In many instances, Forum regulars have remarked that we are not the snapshot of the typical USMS member. I agree.
But The Forum does represent a segment of very passionate adult swimmers, of varied speeds, who are willing to take the time regularly to connect with each other on varied subjects. Lots of excellent information exchanged. Some trash.
As well, most all agree that the word MASTERS is a problem in our organization's name.
I am 100% sure that the name deters many from joining. I hear it and have to explain it often. I would be happy to see it changed.
If you are on deck and coaching a masters club, you see that competition and elitism has very little to do with why most of our members show up to practices.
The athletes in "the cruiser" lanes very often want to improve their technique or get faster just like the elite swimmers.
In my experience, these are the members who want, ask for, and need the most attention. And these swimmers are some of the most rewarding to work with day in and day out.
I think USMS is on track, but with a huge task in front of them yet, by investing in EDUCATING CLUB COACHES.
Not that any "certification" makes a better coach... God only knows there are weak coaches with a slew of credentials.
The reality is:
Coaches bring new members.
Coaches build clubs.
Coaches communicate on deck and in their communities.
Coaches nurture members and retain them - or not.
Maybe a club's board is charged with marketing...But most retention is coaching business - if it isn't the athlete's life situation causing a dropout.
I swim and coach and understand the impact that lane & team mates can make on a potential new member. Sometimes its good and sometimes it isn't.
Elitism can happen in the lanes right under the nose of a "great coach" and that coach will loose members.
A sensitive and aware coach can change everything.
One nasty swimmer in a lane can also change everything.
I sat for the first USMS Coaches Certification. (and several other coaches clinics over the last few years)
It wasn't the book study or testing that was valuable.
Most excellent was gathering the different levels of coaches to exchange ways of improving themselves. And how to further help their athletes and experiences in building their clubs.
Building membership and retention will happen faster when more coaches better understand building a community out of their club. Complete with all different kinds of members who love and or need to swim for whatever reason.
Some coaches are real masters at building communities and we have a few in USMS. I admire them the most.
Last edited by bzaks1424; July 7th, 2011 at 12:14 PM. Reason: Added Picture for clarification.
"Fran operated under the assumption that one’s ability to cope with the travails of daily life fluctuates in direct proportion to one’s willingness to work through hurt." -Ian Prichard
We all know - a lot! Any member can seriously impact a club good or bad.
A savvy masters coach can create an environment where each personality type can offer their skill & good qualities.
Last edited by Ahelee Sue Osborn; July 8th, 2011 at 08:48 AM.
Putting aside the name thing -- tho I guess I have a hard time thinking that one word really makes so much difference? Would changing "masters" to "adult" really add another 20,000 members? -- I think some of the issue is: what is the purpose of these forums and the member blogs? Are they (solely) a marketing tool? Are they a venue for current members to discuss and/or debate swimming-related issues? Something else?
I am not a marketing person but I would have a hard time "depending" on the discussion forums as a marketing tool, with the exception of the members-only workout portion. The other forums are just too uncontrolled, even with moderators, to give any kind of marketing message. And participation in the forums is not a "benefit" that will draw a lot of people, while thorough sanitation of them will probably turn of many of the people who do use them.
As an aside: if someone of your ability finds the workouts in the Workout section too intimidating, that's a serious problem IMO.
I was curious, so a quick snapshot: at this time there are 44 people viewing the "General Swimming-Related Discussions" forum and 14 viewing the "Workout" forum; these were the two most popular places on the forums, by far. (I'm curious how many people view the blogs vs the forums.)
Ultimately I agree with Ahelee: the best marketing that USMS can do is through the coaches and club experience. That -- together with opportunities for competition -- is what USMS is about. Somehow the message of that experience needs to be disseminated. (Heck, "outsiders" may even be under the impression that all USMS members participate in OW or pool competitions, when that number is more like 30%.)
New swimmers(ie less experienced) to usms may not be able to tell when a coach is good or when a coach has no idea what he/she is doing. This can led to injury to the swimmer.
Personally, I couldn’t imagine my life without Masters Swimming. The friends I’ve made through swimming and the fitness benefits make this a great organization and sport. I guess the marketing aspect of it may get some folks to look into swimming, but to me the real important message is for adults to get active and keep active through swimming. If they want to get faster, great. If they want to compete, great. But neither of these is as important as the exercise and camaraderie you find at a Masters workout.
I tend to think that more and better qualified coaches would draw more lap swimmers to local Masters workouts. Costs such as the USMS & LMSC registration fees, any Club fee or pool membership fees plus the coaching fee, are always a factor. I'd suggest that a coach might waive the coaching fee for a month after a new person joins his/her workout group. This would allow a new swimmer to get familiar with the program and if he/she decided to not be coached, he/she would still get the benefits of USMS membership.
Were the USMS-ASCA accredation courses to be offered online, that would help solve the problem of requiring coaches to travel to clinics or USMS staff travel to outlying workout groups across the country. Yes, someone would have to create the online courses so the instructor and the student could communicate via visual tools and emailed questions/answers. That would allow way more coaches to learn not only how to write better workouts and teach better technique, but also to market their programs to the lap swimmers.
Many (most?) of the blogs are also accessible to nonmembers, depending on the settings the blogger chooses.
Then does the real question become, how does USMS increase the number of clubs, and thus the number of coaches and members?
Have saturation studies been done to map out (graphically) the clubs in existance by state/LMSC, along with their relative registered participant sizes? This might help target areas that lack coverage, or where too many clubs are in the same space.
For Club development, is it the LMSC's responsibility to seek out people who might be able to form up a club, or are most taking the wait and see approach? Are we relying purely on the chance that "someone" will want to take on the effort, and have the finances and spare time to do so?
Not sure if these are the types of data that will help formulate a way forward, but the re-statement of the question appears to be important.
Even in my home state of California, where most people think masters swimming is gigantic, it is not at all saturated.
Yes, there are some cities that have more than one club - for whatever reason.
But in both Northern and So CAL, there are many large areas that have excellent aquatic facilities and no masters club. Believe it or not, it's true.
I have a thing about visiting (new for me) competition pools. You can not imagine the wonderful lanes of water that go unused day after day.
Perhaps the local funding for club development is right there in an LMSC bank account.
But who is asking how the $$ is spent? Every coach in the LMSC should have concern about this money because he has a say in it. The LMSC committee decides how to spend their money.
Who is setting the goals and the path for the growth?
Is there a goal and budget for continued education and mentoring new (and experienced) coaches?
I hope so. Because it is a coach and the assistants who will make the launch of a new club take hold and work.
A potential new masters swimmer probably has no idea there might be funds available to help start a masters club in his town. He might not even know there is such a thing as masters swimming.
And why would a current masters member who is happily swimming in an established USMS club be concerned about creating a new club? Unless he personally needed something more convenient?
How are we utilizing our registration fees and $$ locally. And nationally?
Check it out. All the numbers and minutes are public.
Where is the cash going?
How is the committee time spent communicating, planning and implementing?
Is the environment positive and inclusive for any member to contribute ideas?
If coaches want help with clubs, education, and expansion, they need to be aware of the decisions their LMSC is making on their behalf.
If a coach is not on an LMSC committee or an LMSC convention delegate, is he aware of the current issues or decisions delegates are representing for his club? Not to mention decisions regarding the spending of his own member's contribution? (registration fees)
Also consider how the LMSC Committee is publicly representing and marketing the LMSC & clubs.
Pitching the wonders and greatness of masters swimming to facility management might be a one time or rare opportunity and should be done well.
By the way.
The next US Aquatics Sports convention and meeting of the USMS (including elections) is September 14-18 in Jacksonville, FL.
Do you know the LMSC delegates who are representing
you and your club?
Last edited by Ahelee Sue Osborn; July 25th, 2011 at 02:43 PM. Reason: Corrected convention date - TKS Gdanner!
No, saturation studies have not been done. With only 55,000 members nationwide, there is really no need. The fact is that some LMSCs actually do try to get new clubs started, and it is rarely possible for one person to accomplish it.
In southern California, the LMSC has joined SCCPOA (southern California public pool operator's association). By attending monthly meetings with information, answering questions and making a few informational presentations, our club base has grown from a static number of around 57 to over 80 in the last 6 years. Membership also went up, from around 2700 to a high of 4800. Most of the real work was done by one person who is no longer with the LMSC (and was not a coach or club director). There is considerable growth potential still available, but the pool operators have got to be convinced that is it a good ($$) idea for them. By having formerly skeptical operators telling one another that it is a true benefit, others are much easier to convince.
There is a group in Florida called the U.S. Pool and Spa Association that can help with finding facilities that may be approached. My guess is that many areas in the country have an association like the one in SoCal. That is where we can get the most bang for our buck. New clubs = more new members. Some clubs have been created primarily for triathlon training, some only for the extra insurance coverage. There are many tools we can use if we know when and where.
Last edited by Michael Heather; July 19th, 2011 at 10:53 AM.
The opinions expressed in the above post are mine, not those of U.S. Masters Swimming. But maybe they should be.
And you know what?
They are nearly all very pro-adult swim programs. What isn't to like about lane rentals and other potential revenue for their facility?
The problem they do have?
Finding and keeping quality - reliable SWIM COACHES!
Most pool operators say we are preaching to the choir pitching adult swim programs.
I am not saying we should not be out there trying to get facility administrators to start up USMS programs.
But if we're doing so, we had better be ready to help them locate QUALITY RELIABLE SWIM COACHES to run practices.
USMS cannot move quickly enough in educating, mentoring, and promoting current and new coaches.
Last edited by Ahelee Sue Osborn; July 18th, 2011 at 05:16 PM.
It's September 14-18 this year.
I agree with this. I think the support resources are mostly in place, but the challenge is recruiting coaches and making it worth their time. There are a lot of college swimmers who love the sport enough to coach, but the money isn't there compared to other industries. That and starting your own team (business) can be a daunting task. I see a lack of quality age group coaches as well.USMS cannot move quickly enough in educating, mentoring, and promoting current and new coaches.
Help pass legislation that makes it easier to facilitate pool openings, fight to keep insurance fees realistic so as to encourage community swimming facilities, encourage learn to swim programs for all age groups, encourage lifeguard training programs. Andy Kurtzman
U.S. Military Promotional Campaign - USMS Promotional Packets should be provided to recreational directors and aquatic facilities at all U.S. military bases with follow-up by LMSC and/or local club officials. Various USMS programs and opportunities available to the military should be discussed with responsible officials. Military officers I have spoken with are pleasantly surprised that USMS membership begans at 18 years of age--USMS must do a better job promoting that fact!
There is a great "disconnect" between the adult civilian swimming community and the soldiers on military bases. U.S. Masters Swimming should be the model for aquatic activities for military personnel and their families world-wide. I believe the opportunity (and responsibility) to provide aquatic education and services to all military branches is enormous and U.S. Masters Swimming should lead the way.
Potomac Valley Registrar since 1996
Involvement in swimming activites in any way shape or form.
What has motivated me this calendar year? Check out this link from the United Kingdom: http://www.swimming.org/
I love their website, they offer so much. I signed on for the SwimFit Challenge. My immediate goal is to swim the length of the Thames River (215 Miles) by the time the Olympics start in London. As of now I am at 18% of my goal. (I signed up for Go The Distance again this year. Last year 575 miles.)
I also am doing the British SwimFit competitive training program, and next month I'm going to start their Get Ripped program.
Masters does not teach non-swimmers how to swim. I say, reserve one day per week to teaching non-swimmers. I'll be the first volunteer to step up. Try implmenting one of the programs from the United Kingdom.
Many of the Masters Swimmers I have met have lost their swimming excitement. Find a way to get excited again.
Look for me in a bright neon orange swim brief this year. Relax, have a laugh. What's funny? Me getting 1st place in my age group in the 200 IM at my last swim meet. That's hilarious. Me getting placing anything above 10th place is even more hilarious.
Balance the serious with the fun.