Successful workout groups are contingent on a few common traits. The first step is having a stable pool situation. If you are trying to start a workout group in a facility that doesn’t offer a Masters program, work with the aquatic director. Many pools have scheduled activities, and also times that are not being used at varying times during the day. This can be a perfect opportunity to offer a variety of coached practice times, and generate extra revenue for your aquatic facility. This is a win-win situation for swimmers who want to have a structured workout regime.
If you are a coach and want to start a Masters program, there are a few key concerns. Do you have the leadership skills to coordinate a successful program? Are you willing to make an investment in your team? Continuing education and accreditations are values your swimmers will be seeking from a coach. A coach needs to maintain a standard of excellence. Take interest in your swimmers and develop a relationship that meets each individual’s personal goals. Be on time for practice and look professional. Measure your individual swimmers progress by participating in team building events such as: local swim meets, USMS ePostal swims, Open Water Swims, and Triathlons. Consider hosting a sanctioned swimming meet, offer stroke clinics, and offer Adult Learn-to-Swim programs at your facility.
Where do you find Masters swimmers to build a team? The majority of swimming pools have USA Swimming teams. Many of the age-group swimmers have parents who are former swimmers. Tri-athletes are always looking for stroke technique feedback and advice on how to improve the swim portion of their race. Post-collegiate swimmers, former high school, and age-group swimmers might be interested in getting back into a structured swimming environment. Regular fitness, and lap swimmers might be interested in improving their swimming ability. These are the places in which you will be able to determine interest and identify your target audience. Tailor workouts for all Masters Swimmers, including competitive, fitness and tri athletes.
Swimmers like to be involved with people who share the same interests. Create an identity by establishing a name and a logo. Get to know your swimmers; many people possess the skills that will help make a successful program. Give your swimmers ownership by delegating responsibilities. Team apparel, newsletters, websites, and social media groups can be managed by different people. Have team parties and include family members in group activities. Annual holiday get-togethers and awards dinners are great social activities that build team camaraderie. Recognize your swimmers with awards and acknowledgement of their individual achievements.
If you are unable to umbrella your Masters program with an existing USA program, come up with a business plan. Base your club membership dues on pool rentals, lifeguard fees, payroll and other expenses. A registered workout group must consider U. S. Masters Swimming and LMSC registration fees, workout group registration fees, club services, website fees, social functions, marketing and promotional materials. Unless you’re on-deck coach is a volunteer, consider compensating them for their time and allowing a budget for continuing education and membership dues. Creating a board of directors, mission statement, and a guide to operations, may be necessary as a team continues to grow.
Great advice. Making personal connections is so important in building a team. Here’s one more idea.
Once a month we host “FREE coffee Saturday” immediately following our practice. We are fortunate to have a Peet’s Coffee inside the Fred Meyer directly across from our pool. The space has plenty of tables to more around to accommodate our group. At 7:20am on a Saturday there are rarely any other customers there.
I send out an email 4-5 days ahead announcing the FREE coffee. Swimmers can order any coffee drink they like, courtesy of the club. They are on their own for food although there are several bakers in the group who usually bring some goodies. Not only does this provide an opportunity for folks to chat in a relaxed setting and get to know one another, it has boosted attendance at Saturday practices. The last FREE Saturday we had 38 at practice (that’s about 50% of our regular weekday swimmers) and 30 at the coffee. Some group members have made it a regular part of their Saturday morning routine to gather for coffee after practice even if it’s not free.
Tualatin Hills Barracudas, membership