In running and fun runs/fun walks, facility space is not a problem--you have the great outdoors, roads, etc.

    But in a pool, where the entire team must split three lanes, it makes it tough on the very fast (people who should probably be swimming 100 repeats on 1:05-1:10) and the very slow (people who can't repeat 100s on any interval.)

    In the case of the faster swimmers, they can always add lengths--do 125s, for instance, on already tight 100 intervals. But those who can't make it at all, as much as it would be nice to have them swim with our team, it's just not practical.

    What people end up doing is practicing on their own until they build up the stamina necessary to do the slowest practices.

    If we had 8 lanes, a bevy of coaches, and unrestricted hours, this would not need to be the case.

    I don't mean to sound defensive here, but some folks seem to be implying: "Oh, you fast meanies! You will not let us join in your reindeer games!" When the truth of the matter is that maybe you are not ready to swim practices yet and should not expect others to downgrade their workouts to accommodate you.

    Perhaps a more accurate declaration is, "Oh, you slow meanies! You are trying to ruin practice for those who making due with inadequate facilities!"
    The original question was how to increase membership, I don't think "meanies" has anything to do with it, at least not to me. I understand space issues, but I guess if you're out of space already, increasing the number of members isn't a good idea.

  5. #45
    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    A year or so ago PNA hosted a session intended for swimmers who had never competed before, but were interested in swimming a meet. The thought being that this is somewhat intimating for newbies. Perhaps the same kind of thing would be useful for people interested in joining a masters team, but who have never participated in coached swimming before. Things like training etiquette, using the pace clock, workout terminology, etc. could all be very useful to new swimmers. Not to mention it would be a good forum to explain that USMS is not just for fast swimmers interested in competing and also to discuss the services USMS offers to swimmers. Everything from the magazine, to the workouts in this forum, to fitness events and competitive events.

  6. #46
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by knelson View Post
    A year or so ago PNA hosted a session intended for swimmers who had never competed before, but were interested in swimming a meet. The thought being that this is somewhat intimating for newbies. Perhaps the same kind of thing would be useful for people interested in joining a masters team, but who have never participated in coached swimming before. Things like training etiquette, using the pace clock, workout terminology, etc. could all be very useful to new swimmers. Not to mention it would be a good forum to explain that USMS is not just for fast swimmers interested in competing and also to discuss the services USMS offers to swimmers. Everything from the magazine, to the workouts in this forum, to fitness events and competitive events.
    We offered a "Masters 101" program through community ed. It was coached by a very gentle, kind, non-intimidating woman, and covered clock, strokes, turns, and basic workout jargon. It brought quite a few new swimmers to our team, who in turn brought a few of their friends in. Perhaps USMS could come up with a pre-packaged 101 format with supporting materials and get it out to the LMSC's.

    The tri thing seems like a rich vein to tap. As much as it pains me to say it, maybe tri-specific workouts (read: normal distance day workouts cleverly marketed as being tri-specific) are a way to increase numbers in some of the major population areas.
    At this point in the development of our society, there is virtually no writing which has not been plagiarized at least in part from another. I read that somewhere.

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  7. #47
    Very Active Member LindsayNB's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    I second what Kirk and Bill suggest!

    A report looked at by the Swimming Science web site shows that participation in national meets drops from the first to the fifth year of each age group:

    http://www.swimmingscience.net/2009/...or-master.html

    It would be interesting to know if the membership is similar skewed, or whether it is just meet participation. If the membership is also skewed then there might be potential to find ways to keep people participating between age groups.

  8. #48
    Very Active Member Chris Stevenson's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    That's interesting, Lindsay: thanks for posting the link.

  9. #49
    Very Active Member LindsayNB's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Stevenson View Post
    That's interesting, Lindsay: thanks for posting the link.
    I should acknowledge that Budd Termin pointed me at the swimmingscience.net website, although in reference to a different article so I can accept a little of the credit.

    In Canada the spikes in the first year of each age group do show up in Nationals participation starting at age 45:

    https://mymsc.ca/ShowMeet.jsp?id=333&demographics=true

    Although there are a couple anomalies, with spikes at 48 and 54.

    But the membership doesn't appear to follow that pattern, it's a much smoother distribution:

    https://mymsc.ca/AgeDistribution.jsp

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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by BillS View Post
    We offered a "Masters 101" program through community ed. It was coached by a very gentle, kind, non-intimidating woman, and covered clock, strokes, turns, and basic workout jargon. It brought quite a few new swimmers to our team, who in turn brought a few of their friends in. Perhaps USMS could come up with a pre-packaged 101 format with supporting materials and get it out to the LMSC's.

    The tri thing seems like a rich vein to tap. As much as it pains me to say it, maybe tri-specific workouts (read: normal distance day workouts cleverly marketed as being tri-specific) are a way to increase numbers in some of the major population areas.
    Bravo.....another great strategy!!!!!

  11. #51
    Very Active Member Chris Stevenson's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    I was curious, so I did the distribution for the SCY Nationals in Atlanta (at >3 times as large as LCM nationals, I figured it would be a little less noisy). I've attached the results.

    A few things stick out:
    -- there is a clear dip in the 30s. Presumably people are busy with careers and family and have less time for nationals. Note that this dip is evident in both men and women (not shown, didn't want to clutter the plot)
    -- there may also be a dip in the ages 55-64 (possibly people spending less money to travel to nationals just before retirement?)
    -- there are some spikes in the "bottom" (youngest age) of each age group, but sometimes they are obscured by larger patterns
    -- highest participation is in the 3 age groups 40-54

    I have also attached our general membership distribution. I only had the distribution by age groups and not the individual ages so I couldn't check for spikes in the younger parts of each age group (I doubt they would be present). Note that the dip in the 30s is still evident but not 55-64.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  12. #52
    Very Active Member aquageek's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Chris - in your 30s you are starting a family and career which can limit funds and time. In your 40s you can leave your kids at home and enjoy life. In your 50s and early 60s your kids have kids and you have to go be a granparent which limits your funds and time.

  13. #53
    Very Active Member Redbird Alum's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    [QUOTE=LindsayNB;223204]I second what Kirk and Bill suggest!
    A report looked at by the Swimming Science web site shows that participation in national meets drops from the first to the fifth year of each age group:
    [QUOTE]

    Perhaps people don't want to pay to travel to nationals as their times drop off with age. We tend to be the reverse of youth age group, where you want to be the senior in your age-group.

    That said, perhaps we should be surveying the 35% who drop off the USMS rolls, or drop out of nationals each year, asking why and what would have kept them aboard. They did show the interest, and had to make the decision to stop, so they have the best retention factor information. We're just guessing.

    We could also more regularly survey the current masters, asking what they think is working, and what's not.

    Similarly, perhaps we should be sending surveys to obvious locations (like YMCA's, National Health Club Chains, Colleges with/without swimming programs) to ask if they have considered sponsoring or promoting USMS, and if not, what would help them decide to do so?

    These are straight-forward marketing survey ideas, not rocket science. The problem is they take money, time and staff to pull off and analyze. And they are not one-shot wonders. You have to collect data regularly to identify trends.

    Just MHO on seeking data from the source(s).


  14. #54
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by BillS View Post
    We offered a "Masters 101" program through community ed.
    Perhaps USMS could come up with a pre-packaged 101 format with supporting materials and get it out to the LMSC's.
    I have a Masters 101 format I am happy to share with anyone who might need a start. Send me a PM.

    We created this class while I was assistant coach at Nova and had every new swimmer go through the first basic session. I worked with Mike Collins on this project and we went on to create a 101 for each of the strokes and a starts & turns 101 as well.
    I've gone on to use the same class format at Mission Viejo Nadadores Masters and now at Conejo Valley as well.

    At Nova we gave a printed voucher to swimmers who completed the 101 session so that they could go into the sponsor swim shop and collect their team swim cap and t-shirt. (everyone likes team schwag)
    And while there, they could pick up any additional gear they might need for workouts.

  15. #55
    Very Active Member Chris Stevenson's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by Redbird Alum View Post
    That said, perhaps we should be surveying the 35% who drop off the USMS rolls, or drop out of nationals each year, asking why and what would have kept them aboard. They did show the interest, and had to make the decision to stop, so they have the best retention factor information. We're just guessing.
    I think that is in the works. Heck, before this year, I never even used to see the retention rate numbers, much less broken down by age group. (It shouldn't be too shocking to note that the highest non-renewal rate is in the youngest age groups.)

  16. #56
    Love SWIMMING! Ahelee Sue Osborn's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Send the USMS "A" Team to JAPAN!!

    Japan has ONE MILLION REGISTERED MASTERS SWIMMERS.

    Hire a translator and go on a tour of some Japanese Masters clubs and meet with their Japan Masters national office.


    I have been to Japan twice as a hosted athlete.
    Once for a triathlon.
    The second time for a 1/2 Marathon running race.
    Both were lifetime highlights.

    My experience has always been that Japanese athletes love to share - training, racing and fun social events.
    They set-up "sister-clubs" similar to the idea of sister-cities. Exchanging information, racing, and hosting athletes.

    On a more local note, last year I went to several meets in Arizona. I made many friends I would enjoy seeing more often.
    The cost of travel between California & Arizona isn't so bad. But we discussed the idea of exchange hosting so that we could attend more meets in each others regions.

    Sister-clubs or LMSCs could be a bit like the Discussion Forums offering information, support, and a positive impact on growth.

  17. #57
    Love SWIMMING! Ahelee Sue Osborn's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Host basic swim clinics for upcoming triathlon events.

    USMS partner with either a local club - or LMSC to host a great clinic or series of clinics leading up to the event.

    Most triathlons are selling out these days.
    They are full of novice swimmers who are nervous about swimming.

    Fee might be single event or regular USMS registration - period.

  18. #58
    Love SWIMMING! Ahelee Sue Osborn's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Our college swimmers (local & home for the holidays) and various pool staff swim for free.
    No dues.

    But they do have to register with USMS.

  19. #59
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by stillwater View Post
    Why does USMS need to grow to 100,000 members?
    Gift to humanity - at least the swimming part.

    Not saying here that every lap swimmer or triathlete should be USMS registered. Good for them - they're already exercising!

    Why not introduce swimming to individuals who have little or no activity in their lives.

    Not every masters club can handle adult learn to swim programs, but some can - a lot can.
    Those would be new members a club retains for life.

  20. #60
    Very Active Member Peter Cruise's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Just one point to add to the life stages theory of participation: when I was swimming 30-34, 35-39 in the eighties they were always the biggest groups in meets i.e. us baby boomers. We skew any analysis through sheer numbers.
    Life keeps throwing curve balls; the trick, I'm learning, is to duck...

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