Good afternoon. We have got the power crowd here, I see: the lone survivors at the end of the 2014 ASCA World Clinic. So sort of starting-off with an outline of what we are going to talk about. (That way if anybody is going to leave early, you will know about what you are going to miss or if you need me to move something up, we can probably even do that or ask a question.) So here is our outline today.
I am going to give you a little brief history on the team. I think the history is important, because it explains a lot about the way we are structured and why we do things. Why a large Masters team; it may not fit us all and I think that deserves a little discussion. Going to talk a little bit about building a team and then managing a team; and managing a team in terms of organization and managing a team in terms of operations. I will talk about challenges in and out of the pool. I added them up this morning and we had more challenges out of the pool than in the pool, so maybe there is a problem there. And finally, I want to leave plenty of time for questions and answers. So, just to be sure, Cokie [Lepinski] will give me a 30-minute signal and then she will give me a 40-minute signal, and at 45 minutes, I am done. We have got at least 15 minutes for questions and answers. I liked the way Cokie did it, though.
We have got plenty of time; I have got 32 slides, they will not take too long. And interruptions… you know, talk as we go through. We have a small group; by all means we will make it a discussion, not so much a presentation. I always say there are no dumb questions, but then sometimes I ask them to the audience, so there may be a few.
Before we start though (we have a really small group), just with a show of hands, I always kind of like knowing who my audience is. And sort of maybe where to focus some of my remarks. Who coaches a Masters team in the room? All of us? All but one. Wow, fantastic. Who coaches just an Age Group team? Okay. Who coaches Masters and Age Group? Do we have any? Okay, one in the back. Usually, at these presentations, I ask and it is the other way: for Age Group coaches and there is a possibility they might coach Masters. Okay, good.
Before we start, I am just going to… I know a little bit about most of you, now; I actually know most of you here in the room. I am going to just give you one story related to my background and how I got into Masters swimming. I splashed a little bit in college my first three years, and my fourth year I started a woman’s varsity team at my college. I had the backing of my athletic director, and we kicked it off at what had been, prior to my getting there actually, an all-guys school. When I got there it was 8:1 guys to women and when I left it was 5:1. We started a women’s varsity team and had an NCAA qualifier, Division I, first year on our women’s team. But that led into Masters.
Up until then I had coached Age Group in the summers, in high school and in college. And I like coaching Age Group. I laughed when I heard Sergio’s [Lopez] remark yesterday about dealing with parents (if anybody was there in that session). I kind of remembered that. I said yeah. I did not have a whole lot of problems with parents, but when I coached the women’s varsity team, I really liked it. It was just them; they were not on scholarship, they wanted to be there; it was more like Masters. I thought ‘Man, I’m going to be a Masters coach when I graduate and go back to Virginia.’
I started a Masters team, and I did not think too much about it. Pete Morgan last night talked about the four decades of coaching, and I think this comes-in in about my second decade in Masters coaching. I will show you in the team history how our team, when they first started, was very competitive; it was too competitive. Then it got small and then it started growing again.
We were at that stage where we were growing again, and I had what I thought was a particularly good workout. You know everybody worked really hard; I think they were swearing at me a little bit in the showers, but I knew they liked me. Yeah, I got them through it. I was really feeling good about the team.
I get to the pool the next night, and the front-desk staff at the private club I was coaching at in Burke said, “Frank, you might not want to go in there.” I am like: why not? They go, “We’ve got an 85-year-old woman, she’s got a cane and she’s very angry.” I am like: great! that’s our missing age group. You know, we had a bunch of missing age groups; but we did not have anybody over 55, I am like: new recruit. And she did not have time to stop me and I went in.
So I went into the pool and our 85-year-old, who I thought prospective Masters, was on the other side. And I am not being mean, but this is really the way it happened. She was leaning on her cane and she goes, “Are you Frank?” (just like that). I said, “Maybe. Why?” “Are you the Masters’ coach?” I said, “Yeah, that’s me.” She held-up her cane and she goes, “You worked my daughter too hard yesterday.” And it all came back to me.
So she was on one side of the pool and I was on the other side of the pool, and she slowly started walking towards me. So we had an hour and 15 minute workout, and alls I would have to do was coach at… I would walk around, coach on the other end; then she would start coming. This went on for an hour and 15 minutes; she never caught me, she never came back, and we made it through. Her daughter was… (Did her daughter come back?)
Her daughter was in that workout; 55 years-old, great swimmer. We actually later met, in calmer circumstances; and she explained her daughter had a neck injury, which was good information for me. And I explained her daughter wanted to get competitive again and wanted to compete, and I was helping her to meet her goals. We will talk about that. But that is my most memorable moment, déjà vu, in Masters Swimming, dealing with parents.
Okay, talk a little bit about the history of our team. The name has changed a few times. That is kind of the evolution of our team since we started, through the ages. So we started… if Bill goes back and checks the USMS database, some of these dates are a year or two off but I grouped them in years of five. We started in 1985.
We started with 30 swimmers, and they were very competitive. That, in itself, is okay. But within that competitive group we had a self-declared group of elite; not my declaration, not Pete Morgan—who I was coaching with when we started these guys—but their declaration. (I was wondering if Pete was going to bring this up last night in his acceptance speech.)
Look what happened, 1990, five years later. So we had 30 swimmers, very competitive, about 15 of them were elite swimmers. And then a pool opened-up nearby, and right about the time it opened up—and it was a 50-meter pool. And Pete made some references to it last night: be happy with the facility you have to train in. We are in a little bit of a bathtub in Burke; we are in a shallow, 12-lane pool. (Nadine knows it; she’s trained there, right?) But it is okay. And a new, beautiful 50-meter complex opened-up, and the elite swimmers were all making noise now: why do we have to have this pool? Pete and I are looking at each other.
What happened the next day, the first thing that happened, is they came into the pool and started complaining about their parking spots. And then… Pete in the meantime—Pete runs the club, you know just made the Hall of Fame yesterday—Pete would park up above at a shopping center and walk down to make more room for members. That is Pete. (He had me park there, too, and I did, too.) They were complaining about parking spots, and then here is where they lost.
They came in that day, and Pete was on the way-out after a long day—he had been there since five in the morning. They were on their way in, and they said, “Pete, we are Master swimmers and we are elite, and we want to park closer to the pool.” And Pete was like, Well, what do you mean, all the spots are out there. And they said, “We want the handicap spots.” These are my swimmers; this is how we started. Pete showed them the door; I did not have time to throw them out. Pete blew-up and they were gone, and we ended up with seven. So short story, but it is important.
So look what happened: about five years, we came back. We came back bigger than we were; it took a while. And those 40 were also competitive, but they were all levels. They were mostly competitive, and some not—which was fine with us, had plenty of pool space. Another five years, we are growing, right; we are sort of doing the right thing, slowly.
Woah, then 2005, we made the jump: we picked-up a second location. We had about 45 and they had, at the time they had 15. And actually that was a very interesting location for us; they were more like us, they had just fired the coach. It was an Age Group coach, and she got fired for getting in trouble with one of the major boosters. The organization got rid of her; they asked me to come in and run that pool with a Masters team.
They had 15 people. She would make ex-Division-I swimmers try-out for Masters. If they had been out of water for a while, of course their times were not that good, she would not let them on the team. That became our second site with 15, and within a year it was up to 35. Again, different approach, different philosophy.
And then we started growing a little bit faster. We had two locations, built a little synergy. We did a few dual meets. You know: Burke versus American University. And interestingly, at this point, as a team we began competing again. That is important.
Right at the point where we began competing again, look at what could happen in two years. Our first year in Zones, we had two swimmers swim in Colony Zones. They came back with incredible stories, incredible, about how fun it was. The next year we had 7 and then we had 35, then we had 115. Then Rob Butcher came, watched us swim one year, we had 135. So the competition side really grew and was really fun. At the point we got up to 75, we actually won Colony Zones; we swam 150 relays, in one meet. Yeah, they are still mad. No, they loved it; we called it training.
Right before 2010, we had another jump: we became independent as a business. Same name, affiliated for many years with… actually not only affiliated with, under an Age Group team. That is not necessarily all bad, and do not get the wrong message: I am not bad-mouthing the Age Group team. I am just saying for what we were doing and where we wanted to go and where we had, this worked for us. We became independent as a business, as an organization. Started to develop our own personality, but not yet our name—not yet our brand name.
So then look what happened: we got our own name. We became not just independent as a business; we became branded independently as a Masters team. And look at the growth.
Really those were the events; I mean, not much else changed. Picking-up a few more pools and following our same business model. 2014, I cannot tell you yet, because we are not finished, right? Registration goes through end of October. (You can give us idea.) Okay, so I took this off the website last night, so we are over there; we are at 908. If my phone beeps during the meeting, I will let you know we got another one. Because we get that: USMS pushes it out to your email now. So we are pretty big now.
[audience member]: How many pools did you take over?
[Marcinkowski]: Take over is a harsh word; strong word. No, we grew.
[Marcinkowski]: Yeah. But I will show you why. I mean size is not everything, right? I liked what Sergio [Lopez] said last night. Sergio started-off yesterday’s presentation on coaches, what the first message he had for us? I really liked it; I liked it. Sergio’s message was: why go through all this if it is not sustainable. Right? That is how he started his presentation on working with assistant coaches and working with coaching as a group. If we cannot sustain what we are going to do going forward, yeah, let’s probably not invest the effort. Right?
So, why a large Masters team? What is that? Why do you want to be a large Masters team? What do you need to train? You need water; you need access to water. And at least in the area where we are, size does matter; it matters hugely. It matters in terms of your capital, your ability to negotiate contracts, how seriously they take you. It really matters in what you pay: as soon we got over 3,000 lane-rental hours, we dropped our cost $5 per lane. And then we did some other things, which in some cases resulted in free 50-meter pools: I have got an 8-lane, 50m pool for free, all year—and I will show you that too. That is not just size of the team, I think; that was sort of, maybe, the strategic approach we took.
So we continue: why a large Masters team. I call it an ideal training and learning environment. A wide range of abilities results in a continuous emphasis on stroke technique. So in other words, in a way, you could say: well you guys, your lowest common denominator is going to be your most beginning swimmer; you are going to drag your team back to sort of that level. No, it is just the opposite. Because we have got swimmers who are in constant need of, not learn-to-swim—they generally come to us and they can they can swim… (and I like that program, too, by the way; we support them; Swimming Saves Lives foundation), we teach them how to swim better, faster, and better and more efficiently, everybody.
What has happened is a constant reinforcement on who, amongst others? Our best swimmers. I think if you look at our history, and you look at the Division I swimmers we have had go faster than they ever did in college, it is not their training—sometimes it is less training—but it is this aspect: the constant effort and emphasis on stroke technique and development. We can do that with a wide range of capabilities; we have to do that. We have to teach the new folks how to swim better. We remind the experienced ones or the good swimmers how to swim better, and in some cases, how to fix things that were wrong, that they never knew before.
And, finally, (and these are the pictures) a wide range of ages results in energy, okay? So we have got the young and the reckless on our team; they are 19 or 20, right out of school. They are driving that boat fast, but it is exciting and it’s contagious. And on the other extreme, we have got the wisdom. And let me tell you, if there is a group we learn more from as a program, as an entity, as a business, it is actually the right side of the picture. So the energy comes out from the youth and it is contagious, but the learning and education….
I mean you want to know how important it is to have somebody like a swimmer on the right side on your team, wait until something goes wrong, really wrong. Look who panics, and look who does not. Look who can pull you through it. It is usually the right side of the picture. Right? I mean young guys may do the rescue, no doubt. But who is going to hold it together? It is going to that wisdom. And so I really, really like the range of age groups on the team, and we are continuously trying to get the more senior age groups on the team. We do not have any old swimmers, by the way; we only have not as young. And we do not have any slow ones; we only had not as fast.
Competition. I talked a little bit about competition. Competition for us, and I think most teams, is important. Winning is fun, of course, but we have swimmers who want to have full-blown relays. The other thing for us, competition does, you know we are 906, and maybe at a Zones meet, we will bring 135; so, obviously, a lot of them are not competing. But competition is really the baseline for our training, and that comes down to: are we meeting our team’s goals? Whatever they are. It is baselining our training, so it is important for us.
A large team also gives us the ability to give-back to the sport, and I think our motto as a team is: we do what we need to do to support USMS. We would not be here as a team without USMS. (We are always swimming on our own, at least that is my feeling.) If we support USMS, and if we support our Local Masters Swimming Committee—our LMSC, Potomac Valley—the team is going to sort of take care of itself. I mean, that is kind of our motto. Does that mean we always do the right thing to get a bigger team or maybe some of our team go off? No, probably not. But in the end, when you look at what our team philosophy is, this approach is helping us get there.
So, we are able to do Swimming scholarships. Okay. We are doing 10,000 this year. American University got rid of their scholarship program about five years ago; a lot of colleges have gotten rid of their Swimming program. Big sports are not going to save us, okay? I went to a school that is as an exception: I went to a little school with a big Football team and a little Swim team; they now have 10 full Swimming scholarships and still a big Football team. They are becoming a Stanford, as far as their other sports go—Notre Dame. So, they are very powerful now with their swim team. That is not the norm.
I think a lot of it can come from Masters. So we are giving AU 10,000. We are on the verge of becoming not-for-profit, like Cokie’s team; and as soon as we do, we are going to double that. Because I have got, amongst my 900 swimmers, they are ready to give, but they are waiting. And as soon as they do, they are going to give 10, and we are going to match 10; now I have got AU up-to 20. And 20 is not enough, but it is a start.
We will eventually get 4 or 5 scholarships there. Why? Because the alumni are going to see this; the Swimming alumni are going to realize we have got the mechanism in place. The Masters team has come out to save this program; we are going to jump-in, we are going to help out. We will get the 20 to 40, and eventually we are going to get those guys where Notre Dame is, I hope. 9.9—the NCAA max. They need it: it is an expensive school.
Charities and foundations. You know I have mixed feelings about this. I tell Masters all the time: I do not have the resources to teach people how to swim, I only make you faster. Our mindset is changing on that, and we are trying to structure ourselves so that we can do learn-to-swim. But in the meantime, we can help; we can support this great foundation. And so one of our team members became sort of the deputy with that group, Deborah Murawski; now we have got a direct link to helping that organization.
Training and education. The bigger the team, you know… Cokie mentioned Stu Kahn and Mary, and we brought them out last year and they did a great freestyle clinic for us. Maybe next year we will get Cokie for Breaststroke. We can do that if, you know, there are enough of us, really.
I like this one—we have got to get it active again—with a large team we can provide jobs for other Master swimmers. Are we biased? You better believe that. We have hired 16 Age Groupers out of our former Age Group partner: 12 of them were Summer internships, 4 were full-time jobs. People said we are biased in our hiring. Let me tell you, all 16 of them were fantastic employees. I hired two of them, full-time; and you know, if they did not get a better job, they would still be with me—they were that good. So, yeah, we were a little biased towards swimmers.
But with a big team, you know I have got a lot of orthopedics, I have got a lot of PTs, I have got a lot of lawyers. Almost regardless of your discipline, if you are graduating from college in our area and you need help with a job, we will either refer you or we will hire you. Eventually—it might take some time. We can do that.
Finally: special causes. I have got a personal one; a lot of my team does. If we have an event that comes up, for primarily cancer, I will say any medical cause, we will work and give to that cause the best we can. All of us have been touched in one way or another, and as a team, again, we can make a difference with 900 people.
Before building a large team, though, I think you should sort of ask a couple of basic questions. What is your team philosophy? And kind of from that philosophy: what are your goals? What do your demographics look like? I worked a lot on the continent to the south, in South America, in the Atacama Desert. There are not any pools in the Atacama Desert; it rains once every 10 years. That would not be a good spot to start a large Masters team. So what do your demographics look like? Where will you train? If you do not have the pools, and then if you do not have anybody to train you, if you do not have the coaches, it is probably a little ambitious. And then finally: who will manage the team? And how are they going to manage it? All questions before you go forward with a bigger team.
Now I have showed you a lot of benefits of the bigger team. There are some pitfalls too. You need to really answer these questions.
So to talk about building the team. I think before you go forward with any Masters team you sort of need a philosophy; what kind of team do you want? I will show you ours; it is more of a mission statement. I will show you the philosophy, but here are the steps:
• develop your team philosophy;
• decide on your organization structure;
• obtain training facilities and coaches; (it looks easy huh?)
• get the word out, and
• finally, I think it would be good to establish business partners; what I call strategic relationships.
Eventually, you might even want to decide on your branding and special events that set you apart from other teams. That is kind of neat. It is fun, too. I will show you examples of that.
So there is our… I do not know if I would call that a philosophy as much as a mission statement: To provide all levels of adult athletes the best swimming training opportunities to meet their personal goals…. That is the difference in just meeting team goals, right? We are trying to meet their goals, not our goals, as coaches. …with the highest quality coaches…. And then that last little bit, “…all at a reasonable cost” helps sort of shape what kind of organization we became, which is the same kind of organization our previous big group became.
Organization is critical; it is a showstopper. Are you going to be a coach-led organization? Are going to be board-led? I think a lot of teams are board-led, right. A lot of the Age Group teams are; some of the Masters teams are. More likely, maybe you are going to be a little bit of both: you are going to be board-led; maybe there is a seat or a role for one or more coaches on that board—a combination.
And then a little bit about business structure too. Are you going to be a non-stock corporation? I think we are going to learn a little bit about non-stock corporations in the next presentation. Probably even talk a little bit about the business/financial side of that, and maybe the advantages and disadvantages of being non-stock versus a stock corporation. If you could be a stock corporation… and I personally do not know any public, stock Masters teams, maybe they are, owned by bigger corporations. I think most of them are private, and are going to be a Schedule-C corporation, you could be a Partnership, you can be an LLC. These are all things, I think, to think about and ask. Maybe not quite as important as how you are organized, initially, because that is critical to get it right from the start. But then: how are you going to operate long-term as a business?
Secure training facilities. I always tell my group: training helps. Sometimes I get blank stares about that statement, if they are in taper; but training helps. You know, without water we really do not have much of a team or much to build on, do we; we are just cross-trained, we are just tapered, we are not swimming. So securing a facility.
I can answer questions, if they come up along those line, too.
[indiscernible question from audience]
To answer, we have 15 locations; none of them are new. In all but two of the cases, the facilities were existing and over-utilized, and we got in. But look how many years. Right? I mean, it did not happen overnight; it is a long effort. I think the approaches may differ a little bit. But I will talk a little bit about really stake holders and strategic partnerships; and getting-in in a little way, maybe getting a strategic partnership, helping you to get-in in a big way. But it is a major in our area; a major, major challenge.
Securing or developing the right coaches. Right off the bat… I mean, it is not the most imp… well, maybe for the coach: are they going to be paid? Will they be volunteer? And actually there is a third category; what would the third category be? Otherwise compensated, right? Yeah, swim for dues. A little bit… that is not bad, necessarily; and there are some tax-free benies [benefits] to the receiver in that.
Motivation and passion. That should be first, really. Even before you get to talking about you’re going to be paid, you’re going to volunteer; if they are not motivated, if they are not passionate about it, probably best not to bring them on deck or hire them. Right?
Consistency and reliability. Nothing will hurt your program more than having an empty deck. First of all, it is not insured—that could hurt a lot. But the chances are, nothing is going to happen, except your swimmers are not going to want to come back. I mean the most basic, basic thing is get motivated coaches who will be there.
And you know what? Things do happen. I mean, they happen to all of us. In our area you get into… accidents happen on the way to the pool. It does not have to be your accident; it can be your neighbor, it could be a spouse. It is going to take you out of that work out, and if the team knows that, it is forgiven. It is the no-show-with-silence, right?
Technical skills. They are pretty far down, but they are important. I say, for our team, for a big team, they have got to be multi-tasking. You are going to, even on a small team, have a range of talents—most likely. You have to be able to coach the whole group, not just part of the group.
Have got to be a team player, as well. With multiple sites, I threw-in background checks. We do background checks on our coaches, now. I have thought that for years and years. We are all over-19. But guess what? We lead/follow an Age Group program at half of our facilities. Do I know my coaches are all great? Yeah; I have got high confidence in mine. But is it worth checking anyways? Yes, it is worth doing.
[indiscernible question from audience]
No, we do them through a couple of people on the team—we have our own sources. Yeah. The hard thing for us is subs[titutes]. You know every once in a while, we will have a sub who is a former coach, who swims for us; it will not be an unknown sub, it will be one of our own. That will be somebody who we have on deck for a night. But I guess I am more-worried about the access and the long term. I do not think things like this tend to happen really quickly. You know, we do what we can.
[audience member]: Do any of your facilities dictate that?
[Marcinkowski]: Yes and no. We had a relationship, in name, to an Age Group team; absolutely, it happened: it started for us at all of our facilities. We had already started this years before then. Now that we are a Masters team, though? No, none of them.
CPR and safety. I lay awake at night worried about one of my swimmers having a heart attack. Not so much that, as one of our coaches not doing the right thing. Not knowing where the equipment is; not….
You know, I worry about our lifeguards at our pools. We have got EMTs, we got MDs [on the team]: we are far-more qualified. So the latest thing I have done is, through our pools, is said Okay, if something happens at American University… at any given workout I am going to have two to three MDs, I am going to have a critical care nurse—most likely given at AU with all the med schools. You have got a rent-a-seat/a student lifeguard who is probably going to be scared-to-death and may not even take action. AU was great; they said most-qualified person in charge. So it should be right, within reason.
Okay: building a team. Getting the word out, obviously, is important. But I am going to argue, that this first bullet does 75% of building a large Masters team. Put quality coaches, in a quality program, and understand your swimmer’s (well, I call them customer’s) needs. You know what, your team—it may take longer, than if you do not—your team is going to take care of itself. That is all you need to do. Good coaches on deck. Do not even have to be good facilities—like Pete said last night. You need to understand the customer’s needs. Your team is going to grow.
USMS and your Local Masters Swimming Committee, absolutely. One of the latest things we did is we just went back on USMS Places to Swim. We get a lot of contacts through that. We get a lot of travelling Masters that come to DC, for whatever reason; they always swim with us for free—we do not charge at any one of our 15 sites. I have even had them stay for three months and they have been free; but then after three months, I am like: Could you guys….
But my point is that will all come back to you. Word gets out, they will move back in the area, and it is the right thing to do. You are not recruiting; you are just meeting your team philosophy of giving them a place to train at a reasonable cost. Visiting Masters, no cost.
In the LMSC, we have got the best registrar, Jeff Rodin (those of you guys who know him). He is responsible for half the growth of our team; not me, not my coaches. Our registrar is; he is that good. You want to swim in that LMSC because of him. And then we get lucky and they come to us.
Partner organizations. I think are important. Tri-athletes. How important are they to us? Of our 900, over 400 of them are. First sport: tri-athletes—first sport.
Colleges. Bill and I have talked about this a little bit, but the college kids are starving for Masters programs; they absolutely are. We are in an area, Marymount and American University, they have varsity programs. For whatever reason, they have exchange students—I got a tremendous 19-year-old freestyle and butterfly exchange student from Japan—they are not allowed to even practice per NCAA rules with the varsity team. Guess who she is swimming with? She is one tenth off the 50 Free, she is four tenths off of a 100 fly, of making the Japanese National Team. And she is going to make it; we are going to get here there; we are getting her some special help. It is fun, but my point is it is a great….
A lot of colleges, they have a club team. We are at the University District of Columbia; they are starting a varsity team next year. So for these first two years, they have been with us. I would love to see them go varsity; that would be success: them leaving our team and going varsity. If they do not, those kids have got a place to swim for us until they graduate.
That is an odd one, huh: retirement centers. Has anybody ever been to a Green Springs or similar? It is not an assisted-living; it is… what is the other word: active-living community. I went to a Green Springs in Springfield, Virginia, and did a coaching clinic. I know in the 85-100 year-olds I met, I know there is a couple world record holders. When they got in their little 20-yard pool and I saw them swim, I was like Oh my gosh! You guys could be teaching us—they were that good. And they love to do it. Get them on your team; it is going to help your team.
And competition pool [swimmers]. As I said before, competition is a good thing to do with your team. Yes, there is a racing aspect; there is the baselining of your training. But people also see… it is a good way to evaluate a team: go see how they behave at a meet.
Look how far down advertising is, right? I do zero. Now, we could do some. Actually that is not true: at Navy-Bethesda, on the military base, there we advertise, amongst base personnel and across the street at NIH—the National Institute of Health. But other than that, as the coaches chair of Potomac Valley, I am not really comfortable advertising for people to come swim; I want them to come to the Potomac Valley and swim on any team. So we do not do any, but you can, right? I mean you guys can do this, you can get the word out on your teams and all. And I think it is a good way to go, potentially.
Business partnerships and strategic relationships. Triathlon clubs, wellness, physical therapy clinics. Oh my gosh! They are prescribing to two places, right? The swimming is oftentimes (Nadine will tell you better than I will), it is absolutely the best therapy for some injuries potentially. But then the other part of that: long-term, it is corrective. Teach them the proper stroke. Goes both ways, right? So one of our strategic partners—just very recently—has become the Endurance Sports Center in Arlington Virginia. And as Nadine said: I am not sure who is benefitting more.
We have two partnerships. And I do not want you to focus on these two, because I am not marketing for these guys, but I want you to focus on this type of thing. These guys, years and years ago, when we first became our own business entity, I was reaching-out to everybody in the world to come-up with some sort of you know give me some discounts on your gear and I could not get anybody’s interest but the top guys here, Finis.
Finis actually came to us at SwimFest way back in San Diego, and said: we think there’s a lot to Masters swimming. They said, yeah, we think Masters’ swimming is going to go just big; it’s sort of just like Age Group swimming and those guys are going to buy high-performance suits, the whole thing. And we sat down with Finis over a beer and we negotiated our agreement with these guys. We have had it now for… how many years has San Diego been? Seven-nine years? Been quite a while.
These guys are definitely related to our growth; they have been spectacular. I will give you the latest example. So we put our wounded warriors swim in; we have got a lot of them in D.C. If anybody ever comes and swims with us at Navy Bethesda, be prepared; because the first time I went there—and I grew up as a a military brat—but I never saw the extent in the number of injuries that you see at Navy-Bethesda. You do not see a dozen wounded warriors; you see hundreds and hundreds. And those guys, every one of them, swims for us for 100% scholarship on our team; and we pay their USMS.
The only piece I could not financially cover, or pay for, was their gear. I just do not have the funds: I cannot take the money… I have got to pay my lane rentals; I have got some coaches that have to be paid, you know. I had nowhere to get the money from. I turned to Finis, and I talked to Tim Elson. I called him up on the phone; I said, “Tim, here is the deal; I need help.” And he was like: how many? I said, “Right now, I have got 18; upper-end maybe 36. If it gets over 50, I can let you know.” We are talking full outfitting; I mean toe to… you know, head-to-toe except performance suits, the full kit.
Tim goes—he is pretty high-up—“Well that’s over my head; I’ve got to talk to the boss. But I’ve got good feelings about this.” So I hang up and I figure: okay in two weeks, I’m going to hear back from Tim. I go to lunch; come back from lunch, there is a note: Tim Elson called. Uh-oh, this is not good: why so quick? I was at lunch 30 minutes. Get Tim on the phone, “You are good to go. Let us know if it gets over 50.” That quick; that is a partner—for us.
[indiscernible question from audience]
It just started, two weeks ago—we just started. So we have done everything else; we are just starting to outfit them. For me the issue is: what is a wounded warrior? I mean, it has just got potential to explode. Traumatic brain injury, no visible head wound? In my book, it is. But it is hard; I mean, I really need the doctor’s help on this stuff—or the nurse.
So Finis for us, and there are others out there. I would say that if they are sponsor of these guys, USMS, they are in a good position to be a sponsor, or a partner—it does not have to be a sponsor—of your team. And they are good; they have really come to our level of sport.
The other one we have that is directly responsible for a lot of our business success, and they helped pay the wounded warriors USMS fee, is Club Assistant. They have been absolutely fantastic. Before Club Assistant, our collection rate, in a bad year, was about 60-65%. Do you know how much money that is? And on a good year it was about 75%. It never hit 80. Do you know what it is now? About 100. It is the cost of one member a year, for us. So I am at over 900, if one swimmer annual pays their fee, and we get everybody’s collection.
My other big worry was insurance. I mean 909 and you are going to track USMS members? I mean: who is current, who is not, who renews. They cannot even sign-up for our team without plugging their USMS number in the Club Assistant.
[indiscernible question from audience]
Yeah, we have not used them for our website yet, and I will show you why. But you can. But they have done some modifications for our 15 sites and the quirks in our types of memberships; they just really came-through when we needed them. The other one I have heard great things about, by the way, TeamUnify; I have heard really good…. I know some of our coaches have personally used them and loved them. I would not tell you if they are bad, but I will tell you if they are good, and I have heard good things.
Branding. I think we are probably getting a little bit advanced here. We had to rebrand; our philosophy never changed but our name had to change. We struggled, and we had a temporary name and it was local—it was Fairfax County Masters. We had to get something that encompassed all of our sites. Lane Four sounds competitive, right? I mean, as those of you who compete know. But that is not… I mean the concept is… tell Rod Butcher his view… (Not in a ten lane pool? Okay good; now we are getting late enough in the afternoon, we are getting heckled.)
But Lane Four is: find your own lane 4 on our team. It may be… I am getting knee surgery again on my right knee, next Friday. My goal, I want to help my team out in San Antonio, but my goal is really going to be rehab. If I am able to swim breaststroke again, that is my goal, you know, for lane 4. It is not going to be competition for a while. Or Fitness or weight loss: it is find your own kind of center lane, or meet your own goals.
Social events are big on our team. They have got to be, what?
[indiscernible comment from audience]
[Marcinkowski]: Do you really? Yeah we do at one of our facilities. The first Thursday of every month after workout—we are lucky in that it is in a private club—we move over, out of the pool into the club, and we have a big social on Thursday night. It starts at 9:15 at night with wet hair, and it goes on until the club closes at 11. And there is always a theme you know? What’s the worst warm-up or warm-down pool you have ever swam in? Pretty harmless theme, right? Now, I do not want to make fun of our neighbor to the west of Virginia, but we have had people swim in circular warm-up and warm-down pools.
East versus West challenge. I had really the pleasure of teaching a high performance camp with… I mean, I learned more than I provided—I should have paid these guys. That would include Cokie, the second year, and my first year was Stu Kahn and Kerry O’Brien. You know, these guys are sort of like legends in Masters coaching and it taught me a lot.
The first year I coached, Kerry O’Brien came up to me and said “You know, Frank, I’ve got a question that’s really been bugging me: how come there is no Master swimming in the East?” I was like: excuse me? “I know you’ve guys have got clubs and things and all. But how come there is no one fast? There is no competition? Why is all of the fast Masters swimming west of the Mississippi?” And he goes: most of them are on my team and on Stu Kahn’s team. And I was like: Kerry, what are you getting at? He goes, “I’m just revealing a point.”
I said, “Look, Kerry, we’re a pretty big Masters team.” At the time, we were in the 300s. And I said, “I know a team….” Craig Keller, one of the coaches, “I know, a team a little bit to the north, Asphalt Green. We’ll team up with those two teams, and we’ll take you on in a one year challenge and we’ll see what happens.” He was like: okay. We did it right there, one year challenge.
Every swimmer who breaks into top-100, because we want a wide participation. Right? So it is the top-100—not the top-10—scores a point for their team. First year they pick the events: 100, 200 and 400 breaststroke. It went on for a year.
Craig Keller went to England; their team did not have a coach for quite a few months. Three months. Then Dominic got there, and he was confused with streets and took you know… trying to get to practice and stuff. (He coaches for us, now: I can tease him.) Long story short, we got wiped out.
Next year, I was with Cokie and Kerry and Stu. And he is like, Yeah. We made it an annual challenge. He said: you know we’re so good, we’re so confident – you pick the events. So we picked the events two years ago; we picked distance freestyle. Did I tell you how much of our team is open water and triathletes? These guys are not very smart; they did not know that. We wiped them out.
Okay so they won one and we won one. Loser picks last year. Now… oh, I am sorry. So in the meantime (you hadn’t been hired yet), I needed a partner because I was not sure who Alpha Green was… so we teamed-up with the Sarasota Sharks—who are still our current partner. The neat thing about them is we are mostly younger swimmers—all ages but strong in the younger—and they have got a really strong mid and senior swimmers. So it was a great… it is hardly fair. So we teamed up
So they picked the events, last year; we blew them out again. So my official name of the two teams on the West Coast now is: Walnut Creeky, and I have re-named the acronym for Davis Aquatic Masters and now it is Davis Aquatic Master Neophytes—and that has got a bad acronym. So, it is a fun challenge.
So there is a trophy that goes back and forth, like America’s Cup. And as the loser the first year, we were tasked with developing the trophy. So we contracted it at a local shop; we got the most hideous looking trophy you have ever seen. And I never met Stu and we never transferred it over, and then we won. So it is going to be ours, so now we are making a new trophy, since it seems we are going to be on it two, and maybe three, times. All fun stuff.
Practice challenges. Let me show you one. So we have got a practice challenge where once a year our team does 100 of they do whatever year it is. Like in 2012 they started. They did — I guess they left off the big number; they did 112 x100s. And then the last year 2013. For their work out they did- I mean 120, and then last year they did a 130. And then this year, they did a 140 but it never occurred to them, they went from short course to long course, almost killed them. Almost killed them, 140 x 100 meters. You wonder why it took them 45 minutes longer. So we started an annual challenge with our name change.
We started annual challenge and we said hey, you know what would be really cool? We got a lot of sites, they’re spread from Leesburg Virginia to American University to Bethesda Maryland. What about if any swimmer swam every work out at every location, what are we going to do? They said it’s not going to happen; we are going to pay your dues. Well guess what happened yesterday? Here’s my email from Mike Crow, who I might mention is a new swimmer and just doing fantastic. So Mike yesterday completed his 64th and last work out, and I just hollered at Dominic to issue him an $820 check refund for his year’s dues. And I said Mike, “We all need our name on everything. I want to name this annual challenge after you. If you’re willing, give me your bio and from here on now up this is the Mike Crow Challenge,” and here is his email. He said, “I’d happy to be provide a bio; I’d be flabbergasted to have this named after me.” And it’s his last paragraph really right, that makes it worth it, ‘I can’t say enough about the welcoming is part of attitude and coaches and swimmers at each location.” I mean for me and that’s one of the things that could work when I wake at night worrying too it’s my outlying locations. How is the coach doing? And like did you know.
And this is a little bit of validation’s that is going well with the system. Okay. So we’re as I mentioned, we’re one step from a 5013C not-for-profit. Yes we helped her, she beat us alright? It’s really going to help us fulfill our mission statement as a Not for Profit. It’s the reason — one of the reasons where a Navy Bethesda. That they can’t, the way they’re set up is they can’t lease their pool to a commercial entity, they can’t charge lane rentals but they can at least swim for free eight lane, 50 meters alright? These are how we got to the not for profit college scholarships I mentioned AU; I hope we’ll add UDC and Marymount there. Endowments, Swim for Life foundation or Wounded Warrior scholarships, which are still growing. We mentioned the education. And finally, we still today are a 100% coach- led, coach run team. And I can’t tell you we don’t have a board, because we’re required to have a board as a 5013C, guess who our board are, it’s our three — it’s myself and it’s Ed Zerkel and Dominic for our three primary coaches, alright?
And then the other thing really important with 15 sites, where do you – I showed maybe before the presentation, one of my favorite restaurants in the North shore of Hawaii. The Sunset Grill but it’s that small team ambiance and that’s what you risk losing it. You need to think about that. And it’s so fun when you have 15 or 20 folks you’ve swum with for 10 years and you know everything about each other’s lives and working, you go out. You know in our case in my site, we shoot a lot of skeet together; we climb over every crag, but you can keep that but you got to be really, really careful. And so what we do is we identify a site lead at each location. You know, they are the coach, they are the site coach. They don’t get emails from me as the head coach. They get email — their coach gets emails from me, right? But it keeps it really you know, once or twice a year you might get an email saying, “Hey you guys, we want to roll up in San Antonio next year in a big way. Yeah come join us as a team.” But we’ve really tried keeping that as long as they share that same philosophy, as long they’re all welcoming, we won’t let anybody go haywire. As far as team philosophy goes in other words, those are key positions. Just put all these up there real quick. These are all coaches by the way.
[indiscernible audience question]
[Marcinkowski]: So yeah — yeah the only one that’s not really precision is as a Not for Profit we have to have it outside audit capability, we have to have transparency with financial statements and things like that. So that is actually committee, not of coach’s actually, because the coaches run the team. That’s the committee or one of our CPAs on the team and a couple of other knowledgeable swimmers. The rest of them are coaches. We picked up a good new web master came from USMS okay, their website. He’s now with us; we’re looking really forward to that. Luke, yeah so we got, we think strong people in the right key positions.
[indiscernible comment from audience]
[Marcinkowski]: I just wanted you the bullets of the challenges in and out of the pool; this is going to take some glasses I think. Okay. So I mean, we’ve already took a wide range of abilities and ages of course. That’s a challenge. We go from 19 to 99. Many closer to 19 though than 99. I’m just continuously trying to get that team balanced out really for the health of our team to learning and get those older age recruits. Yeah my results, there we go yeah got it. Wide range of experience, wide diversity of goals, okay? Those are – no surprises there, fitness competition, multi sport, injury rehab and special needs, right? I mean that’s challenging for us, but that made swimmers, that much diversity.
Season training plans; the swim competition schedule does not match the tri-athlete schedule. And notice so I said, I didn’t say competition — and I try avoiding this, it’s a nuance. But I didn’t say season training plans for the competitive swimmer versus the tri-athlete continuously, its one team and those tri-athletes are swimming with us, they’re not going to swimming for team Z, Ed Zerkel, leader of this year’s- since I call them swimming for L4. They’re training with L4; they’re our team. So continuously I’m trying to remind these guys its one team.
[indiscernible comment from audience]
[Marcinkowski]: No, no and I wouldn’t do it because I couldn’t do it half as good as Ed Zerkel does it. Consistency with training not only with different coaches, but across different sites, and again you got some sites that are more competitive, they are making these demands to their coach. We’ve got other sites that are all tri-athletes, they want to do all frees style. It’s a challenge. Okay, athlete motivation. Let me just tell you how I deal with this because they didn’t swim in Burke like in swimming club. It’s pretty gloomy by March or whatever, you know and we get returning swimmers. They’re haven’t taken enough time off, they’re still burnt out, they got bad attitudes. What I do is, I give one of the young guys — you got to pick the right personality in a stage to throw out, have you ever done this? So I’ll get like a recent college swimmer and he’ll walk in 15 minutes late, nobody is in trouble for being late, it’s all attitude.
I’m like “Joe, Joe you are running a little late what’s going?” He is like “Coach I don’t feel like swimming tonight. I don’t feel like being here, I don’t like this,” – I’m like, “Joe that’s a bad attitude, get out, you are out of here.” And I throw him out and the rest of the team is like — and for a year that’s site behaves, it’s a great technique. So anybody… and in the meantime, Joe is off at the local bar having a beer; I meet him later; we are just laughing. You guys have got to try that technique.
Non players. (USMS may not want to see this; it is just an exception not a rule.) You try being everything… we try being all-encompassing. We try to be. I had a swimmer who is a national record holder, who broke a World Record, and all of a sudden she self-declared: no tri-athletes at our site. In fact no non-competitive; in fact nobody that did not swim Division I is going to train at this site. (Her name is not important.) I said, “You know what? There is another Masters team just a little further north from us, not a bad ride, that’ve got some great relays, they’re a small team, you need to go and try them out.” She said, “You telling me to leave?” I said, “I’m telling you to go try out other teams and come back in a year.” Yeah I mean it; we told her to leave. If it is going to change your philosophy, it is not worth it. I mean…
[indiscernible comment from audience]
[Marcinkowski]: Oh okay. I have had some coaches tell me, you know the customers always… you can never do that. I am like the customers is my other 908 swimmers, at that point.
[indiscernible comment from audience]
[Marcinkowski]: Right: just get out of my pool. That is good.
Coaches, it is a dilemma for us: all of our coaches swim. It is a conflict: are you going to swim or are you going to coach?
Access to water. We have got 15 pools. It was not easy. Do I have enough? Yes. Do I have little capacity right now? Yes. But now, the one on the other side: we have lost our Open Water Swimming venue. We had a beautiful venue. They have had fatalities in every sport but Swimming. Their last fatality was they lost a special ops diver, sadly, who fell out of a helicopter, from 150 feet and three feet of water. Very, very sad. Did not kill himself. And the county declared Swimming inherently unsafe.
So the bass tournaments have had fatalities; the jet skiers, the personal watercraft have had fatalities; the wind surfers; the special ops. We are the only safe program on the Potomac, and we lost it. But it is a work-in-progress, right? Constant struggle.
Team communication is critical. We all know this. But who’s got kids? Do they answer your phone? Will they answer their phone if you text them and say pick up the phone? Usually, right? Email probably not, text maybe. But insta-tweet, right? My point is that the way a lot of our team wants to communicate, there is a segment of our team and they are an important part of our team—the smartest part of our team—there are seniors, that do not want—not all of them, but most of them—do not want to communicate that way. It is really hard to pick.
So how do we do it? We do it through Club Assistant; good, old-fashioned email. And they know when they get an email from me, there is no chatter, there is no response, there is no copy all. It is an email of a practice cancellation. It is clear: they know to read that email. Most of them; we have got to train some of the new ones. But you have got to think about that.
I mentioned the site uniqueness; maintaining that small team feel is a challenge. Mobilizing for team events; yeah, I do not recommend a large team, actually.
Insurance: thank God for USMS. I am so convinced we could not do this right on our own. And I am not saying other coaches have not done it on their own. I will tell you what, I run my own business and they have not done it as well as these guys have. There is no way, if something happens. Almost every policy we have had to submit to—I call them lane lord—to a facility manager, they look at their policy and go: oh that exceeds our requirement. It is getting harder; I mean, I do not know if it will stay that way. But, this is hard for us.
We are operating as not-for-profit. You might be for-profit, but in a way you are going to have the same decision. Dollars toward your coaches: what you are going to pay, what you are going to bonus your coaches, and salaries. And you have got to pay your lane rentals. Coaching salaries is maybe a one, quasi, option in our case. Versus not so much capital investment, but giving.
And you know, it is really hard for me to go… we pay our coaches for the most part 35 an hour—the ones that are paid, but we have got volunteers too, I could not pay them that much. It is really hard to go to one of my coaches and say, “I am going to knock you down to 30 an hour because I want to put 25 more hundred on the AU scholarship,” when they are doing their job. So that is a struggle for us. Lanes go up in our area 5%-10% a year, every year.
So questions? Being a chemical engineer I found a nice one related to fluid mechanics: Can you swim faster or slower in syrup? And there is a whole; if anybody is interested I got a 10-page paper on it here.
[indiscernible question from the audience]
[Marcinkowski]: Yeah so, yeah, 70 is next year; so we have gone five years, for five years now for unlimited. So one of the things I did not mention that contribute to our growth is we have 16 locations, 15 of them all but hers and my old location, Burke, you can swim anywhere. I have worked out between the counties and American University, in the City of Alexandria: they accept all of our swimmers for our locations. And so 64 workouts basically, its $60 a month, no initiation fee. Or if you are Tuesday/Thursday, like a lot of tri-athletes are—that is all you are going to swim—Tuesday/Thursday is $33 a month, a 100 a quarter. Or we have a punch pass, which we discourage and as a result a punch pass is $85 for 10 punches.
[indiscernible question from the audience]
[Marcinkowski]: Correct, nor could I really. I have got some really good… I have got for the most really experienced, you know, Division I swimmers, themselves. It doesn’t make them a great coach, but it means they know a pretty good workout when they see one. Most of them understand the energy systems. It’s like almost all of them understand seasonal planning, but where we do have a template is we have three of our sites that it’s a Tuesday/Thursday early morning five AM and eight to nine PM that are almost total tri-athletes. And those three sites follow the same workout. Dominic pushes them how to work out, and our swimmers, I go to them. I love them because it’s so hard, even the medium to faster tri-athletes, it’s so hard to keep up with them going freestyle if you go stroke, so it really pushes you.
And they are good well thought sets. Dominic coaches both our swimmers and our tri-athletes only, so he puts a triathlon oriented workout out there that our swimmers really like, too. If you give them the choice, likewise the tri-athletes come to our workouts, they can do the whole thing freestyle. But so next year we are going to go for our first increase in five years. I just, the pool rentals keep going up. They just keep going up, you know my goal was to make it low cost but I got to pay my coaches, I got to pay the lane rental. I actually want some capital investment in the team as well. What’s that?
[indiscernible question from the audience]
[Marcinkowski]: Our dues are $60 a month for essentially unlimited swimming for going to any of our 15 of our 16 workouts. There are 64 workout choices. So the unique thing for us and those of you who live in a metropolitan area, I mean, I can be anywhere in Northern Virginia, I can go downtown — I go downtown to American Petroleum Institute. I get stuck in traffic or I get out of a meeting guess what oh men there is a 50 meter lunchtime workout at Wilson High School, right? Or University District of Colombia on Tuesday, Thursday morning at six. American University at 5AM, Monday through Friday and at 6AM and at 7:45 Monday through Friday, Saturday morning, Saturday nights, Sunday nights. So, we got workouts started all over sort of you can imagine the metro stop. It’s a metro stop of swimming options, but again, that’s our philosophy as much good training opportunity for masters.
[indiscernible question from the audience]
[Marcinkowski]: So last year at this point. Last year we finished at 9:35 and we were about 50 ahead — I don’t know what happens in September and October that we get so many new swimmers, I was hoping that we get 1000 this year, but we are on track to be a little short. Just a nice round number, it’s just a number, yeah.
[indiscernible question from the audience]
[Marcinkowski]: Actually, yeah I think we are at a good size to stop growing and that’s not to say we won’t take on new members and all but, I mean at some point, I mean I don’t want any more sites. I don’t want to expand geographically. We refuse to go outside of our element, see because we absolutely love Potomac Valley, I’ll do anything I can do to help them. I don’t see — I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t see the benefit to — we can do everything the only thing I can’t do right now is build a pool and so I’m looking at — I’m just looking realistically. I mean, I’m in Northern Virginia and with a capital investment, if I can save you know, if I could save $50,000 a year on capital investment and we’re Not for Profit, it’s going to take me 10 years to get half a million that’s not — that’s not enough to float a bond, so I don’t envision us building a pool.
But I can emphasize enough controlling the water and I absolutely won’t say anything bad about age groupers I think — I mean part of our mission is, we’ve given 18 Age Group scholarships over the years for graduating senior swimmers but I will tell you, you’ve got to, you really have got to fight for your water. And you got to be in it, you have got to work with them and you’ve got to get it for them, too because if they are not getting their time and getting up through college and all, I mean then what is it for? You don’t want to steal it, but you don’t want it taken away from them in the dark of the night, right. You don’t control it, let me tell you, I have gone through it anything can happen, anything. And for that reason you will feel so much better not being on sub lease or not coming in through some indirect affiliation. Being that name on the contract and you build that strategic relationship with the lane lord—as I call them. And then you control, you know, then, I’m not saying that you control it but you have more control of your destiny as a Masters team and access to water.
[indiscernible question from the audience]
[Marcinkowski]: I would not say it is a high percent… it is a very desirable training opportunity, for not just Open Water swimmers, it is really refreshing for all of us to get out of the pool, especially an indoor pool.
We still have a venue on the Potomac, but the issue we are dealing with now is the hydrilla. So where we were with the county, they cut the hydrilla. The hydrilla has now become a permit-able—a water permit process issued by the county—almost impossible to get. One of our swimmers lives in a private, river-front community; we swim off their beach. Early- to mid-July, the hydrilla is up to the surface, it is a solid mat of weed. It is great for breaking-through panic and stuff like that, getting over your phobias. And we cannot get it cut. In my company, we are in the water-quality business, and I cannot get it cut. I mean, I understand the permit; I just cannot overcome the politics of getting it cut.
So what we are doing now is we are looking primarily at county facilities on the outskirts/western outskirts of Fairfax County and Prince William County. They have got some beautiful spring lakes. The issue there with us is, when they are not being used by the public—like in the morning and the evening when we want to be there—there are not guarded. So we just… we are going to do the whole thing: we are going to hire the guards and pay them double what the county pays them. We will get there again, but there is only so much you can do. It just takes time.
[indiscernible question from the audience]
[Marcinkowski]: We had one, had one a business manager, Dominic who is full time. And you know we started about a year ago, he came from Asphalt Green, he came back to us, he needed a job. He coaches the most number of workouts of us, but even at 13 workouts a week it’s not a living at what we pay. So he became a team manager and did all those functions I showed you. And when you think about it, there is an inherent conflict there and Dominic knows this too. He’s on our board, Dominic’s job on our board is to work himself out of a job and make it cheaper on dues. And the conflict is, again at the end of the year, are you going to put 7,500 or 10,000 on your scholarship so you can give 2,500 instead of 1,000 to Swimming Saves Lives when it comes out of your salary? You know what I mean, we created a conflict…
[indiscernible question from the audience]
[Marcinkowski]: Sure, exactly, I know, he’s paid for an employee for a very defined job outside of its board hat. In fact I would argue with, he’s so busy with the job, he can’t even do his board hat. Ed Zerkel and I do it all, but we changed it so we are in a position now of that going out primarily to volunteers. Luke’s going to take over the website for us, just wave these dues for year, should be happy. He’ll do a great job, we are paying Dominic for that. The tough position when you get to be a team like ours is registrar, you know? What 900, 900 people? The Club Assistant helps, every quarter they are automatically billed and then you have the Target fiasco. If you know the Target fiasco, well last Christmas time, yeah so our first billing cycle came up April 1st after that Target scandal and of our 450 that paid $180 a quarter, for quarterly, 250 or 275 bounced from the Target scandal. It was literally crisis for us because we had bills to pay and everything else. Now you try tracking those people down manually, so the registrar job is very hard. But you don’t need to pay $40 an hour for it. You know what you need? A stay at home parent, or somebody who’s got a part time job and flexibility that can do it when the hours are convenient and is happy to get $20 an hour. That’s what we need to do.
It was a small but very exciting audience, a lot of questions. Thanks guys.
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