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

  1. #81
    Very Active Member Peter Cruise's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Jim, I was thinking of something visible to the naked eye...
    Life keeps throwing curve balls; the trick, I'm learning, is to duck...

  2. #82
    Very Active Member Conniekat8's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Copeland View Post
    One of Jeff Moxie's goals is to grow to 100,000 members. I'd like to hear suggestions on the programs, services, and support needed to to exceed this goal.
    Make masters swimming look more hip and popular to the younger demographics (under 40... or under 30 etc...).

    Most of those who swam as kids, highschool and college have quit, I hear because it's of a serious competition burnout... and they're still not in the mode of "oh, I need to stay in shape" till after they have kids or start getting older.

    They want to have fun.
    Last edited by Conniekat8; November 24th, 2010 at 03:07 PM.
    -Connie
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  3. #83
    sprint diva The Fortress's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Not eliminate the discussion forums, as is sometimes threatened. (Maybe only some people seriously use it, but many newbies come here and many others lurk.) And why cut off an avenue of potential growth?

    Promote the blogs more. Half of the good training discussions/analyses/videos/workouts are there.

    Have some creative events at meets, instead of being so traditional.

    I like Kurt's idea of race "series."

    Or start using some ads like this one from Triathlon Lab: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...8446196&ref=nf.
    Last edited by The Fortress; October 14th, 2010 at 09:15 PM.

  4. #84
    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 The Fortress View Post
    Promote the blogs more.

    Have some creative events at meets, instead of being so traditional.
    Leslie, do you mean promote blogs like this one? http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?u=26

    I think promoting blogs like this-- http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?u=26 -- is, indeed, an excellent idea!

    How do you suggest promoting http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?u=26 more?

    Perhaps just by good-old fashioned repetition, http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?u=26 will attract the audience it so richly deserves--a win-win not just for http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?u=26, but also for all the many potential fans of http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?u=26 that have very little idea what abject swimming-related (sometimes) joy awaits everytime they click on http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?u=26 .

    Anyhow, excellent idea.

    As for alternative meets, Carnegie Mellon is hosting the Hour of Power continuous 1-hour relay meet on Nov. 9th. It's a fun event to raise money for cancer research (each person pays $20, then teams of four do continuous all-out relays for an hour.)

    Many college and age group teams across the country participate in this, but I think that if we made it a USMS postal meet, we could get tons of masters teams across the nation to sign up and contribute to this very worthy cause.

    Maybe I can write more about this at some point in my vlog at http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?u=26

  5. #85
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    This is simply business. Find out what the long term successful teams are doing and copy them on a larger scale. It all comes down to recruiting and retaining.

  6. #86
    Love SWIMMING! Ahelee Sue Osborn's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Mixing it up with the future of our sport sure makes sense!
    Some of the smart masters clubs are doing it already

    In Colorado:

    http://gb.live.boldernet.net/media/s...l#content_tabs

    In Southern California:

    [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pfh8OFemGiA"]YouTube - LMU Masters Meet Thank You 2010[/nomedia]

    Dual in the POOL - LMU vs. SCAQ Masters!
    Last edited by Ahelee Sue Osborn; November 15th, 2010 at 04:10 PM.

  7. #87
    Love SWIMMING! Ahelee Sue Osborn's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Make USMS membership FREE

    Direct USMS staff time & resources solely into creating fee based programs (clinics at all levels & swim events) for revenue.
    And benefits for swimmers, coaches and clubs.

    Free membership will give USMS the numbers it needs to actually sell significant sponsorships and attract positive media.

    Those who enjoy gathering at convention each year might not like the idea.
    Thousands of $$ spent for something that does not produce thousands of new members - or benefit all athletes, coaches, and clubs.
    The convention "meeting expense" should be re-evaluated.

    This is not my idea but I believe in the possibilities.

    Anyone in sales will understand the need for bigger numbers than the near 50,000 we have had at USMS for quite a long time.
    Swimming is the #2 activity in the USA next to walking, but our collective USA Swimming/USMS membership numbers don't reflect this.

    The idea comes from one of the best businessmen in the sport of swimming.
    They call it the AARP Model.


    (I am over 50 and I like it)

  8. #88
    Very Active Member aztimm's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ahelee Sue Osborn View Post
    Swimming is the #2 activity in the USA next to walking,
    What is your source?

    According to the US Census Dept swimming is ranked #3, behind walking and, "exercising with equipment."
    Check out my blog here
    "You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."

  9. #89
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    The foot note indicates that the person participated at least six times per year.

  10. #90
    Very Active Member Redbird Alum's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    So to help everyone better contribute, perhaps we need to ask "WHY" does USMS want to increase USMS membership beyond 100,000. Is it just an arbitrary goal?

    Is there a desire to increase USMS penetration in underrepresented areas/states/counties? Is the underrepresented area figure determined basedc off USAS membership figures, population, or what?

    Is there a desire to increase USMS revenues? (Through memberships, increased clinic attendance, increased advertising fees?)

    Is there a desire to increase competition space or pool availability for practices and we need the numbers to justify it?

    The problem is that while the 100,000 number seems a nice figure, all of these elements come down to very local (or with solo swimmer, individual) issues and attention. The war, as it were, has to be engaged locally, with local footsoldiers. So the mission needs to be clear to each.
    Last edited by Redbird Alum; November 22nd, 2010 at 11:51 AM. Reason: Spelling!


  11. #91
    Active Member SCAQ Member's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    I think we need to focus on open water events and make them media related. For instance, Rob Dumochel has completed a 10k pier-to-pier swim across Avila Bay at Pismo beach. This has the potential to become a premier New Years day, "Polar Bear Event," for the state of California. Rob was even profiled on the front page in the local paper. Spectacles such as this were great for getting Triathlons on the map and open water events such as this provide the scenery and the "touch of madness" needed to garner attention.
    Last edited by SCAQ Member; January 1st, 2011 at 06:52 PM. Reason: To correct some of my usual bad grammar

  12. #92
    Very Active Member Conniekat8's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by SCAQ Member View Post
    I think we need to focus on open water events and make them media related. For instance, Rob Dumochel has completed a 10k pier-to-pier swim across Avila Bay at Pismo beach. This has the potential to become a premier New Years day, "Polar Bear Event," for the state of California. Rob was even profiled on the front page in the local paper. Spectacles such as this were great for getting Triathlons on the map and open water events such as this provide the scenery and the "touch of madness" needed to garner attention.
    SPMA, for example, has a marketing committee. They are welcome to do that kind of stuff, starting at the local level.
    -Connie
    I'd rather be swimming http://www.mastersmvnswim.org/

  13. #93
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    With so many men and some women's swimming programs being disbanded in college, perhaps USMS could make a more concerted effort to promote club programs at these universities. These programs could be similar to that seen for water polo and ice hockey at some of the local colleges and universities in California. Many of these programs are self-funded by the students and each competes in National club championship events. Perhaps USMS could propose a "sanctioned" means of enabling these schools to compete against one another. Not only would USMS be recruiting future USMS membership but they'd be offering youngsters in high school a viable, competitive alternative to ending their careers abruptly upon HS graduation. Conservatively, if you can find 100 teams with 20 competitors each, you suddenly have 2,000 additions to your membership with a high probability of retention beyond college and with a new crop of swimmers joining the ranks each year...

  14. #94
    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 bjcarter View Post
    With so many men and some women's swimming programs being disbanded in college, perhaps USMS could make a more concerted effort to promote club programs at these universities. These programs could be similar to that seen for water polo and ice hockey at some of the local colleges and universities in California. Many of these programs are self-funded by the students and each competes in National club championship events. Perhaps USMS could propose a "sanctioned" means of enabling these schools to compete against one another. Not only would USMS be recruiting future USMS membership but they'd be offering youngsters in high school a viable, competitive alternative to ending their careers abruptly upon HS graduation. Conservatively, if you can find 100 teams with 20 competitors each, you suddenly have 2,000 additions to your membership with a high probability of retention beyond college and with a new crop of swimmers joining the ranks each year...
    I think this is an excellent suggestion.

  15. #95
    Paint test area ahead Michael Heather's Avatar
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    It is part of the strategic plan, but I do not know where it currently resides on the priority list. We also are going to try to reach out to the military to create clubs for the services.

    All ideas are welcome, but there are only so many dollars and hours that the USMS staff can use to chase the elusive member. We rely mostly on volunteers, and if anyone has a burning desire to do something creative and constructive, please contact the national office or any board member with suggestions. The forums are read by some of the board, but the volume alone is too much for us to winnow out the pearls of wisdom from the rest of the postings.
    The opinions expressed in the above post are mine, not those of U.S. Masters Swimming. But maybe they should be.

  16. #96
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayhawk View Post
    It has been suggested that one way to hit the 100,000-member mark is to better retain the members that we already have. Historically we have experienced about 35% turnover each year. Some of those members come back a year or two later; many do not.

    As of August 3,2010...

    51,159 people are current USMS members.
    19,660 people were USMS members in 2009 but have not yet renewed.
    15,205 people were USMS members in 2008 but have not renewed since.
    12,364 people were USMS members in 2007 but have not renewed since.
    11,695 people were USMS members in 2006 but have not renewed since.
    11,372 people were USMS members in 2005 but have not renewed since.
    11,153 people were USMS members in 2004 but have not renewed since.

    That's a total of 81,449 members that we have "lost" over a 6-year period.
    To summarize: USMS has lost more members in the past six years than it currently has. It looks like retention is only around 65-70%, which sounds really low to me. Clearly, the organization needs market research to learn why those 80,000 people left. Had retention been 90%, you'd probably be at your 100,000 goal already.
    Some of the nonrenewals are driven by finances, judging by the sharp increase in the recession years. But the numbers imply there is something more. It would be valuable for the organization to figure out what.
    My :
    I am not a member, but I have followed your discussion groups for several years. Basically, I don't know all four strokes and don't swim fast enough to make it worthwhile to join.
    Despite numerous unequivocal denials, there appears to be an incredible bias to fast swimmers, either in the organization or in the forums or both. As example #1, I point to the 'Attaboy' thread, which started out as a way to honor people returning to the pool after surgery or swimming 100 fly for the first time but now basically congratulates swimmers for posting top 10 times.
    For example #2, I point to the 'death to all noodlers' thread, which I thought was kind of amusing till I realized that, to some USMS members, I am a noodler.
    My workouts are based on 100 yards at 1:40, and I've never found anything at your web site geared to a time slower than 1:15, even when access to the workouts section was open. (Well, there was one exception.) If this has changed, well, I have no way of knowing it.
    And all the workouts I've seen presuppose mastery of all four strokes, a level of proficiency that eliminates probably 99% of all swimmers, including the vast, vast majority of triathletes, which would seem to be a logical source of new USMS members. (I'm not a triathlete, BTW.)
    And, while my times are pokey relative to what gets posted here, they are absolutely blazing compared to the average, noncompetitive swimmer. Other swimmers compliment me on my form. They admire how fast and effortless I seem. I don't pretend to greatness; I just want to show the gap between the typical swimmer and what USMS seems to think is a typical swimmer.
    So if you equate 'fast' with 'elitist', I think USMS looks from the outside like an organization with an elitist name ('Masters'), an elitist exercise regimen and elitist discussions.
    Of course, I suspect that 99% of members are nice guys, are loads of fun once you get to know them, really don't care how fast anyone swims, etc. But that really isn't the image I'm left with, and I've been following you guys for several years.
    Based on all that, I'm not prepared to buy a membership on the chance that an individual club is different from everything else I've observed.
    Young for my speed. . .

  17. #97
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Quote Originally Posted by notsofast View Post
    Based on all that, I'm not prepared to buy a membership on the chance that an individual club is different from everything else I've observed.
    This seems very short sighted to me. Would you buy a car without test driving it? A house without touring it? Then why assume that you couldn't contact a local club and drop by to try it out?

    Our program has folks that can do repeat 100s in short course meters on 1:20 and those who are find 2:00 challenging. Some who can swim all four strokes and some who just do one.

    It doesn't matter your ability, it just matters that you give 100% of your ability. And having someone else to share the experience with, to help encourage you to push yourself, to be there with you during a hard workout is the true value of Masters.

  18. #98
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    Remember the point of this thread is not to make me a masters swimmer. It is to structure the organization so that more people want to join. It is to get people to take that "test drive."
    To push your metaphor a bit further, one would not test drive an auto if its design and its marketing campaign made the car seem like a lemon. And it wouldn't matter how good that car actually performed. All those people who failed to take a test drive would be making a mistake, but to blame them is to suggest they should see through the fog of weak image control.
    The question this thread posed is, essentially, "How do we better market USMS?"
    It may well be true that the name of the organization, the nature of the workouts it posts and the tenor of its discussion forum are all deceiving. If that's the case, I'd suggest those are areas that need work.
    Young for my speed. . .

  19. #99
    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 notsofast View Post
    My workouts are based on 100 yards at 1:40, and I've never found anything at your web site geared to a time slower than 1:15, even when access to the workouts section was open. (Well, there was one exception.) If this has changed, well, I have no way of knowing it.
    And all the workouts I've seen presuppose mastery of all four strokes, a level of proficiency that eliminates probably 99% of all swimmers, including the vast, vast majority of triathletes, which would seem to be a logical source of new USMS members. (I'm not a triathlete, BTW.)

    And, while my times are pokey relative to what gets posted here, they are absolutely blazing compared to the average, noncompetitive swimmer. Other swimmers compliment me on my form. They admire how fast and effortless I seem. I don't pretend to greatness; I just want to show the gap between the typical swimmer and what USMS seems to think is a typical swimmer.
    Thanks for the feedback. May I assume based on your post that you've examined workouts in the forums, including the (now unavailable) workout section and the blogs, but haven't given any actual clubs a try? I encourage you to seek out local USMS clubs or workout groups. I have swum with at least half a dozen clubs for lengthy periods of time (1 year or more) and have visited dozens of other clubs. The vast majority had the following features:

    -- AT LEAST one lane of swimmers your speed or slower. Heck at one of my more recent clubs, we set aside a lane for a single elderly person who was using swimming (successfully) to relieve her arthritis. She was much slower than you, and did a modified version of the "regular" practice.

    -- flexible workouts, where either the intervals or the repeat distances were tailored to the speed of the lanes. And as long as you don't disrupt those around you, most swimmers and coaches don't mind you altering the workouts to suit your needs. You should talk to the coach beforehand if you have specific concerns (eg, a desire to do only freestyle).

    -- numerous swimmers (generally triathletes) who only did freestyle, eschewing the other strokes.

    -- a "grace period" (usually 3-5 practices) where you could attend without paying to evaluate the program. If the program lacks that, they will have a reasonably drop-in fee. (Better that than committing to a month of a program you may not find suitable.)

    As Ahelee noted, forumites are not generally representative of the general masters population (most of whom may not even KNOW about the forum). I don't pay close attention to the workouts on that section of the forum, but I would imagine they aren't set in stone. If a given interval is too fast or slow, certainly you should feel free to modify. Same thing with strokes: take what you need, modify them as you wish.

    You mention 100s on the 1:15. I am sure there are some "super clubs" out there, but I have never practiced with any club that had more than 4-5 people (ie, one lane) in a given practice that can handle that interval. Definitely do NOT think this is the typical level of swimming at a masters club.

    If there is one nearby, I encourage you to seek out a coached practice and give it a try. It is nice to have a coach tell you what to do and help with technique, and to have people to swim with. If all you can (or want to) do is freestyle, most clubs will be accommodating.
    Last edited by Chris Stevenson; July 4th, 2011 at 08:52 PM.

  20. #100
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    Re: What Does USMS Needs to do to grow to 100,000+ Members?

    I really appreciate the efforts to get me, personally, to join a club, but that wasn't the point of my post.
    I was trying to express what I see as obstacles to enrollment from the perspective of a person who would be a likely recruit. As I said previously, I'm sure clubs are full of great people and great experiences. However, the comments I read, the workouts I've seen and, for pete's sake, the name of the organization all lead one in a different direction. I pass this information along not to be persuaded to join but to give an outsider's view of USMS.
    I was hoping to show that the organization should over time retool its marketing message to be more attractive to a typical swimmer. As it is, the promises of camaraderie, etc., have to overcome a message that the organization is intended for people who have, well, mastered swimming.
    It would be more productive if those promises were accompanied by a more welcoming overall message.
    Young for my speed. . .

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