Gold in the Water: How Your Masters Swim Team Can Support Your Age Group Program by Patti Waldren and David Marsh (2010)



I am Bill Rose, and I have the honor of introducing two people today.  One is Dave Marsh and I really don’t have to say too much to any of you about Dave Marsh; he’s probably one of the finest, if not the finest, national coaches that we have in the United States.  As you may or may not know, Dave was a great backstroker in his day and also has been coaching for many years now, even though he looks like a child, far as I’m concerned.  He coached at Las Vegas Gold.  Coached, as you all know, famously at Auburn, for so many years, and now is at MAC [Meckelnburg Aquatic Club].


But more important, I want to introduce to you his number-one sidekick: Patty Waldren.  Patti has been with Mecklenburg for over 20; she says 27, but I don’t even know if she’s that old yet.  At the same time, she has worked with all parts of the program, certainly in the age group program of Mecklenburg for many, many years.  Now over the last 8 years, she handles the Masters part of the program.  Mecklenburg also speaks for itself.  It also, if not one of the finest, is the finest club in the United States.  Anything that you can get from them, use it, because they do it very, very well.  Again, thank you very much for coming.  [applause]



[talk begins]


[PW]:  Thank you Bill.  Dave and I would really like to thank ASCA for this opportunity to come and share what we’ve experienced in regards to the relationship between our Masters group and our age group team.  Just want to see what’s kind of in the room here.  How many of you in the audience have vested-interest just in Masters?  Raise your hand.  Just in Masters.  Okay, how many of you are vested-in club slimming, and are curious about what a Masters team could do for your club?  Raise your hand.  Okay, alright.  Great.


We would like to welcome everybody today.  We’re just glad you’re here.  The format we’re going to go by, as we go through the presentation and you have questions, just write them down and at the end we’ll address your questions.


David and I have about an hour to present to you; we had a few technical difficulties here starting out.  But depending on how many side bars we do, some coaches tell a lot of stories.  We will try and keep each other in check and get you through this presentation.  So, we’re real excited to be here.  So, let’s get started.  Alright, okay.


I want to give you an overview of what we’re going to talk about today.  We’re going to tell you who is SwimMAC Carolina.  We’re not going to assume that people in this room know who we are.  We are going to talk about who is a SwimMAC Masters.  The most important part of this is what is the relationship between the two and we are going to talk about it from a recognition, revenue and resource perspective and just show you what dual benefits are between the two groups.


Okay, hang on one second.  Pardon me, it’s hard, I don’t see it on the screen here.  So, once I get this.  Okay so I just wanted to tell you a little bit about SwimMAC.  It was formed in 1977 by only five families, only 15 kids on the team.  It has built a really strong legacy of leadership and commitment to swimming and its very strong, competitive team spanning age group elite and now we have a real Olympic legacy.  We are dedicated to teaching all the values and making sure that swimming is available to all ages and all levels.


I’d like David to explain to this audience to why he came to SwimMAC Carolina and this vision statement is key in his explanation.


[DM]:  Yes, Thanks for being here also.  This is two years of work of getting down on paper what we want to be.   When I arrived, we had a statement empowering young people to be champions for life through excellence in swimming.  But we didn’t have a little more meat on the bones and this has been about a two year effort where every word has been picked apart on our board and on our leadership group at SwimMAC.


We are a parent-run, 501c3 organization, but this thing had to get worked.  To give you an example: SwimMAC Carolina, the epic center of progressive, competitive swimming.  The word competitive was actually competitive to get in because it was a part of what a lot of you deal with, with your clubs; and we deal with, with having a big club as well, is being everything to everybody.  At the center of our team, the emphasis that I continue to preach, and I think our whole staff does, is that we’re a competitive swimming team.  At the end of the day, that’s the most-simple thing we are: a competitive swimming team.  Around that we build all kinds of other things.


I think it does pertain to Masters and some of the synergy there and inspires team performance through individual excellence by engaging mind, body and spirit.  Inspiring team performance.  Another thing hard to do in club swimming as compared to college or high school is to get major buy-in from team.  It tends to be a little bit more individualized.  And so, we are working on developing programming and styles, and ways we call ourselves and branding to make sure that the team performance is emphasized within the context of our typically individual sport.  Engaging mind, body and spirit.  For obvious reasons, all three of those categories, not just two of the three.


Our model of excellence is built upon collaboration, innovation, implementation, as embraced by.  So the collaboration is, in a big team, or even a small team, one of the things that is most challenging is having that collaborative effort where people at the different ends of the program sometimes the center of the program, are working, thinking of how I can improve the other components of the team.  What I’ve come to find and we’ll get to more clearly is that Masters is absolutely a key part of that in my experience at SwimMAC and what I’m excited about the future.


It’s embraced by coaches, athletes, coaches, parents, alumni, donors, and it’s a global, competitive community.  Obviously our main focus is the United States.  But absolutely, we open our doors to people all around the world that would like to gain or we go seek out from other clubs and other groups all around the world.


Why I came here was in college coaching I did a little piece of that.  I did the excellence in swimming thing pretty well and we offered a window of time to 18-year-old to 22-year-old that I loved doing and that we ended up being good at with all the many of the coaches you’ve heard speaking at this clinic and several in this room who’ve helped build that Auburn program.


What happened was my kids started swimming, too.  My young kids, they started swimming.  I was thinking, “Gosh, there’s got to be continued ways that we can do this better and more intentionally then the way I’m seeing it experienced through my child.” Then, about 15 other things happened.  The next thing you know, this opportunity opened up.


Most of which Jeff Gackle, who Patty worked for, as an age group coach for a long time along with Pat Hogan, asked.  He said, “Well you want to come do club?”  He got me at an interesting time.  Since then, love it, love what this collaboration and synergy is all about.


I hope in what we can share with you here and I hope you can ask questions that really drill down and we are an open book as far as what we can help you with.  You can see how you and your individual programs or individual circumstance can take pieces of what we have that we’re doing.  Please if we can steal what you’re doing that’s effective, please share that at the end because we’d love to know that.


This is the competitive part of our team, this is a diagram.  I’m real visual, so this explains the program to me.  When I look at SwimMAC’s competitive part of the team, this is one of the better explanations for me.  If you look for the fast track in the program you’d go over toward the left side of the program.  You’d go Fireball, happy-happies, they’re the 8- and 9-year-olds.  You go Nova, Fireball, Bronze, Gold, Blue, Senior 1.  That would be the fast track kid who’s going to probably be at senior nationals when they are 14, 15, or 16 years old.  They’re probably going to bounce like that.


Interestingly enough a lot of our best young boys, several of them who are swimming at Division I schools, and in some ways, even Ricky Berens experience some degree this.  By the way, Patty is probably Ricky Berens even made it through age group swimming because she was…what’s the word?  Patient with him.


[PW]:  Patient and gave him a little bit of leeway.  He was very different from all the other kids in the group.


[DM]:  As our most of our great athletes, especially boys.  So, a lot of the guys have actually bounced through that White over into Orange and Senior 2. The really go a different kind of route often, some of the best boys that our programs ever developed.  In some ways it’s almost a better route for them to go if they can come out the back side.


Masters, as you can see, is an integral part of this.  As we’ll drill down in here through are program, Masters touches a lot of places.  There is a lot going on at MAC and but again this is the center piece of the competitive team.


[PW]:  Alright, David just gave you a really nice comprehensive view of the competitive team, but there is a lot more to SwimMAC Carolina.  There is a lot that drives the machine.  The swim school, unbelievable, 5,000 families annually with two locations.  The location at Latin, they only get like two lanes and there’re 22 lanes in this pool from say 3:30 to 7 o’clock.  It’s unbelievable how they’ve learned to program and maximize their space.  It’s just an incredible program.


Our goal is that a child could enter the SwimMAC Carolina swim school and graduate and go on to collegiate swimming, and perhaps come back to us on Team Elite.  And then, perhaps continue onto Masters.  We see swimming as a lifelong endeavor for health, for mental health, physical health, all the good things that Masters swimming brings to you.


The retail shops, it’s really cool to have shops right where you swim. Our auxiliary program is very, very important.  The Junior Swim League we do in three locations and it’s a nine-week program.  I like to tell the parents, “It’s like taking a bite of the MAC sandwich but you don’t have to eat the whole thing.  You can just get a taste of MAC and see if you like it and progress.”


One thing I think that’s very good about our program, it’s very incremental, it has steps.  There are no wrong steps; your path is the one that’s right and for you.  David mentioned the fast track, you can be on the slow track, and still end up on the fast track.  I think that flexibility in the program is really cool.


Then we have Teen Fit.  That’s for kids who, teenagers who enjoy the sport of swimming; they don’t want the commitment.  You don’t have to take role everyday, it’s more about physicality, maybe games, water polo, just keep them engaged in fitness and keep them attached to the water.  Who knows?  That attachment might turn them into Masters swimmers down the road.


[DM]:  This year because of the popularity of that and the revenue of that, being a CEO hat, I’m looking for those things too. The revenue of that is we start the middle school Teen Fit and already has been very popular and has opened space at pools.  You know, when we have open space we create programming like this.


[PW]:  SwimMAC Fit is your water aerobics deal for grandmas and grandpas.  We have Saturday stroke clinics.  It’s just a mini version of the Junior Swim League.


And then, home school programs.  What a great way to fill your pool and have it generate income when it doesn’t normally do that.  Home school is a great thing to get attached to and there’re a lot of really good athletes in home school and scholars.  Good folks to get in your program.  And then, our Masters programs, we have two locations and about 168 members currently.


Okay.  For some of you in the room you might not exactly know what a master swimmer is, so we’re going to define it a little bit.  It’s someone who’s at least 18 years old.  You look 18 years old, loves the water.  David goes, “Well I don’t love the water.


I say “Well, you’re not a Masters swimmer.”


[DM]:  That’s it.


[PW]:  You have to love the water to show up at a pool at 5 o’clock in the morning on a really cold day.  Is willing to wear a Speedo or something close to it.  Did not swim in college, could have swam in college, might be an athlete, might not be an athlete, is anyone and everyone.


When I’m out on the streets, I’m at the Starbucks or whatever, give me an itch and I’m going to try and get you on the Masters swim team.  I think one thing as Masters coaches, and even the name the connotation Masters, it’s very intimidating to most adults.  They think you have to be really fast.


I really preach and bring in the people that can’t swim.  We also have an adult learn to swim program.  We just make it a non-intimidating thing to come join our group.  I think that’s very, very important.  It truly is a sport for everyone.


Alright, how did this whole thing start?  It started many, many years ago, with just… a lot of teams start this way, a dedicated group of adults that like to swim and hang out at pools.  They were called the Tar Heel Masters back in the day.  I was in college and I graduated in 1984.  When Jeff Gackle offered an opportunity to go coach, I thought it would be like a four-year stint.  I received a teaching degree and I think maybe my passion for teaching, my total enjoyment of swimming was just such a good match that coaching kind of selected me, I didn’t select it.


Our first shared resource was the Latin pool.  Actually, we can take a step back further.  We had a bubble over an outdoor community pool.  Most of the time we worked out at the YMCA and we would go on Sundays maybe to this bubble.  So there wasn’t a big connection in the early days, except for the speedway event.  We used to go to the Charlotte Motor Speedway, two times a year, park cars, clean the bathrooms, in the infield, up in the grandstands, sweep the grandstands for about $40,000 dollars a year.


The Masters really stepped-up and did a lot of that work.  That kind of brought us a little bit closer to the fold to the team.  We are now the largest team in North Carolina and we are still growing.


Just to let you know a little bit about our content and what we’re about.  There’re 15 coach workouts, they all have a coach on deck.  We don’t do paper workouts.  There’s somebody standing there working with the group, encouraging and teaching constantly.  We make sure we have planned events for everybody.  One of David’s passions for the entire team, including masters is open water, and that’s really taken off in the past couple years that David’s been here, that’s been great.


[DM]:  Can you explain to them why 75 minutes, because I’ve been some what of a 60-minute advocate.  I think most people here…it makes a difference how long they’re in the water.  Make your speal.  You can come see me if you want to hear the 60-minute side.  But you can see who one the contest, right?  We’re at 75 minutes everywhere.


[PW]:  We compromised.  Our workouts used to be an hour and a half.  David came in and wanted to chop them to an hour.  I’m like, “David these people, it takes them sometimes 30 or 40 minutes to drive to the facility and their only going to get an hour workout?  It’s not going to work, marketing-wise.”  He listened to me and I really enjoy a 75-minute workout.


If you’re efficient and you run through it…in the mornings when I have 22 lanes going.  I have 22 lanes going and sometimes I’m the only one on deck.  I have these clipboards and I have these giant clips on the bottom that have the workouts written.  They know where their levels are.  It’s just like…my sister’s an orchestra conductor, I sometimes I feel like this, running up and down the pool.  I really think 75 minutes is appealing to an adult.  If they want to go an hour that’s their prerogative, I’m not going to stomp on their hands and make them stay in the pool.  I am very happy when they come, if they can come for 40 minutes.


[DM]:  Sometimes you embarrass them.  When they get out early, sometimes you embarrass them.


[PW]:  I do not.


[DM]:  You’ve been known to call-them-out in front of their peers.


[PW]:  In fact David…


[DM]:  She has…


[PW]:  David you are incorrect on that one. This is really funny.  Okay, when I coached the…it was called the Blue group, you know the 13, 14 superstars, like Daniel Slocki back there was in my group.  I’ve got a story about him, but I can’t get off track here.  I’ll tell you guys later about his two broken arms.  I don’t even know where I was going with this one.


[DM]:  You can go.


[PW]:  It was going to be funny.  The alumni when they come back, they’ll get out of the pool and they’ll be like, “You didn’t yell like you used to.”


I said, “I’m just so happy you could make it.  It’s great to see you.  How’s it going at work?”


There like, “Have you fallen on your head?”


I really do appreciate having grown up myself and understanding the complexity of life and what a Masters practice gives to these people.  I think it’s a gift, a gift of health.  I just appreciate them coming and we do have a real steady group.  So, a little bit of change from the age group task master to the Masters “Hey, where’s the party?”


We have a separate Masters web site and that’s to give the Masters a little levity.  Sometimes there’s a little partying going on and it’s not appropriate to have a Budweiser throw down on a website where 12-year-olds could be looking.  We keep it clean, but occasional beer may show up, and it’s just not appropriate for the other website.


And then, the neatest thing that we’ve done lately is the flip video.  How many of you guys have a flip video?  This think is so cool.  Rob Butcher came to SwimMAC and, of course, he can make everyone in here, your team, your Masters team, a video, very nice professional video.  He does it with a flip.  I’m like, “What is that?”


He played with it.  All weekend he was with us.  I went out the next day and bought one.  Incredible teaching tool.  Immediate feed back.  You want to really get your Masters excited?  Get a flip video.  Then you can make your own channel.


So, for this new season start, all the drills we are going to do all season, I spent about a hour an a half with one of our new Masters coaches and she’s a great swimmer, Sierra Aiken and we did 74 clips of drills.  They’re going to appear on that website.  All the Masters can go in there and check them out and get a little more familiar with them.


I film them during practice, we make the corrections, then I send them the video and send them and email and say just take another look at this again, it’s just, I probably should work for flip video, I’m just crazy about it, because it’s easy.  You saw what went on here some of you before, this technological maze, a lot of chords and things.  It’s too much for me.  I need simple and this is great.


I think another key thing is our ability to access a facility for a special workout.  Like I can probably on any given Sunday, there is not a swim meet at the Latin pool.  Get that and call a special practice any time that I want and that’s a luxury, I’m spoiled that way.


Also, our swimmers are spoiled.  I told you we have 22 lanes in the morning.  What team wouldn’t like to have that?  We say we have a 130 at the Latin site.  We should have 225 at that site.  I need to get more updated.  We have plenty of room. That’s just a luxury.  The SwimMAC Masters swimmers, whether you’re a member at the Huntersville site or the Latin site, you can use the open lap swim time for free.  It’s not an additional cost to your membership.


We also have an optional page rallying sessions.  This year we started self-directed dry land. We had orientations.  I think it’s going to be a big hit.  The age group team made that possible.  We have a gentlemen on our team who is very talented in the area of dry land and I got with him and I said, “Look, I want to provide something more for these people, I’m not going to put a coach with them to do it.  But let’s teach them how to do this program and that’ll be a real plus, maybe something other programs don’t have.”


So, what do we charge? David’s always riding my case a bit, we’re pretty cheap.  We did start at $25 dollar registration fee and that was kind of neat.  We have teamwear now so you got a team registration t-shirt, you get a team cap.  You get one of the Masters caps, a bumper sticker.  I put it all in a little bag for them.  They just get so excited when they get their registration bag.  It’s kind of cool.


We have different options, single, spousal.  We go $45 a month or $55 a month and I’ll tell you why the rates are different.  You add a spouse at half the monthly training rate.  We do have discount populations, such as…


[inaudible question from audience]


[PW]:  Absolutely.  I don’t show it up there.  They have to do that on their own or they’re not going to be in the pool.  Absolutely.  Thank you for pointing that out.


[DM]:  What’s the grace period on that?  They allow to go 30 days like USA swimming?


Patty Waldron:  Yes, there is a grace period of 30 days.


[DM]:  You still have to sign it.  A lot of coaches here I’m sure are interested in starting Masters.  There is a grace period and you do have to sign it, different then USA Swimming.  Okay.


[audience member]:  Registration form but it doesn’t need to be 30 days, so if they drop out after a week…


[PW]:  Correct.


[DM]:  You have to have it in your hand though.  Okay. That’s good to know.


[PW]:  Absolutely.  And so, the discount populations are, the competitive team parents if they have kids on the team, they get the cheaper rate. If their member of the Huntersville Family Aquatic Center, they get the cheaper rate.  If they have a kid currently enrolled, a child currently enrolled at the Charlotte Latin School they get the cheaper rate.


[DM]:  That’s a recruiting technique by the way, she teaches as Charlotte Latin High School Team.  So it’s a little sneaky way to get people to consider going to her high school.


Patty Waldron:  Yeah, they all run from me.  They know what I’m up to when I come up to them with a big smile.  Actually, what I like to do to people is, “Oh, I heard you’re going to join the master’s team, that’s great.”


They look at me like a deer in a head light.  Like, “Where did you hear that?  You’re nuts.” That’s my favorite thing to do all day long.


I think too, Jeff Gackle, who David mentioned who was my first boss for 10 years, came to me this year and said, “Patty, you know, we’re not doing a good job recruiting from our captured populations.”


I’m like, ‘What did that just mean?’  And then, I’m like, “You’re right, Jeff.  I’m not going out there and getting the word out to the Teen Fit parents, the JSL parents.”  There are a million, bazillion more people and they are captured.  We have them in our audience already.  I know one thing this year, if you see our numbers edge up, you’ll know I’ve been on the move with my staff after these captured populations.


The payment is automated, if you’re not on automated system, I would just encourage you to try and do that at any way possible.  I mean we used to have a thing, “Oh, turn in your check,” and this that and the other.  As you get bigger and bigger and then you go to other facilities, it’s really hard to keep up with.  So, this just makes sure that people are paying for their services.  Of course, there is a mathematical error there, 80 and 80 is 160.  I’ll tell you it goes on the female side.  We have eight more females than males.


Heavy triathlon population, that’s another area where your team can grow.  Love the tri-athletes.  We train them separately from February first to the middle of November.  Then I encourage them to learn the other strokes, to become a better athlete in the water, which will translate in their next season of swimming.  We have had a blast with them.


We have a few fitness swimmers.  Really within this population, if you walked on the pool deck, you wouldn’t know who was who; they all look like fit and happy people.  Competitively, we have 40 males and 47 females, so it’s split down the middle—it’s really of neat.  9 spouses swimming;  18 MAC alumni, which is really cool;  32 Masters with swimmers on the competitive team—I think that’s a pretty big statistic.  9 employees swimming;  3 scholarship swimmers; and 13 inactive


During these hard times, it’s just really important.  If you’d had a member in-good-standing and they fall on hard times, to really work for them.  and many of you probably read an article that was published by USMS called Swimming through Unemployment.  It was written by one of my swimmers at SwimMAC.  He was just so grateful to be able to come and swim while he was going through this stressful period in his life.  It was a beautiful article.


[DM]:  For the club coaches with the… I asked Patty before.  I said, “Characterize the parent who swims Masters and has a child on the program. Are they generally a better parent?  Are they sometimes the psycho parents?  Or what range do they fall in?”  They fall in the full range.


I think, generally, you can do swim-speak to them so they can understand what you’re saying a lot faster.  If you educate proactively through your entire program, I think you’ve have a better chance of getting it.  With any of us, we educate proactively rather than reactively.  We are going to have a whole lot of different situations, and parents and older people in general certainly react much better to being warned then having their hands slapped.


[PW]:  If you’re an age group coach with a parent that is sort of a pain, riding their swimmers’ hide, just get them in the pool and let them try it a couple of times.  They’ll back off.  It’s really a great thing to have them in the pool. Just really the point of this slide is know your population.  Know what you have in the pool, and this way you can really see, we’re not really appealing to the fitness swimmers.  Well, what can we do to increase that population?  Competitively, relative to how many members on the team, we are doing pretty good.


[DM]:  One thing we add to this number four is that our t-shirts now don’t say SwimMAC Masters exclusively.  Our Master’s logo has the adult fitness in it, but it has the word adult fitness also.  The word “Masters” is always locked up with that fun element.


[PW]:  Out benchmarks are open water, fitness and competitive swimming.


[DM]:  Kneeled water is obviously for the tri-athletes also, they like that.


[inaudible question from audience]


[DM]:  Yeah, good, that’s actually being intro distribution to do an age.  We have Rudy, the 87-year-old Hungarian breaststroker, so we got a good wide range.


[PW]:  I think that’s another population, because we have several retirement communities around.  Again, it’s my job to go out and introduce myself and, “Hey would you like a stroke clinic once a weak?”  Just get myself into those communities and see where we can help.


Another thing we do, we are involved in a group called Tri it for Life.  It’s a group of women who basically volunteer their time to teach women who are getting off the couch how to do a triathlon. I was their aquatics expert.  This program started four years ago with an OB-Gyn that was swimming Masters.  She goes walking through the door in the morning in her PJs.  She looks at me and goes, “Patty I want to start.  I want to teach 100 women how to do a triathlon.”


I was like…this is like 5:20 in the morning.  I’m like, “Okay, Elise.  When you figure out how you’re going to do that, I want to help you.”


She goes, “Okay.”  Well, here she comes back, “This is what we’re going to do Patty.”  She got a bunch of friends like me to commit time and energy towards participating in her program.  The first year she had 110 in the program and her goal was a hundred.  So she met her goal.


This year they had to cut it off at 200.  Then, what’s great about this is we are a sponsor of these women, and they are running around all over Charlotte and they have SwimMAC Masters on all their nice-looking wear.  It raises a level of awareness in a population that probably doesn’t know much about us.  They think we are really cool.


The best thing I did this year with that group, is I wrote a six-week beginner program, learn to swim, from blowing your first bubble.  We screened all 200.  We took the ones that really needed gobs of help, and we started them earlier, got them up to a level.  It was unbelievable.


And then prior to even attempting that, I taught 50 women how to teach beginning adult swimming.  It was really, truly a great experience.  They truly embraced the program and it was very, very successful.  They’re getting ready to do the Rambling Rose in Charlotte n September 24th, and all 200 are racing.  It’s in going to be a spectacular day to see those ladies.  Really, swimming is the biggest fear factor. Start yourself in an adult learn-to-swim program.  We have a very strong one where we are and feed them into your program.


Alright, so, why is there this relationship?  Now that you know a little bit about each group and what it does and why does this fit together?  Well, I think for these three key points.  Fitness, I mean the pool is full of fit swimmers.  It doesn’t matter if you’re 8 years old or if you’re like Rudy and you’re 87.


Fitness is a common bond.  Swimming truly, truly signifies being fit.  It offers opportunities that running can’t.  Not all of us can run.  We take all the injured.  We take everybody in the pool.  We take the runners whose knees have worn out.  They get in the pool and they experience a different level of fitness.  It’s a full-body fitness, swimming is.


Excellence, everybody likes to be excellent.  With the HB program and its history and its legacy, we’re trying to live up to that.  That is a very common bond.  Everybody likes to be associated with things that are excellent.


And then, really this mission statement because as I was talking to the senior group this past week, that the Masters swimmers are very, very proud of the age group team.  It’s up to me to help explain to them, how good their Masters team is.  We took 40 to nationals this year, thought we contributed very well to the effort of trying to beat Georgia.  Georgia had 90 more swimmers then North Carolina and we lost by 19 points.  I hate to lose.  Anyways, it was a great meet; USMS put on a great event.  These three things tie us together and start this relationship.


David is going to talk about the advantages.


[DM]:  Yeah I think that most of them are pretty obvious, but I think the biggest thing is that, you have the swimming people, the coaches or the people that appreciate swimming. You have the facilities.  In our case, you have the community, especially the team like MAC that has, 30-something years of connection with the community.  In fact, we’re the second oldest athletic sport in the city of Charlotte behind NASCAR.  So we have a lot of recognition in terms of people.


It seems that everybody in Charlotte knows somebody that had something to do with MAC at some point and that really helps us.  That recognition just magnifies through Masters, because there really isn’t anybody doing masters that isn’t happy with your program.  Because in Masters, if they’re not happy with the program, they don’t come anymore.


You make one phone call, but you just welcome them back when their ready.  Right?  It’s like our swim school right now.  The way our swim school is run, the quality of swim school we offer, I don’t have to hesitate.  If the child is taking lessons at our swim school, I pretty much know they had a good experience.  I just say, “Well, I know you enjoy that.  I hope you want to be apart of more things in our team.”


Certainly the revenue side of things, that’s important.  To run a club like we run and we have 24 fulltime coaches.  We have 108 people on our payroll, different capacities down to part-time employees, to pay for that revenue; they’ve got to have programming.  Certainly, Masters is one of those ways that can contribute to it.  Although, you’d be surprised it’s a very small piece of the revenue pie right now.  What it is, is as we’ll go further down here.  It becomes resources.  Go ahead and flip down through.


When you look at the recognition piece, I’m going to let you go to the recognition piece, but let me finish up my last little part of that.  What it does is that it all kind of carries around, that’s why we built this wheel here.  One feeds the other.  In a big sense I can tell you probably the number one volunteer for the Team Elite group is a Masters swimmer turned team manager.  The number one volunteer, tons of time in our program, has all of our equipment in his garage.  Otherwise, we have to buy storage and keeps things organized.


Our number one contributor financially, to our program, who refuses to be named is a Masters swimmer.  Our number one, and if it can be handled in the right context on this recording, coach on our staff that just has an incredible impact on our team, is a Masters swimmer return coach.  So, it’s almost like enough said right there.  If that was the reason we had them and they didn’t get one dollar from Masters into our pot that would be enough reason to have a Masters program.


[PW]:  Alright the recognition piece.  Building on the brand, I mean, the masters, when we go out there, we’re starting to get out there, world championships, we have representatives out there.  We’ve had a triathelete go to a national over distance or the international over distance world championships three times.  She was startled that when she was in warm up somewhere and she had her MAC cap on, somebody actually at that event knew what SwimMAC was. She thought that was pretty cool.


Very proud of taking 40 to nationals.  It was easy, so maybe that’s why it happened.  It was in Atlanta right down the road.  My goal would be to keep pushing that number up and getting the MAC brand out there nationally.


We have a host of national champions relay and individual.  Our own logo and I meant to fold up the t-shirt and bring it for you all.  It’s very catchy and classy and says it all.  It’s not messy; it’s very clean.  Like David said, “Fitness, open water, competitive.  Those are the themes.


If an adult looks at that shirt, they see themselves in one of those categories.  That’s kind of neat.  Very visible, the MAC logo’s been visible ever since it was invented.  Does anybody in this room remember the neon orange caps?  I mean you can, Gus Panel does, he wore 80 of them.  They were very, very recognizable.


Hosting events and clinics, we raised the recognition factor.  Just masters being advocates for all the programs in the community, they are so fired up about what we do at SwimMAC for kids and they want to let everybody know about it, so that’s just an added value and they raise the recognition level of the team.


[DM]:  Okay.  Obviously, we’ve picking up children or parents and they used to swim for MAC. They’re some of the masters population, but it’s interesting in the culture that a lot of them swam in twenty thirty years ago, you almost have to assure them that they won‘t be doing any descending thousands.


[PW]:  Who says they won’t?


[DM]:  And 800 butterflies, with donuts on like I used to do and crazy stuff like that, that we have progressed in the sport to where it’s not just all about what we get done at practice, we are actually moving our sport to what we can get done in Niece.  In Masters even more so, what we can get done to help you with what you’re there for,   fitness, competition or social.


I just went, a few nights ago, to one of the Masters swimmers who had a party at his house, and there have had to have been 80 or 90 people there.  It was a real fun time and I think the difference of Masters is most of them slept at the house that night.  I think they said the next morning, about 20 people who just crashed on floors and couches.  But anyways, that’s a pretty fun aspect of it.


The success of the age group team, we hope carries over to the Masters, we know that again, somewhat it’s about building the brand in our city.  But it’s also about just the camaraderie of the sport.  A lot of ways, it just, if you run into someone at the coffee shop that’s a Masters swimmer and you’re a parent of an age group, you have a conversation immediately.  There’s a conversation available.  That’s all good stuff.


In terms of the coaching staff, it definitely swings both ways.  I think, some of our best coaches for Masters are some of our age group coaches who can take a deep breath when they go on deck with Masters or when they’re videoing the Masters or whatever.  Patty is a great example.  She is one of the best age group coaches in the country developing high-level swimmers.  I think over time, Masters allowed her to take that knowledge base, move it more into the passion area that she is in this stage of her life, as a young female, and take it to a different population.  That’s why she does this with such passion.


She still helps out on the deck with the age group team, and so we get the benefit of that.  She mentors our young coaches, and a lot of our program is about bringing on interns and bringing on young coaches and mentoring them as they’re there, and come along.  So someone like Patty, and the ability for her to generate a more of a living off of Masters, then off of the competitive team, helps our total program.  So, things like that are certainly the two-way benefits.


[PW]:  What’s really neat, when David came to town, he’s the man, he’s the flash.  Today he’s Vanna White.


[DM]:  Yes, exactly.


[PW]:  And you know, he has a reputation and people are attracted by that.  Well earned, well deserved.  It is now in our town.  I’m trying to marry myself to him as the local-known person.


[DM]:  Don’t tell Crystal.


[PW]:  Oh, I wont tell her that, or Tom.  To generate a combined force to really put a lot of energy and focus into the Masters.  Sometimes, the Masters think they’re the number one deal.  I have to say: whoa.  When we get up to be 300 or 350 maybe, maybe we will step up a little higher in the pyramid.  But it’s just been great working with David.  I’ve always said about him, he’s just creative, he’s innovative, he pushes us all to maybe some uncomfortable places so we can grow.  Really appreciate that, David.


He shares his creativeness with the Masters team and gets me to look really outside the box.  He’s a great boss.  I’ve been very privileged to have a bunch of good bosses, Jeff Gackle for 10 years.  He taught me to work hard.  He taught me how to inspire and teach kids, you know.  Pat Hogan, just the consummate administrator.  You wouldn’t believe it if you ever saw my cubicle.  But he had a profound effect, you know, on my life.  Dave Gibson, he is back there in the room.  He and his wife, Jennifer, did a lot for me when they were at SwimMAC.


I’ve been so lucky.  I always think that people will be like, “Gosh, she’s been there for 27 years.  She’s really either unmotivated or having a great time.”  Well I’m in the best learning lab ever that a coach could ever have experienced.  I just really appreciate it and I’m glad to be working with David now for a few years.


We’re going to move on to the resource part, and this is probably the most significant piece of the wheel.  We’re going discuss the Masters benefits to the age group program.  I think this is really what’s going to catch your eye a little bit.  Because at 5:30 in the morning, you just see a bunch of people in Speedos and what-not running up and down the pool. But what they do when they’re not in the pool is pretty significant for the age group program.  Meet officials, they dig it, they love being around it.  They love watching the kids swim. So they qualified to be meet officials and meet directors.


The UltraSwim’s pretty big swim meet in the bigger scheme of swimming.  We’ve had three…at least three UltraSwim directors that are Master swimmers. We get technological support and that’s very, very important.  We have a ton of teachers and instructors that come from the Masters team. Just looking at the resources, we already mentioned meet officials at age group meets. Meets don’t go on unless you have the officials. We have board members that are Master swimmers on the age group board.


They fundraise for club activities. We’re very active in the Swim-a-thon. I’ve mentioned the meet director piece. Swim school instructors – they make great swim school instructors. They provide some financial support for Team Elite. They house visiting athletes.


They love when the UltraSwim comes to town that they can have swimmers from Michigan or Florida stay at their homes and inspire their children. That’s really the whole reason the UltraSwim came to be was we wanted to bring world-class swimming to our kids so they could see and dream and believe that that’s possible. They willingly share their passion for the sport and are very instrumental in facility upgrades.


Some of these upgrades, we’ll take a look at some of them. They’re pretty significant in what the cost would be if you had to go out and hire somebody to do some of these things.


Here’s just a little list of what they’ve done. So of the more unique ones: installed climbing ropes at a couple of separate training facilities and one that…future training site. The climbing ropes are great. Built and installed some new starting blocks, just some of the things.  When people come walking into your facility, it’s dim and dingy and looks dull, they’re not going to want to buy in. It has to look nice.


These speakers we used to have to haul out every time. They weigh 80 pounds. Well, he actually has some sort of machine that he built the actual things that hold the speaker up and the he mounted them all by himself, and he’s a small man. The lighting in the store – you’ve got to make your merchandise attractive for people to come in and purchase. And as insignificant as this seems, air conditioning.


We had a room called…it used to house our HVAC system. There was electrical fire in there and we had to take the HVAC system out. We didn’t have one for like a year. It was horrible. And that room was just lying dormant, it just wasn’t being used for anything and it was significant chunk of room.  He went in there and painted it and fixed it up, and put an air conditioning in there, a couple of fans.  Improved some of the surgical tubing attachments and made it a viable meeting place or exercise place, so that was really cool.


Here’s an example of the climbing ropes. They go down into the water. There’re four of them and it’s amazing to watch even the little, little guys go up there, scamper up there.  They’re wonderful. And that’s the surgical tubing that he fixed and he mounted these cabinets. You have to have your first aid somewhere prominent and a bunch of chin-up bars, probably about six of them.


[DM]:  This is the actual university where SwimMAC started in 37 years ago and it had been sitting empty.  This pool had…it’s like in the center of town. It’s in a historically Black university, a six-lane, 25-yard pool and we went back in there and threw the efforts one of our Master swimmers in particular. We updated it and that’s now where one of the main pools I work Team Elite out of.  Because we’re taking care of it and upgrading it, our exchange – there’s no rent in there for us, so we’re able to go and use it.


Believe it or not, this pool has been sitting there probably for the last 12 years at 88 degrees and they were offering one class per week in that pool. It’s amazing. And it was just a matter of going and asking about it; and then they let us kind of build in things. This thing’s interesting. A little to the left, that’s kind of a power rack on steroids there.  It’s called the MAC rack.  That’s basically like a power rack except that you can see the way it continues to go up and you can swim 25 yards, and it keeps you assisted.


The best thing about it, because the Master swimmer built it, we just pay for the parts, $360 for that and it’s actually…with the assist component it, I’d say it’s substantially better than…a power rack’s a nice tool but that’s better than that for that purpose.


[PW]:  He actually now has a mini version. I mean it’s only about this tall now. He’s like, “Patty, that was ridiculous.”  I was there the day he put it into the wall.  I was like, “I did not know how that was going to happen.”


([DM]:  Are we four or 4:30?)

([PW]:  4:30.)

([DM]:  Okay. So we’re okay.  We’ll keep rolling here.  We’re pretty far along here.)


[PW]:  So the resources in coaching, which I think is really pertinent and a really good tie between Masters and age group, pretty significant. That’s 13 swim school and JSL coaches, 7 assistant coaches, 4 age group lead coaches. That’s a pretty significant chunk.  We also volunteer though.  Just come on deck and help be another set of eyes and learn from the coaches and, hopefully, we’ll have that number rise. We’ll have more Master swimmers who are coaches.


They help with Camp SOAR which is Special Olympic Athletic Retreat.  It’s a great week.  Basically, we serve as pool pals for this population of people.  I think there’re 312 Special Olympians and swimming is a key part of their day.  They love going swimming and we love being with them.


The Wendy’s Water Safety Clinic instructors, a new program started this year. It encompassed 10 cities in two states and taught 500 at-risk children how to swim.


[DM]:  Not 500, 150.


[PW]:  What?


[DM]:  That’s 150 at-risk children. The Wendy’s Water Safety Clinic, we had 150 homeless children…


[PW]:  We had…


[DM]:  Yeah, when we out at Johnson C. Smith this summer for our first time. You’ll see it when Ben does his presentation. He got some pictures of it. But we taught 150.  For the first time, this is really cool, 150 homeless children. Literally, as I explained to my children when they came, I said, “Some of these people actually sleep in cars at night because they have no home.”


Taught 150 of them. Well, they didn’t all learn how to swim but they…of 150 in a six-week program, 140 were water safe and probably a couple of dozen could actually do continuous laps across the pool. So it was a huge, huge thing we did.  The point about Masters is most of the teachers in there were Masters. The Master swimmers, they were volunteering their time and their passion.  I want to make more account about the age group lead coaches.


As I thought about it, the critical part of your age group program is that first touch, that first intro level, and what has happened.  I actually had put it together that they’re both swimmers. My two lead people for the division which, we call it the Marlin level which is the intro level to our team. The lead people for those divisions are both Master swimmers and actually have become parents of swimmers in our team, too. But the key is that because they have this enthusiasm for the sport already, they make great Marlin division coaches. They don’t even have to know that much.


These two know a good amount but they don’t have to know that much in order to be that kind of person.  So in that key role and doing an amazing job, in fact, they revamped the entire tryout system.  Now, we have a tryout system that actually encompasses some competition so we can actually see how they respond.  Something other than, “Do a lap, let me see.  Do a lap, let me see.”  Now, it’s actually putting them in a little bit of meet setting to try to see who reacts to that so we can make better selections as to who we bring on the competitive team.  That was just another positive of the Masters association


[PW]:  The donated professional services, that speaks for itself.  I had a personal touch.  I had six nurses who help me with my Dad when he got sick.  So, that was pretty significant for me.  They just are very giving people and a lot of times all you have to do is ask.  Know what they do and know who they know, and you will increase your resources.


[DM]:  We’ve gotten a lot better at, when we do registrations now, asking what the husband and wife do professionally and even other associations they may be able to help us with. We go out of our way now to kind of push to get that field filled out.  In fact, I think the employment now is a required field to register for our team and a lot because of that, so we know what kind of make-up we have and we can ask them for.


[PW]:  For both Masters and age group.  So that’s really cool.  And just age group benefits to Masters, just the access to facilities.  I ride on the coattails and just try to be real aggressive about, “Well, when’s the pool not being used?” and “Can we get in there?” Team Elite’s about…we’re getting access to another pool and I’m just like, “Well, what time of the day can we be there?”


I know if we could get some evening time somewhere, we offer no evening workouts and I think that really holds us back.  It’s either noon or in the morning.  Or we have a mid-morning as well.  We probably could grow the mid-morning, the kind of workout where mom’s have dropped the kids off and she’s out and about.  We’ll get her to come to the pool and come for a workout.  It’s very nice that I haven’t had to really scrap and that’s kind of open to me. Access to dry land facilities, I mean that’s key; in particular at the Latin facility, we have access to that.


The professional coaches, you know, just getting back on deck. I used to have to wait on the deck for a period of time from the age groupers to focus on.  Originally, I was a site coach and the facility manager and the high school coach and had a lot going on.  I stepped back a little bit.  I’m unleashing myself again this year.  I think I have the greatest job in America.  I get to rove though the different divisions and I can go to multiple sites and visit, teach and learn, and I’ve learned a lot.


I was on deck Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  Before coming out here, we just started and it has been great.  David hires very-talented people and I’m learning again from people like Alan Pfau and Russ Kasl.  It’s just great energy to be out there with those folks.  I’m very excited about that.  I bring their teachings back to the Masters.  That’s very beneficial and they visit sometimes and guest coach, and it’s just really, really cool.


The administrative support is unbelievable because there’s just a lot of paperwork that goes on with Masters Program and we get the benefit of having that as well.  Okay.  David, you want to talk about this?


[DM]:  I think a lot of our sponsors have come through Masters connections for our age group team.  Because we don’t have any big Masters meets that we actually host.  But in terms of whom we reach out to and who we network with it, so many times, goes through the Masters group. And then…for example, this photography group here, this probably saved us thousands of dollars because she’s a Master swimmer and comes in and does all of our formal pictures and staff pictures. Things like that that would normally cost quite a bit more.


[PW]:  Okay, from the revenue side, we contribute, of course, to the buying power. I mean Master swimmers lover their toys.


[DM]:  Yeah, I was going to say.  This is standard fingertip paddles.  You guys know the Master swimmers love the feeling of that little bit of pressure on the water.  This is the favorite tool, a fin of a Master swimmer and they’re one of the more expensive items we carry in our swim shop.  So that’s work out really well.  In terms of the revenue that’s created not only because of the equipment but because of the traffic going through our swim store, that helps the program as well.


The Masters Speedo boot.   I don’t know if you guys have seen this at the Speedo boot, but these are the new paddles that they’ve just come out with. And I was the first ones to try them out with my guys, and all the Elite guys.  All of them said they could feel their catch better when they use these.  What do Master swimmers not do very well, naturally catch the water. A lot of them is pretty much elbows and so I think this is going to be a big hit with the Master swimmers in particular. And what would be nice about that is what we’ll do, like we have with some of the equipment like monofins, things like that, is we’ll buy some, keep them on the deck.  Then, you can pull them out from Masters or we can pull them out from one of the training groups, so it works very well together.


So those are a couple of things that I think make a lot of sense and when it comes to revenues certainly through our shops, that makes a difference.


[PW]:  Just the Master swimmers sharing their sport with their children, a lot of them.  I wish I had the stat on how many Master swimmers have kids in lessons.  Hopefully, if we do a good job, they’re going to be swimming on the competitive team. But our most active person who built that power rack and stuff, he was on the Master team first.  Now, we have his three sons on the team just digging swimming.


And just one thing, the Masters Program is not a financial burden to the club.  Wherever we are going to open up shop, we deal with whatever the financial arrangement would be there and each site must be physically responsible so we’re not program burdened.  Like I said earlier, financially, they participate in Medalist Club which is in support of our Team Elite, the fundraisers. We’ve had some nice fundraisers.  They like to shop for those parties, “You know that party showed up…you talked about? That was a darn good party but guess who had to be up at 3:51 for practice?”


[PW]:  I couldn’t hang out in the yard like all those people. I do like to camp. Okay, so moving along here.


David, talked about this earlier, that the single largest donor we have in our club is a Master swimmer and has allowed us to do a lot of nice things for the club, but the really cool thing about this donations?  The funds must be used to impact the entire swimming community.  It’s not just about a particular group.  It’s how can we raise the level of SwimMAC and what we’re providing for our clients.


Examples, I mean this may not look like a big deal to you but when we have JSL and lessons going on, we increased, I think, our viewing room capacity by 34 seats.  That’s pretty significant and make sure our clients are comfortable.  Benches behind the starting blocks instead of a bunch of chairs falling around, there’re nice benches are indestructible.  Some nice classy looking custom flags.


The kitchen area, just totally redesigned it and the access to how you sign up for swim school.  That was pretty significant.  And all of these, they were extras.  Things we couldn’t think about doing because this money simply wasn’t in the budget until our Splashy Mack showed up.  Outside tables for parents, you know when the weather is nice to sit out there. They don’t have to sit in the building.  They can come out, be restful, quite. The kids can enjoy a nice social environment before they get in the pool.


The most significant thing, honestly, were new lane lines. We had the same lane lines for 20 years and I’m telling you, they took a lot of abuse and we took care of them. But this was very cool.  The uncool part was stringing them. That’s hard stringing lane lines.


And then we were able to dress up our weight room area and make it appealing for member to come and workout, accessible to the public during the day. That floor cost a lot of money. Each piece of that floor is like a hundred pounds.


We’re able to put up four large-screen TVs, two of them are on deck.  This is really significant because you can…I can take my flip video…any coach takes a video, you pull the child out or the Master swimmer, you go over to the TV, you show them on the big screen.  Everybody likes to see themselves on the big screen.  It’s really cool.  It’s a great teaching tool.  Video feedback is the bomb.  It really is good.



Then, just some nicer benches in the hallway and it’s neat because it kind of looks like goggles.  I thought that was really cool. Kids like them, too.


Alright, so coming back to the age group benefits to Masters; really instead of revenue, an age group team really provides us the infrastructure and the support we need to be who we are and without being attached to this age group team really.  To replace that infrastructure, we would be a totally different organization.  Some of the things that are provided through the age group team would just be cost prohibitive for us, so we’re very grateful.  We just feel like we have a very, very good relationship where there’re contributions to each other on both sides. It’s a really feel-good kind of energy and we’re not fighting each other for pool time. We just work very well together as two groups that are one team.


That’s nice.  Sorry about that.  If you want to contact us, here’s the information.  We’re really easy to find on the internet.


[DM]:  Yeah, even then website’s there.  You can get to all the videos that she’s talking about.  A lot of the videos that I have for sale in Championship Productions, you got a lot of clips of that on that website, so have edits on that in Carolina.


I want conclude also with, again, is emphasizing what you guys have experience here.  Patty put together this presentation and, hopefully, you can see that we are interested in sharing whatever we can with you guys.  If you want some more details of what we do, we’ll take questions.


Also the key to this living organization is the people and Masters tend to be people of character and they tend to be characters.  They make the place fun.  At the same time with our staff, Patty’s been at MAC longer than any of our other coaches and she’s someone who everyday looks for ways to give to the program.


I’m going to announce right how our newest employee in SwimMAC, if that’s okay, because it went out on a release today.  We are very excited and honored that Pam Swander’s going be joining our team as of today actually, and is going to be part of the SwimMAC staff.  Welcome, Pam. [Applause]  Ray’s not happy.


[audience member]:  Is it true that you [indiscernible] [1:05:59] Master swimmers and if so [indiscernible] [1:06:02]?


[PW]:  Absolutely. Age groups… because I’m a USA Swimming coach certified, they are welcome to come to any Masters practice. All I ask, and I’ve made this announcement at the week, is that they clear it through their coach and then somebody just lets me know they’re coming because I had two show up this week that I wasn’t expecting.  I was giving this breaststroke kind-of clinic to like 14 lanes, and I had the triathletes over there, and they show up–very good swimmers—and I was like a deer in the headlights.  I was like, “Hi.”


I want to be prepared and I want to give them what they need.  It depends what time this season it is. Like if it’s later in the season and they need to do something for their group, I’ll make room and make sure they have the lane space.  But, truly, I’d like to integrate them and the Masters love it.  The kids are kind of a little scared at first but then they get really comfortable with it.


Now one thing, and David’s been on me about this and I pledge in front of this entire group to get better at this, is to get our swimmers to go the other way into an appropriate group, like a senior level three group or something like that, and encourage this meshing a little bit more.


I think the open water events really tie the groups together because that’s kind of a family situation and a lot of the events have children and Master swimmers, and you can go together. And that’s kind of another way.


[DM]:  In the culture of what we’re moving toward in our sport where we’re going to have our best swimmers who are generally in the most part going to be 24 or 30-year-olds, they are Master swimmers.  They’re people who…when I said, I think, four or five of my guys are Masters Nationals; they had more fun there at that meet than they had at any other meet all year.  Maybe except for the Italian trip we took.  We had Italian food and the wine was really good.  But other than that, the trip…the Masters Nationals was a great experience.


They were surprised by how much they like it.  They were really surprised and Colin was signing autographs and stuff, but he said the enjoyment of that meet was at the top end.  I think we’re going to see more of that where these pros are going to maybe even stay in swimming for two or three years and maybe reemerge as international efforts in swimming.  As we get a little older population, I think you’re going to see Masters ever more entwined.


[audience member]:  Have you guys done any duels or any meets or attempted to do that?


[PW]:  Want to do it in the spring. Probably like a lower level meet. Like a B/C meet but definitely that’s on the agenda today.  We have not done it but we will do it and I’ll let you know because I know where to find you.  I see, a lot of my SwimFest friends out here.


If you’ve never been to SwimFest or never sent your Masters coach to SwimFest or your athletes to SwimFest, I went to my first one this year, outstanding.  I learned so much especially about open-water swimming. It has just fired me up. I felt like I walked away with skills that I can really share and brought back to here; and I’ve already run two open water clinics in a pool, which is really cool.


[DM]:  You’ve got a question?


[audience member]:  Yeah. How would you translate some of the stuff you do to apply that? Maybe we have more than two lanes and only one coach available?


[PW]:  To deal with the Masters?


[audience member]:  To run the Masters Program.


[PW]:  That’s okay.


[DM]:  Do you have any open time?


[audience member]:  We have two lanes at the same time as our morning practice.


[DM]:  Yeah, that’s fine.


[PW]:  Oh, that’s great.


[audience member]:  But I [indiscernible] [1:09:23] the Masters too much that they ended up taking one of my seniors over.


[DM]:  Again, you have to go back to what your vision is of your program, like it has to fit that. So if you’re a competitive team and you have non-competitive swimmers, then they may have to wait until open days. I mean that’s coming on Friday mornings only.  There’s got to be some mutual work like that.  But if you have open space, you’ve got to use.  When you start off, you have to be very clear from day one that this is your opportunities and whenever you have more opportunities, you can take advantage of them.


[PW]:  You could also maybe have half the group do some dryland. Maybe split so it’s not all swimming.


[audience member]:  Yeah, we can.


[PW]:  Yeah. We had people training for the Chesapeake at like 4:15, 4 o’clock when they had to do those longer workouts.


[DM]: Question?


[audience member]:  Yeah. How much [indiscernible] [1:10:22] you have in the Masters Program?


[DM]:  Generally, I overlap a lot of practices and I’ll often come a little bit early, and usually grab one or two of the swimmers and give them a little stroke tip.  A lot of it is just in a clinics type setup. Those are the kind of things, those are my touches.


Obviously, I’ve run some practices. My wife has coached Masters, different stints.  The Marsh family is involved in the total program and Masters’ certainly a part of that total program.  But as far as my day in and day out, not a ton.  We offer pro-tutor sessions for our elite athletes.  Any kid on the club or a Master swimmer can pay, fee is $95 for an hour of private time with one of the elite swimmers and that’s one of the ways they get touches with elite. That and the clinics because we require all the elite swimmers to do give back to our team, and so one of the ways they do give back is they have to do three things a month and one of the ways is put on an hour of clinic for the Master swimmers like she talked about.


[audience member]:  I’ve heard about that.


[DM]:  They love it. Yeah, especially the ladies with our guys with their good bodies. [Laughs]


[PW]:  Oh, yeah. [Laughs] Oh, yeah.


[audience member]:  This may or may not apply, but are your facilities, you’ve got six of them, are they public or privately owned?


[DM]:  We own one and the other five…well, the one I said, John C. Smith, we kind of barter for space there and then the other pools are all…we lease space there.


[DM]:  Yeah, so it’s just…


[audience member]:  One of the resources that you mentioned that I find as the top of the list of your Maters are political connections.


[PW]:  Most definitely.


[audience member]:  Is the pool going down or you want to build a new pool or do you want to put in a design that a lot of Masters [indiscernible] [1:12:29] City Councils and [indiscernible] [1:12:34].


[DM]:  Outstanding, yeah.


[audience member]:  I wanted to encourage some of the programs for the stronger Masters swimmers that are out there.  There’re plenty of them that are past high school that are swimming to love that.  [Indiscernible] [1:12:48] some of your stronger ones because what we do with them, we have a combined group, high-schoolers and Masters together.


[DM]:  Neat.


[PW]:  One is you have extra coaches in the water and they’re happy to assist because they’re excited about the high-schoolers growing techniques.  And now, you have eyes under the water and above the water.  You have the respect the high-schoolers to realize that he thinks he’s a hotshot 17-year-old and he’s getting beaten by someone who’s 42.  There’s a respect, to say, “Oh, I have that attitude that their parents,” so what older athletes are capable of doing.


Then, we have a shared thing.  They realize that not everyone’s goal is an individual one.  There is life and to enjoy in the sport of swimming that doesn’t have to involve a college scholarship. That it could be a Division II, Division III or [indiscernible] [1:13:36] that they joined in the college or not, and then we share each other…sharing at swim meet where our Master swimmers will wear their shirts while they’re timing the high school regional championships and vice versa.


[DM]:  That’s awesome.  I’ve seen that happen in a lot of places.  One of the things, like you said, the coach in the water, that’s what I’ve heard from people who have trained with the younger kids. Question back there.


[audience member]:  You mentioned in that slide you had three people had scholarships.  How does that process work for [indiscernible] [1:14:10] or whatever?  Do they apply for it or do you guys [indiscernible] [1:14:16]?


[PW]:  Well, haven’t had too many situations.  When I know somebody goes unemployed, I just lay low because they always tell me what’s going on in their life.  I’ll lay low for awhile. There’s not a formal process for Masters.  A lot of the time it may come from me.  I’ll walk up to the person and I’ll say, “Well, let me know when this becomes a financial burden to you and I’m committed to making sure…”


Somebody who’s been a member in good standing that just because they’re going through a hard time, we’re not taking this out of their life because it’s very, very important. And during this period of time, this type of person will for any volunteer opportunity to come help the team.  It is a win-win and usually people do rebound pretty quickly.  It’s just to tie them over.  It’s not a yearlong endeavor.


[DM]:  On a club team, there is a formal way they can let us know that they’re having a hard time and we can scholarship them with some appropriate rest.


[audience member]:  Three questions.  One related to that, when that happens do you take it to the board or do you take care of it yourself?  The second question I have is regarding the fundraising.  Do you require the Masters to fundraise or do they just tend to do it because they love doing it?


[PW]:  Good questions.  No, I don’t take it to the board.  I make that decision.  I’m trusted to do that and as far as the requirements for fundraising, I push the Swim-a-thon because that’s just a big team event and it does benefit the entire MAC program.  We just encourage and let them know what the Medalist Club is and what their opportunities that MAC are to support the program. So, no, nothing…there are no requirements at this point in time.


[audience member]:  Solely that you barter use…do these programs…these schools are…already have programs that they have developed already and they do, how do you go in there and convince them that SwimMAC would be helping out with [indiscernible] [1:16:30]?


[DM]:  Usually, it’s just we pay their going rate of rent and then look for open space.  For example, you’d be surprised; we don’t use the UltraSwim pool.  We have no pool space in there.  The best pool in town, in the middle of town, we can’t get space in there.  We find other space and other pools.


Queens University, Charlotte just started a year-round team, not a year-round team.  A college team with scholarships and everything, and part of my negotiations with that university was I’d help them start their program but they had to have us be behind the college swim team.  SwimMAC Carolina, we got the next availability at that four-lane, 25-yard pool.  But it’s in the center of town so it’s going to be a very valuable location for us and we’ve already put some GA ropes in there, and we got it up and going.  We have to actually have an Olympic walk in there now so it’s really going to be in kind of a high performance 25-yard pool.


It is all creative.  But like I said, you’d be surprised.  There’s another pool not far from John C. Smith that sits empty most of the time in Charlotte that we may end up doing some things at.  But you might have pools that are way underutilized.


[audience member]:  Sometimes they feel threatened, like you’re going to the pool or take too much time in there and [indiscernible] [1:17:50].  A lot of pools in San Francisco are public pools but they still have [indiscernible] [1:17:57] and [indiscernible] [1:17:59] Masters Team, they feel threatened about that.


[DM]:  Well, a lot of times with the public people like that, you’ve got to go higher because every community’s looking for revenues, a place to create more revenue nowadays.  The person that runs the pool doesn’t want to have you in there that just means more work for them.  They got to watch more people. You’ve got go one level above them to say, “Oh, yeah, we are ready to bring in this much programming.”  You can say you service has many more youth in the community or adults in the community. So you’ve got to play the political game a little bit and go up the food chain.


[PW]:  You know what? My experience too at MAC, we were at Thompson Children’s Home and it was a very special facility.  The doors barely open nice.  I ran the facility and coached four groups over there.  On Sundays, I would go over with chlorine and just cleanse it, and could barely open the doors.  Oh, my god.  I come out of there just hacking.


We would do special things at the facilities.  We would put up coat racks so the orphans that live there that came to swim would get things.  We would participate in their Holiday activities and support their activities.  We, basically, insulated the whole thing to make it more efficient.  We put in a heater in there.  So a lot of it too you can barter with capital improvements if you have the ability to do that.


[DM]:  Well, another thing is if you have a place that you’re appreciating and you have a good relationship, like we take publicity photos.  We try to take them at John C. Smith.  We want people to know that that’s in the mix and it’s amazing how sports people in Charlotte with the newspapers didn’t even know John C. Smith was there, much less it was three minutes from their main office in Charlotte.  So it’s a way that we can give back to the university.  When they see that they’re getting some publicity, even if it’s in secondary signage, it’s good stuff.


[PW]:  Yes, sir.


[audience member]:  How do you focus on your marketing and advertising?


[DM]:  One more.


[PW]:  You know, it’s really word-of-mouth in Charlotte.  Is that the most effective way?  No.  It has been for us.  But as Jeff Gaeckle raised my awareness and was trying to educate me in that area and expand, and do better at that particular thing which is pertinent to growing your program.  My focus this year is going to be the captured programs like I said earlier, not just because it’s easy.  And then, just go out and get with different health-oriented adult groups like the Dirt Divas.  Go out in the community a little bit more.  I think just getting out there, making yourself known, dropping your flyers off.  David is the king of that.  He’s got a bunch in his car and he’s at Starbucks handing them out.


[DM]:  Well, what I actually do more than anything is when I see really tall parents in line at the grocery store; I give them my business card.  [Laughs]  Say, “I want your kids swimming and not doing whatever sport they’re doing right now.”  And I promise you, I have several in the program already right now that are, I think, some of our more talented kids.  And, literally, it’s from handing them my business card and saying, “That child needs to swim.”


Especially if they’ve got double jointed knees. [laughs]


[PW]:  Yes.


[audience member]:  So kind of been asking because he’s got some great questions.  The United States Master Swimming, we have [indiscernible] [1:21:33] across the country. We were [indiscernible] [1:21:36]. Susan and I are just two of them. What we do is we can make personals business. We make lots of e-mails, phone calls and we will answer those questions..


[DM]:  Do we have that on the website?  Their information?  Do we have their contacts on the website or our national website?


[PW]:  Absolutely.


[DM]:  Do we have that?


[PW]:  Yeah, we do have links.


[DM]:  Okay, so let me get them…provide them the link. Go on our website and find it.


[audience member]:  So [indiscernible] [1:21:59] on the website. So we are there for you because these are great questions and we have the answers. We’ll have them for you.


[PW]:  That’s the greatest thing about USMS. I mean they’re so much there. Get on the website, they’re there for you.  I can’t even believe what they offer and it’s just tremendous. I know they’re on our website as well, so we’re and it’s a very fun website and educational.  But USMS, there’s nothing better out there.


[DM]:  Yeah, I think you want to use the Masters doing now because I was kind of outside in, and really through my friendship with Rob Butcher I’ve been kind of brought in.  I think what’s impressive is that’s probably our easiest, quickest area we can grow in in our sport.  It probably grow the fastest in Master swimming not only because of the baby boomer part of the generation that now has crinkly knees, but also because of the exposure the sport has got and people are recognizing that it’s one of the best fitness-oriented sport there is.  You always have to sell on that the worse they swim, the more exercise they get.  It’s not a negative if you don’t swim well.  It’s the worse your technique, the more work you get per lap.  It’s how the economical way to work out that way.


[PW]:  But you should fire your coach.


[DM]:  Do we have anybody that swam at Masters Nationals that’s not an employee of Masters?  Who swam at Masters Nationals?  We have three.  Oh, wow. We got much.


Okay.  Daniel in Speedo, thanks, has given me a few goodies to give away so if you’ll come up here afterwards, I’ll give you a little goodie for being somebody that’s already in their Master swimming.  I’ve always thought one of these days maybe I’d jump back in and swim a little bit, but the water haven’t been warm enough yet so I haven’t started. [Laughs]  But I always admire those who are coaching and in the water swimming and just love it like my great friend Rowdy Gaines does. He has to be in the water to live, to be normal he has to be in the water.


So good for you guys and I’ll give you a Speedo gift up here.  Alright, thank you very much.  [Applause]


[PW]:  Thank you.


[DM]:  Thank you.




Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Sponsorship & Partnerships

Official Sponsors and Partners of the American Swimming Coaches Association

Join Our Mailing List

Subscribe and get the latest Swimming Coach news