The Competitive Vision of a Large Program by Kerry O’Brien (2009)


Good morning folks. I think we are ready to start. My name is Kerry O’Brien and I am the head coach of the Walnut Creek Masters Swim Club in Walnut Creek, California. We are about 30 miles inland from San Francisco. If you were not at the breakfast Friday morning where we kind of basically talked about our programs a little bit, I will go ahead and do that. We are a membership team of about 500. We work out of one facility. It is an outdoor facility. We have a 50 meter pool – 20 lanes. We have a 6 lane 25 meter dive tank and then we have a real small training baby pool. I started coaching in 1980. They had a gal that was doing the coaching. I went from swimming college in the area right into Masters Swimming and I was coaching with the age group program at the time and I started doing Masters and they had a coach that wasn’t doing what the membership really wanted her to do and they had talked to her a couple of times and so she went on vacation so they decided to fire her while she was on vacation and that was the easiest way to handle it so they asked me because they knew I was coaching with the age group team – if I would be interested some Masters workouts and I said sure – that would be great. At that time we had a 6 AM workout and a noon workout. After about two years or so the program started to develop and grow and my Aquatic Supervisor at the time was great – in the sense that he was a visionary. He could see where – with the physical fitness boom for adults and where health and fitness was going.

He saw the potential of what we might be able to do and the City gave him one more full time position that he could offer through the city and so it came down to – you know – hiring a cashier at the pool fulltime or making the Masters Coach a fulltime position and I was doing both age group and Masters for a time and it was just un daunting – the hours you know and I finally said you know – I really love doing this, but you know – if I am going to do this for a living I have got to be able to go one way or the other. I cannot continue to do both so that is when he decided well, lets make the Masters Program – the Masters job.

I had a fulltime position for the city so that was around 1982 and 1983 so I am essentially a fulltime employee for the City of Walnut Creek. I have four assistant coaches. One is a ¾ time employee, one is half and one is quarter – based upon the number of hours that we do within our program. As a fulltime city employee and I was probably 23 at the time – what I had to do as a fulltime employee is I had to start going to workshops – harassment in the workplace – sexual harassment in the workplace – job building – team building – all this kind of stuff. In the beginning, you know, a 23 year old – 24 year old thought he knew it all and wasn’t paying much attention and I started realizing – when I started listening to some of the things that they do – the things that they were modeling for other things for other than being a swim coach would be very applicable to what I am trying to do in the program – trying to divide or build with my team so I started listening to it and they talked about having a mission and a vision statement and having a 5 year plan of where you want your program to be so we sat down and we did that and after sitting down for quite a while – this is what I came up with – as far as who we wanted to be. I wanted to clearly define who our team was going to be and our mission statement: “In an atmosphere that provides physical fitness, personal challenge, team work and social camaraderie, Walnut Creek Masters strives to have every member exit the pool with a heightened sense of accomplishment and self worth.”

That is who we decided we were going to be so we took it to our Board. We have a Membership Board of probably about 8 members. We have an Executive Board which is made up of myself and the Men’s and Women’s Team Captain and I said, you know – lets make this who we are going to be. So from that day forward – this is what we strive for on a day in and day out basis and I but this in here because the title of my talk is the “Competitive Vision of a Large Program”, but nowhere in our Mission Statement do we even talk about competition. None of our Mission and Vision is to win National Championships. That is not who we are. That is a by-product of us sticking to our Mission and Vision statement on a daily basis – trying to live by this allows those type of things to happen. Now I am a very competitive person by nature. I have always been that way and at our pool – in the diving well – the 6 lane, 25 meter diving well – there are two sets of diving boards – a 3 meter and a 1 meter on each side and on one side of the diving well – the 3 meter board – on the same side that we happen to coach from – there is this orange cone sitting up on the high dive and it sits there for a reason. Through a good portion of the year – in between workouts – the coaches fling kickboards at this cone. This is our launch point and if you happen to knock the cone off – you get a morning off workout and this is just the competitive side – I am 52 years old – I till play childish games, but I am in a work spot that allows me to do that. We have a lot of fun and so in between workouts – we never run our workouts back to back.

We always have some flex time in between so if the workout runs over we do not have to worry about the other group coming in so we go – well you will see that later. I will bring up a slide about that, and the funny thing about this is that we are looking at some – Walnut Creek Aqua Bears – which is the age group team that uses the same pool as we do – every year they take a team picture and we can go back to 2003 and the background behind all their swimmers – where you can see the diving pool in the background – there is an orange cone sitting on top of the high dive and we never realized it – how long we had been playing this stupid game and I think the cone has only been knocked off – maybe 16 times in 5 years and it is not uncommon between workouts – we have a half hour workout between our 10:30 workout and our noon workout for us to fling – maybe 40 kickboards each at this. You will hit it and sometimes it doesn’t fall, but anyway – like I said – I am very competitive by nature. My wife hates it when I bring my work or my competitive nature home so yeah – this is who I am. I can remember one time – not that long ago – probably 10 years ago – the pastor at our church was talking about redefining success and he said – “if at first you don’t succeed – you redefine success. You find something that was in what you did that could be taken as being successful”. I thought about that and I thought well, why wait until a certain point of failure to decide to redefine success? So, one of the things that I decided to do is – I think what you want to do is when you are trying to define what success is going to be – you want to focus on the aspects that you can control. If you look at something like a National Championship – you know – my goal is not to go to a National Championship and win a National Championship with our team because I can’t control that. I can’t control what swimmers come from other teams and how many they bring.

That is not anything I have control over so that isn’t really our goal. I think when you set goals for yourselves or goals for your team you should define each goal with more than one factor and I do this a lot in my own swimming. If I go to Nevada at Nationals I am rested, I am shaved and I am tapered and one goal is – I have a certain time that I would like to hit. Another goal is you know – I look at how I am seated and I would like to place a little better than maybe I am seated, but another goal is I have a technique thing that I want to work on – maybe it is hit my turns better. Maybe that should be my goal after the long course Nationals where I got disqualified for what they said was an un-simultaneous touch in my 200 fly, but the idea is – don’t just set one thing that you are going to rely your goal on, okay? Have more than one factor to define the success of that goal and you can do that individually with your swimmers – you can do that as a club goal of what that might be so I kind of want to look at my mission and vision again and talk about how this looks. This is something that John F. Kennedy wrote and published in the ‘60’s. “Our growing softness, our increasing lack of physical fitness is a menace to our security. Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, but it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity” and who would have known 40 years later that we have this boom of – this health and fitness craze of adult swimmers who are taking care of their bodies so that they stay active and creative intellectually and I really believe that we do that.

So, this is our practice schedule. We run 25 practices a week. All our practices have at least one coach on deck. As a mater of fact, all but one of them, have two coaches on deck so it allows us to kind of break up into groups a little bit, but our goal here is to make it available. The more practices we can make available – the more opportunities we are going to have to draw membership in. So, what we do with these workouts is again – it is kind of like we talked a little about this Friday morning. It is kind of like the pool of dreams. If you offer a workout – people are going to come and sometimes you have to give it time. If you only have 4 or 5 people – like I said – we started with a 6 AM workout and a noon workout when I first started the team. We moved the 6 AM workout to 5:30 in the morning and our numbers doubled within like two weeks because 6 o’clock was not a good time. People could not finish the workout – get in and shower – get dressed for work and get on the road to commute to work in time and as soon as we went to 5:30 our numbers doubled. As soon as our noon workout started getting so big – because our numbers were growing – that a lot of the older swimmers felt like they were getting pushed out and we offered a 10:30 workout and called it our silver bullet workout. We refer to silver bullets as swimmers as swimmers 60 and over so we had a 10:30 workout and it wasn’t just open to them, but that seemed to be a time that fit their schedule and all of a sudden they did not feel like they were getting pressured by the faster swimmers that were coming at the noon workout and then as our team grew we just kept adding more and more workouts.

This is how we structure our training cycles. This is a typical training cycle from December through short course Nationals and whether our swimmers are competitive or not – we train them as if they are going to either the Pacific Masters Championships or National Championships – whether they have any intention of going or not. We figure that the training that those people do to prepare for competition is also the best workout – as far as physical fitness goes – so it is the way we structure our workouts. So everything is set up on a block situation. Four block days – four block weeks. One block day is a very easy day. Two blocks is moderate – three blocks is moderately hard – dour blocks is a very hard day and we will have 1, 2, 3, and 4 block weeks. Now, within a one block week does not mean that all the days of that week are easy. It just means that if you were to combine the total number of blocks within that week it would be considerably less than a four block week so that is kind of what that looks like. I hope that is somewhat clear to what we do. The great thing about this is it keeps myself and my coaching staff on track too. There is an accountability factor worked into this that we have to stick to this too. We cant just show up you know – 10 minutes before the first morning workout is and try to figure out what we are going to do because we will get nailed on it.

They will say – hey – this is not supposed to be a 4 block day – it is a 2-block day. Why are you giving us this workout and it has happened and we said – well, because someone didn’t prepare well enough so and they fall into it. They will finish a workout and go – that was 4 blocks wasn’t it and I go – yeah – that was a 4 block day and this is a 4-block week so you better come back tomorrow. It is also set up so that we don’t do the same amount of intensity on the same days because you have people who are Monday, Wednesday, Friday swimmers. You have people who are Tuesday/Thursday swimmers so if it was always set up the same way on the same day they would never change their energy systems. This gives us a chance to change their energy systems. One block days we will have a lot of recovery – have a lot of stroke instruction into them and we build all that into our plan and again – we treat everybody as if they are training to go either our Pacific Masters Championships in April or the Nationals in May. You are never too old to set another goal or dream another dream. I got this – we were putting together quotations for my high school team one time and this popped up on one of mine and I really it. This happened this year. Susan Briben is a recreation swimmer. She doesn’t compete much. She has come to our meets that we have hosted because what she does – her job is that she times meets, but we made a big push this year to have open water as a big force – much more than we have had in the last few years so she came and did the first one mile swim of the season and I saw her on Monday the following week and she was just effervescent. She was so excited about doing the challenge and doing this one mile swim and this was her quote – that morning at 5:30 on the deck: “I am 52 years old. I have never done anything like that before – that was so much fun” and you know – boom – that is success. We have someone who has tried something – who has done something they have never done before and they exited that lake that day with a heightened sense of accomplishment and self-worth – that is just coming back to our Mission and Vision Statement and when I hear things like this it kind of makes me feel like that I know we are on the right track. This happens a lot too.

People are so afraid of swim meets because they have never been to one before. They do not know what to expect. And we had one of our swimmers say this – we had an 80 year old woman – this was years ago – one of the meets offered a 1650 butterfly. It was the last event every day and Ella Patcome was probably about 83 at the time and she did it. It took her an hour and 4 minutes – for a 1650 fly, but you watched her swim the fly and it was 2 kicks to every arm cycle – it was a pretty good stroke, but it wasn’t very fast, but she did it, but you know – you have to remember that when you look at the people that are in the water – just the body of motivation that you have in the water – that these people see each other do – I look at some of these 65 – 70 year old swimmers swim butterfly away from me and just the muscle definition in their shoulders and their back just blows me away. These guys are in great shape. I want to be like that when I am 60 – 70 and 80 years old you know? People look at what these people do and they go – if they can do that – the least I can do is try so we use that – you know – some of your best motivations – some of your best inspiration doesn’t have to come from you – it is going to come from the people they swim next to. Okay? Once you get someone to the swim meet for the first time and they actually do their first event and this happened – this guy finished the event and he did okay. You know – he had – we had to work on dives. We had to work on turns a lot for the two weeks prior to going to that because he had just no clue, but when I talked to him at the end I was really hoping that he enjoyed this, you know. He came out of the water and he was so pumped up and he said man, if I just hit my turns better, I know I can go faster. As soon as that happens you have got them hook, line and sinker and you say – well here is what we can do in workout to make those things better and now they have a benchmark so they have a benchmark to now – to kind of define their improvement or to kind of see where they are at and the only way they can do that is to come back to another meet and see if they have improved.

This is who we are really. We are salesmen. That is what we do. Our job is to sell a product. The great thing about us is we have a great product. Masters Swimming is a great product. We are so different from the guy going door to door with a vacuum cleaner – not that they do that any more, but they will go door to door with magazines and they are going blindly door to door and they are trying to sell what they have. We have people coming to us and saying – tell me about what you guys do so again – we have a great product. Salesmanship is an art. The perfection of its technique requires study and practice and we get to do this every day. We get to sell our workouts. We get to sell the set. We get to sell our program and get to sell the idea of going to a competition and if you think about it too – you know – the pre-game and the half-time pep talk – all it is it is the same thing that we do. All you are doing is you are trying to motivate people to believe that the goals that they have set – either you have set as a team or they have set as an individual are attainable. You pump them up – they get fired up and you send them out to do it. When they set goals they need to be self-rewarding. They have to get something out of this. They have to do something and it has to make them feel good about what they do – exiting the water with a heightened sense of accomplishment and self-worth. They also have to believe that by their participation they are a part of something that is bigger than them. If you set a team goal of saying we want 100 swimmers at this meet. They do not have to be – they are not saying we want 100 people who are going to go to this meet – score points for us so that we can win the championship. All you are doing is saying, “we want you to participate. We want to see if we can get a hundred people there to see what that looks like”. By keeping it at this level, everybody can feel like they are participating to a goal that is bigger than themselves so a lot of times, that will be our goal.

Our goal will be not to win – our goal is to see how many people can we get to go to a meet and what is that going to look like once we get there. Short course Nationals – because they are within 3 ½ hours of our home pool – we have had 90 swimmers go to short course Nationals. Indianapolis – because they are a little further away – we had 10 go. Both were very successful meets – not by how we placed, but how we did and you know – the experience that the swimmers had that they will want to come back and go around and do it again. I can tell you that dinner reservations were a lot easier in Indianapolis than they were in Clovis. Okay – these are some ideas that we have done to try to help build up our competitive side without really saying we are competing. March Madness is something we started quite a few years ago and we kind of took it off of a February fitness challenge. Instead of doing the February Fitness challenge we moved it to March because it fit better in our competition calendar. If we could get people to up their yards and swim hard in March and then rest in April – our Pacific Masters Championship is usually the middle of April and that is a meet of about 900 swimmers. It is a good sized meet so what we do with March Madness is we set a goal. We have them each set a goal – a yardage goal that they want to attain for that month and we try to get them to encourage them to do a little bit more than they usually do and then turn that in. So what happens is – so then we can – and they do their own tracking. We do not track it. We will ask them to update their yardage at the halfway point to see where they are at to see if they are on track with their goals and we will publish on the bulletin board outside of the pool what people’s goals are. If you have goals that is great. If you share your goals there is a much better success rate at attaining those goals once you have shared those and you know someone is going to hold you accountable to them so all of a sudden we put those up so people will know.

What we do with March Madness also is that we charge $15.00 to swim – to enter March Madness and what we do is once you have entered March Madness and you attain your goal you get one raffle ticket. If you attain your goal plus 15% you get a second raffle ticket. You have actually chosen an NCAA team that has made the final four – you get a third ticket so that is how we tie in with the March Madness thing. And the other thing that we have done in the last 5 years – we have co-hosted our regional championships for short course yards with another team. They have a little bit more water than we do so we use their pool and we use most of our manpower to run the pool and it has been a very successful relationship for the last 5 years. One of the jobs that we do is we take in the mailed in entries, which is only about – I think this year it was only about 8% of the entries were mailed in, but what we do for our swimmers because we control that is we take that $15.00 and say once you have done March Madness we will take that $15.00 and we will apply that to the entry fees for the meet so once they have done their March Madness – they have essentially paid $15.00 – $15.00 they have already paid – that will allow them to swim one event at the meet if they want. If they want to swim more than one – they add it up, but it is just kind of setting this mindset that they have already and they have essentially already entered the meet – you might as well go. In 2008 we had 28 swimmers participate in March Madness and they swam 966,380 yards combined for that month so when we were getting ready for 2009 we thought wouldn’t it be great to go a million yards – a million of anything is big – a million pennies is big and just to say you did a million was big and I was trying to figure out okay – how can I work this into our plan? How many yards is it to Clovis? Because anytime we talk about going to Nationals it is the road to Clovis – It is the road to Indianapolis. It is not that many yards to Clovis – it is only 280,000 yards to Clovis or something like that so that was not going to work so we said lets make sure we go over a million. By selling it and marketing what we wanted to do and encouraging people that this was an attainable goal – we had 58 swimmers participate – went 4 million 357,000 yards. That is a huge goal, but again – once we set a goal like this – what we did is – people didn’t have to swim 20,000 yards a week to do it. Some of our older swimmers – instead of swimming 2,000 a workout three days a week – they came a fourth day and swam an extra 2,000 or they stayed in and kicked a 500 and talked to their friends, but all of a sudden they were part of something that was bigger than them and they were a part of this – this 4 million yards. I do not know where we are going to go in 2010.

Get a Life Day – we run 5 practices a day so we have a thing – Get a Life Day – you come in – you take a day off work and you come and swim all 5 practices. Most people will look at the calendar – find a good one block day of a one block week and say that is when I am doing the March Madness or I mean – that is when I am going to do Get a Life because they will actually swim somewhere between 15,000 and 19,000 yards within that day because there is that slough time between the workouts. It is not like – most of them are not going to get out – they will just get in and swim easy and they swim all 5 workouts and it is amazing what people will do for a silly little t-shirt. For the first ten years that we did this we talked about a t-shirt, but there really wasn’t one. As soon as we made a t-shirt we had probably 5 times as many people do it a year – just for the t-shirt. It is amazing. What we have to do now – a lot of the senior swimmers who are getting ready to go to college – because their season finishes about the same time ours does and they have some down time before they go away to college and they will come in and they will do Get a Life Day with us. They go – I want to do Get a Life before I head off for college and we say – great – we would love to have you – come do it. Frequent Flyers: There are people who want to become frequent flyers and to become a frequent flyer all you have to do is swim 500 yards of butterfly in a sanctioned event and you do not have to do it all in one meet. You can accumulate your mileage – just like you can on an airplane. You can do ten 50’s fly. You can do the first hundred of a 400 IM in the 50 fly – there is 150 – as soon as you accumulate 500 yards of butterfly in competition – you get a frequent flyer cap. It is amazing what people will do for a cap. And again – at anytime if you have any questions feel free to throw them out there.

Okay – this became our theme for this summer – Open Water – Open Minds. Pacific Masters Swimming has a pretty huge calendar of open water events that start as early at May and go all the way through the middle of September and we have participated always at some level, but certainly not the same level that we do competitive pool meets. A new board comes on – we have some new members on there that are very avid about open water swimming and they said – why aren’t we doing more open water swimming? Why aren’t we pushing that a little bit more and I said, I don’t know – should we? And they said yes – and we said ok – let’s do it. So Open Water – Open Minds became our theme for 2009 Open Water Season. This is how we got Susan Brogden – the 52 year old to do her first open water swim that she was so elated about. So – I will go back to that with the Open Water – Open Minds – our first one was a Delval Lake had a one and two mile swim.

The year before I think we had 13 people do it. This year, I think we had 90 people do it – just by throwing it out there – making it a team goal – allowing people to be part of something that was bigger than they were – knowing that if they went – it didn’t matter if they placed – it had nothing to do with place or winning a medal for their age group – they are part of a goal that we set. They are part of a bigger number. We carried that over to the Lake ——— swim that Davis Masters puts on which is a huge swim every year and I think our entrance into that this year – which was the week after ?Delval was up 4X what it was the year before and that kind of continued through the summer.

Our Silver Bullet – these are swimmers that are 60 and over and we have caps for the Silver Bullets. As soon as they turn 60 and they are going to compete in a meet we give them a Silver Bullet cap. We want to make them feel like they are an important part of the team so we always make sure that our Board is representative of the 60 and over age group – that we have at least one member on our board that is over 60 years old. With our Silver Bullets when we go to competitions one of the things that we want to do is provide rides for them so on the bulletin board before our meets – if they need a ride they put their name up on the board and we find them a ride so they do not have to worry about driving to and from the meets and because for some of those – they still like to compete and again – for a lot of them – it is not the competition itself – it is getting together and hanging out with their friends from other teams that they only get to see a certain few times a year. That is more important to them than medals and we do not want to take that away from them because they are afraid that they are going to have trouble getting there or get lost or just aren’t feeling comfortable driving that late at night when we come home. We want to make that – we are going to provide for them in that way. Okay, so – kind of what I want to say as far as conclusions – then we will kind of open this up for questions – is I think you want to define who and what you want your club to be and I think this is important and if you haven’t done this already – if this is your call – you sit down and do this. If this is something that you need to have your board do – you sit down and you have them do this, but define who you want to be and then you can define your goals and how you are going to be successful within that.

Have long-term plans. You should have a 5 Year Plan. You should look at where is my program now? Where do I want my program to be in 5 years? And then you have long and short term goals to get to that. What do I need to do? One of the things – the last time we did a 5 year plan was probably about 8 years ago so we are due to do it again, but one of the things that I did with my coaches is I had them sit down and I had them make a pie chart and in that pie chart I wanted them to break up the pieces of pie into what their strengths and their weaknesses were and then give that to me. Like me – my strength probably I would say my strength is in encouragement and the creativity side of coaching. My weakness is the administrative side. My Board has recognized this early – Thank God and they really work to try to take over some of that. We have a team manager on our team who essentially does everything for us. He helps to put together the budget. He takes care of all of our travel plans. He makes sure that all the coaches get their per diems and their tickets and all this type of thing. He does whatever needs to be done. His name is Bosco. You have got to find the Bosco on your team. You have got to find someone who is passionate about the program – is passionate about the job that you are doing as a coach and he wants to take the pressure off of you of the things that you do not need to – he wants – Bosco’s job was to make sure that coaches coached so his motivation for the Board is – lets make sure we have a board – make sure we have the volunteers to take some of the stuff off the coaches so that the coaches can do what they do well. Administration is not my high point.
Find ways to challenge your club. Find ways to challenge them as individuals. You could do that on a daily basis with the type of workouts you write, with the way the progression that you have in what you are going for as far as attaining your goals. Find ways to challenge your team. Here is where I think we should be in five years. How are we going to get there? The more you can get people to buy into what you want that goal to be and the more opportunities you give them to be a part of that – the more successful you are going to be. Do not try to do it all yourself, okay? Bring people on. They want to help you. They want to be a part of this. You look at what you have on your team – look at the people that are out there. Look what they have gone through to get here. You can look at your pool any day of the week and there is hardship out there. People are struggling. People are in pain. It is not easy for people to be there. These are tough times, but people come because what you do and what your program provides is important to them. All they want to do is have an opportunity to give back to that. If it is important to them, it is going to be important to them to make sure that they see that it survives and it runs as well as it can and they want to be a part of that so give them the opportunity. Have a progression: Participation – that is our victory, okay? Like I said – if I get A hundred swimmers to go to a National Championship and I get 12th place – that is great. We got 100 people there. Someone beat us, but that is okay – we got a hundred people there. People are not going to go away from the National Championships being excited because we won – I mean – a little bit of that – yes, but they are going to be excited about the relationships they built – the fun that they had – the goals that they had set for themselves and how they attained them. You know, like I said in the beginning – I am very competitive by nature and I am very proud of the 35 National Team Titles that we have won at Nationals and things like this, but that is not who we are, okay? We go back to that Mission and Vision Statement – that is who we are. This is what I am proud about – that my staff and my swimmers and my board – we try to live by this on a day in and day out basis – that if we do this – everything else takes care of itself. Any success we have as a team at swim meats or whatever – it is a by-product of us trying to do this on a day in and day out basis, okay? Any questions?

Question/Answer: I put up – I write the theme for the month and the weeks and then my schedule is that I work Monday, Tuesday, Thursday Fridays. I take Wednesdays off so since I am the first one there all the time, I write the workouts for those days and then what we will do and then my assistant coaches that run the workout on Wednesdays – I let them write it. I have every confidence in having them do that because they are all very well trained coaches. What we will do at certain times of the season is we will say – okay – here is the main workout because we have two coaches on deck for every workout and we say okay – here is what we are going to do today, but if we – we are going to have – Steve is going to take a group today of people who want to work primarily on training for the 200. If you want to do that we are going to put you guys in the first 4 lanes. I let them do that. I let Steve design something for 200 people. I have a coach who likes to do sprint work so we will have days when we say okay – here is what we are going to do today, but if you would rather work a sprint option you are going to go over and work with Mike on sprints today and we are going to do those in the first 4 lanes so go there so in that sense I give them the freedom to do what they want to do because it must means I have faith in what they do, okay?

Any other questions? Yes. Captains? We make up the Executive Board and we want to have the power to make a decision without taking it back to the Board and it is like if we are at Nationals and we decide we need another van and it is going to cost us $1,500.00 for this van – we can go ahead and say okay – lets get the van. We do not have to go back to the board. Their job is to oversee the committees that come out of the rest of the Board. They do not have to be on them, but they have to oversee them and they have to make sure that whatever we are doing is in place. If we have a meet coming up that all those committees are in charge and doing that. For that – what the City does – it allows them to swim for free. Our fee structure is set up – our members pay $240.00 a year to join the team. $40.00 of that goes for their registration card.

The balance of that $200 goes to essentially letting the team run its business and the team also subsidizes our salaries through that and then they pay a pool use fee at the front door of – if they pay monthly it is like $52.00 a month – that is the normal rate. $52.00 a month if you are a lap swimmer – if you are a Masters swimmer they give you a break of about $10.00 a month. For our team captains – for the work that they do – for the two year stint that they are on they essentially get to swim for free, but their job is essentially to help the head coach run the team. Make sure the committees are doing what they need to do – again – so it allows the coaches to coach. They are elected as all our board members are. Question: So it is $240. a year? Yes and then they pay a pool use fee, right. The pool use fee is they can pay a daily fee of $4.50, they can get a punch card of 15 swims which is probably $40. – something like that or they can pay a monthly fee and actually the City allows the Masters members to pay an annual fee. If they want to pay that up front – once their dues are paid for the new year, if they want to pay annually – they essentially get a month free out of that or a month and a half free to have that option.

Question/Answer: No – what we will do is – you know – we will have people – we will take it on a case by case basis. If we are three months into the season and someone wants to join the team you know – once we get past three months – anything before the three months they pay the full year and then we start prorating it until we get to the half year and then we may a new amount for a half year like $180. for half a year, but we don’t go month to month. And the City loves it because they get all their money – especially – probably 10-15% of our membership pays up front at the beginning of the year and the City loves that because they get all their money up front so they are happy to do it too. Yes?

Question/Answer: Oh yeah – March Madness is all about basketball so what they did is because at the beginning of March what they have to do is if they pick a team that makes the final 4 in basketball – they go another raffle ticket and then what we do is at the end of the month – the raffle is not based on how many yards you swam. It is just based on whether you attained your goal or not so it is not about winning the yardage thing. We have this one gal that I have on the video that we will show in my next talk about stroke mechanics – she probably went 280,000 yards in that month. She was just over the top. She swims like crap, but she does it for 280,000 yards a month, but that wasn’t the goal. The goal wasn’t to see how far you can go – the goal was to be a part of this so then what we do is Sports Basement which is a Sports Retail Store that is across the street from us that is in a good partnership with us – they provide raffle prizes for us. They set a goal and if the attain their goal they get their first raffle ticket. If they attain their goal plus another 15% they get a second raffle ticket. If they pick a team in the March Madness they get a third, but again – it is just about participating – that is our goal. When people participate and take advantage of not only the things that we provide, bit that United States Masters provides through Go The Distance, through the Postal Swims, through the National ——————. All we want them to do is participate because if they participate and they enjoy it – they are going to come back and we are going to retain our membership.

How are you promoting all of these events? I mean obviously you are talking about on the deck – Answer: Mostly email – mostly email. We try to be very conscious of not sending out too many emails because then they start getting – oh – another Walnut Creek Masters. Question: Do you have a weekly email – a monthly email? Answer: It is as needed, but again – we look at – okay – when was the last time we sent them out and you know – we put on two large meets a year so as we get close to those dates more and more emails start going out because we need more and more volunteers when we start getting down to crunch time so we try to be sensitive to that, but most of it is through on deck – through the announcements we make at the beginning of the workout – what is up on our bulletin boards and what goes out through emails and posters in the locker room and that is about it. Again – this is – you know – you all are in different places. You are all in different teams. You are going to find what works for you. This is what has worked well for us and this is what we are going to continue to do is try to meet the needs of our membership on a day to day basis and when we do that you know? We are going to be successful and because the model has worked for us we are going to try to continue to do that. I think that is all I have got. Anyway – that is it – thanks.

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