The Walnut Creek Masters Program by Kerry O’Brien (2002)


I am going to kind of approach this in four phases.  One is just a little introduction about myself, our facility, and the relationship that I have with the city of Walnut Creek.  The second portion will be a little bit on our program.  The third portion is going to be on the financial side or the money side of Walnut Creek Masters and then the last section, if we have time, is to talk a little bit about what I have learned standing on the same deck for 22 years.


I was one of those people who never took a break between my college swimming and my master swimming.  I swam at a Division II college in the Bay area which got me down to the Walnut Creek area.  I went right into masters swimming in Walnut Creek. I had one summer, and one spring season with them and was still training with them when they decided they were going to make a coaching change.  They released the coach that they had, with no real plans on what they were going to do after that. I was coaching some of the small kids for the Walnut Creek Aquabears, and they asked would you like to cover some workouts on an interim basis until we figure out what we are going to do.  At the time, I was making $230 a month coaching little kids and I was living closer to my college than I was where I was working.  $230 a month was not enough to get my 1972 Firebird to and from the pool because the gas price was very high.  I said “yeah”, I more than welcomed to do some workouts and stuff and make some extra money.  That was in October of 1980, around January or February of 1981 is when they hired me to be the head coach. I coached both the age group team and with the masters team for about 6-9 months, was dating my future wife and everything was just a mess!  Because if I wasn’t doing one I was doing the other and I was too tired to enjoy my life.  So I decided  I would talk to my supervisor with the City of Walnut Creek and said “You know, I can only go one way or the other, whichever way I want to go, I want to be able to make a living doing this.  That is when they started structuring the Walnut Creek Masters position into a full time job.  I will talk a little bit more a little bit later about the relationship that I have with the City of Walnut Creek, but I put this up here now because I am a full-time employee of the City of Walnut Creek.


The city of Walnut Creek is very proactive in the education and the teaching that they give their employees.  Every year I attend classes on blood born pathogens, sexual harassment, and violence in the workplace, along with all other full time employees. But, what I learned there also is we would have to get together and go on retreats and this type of stuff.  I learned about mission and vision and that I had to incorporate some of that into my swim team if I was going to make this my business.  I took some of the training that I had with the city of Walnut Creek and I sat down to kind of hammer out wanted I wanted the vision of my team to be.  This is what I came up with here – an atmosphere that promotes 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 what I decided I wanted my team to be and who we were going to be.  So then I had to take that to my Board of Directors and sell them on it. It was a pretty easy sell because I said you know, that’s a good thing and if you notice here too that there is nothing that says anything about competition.  All the success that we have had at the competitive level, whether it be local, national or international, I will contend that every day it comes back to trying to meet these goals day in and day out, and that if I can get my people into a pool and I can make them feel good about themselves, make them feel better when they got out than when they got in – then I did my job and everything else was just kind of a byproduct.  Any success we have competitively is a byproduct of us trying to attain these goals on a day in and day out basis.


Our pool is an outdoor 50-meter pool – 20 lanes short course, 9 lanes long course.  It is a fairly shallow 50 meter pool, but that is okay.  It serves our purposes and actually when they built it in the early 70’s, they had to fight to give it the depth that they had it because a lot of the people who were striving to have the pool built didn’t want to have it overtaken by a competitive swim team.  So they wanted it to be shallower so we couldn’t dive into it and it took a lot of hard work for people who were there before I was to get it the depth that it is.  So, we have the 50 meter pool.  The thing that I really like is that we have a large grass area around our pool with flowerbeds and grass.  We have a six lane 25 meter pool and what you see there next to that is our synchronized swimming team that puts on a big show as a fund raiser for ?  So that is part of the stage that you see there.  We have a weight room that we use and we also have a small baby pool and then a classroom which has been very valuable to our club.  One of the things that we got to do in that classroom was run a baby-sitting service for our mid-day workouts.  All those young moms that were having kids that we started to lose, all of a sudden we were getting them all back by them setting up their own co-op and baby sitting service.


The chain of command for the City of Walnut Creek is the City Manager, the Recreation Superintendent, Aquatic Supervisor and myself and then it just kind of goes on down from there.  I have had great support from the City of Walnut Creek.  I had one instance where we had to take an issue to the City Manager with my supervisor, myself and one of my swimmers.  The support and backing  from the City of Walnut Creek was incredible.  The Recreation Superintendent actually swam on our team for three years, so he had a good sense of what our program was like, the number of people that we were dealing with, what our struggles and other issues were, and what our goals were.  Every year I have an evaluation with my Recreation Aquatics Supervisor.


This is kind of the chain of command within Walnut Creek Masters.  We have an Executive Board which is made up of myself, a men’s captain and a women’s captain that are voted in by the membership on alternate years for a two year term and we make up the Executive Board.  The rest of the board is made up of a Team Manager that we have, the outgoing captain that year becomes a board member for at least one year and three other members at large and that makes up the rest of our board.  The thing that I really like about this is that the Executive Board has the power to make decisions without necessarily the approval of the rest of the board.  So, if we go to a swim meet in Indianapolis, and we decide that we need two more vans for six days of workouts, and it’s going to cost us you know $800 or so, we can go ahead and make that decision.  As long as we check with the team manager, and we know that the money is in there, we can go ahead and make that kind of decision.  So what this kind of a setup has done, is that it has allowed us to get a lot of things rolling a little bit faster.  We have never had a problem where the executive board has made a decision that we had to go back and justify to the rest of the board, so it has worked out pretty well.


I think our team is like any other program in the people that we attract.  We attract a lot of swimmers who came from competitive backgrounds all through their lives and it is kind of hard to read, but it says in search of the old magic. Bert decides to wear the suit that won him the State high school championship in 1972.  You can see it on the box there and then Bert wisely reconsiders.  We have a lot of people on our team, I think we have had as many as 10 Olympians.  We have had people who swam all through college, just like everybody else.  I mean, our makeup is pretty much the same.  We have the competitive rookie, the novice swimmer who has never gone to a meet before.  Again, competition is not what we are about, but it is a great tool of encouragement.  What I like about competitive rookies is the fears and the anxieties going to a meet are real to them.  But after their first event, they come over and you start talking to them.  They will say, “I have got to work on my turns, I went out too fast, and I am not going to do that again”, as soon as they say something like that, I pretty much know I have got them hooked.  To me, that is a commitment that they are going to come back and they are going to try again.  We have a lot of people on our team that are competitive rookies.  Fitness swimmers are people who are there for reasons other than competition.  We have had a lot of pregnancies on our team.  We have had a lot of young marriages.  We have had people who are never going to compete probably in their mind.  They think they are never going to compete in a swimming event or competition, but they are that Type A personality that have come form other sports and have injured themselves through running or something else.  The doctors tell them you cant do that anymore, but you are going to have to find some sort of a way to vent all of this energy that you have, we get a lot of people swimming this way.  Older swimmers; we have a huge amount of older swimmers.  Of our 380 some odd swimmers, 17% of them are over the age of 60. Of that 17%, everyone of those people over 60 has competed in an event in the last two years.  So the older swimmers are a big part of any success that we have as a team, either on our local or the national level.  Then you got the different swimmer, the guys who swim to the sound of a different splash as they say.  They are your swimmers with issues and you just kind of deal with those issues on a one on one basis and try to make them feel as comfortable as anybody else.  We have a fairly large triathlon population within our team.  We have had 32 people finish the Hawaiian Ironman.  We have some of the top pros in the world all the way down to the tryforfun’s who are getting ready to do their first one.  We have some people who are coming in with zero swim knowledge, but they know that they want to do a triathlon and they are good people.


Our practice schedules are as follows, we run basically 25 workouts a week, Monday thru Thursday.  We do a 5:30 in the morning, 6:45, 10:30, noon and then 7 in the evening.  Fridays we do the same thing, we just don’t have a Friday night workout.  It was one of those things that was in my pre-nuptial agreement that I would be home on Friday night, so we don’t have a Friday night workout.  Saturdays we try to get in at least three a month.  We set that up so that each of the coaches will cover one Saturday and we publicize when those are going to be at the beginning of every month.  We are looking at adding either a Saturday evening workout or a Sunday morning workout which we just sent out a survey which was very popular, but it was with the idea that if we decided to do that that we were going to hire another coach to cover that workout so that we are not taxing the coaches that we already have.  With these workouts I have myself and two assistant coaches.  Mike and I coach together on Monday and Tuesdays, so we have two coaches on deck on Mondays and Tuesdays.  Wednesdays, Mike coaches by himself.  Thursdays,  I coach by myself.   Fridays, Susan and I coach together.  What has worked out very well about this, is that it allows us the freedom to sub-group our workouts to where if there are two coaches on deck one of us can take a group.  If the 25-meter diving pool isn’t being used we can take a group out of the water and put them in there and do more of an instructional type of day with them, such as stroke mechanics.  It allows us the opportunity to have, something you will see on our calendar, some days that they will have their choice between distance and mid-distance or mid-distance and sprint so we can divide the groups up and still kind of give them the coverage that we like.


These are the training cycles that we follow, I will pull this one up, this was from 2001, just because it was a cleaner copy that I could find.  We train on a four-week training cycle:  easy week – moderate week –hard week – very hard week and then the cycle starts over again.  When we set up our training cycles we look at what is going to be your big meet, for us it is most times Nationals, and you work your cycles backwards from that.  Below there you can kind of see a hard week is a four-block week.  An easy week is a one block week. You can see how the days are set up with an easy, moderate, hard, and very hard, so it doesn’t mean that on an easy day or an easy week all the workouts are easy.  It just means that it is an easier week relative to what we have on a very hard week.  If you are counting blocks, basically what you see on the bottom there the more blocks there are, the harder the week is.  I really like this because my swimmers get in tune to this, I can give them a workout and if they haven’t looked at the calendar they will say today was a four-block day wasn’t it?  I will say yeah it was, or no, it was only a three block but you swam like it was a four block.  These are the training cycles we go on and I have people ask me, well that is all well and good if your swimmers are swimming six days a week to follow these cycles.  What if they are not?  What if you are only swimming three times a week?  The way that we kind of address that is, whenever you see an easy day like on Wednesday/Friday on an easy week, the easy day normally set up so that it will be a set similar to going to go six swims on the three minute interval.  If this is an easy day for you because you have been here the rest of the week I want you to set off a distance that is going to be easy for you to repeat on three minutes okay.  If you have missed one or two days coming up to this, that was your easy day and you have recovered from that.  Now you need to work, so you are going to pick a distance that is going to be much harder for you to repeat on three minutes.  We are all staying together, but based upon whether or not you need a recovery day.  Either they have been here enough to follow the cycles, or they have had a couple of days off because they have been traveling on business or something like that, and then they don’t have to go easy.  They can take advantage of that, use that day as a hard day.  A lot of times on the easy days we will set our sets up as time interval things rather than distance and they can adjust the distances as they need to.


This is kind of what we publish every month and it gives them a format of what we are going to do for the month.   I set this up, and very rarely do you see that it actually lists what the distances are.  I figure out what I want to do based on the block for that day, but I have the freedom up until that morning to decide exactly what I am going to give them based upon how they responded to the workout the day before or something like that.  Like on Monday the 3rd there is a day that we have two coaches there, they can go distance or mid distance, and we are going to do a little butterfly work. A lot of people will not pick these up.  A lot of people do not want to know.  They will just show up.  They are there if you want them.  I like when I go to one of my swimmers houses and I see this magnetized to the front of the refrigerator, life doesn’t get any better than that for a coach.


Yes, I encourage them to do everything as much as they can, within reason.  Like Mike said, if they cant do it there is no point in having them there and struggle through something that they cannot do.  I heard one coach say, and I truly believe this, “you can only swim as fast as your weakest muscle will allow you to go and usually when swimmers get injured, it is the muscles around the supporting muscle groups that are weak that create the injury”.  So I try to convince them that by doing other strokes, they are reinforcing the muscles that are around the main muscle groups.  Still, even when you look at this here, probably 70% of any workout on any given day usually is mostly freestyle.  Unless we have really subdivided our groups to where one coach will take all backstrokers and will do backstroke work with them or backstroke sets with them.  Yes, we do have people that train doubles, but the numbers that do that are small enough that we can take that on a case by case basis.  I can put them in a lane with someone else and do something different.  If they have the freedom to do the double, they will choose them on the days that they have either a distance or mid-distance choice so one workout they will do the distance workout, but come back and do the other one as a mid-distance workout.


This is what I had my assistant coaches do, and I did this at a clinic when I went to Virginia with Jim and Ed Nestle and we were mentor coaches.  I had them sit down and fill out a pie chart of what they thought their five or six strengths were that they brought to their club, or brought to the deck every day.  The reason I had them do that is, after we had all filled them out, I reproduced them and we gave them to the coaches at the Mentor Clinic.  What you could see is that we all have different strengths, okay?  I feel that a lot of my strength is in my technical skills and my creativity.  Where I am really, really lacking, is that 5% of administrative skills and anybody who has ever seen my office would agree.   That is just the way it is, that is the makeup of what I am that is the kind of coach that I am.  When we looked at Jim Miller’s and at Ed Nestle’s, they were different than mine, yet we are all head coaches of fairly successful programs, so there is no one format that works.  What is important about this, is once you define what your strengths are, you also define what your weaknesses are.  Then what you need to do as a coach is you need to maximize your strengths and as you are working on your weaknesses, find someone to cover those for you.  If you look down here at Susan’s breakdown, she has 25% marked off as organizational and administrative skills.  That is a great support to me, where I am weak in my programs, so it is usually Susan and my two team captains who do the two meets that we put on a year.  They are the ones that organize and run all that because that is not my strength and the meet is going to run a lot better if that is taken out of my hands.  It is kind of like our newsletter too, as long as that is taken out of my hands it is going to happen a lot better.  That is not where my strengths are, and it was interesting, I really wanted to be honest with this and I wanted to see what they came up with.  It is kind of interesting how the things kind of jell together, that we are supporting each other’s weaknesses.  When I look at their strengths, I try to make opportunities within work that I give them so that they can use their strengths to the best of their abilities, because that is only going to help our team.


Question – Why are all categories not represented?   I let them come up with their own.  I said I wanted them to come up with five or six things that they thought that they brought to the pool and list them percentage wise.  Like you know, Susan, she felt important to the team because she was female, and that is a good point.  There are some issues that will come up within the locker room, or stuff that I have no business knowing about, or that I can control.  But because she is a female, she can address some of those issues and again, it only strengthens our team.  She is there to support our teammates and deal with this type of stuff.  The 1% that she puts down for bringing me coffee on Fridays, that is very important and I thought it deserved a lot more!


So that’s basically our program and how our program is set up.  Any questions on that before we go on?  Okay, the training cycles thing I really like, what I think it does, and we are going to talk about this just a little bit later when we start talking about goal setting and stuff, is that when you throw that stuff out there that makes you accountable.  I do a lot better when I know I am being held accountable for the things that I say or the things that I say I am going to do.  The money side of our system is that our master swimmers pay the same fee to use the pool as regular lap swimmers and they have options when they come through the door.  They can pay a daily usage fee, which is $3.50, they can buy a 15-punch card that is $42, they can get a monthly card that is $56 or they can join 24-hour fitness.  24 hour fitness has a deal with the City of Walnut Creek and that their members can come in and use our pool.  They just throw their card down and they record the number and then the City bills the club monthly for the pool.  Because their lap swimming pool is very nominal this is the cheapest way to go.  We tell our swimmers, if you join 24 hour fitness, it is about $60 to join and it is about $22 a month depending on whatever deal you get on and whatever they are running at that time.  We have people who have no clue where the club is.  They have never been there but it is a cheaper way to swim and the City is okay with us doing that because they turn around and they bill 24 hour fitness $3.50 a swim, so they are not getting any break on the price at all.  It looks great to the health club because they can produce this roster of members that they have who are not using up their club facilities, it is not overcrowding the club.  Our swimmers like it because it is the best deal they can get for swimming as far as their fees go and the City of Walnut Creek is okay with it because they are getting the full fee.


YES – I think it is 20 – a four-lane 20-yard pool at 88 degrees, right next to the sauna that is probably about the same.  They pay a yearly fee to Masters that is $165 a year.  That is above and beyond what they pay to come through the door.  $25 of that goes to get their registration card, the balance of that goes in to cover their team dues, coaching fees and this type of stuff.  When we sell it to them, if they came to one workout every day that we offered, it works out to .44 cents a day for running what we think is a very good program as far as the professionalism of our coaches and what we try to offer them at 44 cents a day, so that is how we sell it.  Now what we also have is an associate membership for people who live out of the area but still want to be a part of Walnut Creek Masters.  They still want to be in our newsletter, they may want to hook up with us at Nationals and swim relays with us. This type of stuff.  So there is an associate membership like that which is $55 and then we kind of prorate it at the half year because they go January to January and we start soliciting for new about mid-November and again, our membership are about 380.  Because we pay all of our pool usage fees at the door before they come in it allows us to keep our budget at a reasonable number so our operating costs for our team, less the pool usage fees is about $68, 250 for this year.


Now, the other interesting thing about this is, that of all the aquatic programs that are run out of the City of Walnut Creek pool; there is an age group program, there is a diving team, there is a synchronized swimming team and there is us, we are the only team that is city sponsored.  I don’t know why that is, I am not going to ask, it is a great deal.  All the other clubs have to turn around and pay water fees to the City of Walnut Creek every month, they have to collect that money from their membership, turn around and give that back.  Not having to deal with that nightmare makes our bookkeeping so much easier, they can take care of that at the counter, and we never see that money, we never have to turn around and give it back.  Of that $68,250, $42,000 of that covers payrolls and benefits.  Myself and my assistant coaches are subsidized, our salaries are subsidized through Walnut Creek Masters, even though we are all city employees, but I am the only full-time employee.  They (assistant coaches) are city employees also and are paid through the City of Walnut Creek.  Through this we also get subsidized part of our salary.


$10,000 covers our travel for the year.  That covers all our airfare, hotel, and per diem for coaches.  It covers all our van rentals for the team; it covers gas, whatever it takes.  And depending upon the year, and where the meets are, that number fluctuates considerably.  With us taking a large group to Hawaii, and we had I think almost 70 swimmers at Hawaii, we decided that we were going to take all three coaches.  It was a pretty expensive trip this year.  That is why our coaching budget was kind of cleaned out by the time we got to Cleveland so we didn’t go.


Of that – $9500 of that goes for the USMS cards of that 165 and then another 6,000 for operating costs.  That is equipment, pool rentals, room rentals, barbecues, this type of stuff and that about covers our budget.  But again, not having to pay those swim fees to the City of Walnut Creek on a monthly basis just streamlines our job; it is so much easier.  It is the best way to go and we know how fortunate we are in comparison to the other programs.  I don’t know how we got this deal, it was set up that way before I started and I think the other teams like it the other way because they like having control of that money and for some reason they see that as an advantage.  I don’t.  Yes – Doug – No, yea, because and that is a good point because whenever we run our masters program there is simultaneously lap swimming going on at the same time so the guards are there.  Now our staff, because we are city employees, have to go through the same training as our life guards do, so we are all certified and this type of stuff and that covers us when we do weekend workouts.  In our 50-meter pool when we are set up 20 lanes short course, basically we get 10 to 13 lanes for our workout, so space is good and space we use up.  Our morning workout peaks out at about 56 people for our 5:30 workout.   6:45 is a little smaller.  You know, on a good day we will see probably 13-14 swimmers.  On a great day we will see close to 200 just for whatever they will show up that day.


The fund raising side of it.  To help offset some of that cost we put on two meets a year.  A short course invitational which is Friday night the 800 and all day Saturday.  It is not a big moneymaker for us, but it is kind of like community service.  It is kind of giving back to our LMSC, we don’t have that many pools or clubs that will put on a long course meet so our long course season typically consists of this meet being the second week-end in June, maybe one other meet.  Our regional championships are in mid or third week of July, and then if we go to Nationals.  That is it, so at the very most I think we have a four meet schedule for our long course season so you know, it is just one of the things that we do to kind of help out the LMSC.  The short course meters championships which we run in October, we are hosting again this year, we do much better as far as finances go.  One of the reasons that we do so well there is that we are very proactive with getting sponsorships.  It is a six-lane pool if you remember the diving pool being up there.  It is a six lane pool and what we do is we sell off advertising underneath each block for $200 and we sold those within the first week so there is $1200 right off the bat.


Yes – that is a good question – yes we do – but our break is a little better than the other teams get and with this meet it works out really well because they don’t have to close the facility.  We are in the diving pool.  We will take five lanes for warm-up and the rest of the pool is open for lap swimming all day, both days.  Because they are not losing revenue by closing the pool for us, we don’t get spanked with a heavy rental fee.  Normal rental fee is like a thousand dollars a day.  We will get hit with like a $2 per swimmer splash fee.


YES, we have signs made.  What we did before is we put them in those Plexiglas box frames and put them on both sides and just set them up.  We anchored them under the blocks so they look really nice, they only have to look nice for two days you know and so they are $200 a piece, and we sell off each event for $20, so that is times 36 events.  The full-page ad went for $200, we sold all of those off.  What else?  We had someone donate, someone thought it was important that there was 1st, 2nd and 3rd place medals, so he donated the cost for a custom medal, man it was like $2,600 so that was great.  We tried to get them to say instead of doing this why don’t we just do 1st place medals because that is what we did last year and that is what we advertised.  Why don’t we do 1st place medals and then we will have them for three or four years, he says, no, I think I want 1st, 2nd and 3rd would be better and everybody has a chance to win.  I said okay, but here is what I would do, I wouldn’t put the year on them, he says why not?  I told him because anything that is left over then we can use for next year and it is just that few less we order if we decide to do this again.  He said no, I want years on it.  I think it is very important.  I said, I think that is a great idea.  At that point, it was gone.  You know it was his money, that is where he was going with it.  God bless him.


Fund raising, okay, corporate sponsorships.  One of the greatest ones we have is a real estate agent on our team who does very well.  We have some pretty high areas around Walnut Creek and outlying areas where houses are real expensive.  So what he does is if he gets a referral from the team, a percentage of his cut comes to the club.  So all of a sudden if a person on our team allows him to sell their house they are in and helps them buy the existing house, then it is like the daily double.  I will come to my office and every once in a while there is like a $1500 check sitting on my desk, and I go – thank you Brad!  It works out well for him because the word of mouth on the team is so strong and people are moving so much you know that it works out pretty well.  We have some other corporate sponsorships along that way, but that is probably the one that works the best for us, having to do almost nothing.  You know that works out kind of good for us.  We do a live and silent auction every year.  We put on a barbecue and we will do a live and silent auction there.  Based upon how much money we make at one will determine how much we have to push the other one at our Christmas party, so we would rather just have a good night.


This next one, the bottom one, is the one that really intrigues me.  On our membership form when the people sign up for our team, they fill out all the information and there are line items whether they are going to be a full-time member, an associate member, there are a couple of other options they have.  But one of the lines on the last one is voluntary contribution to coach’s salaries.  Last year that totaled $7,500!  That is above and beyond what people are paying to be on the team just because they appreciate the program and I don’t think my program is any different than any of yours.  I think that every program has people out there that given the opportunity to show their gratitude for what we do for them will do so.  Even on the years that we raised the dues because other costs had come up and stuff, that number doesn’t seem to drop very much.  That is based upon the way we negotiate our contracts with them and stuff, that is $7500 that we don’t try to have to raise other ways.  I am never told who does it, that is not information that comes to me.  It is just kind of kept to the treasurer; he is the only one who knows.  But it kind of makes you feel good about what you do and you say, man these people really appreciate what I do and so all of a sudden you are taking a whole new attitude out there on the deck with you.  I think that kind of stuff just feeds on itself where you feel good about what you do so you put your efforts into it.  They feel good about what they get out of it and it just cycles and cycles and cycles and it has been a great thing for our club and for our coaches.


The way my compensation is set up is I get paid for a 40-hour week, full-time employee.  I have 25 hours of deck work, that I am actually on the deck a week.  The other 15 hours is considered prep time.  Time to answer phone calls.  Time to do whatever I have to do type stuff.  Do I spend 15 hours of prep time a week, absolutely not, because I am not that organized.  If I was organized, I probably would, and our team would probably be a lot better than it is.  But this works out the way it is, because I have such a split schedule.  I come in at either 5 or 5:30, depending upon the day, and what I am doing with the group.  I am on until 8, and then I am off from 8 until 10:30.  Then I am on from 10:30 until 1.  I am off at 1.  I come back at 7 o’clock at night three nights a week.  So I have a real split schedule.  The city thinks that because I come back and forth so much on such a split schedule that I should be compensated for that and I think that is great.  I don’t work on Wednesdays.  I take Wednesdays off and I am going to talk a little bit about that later, so that is how I get my 25 hours in. I work Monday and Tuesday, take Wednesdays off, work Thursday and Friday.  Now when we go to nationals and we travel for two days and we are there for four days, that is six days, I don’t get overtime.  That is why they figure out somehow at the end it evens out and everybody is happy.  In my evaluation every year with my supervisor, he says, well, are you happy? And I say, yeah, I am happy.  Are you happy?  He says, yeah I think things are going good.  Okay, see you next year.  We both feel that no one is getting cheated here.  I don’t feel like I am working overly, I don’t feel like I am overworked for what I am getting paid.  They don’t feel like they are paying me too much for the hours that I am there because when we do go away to nationals and they are 12 hour days, things start adding up.  When I do clinics and stuff on the side, I do not put down extra hours, it is just a 40 hour week.  It is a 4/10 schedule.


My vacation, my medical, and my retirement come through the City of Walnut Creek, being a full time employee.  The supplemental salary, my retirement and my bonuses come through the team.  That kind of makes up what we do and my assistant coaches is pretty much the same thing on a little different scale except for the medical, retirement, and the vacation, because they are not full time city employees.  But we haven’t had to address that yet.  It hasn’t become an issue because both my employees, one is an assistant coach for the Aquabears and gets all his medical, dental, and stuff through them, and the other one gets it through her husband’s work, she works one day a week so that has not been an issue.  I applied to have another full-time position for a coach, but didn’t get it this year.  They said, come back and justify it again next year, why you want to do it, and then in the next budget cycle it will be looked at, that is kind of the cycles that we go through.


Okay, the long haul.  Like I said, I have kind of been walking the same deck for 22 years.  I anticipated being there for five and then I thought that I would move on and do some other coaching.  What I have learned is that I think, and I think this is important, everybody wants to be treated the same, differently.  What I mean by that is, I have to know my swimmers limitations, the older swimmers, people with medical problems, disability problems.  I have to know what they are and I have to address those issues.  At the same time I know that those people want to be held to the same expectations as my top ten swimmers.  So if they hear me talking to my fast swimmers down at one end, telling them that I want to make sure that their streamlines are nice and tight off the wall.  How I want them to really focus on breaking out, coming to the surface so they are carrying as much speed to the wall as they can because there is a direct reflection on how much speed you bring to the surface to how much you slow down at the other end.  Then I come down to what I call my not so fast swimmers and say okay, we are going to go six 100s and I walk away, that is not good.  I make sure that they are held to the same expectations.  I want them to have the same tight streamlines, everything that they can do within their capabilities.  I want to hold them accountable okay, because again, I think a lot of it, a big important thing, is it being goal oriented and then making those goals public.  Any time you share your goals there is a much better chance that they are going to be accomplished.  If you keep them to yourself, no one is holding you accountable.  So we set goals, and I think as coaches, you need to do that on a yearly basis.  You need to set personal goals for yourself as a coach.  What am I going to focus on this year to make me a better coach?  What are my goals for my team to make them a better team, to make us a better club?  Then I like to send out a card where I put them on and make them available.  They don’t have to fill them out, they are there if they want them.  If they give me six goals for the year, at least three of them have to have something to do with something other than times.  They cannot all be I want to go 42 seconds in the 50 breaststroke.  I want to do this, this, and the mile.  I want things like my attendance, I am going to try and make sure that I am here three times a week through the heavy part of our season.  I want it to be things like, this year is the year that I am going to finally learn butterfly.  These types of things – okay?  Goals that have nothing to do with time.  Goals that we can address on an everyday basis.  Then what we do is we file those.  We don’t pull them out every day.  But the box is out there on the deck and we kind of thumb through and pull one out and say, there is Janice today, what is Janice going to work on?  Janice said she wanted a good tight streamline, lets go talk to Janice and see how streamlines are doing.  We just kind of pick those out as we go so it is a little bit of random but again, it is putting that box out there.  It is them filling it out, telling you what their goals are, sharing that with you and now being held accountable for them.  It is just another vehicle for you to make sure that you are interacting with your swimmers on a regular basis.  Sometimes it is real easy to get up there and get into being a traffic cop.  Like you are running this great workout and make sure that everybody is moving and stuff and then you realize at the end of the workout, you haven’t made one correction all day.  You have run a great workout, but no one has gotten any feedback on what they are doing with their strokes.  So what we do for a while is, we take ten Popsicle sticks and put them in your left pocket.  Everytime you made a stroke correction take it out and put it in your right pocket.  By the end of the workout all ten, at least all ten sticks, should be back in the right pocket.  It is just a physical game sometimes you have to resort to get you back on track and into that habit of interacting at that level with your swimmers.  So that you are giving them the feedback, that is why they are there.  If you ask them why are you here and they say I want to learn, I want someone over me, I want to be taught how to do this stuff and they have got to have that feedback to do that.


Negotiate a schedule that you can live with.  If you want to do this, I know we are all at different spots in our coaching, different spots in our careers and stuff.  But if you are trying to make a career out of doing this, you have got to do it with a schedule that you are going to live with.  I firmly believe that by standing firm on taking that Wednesday off every day for 22 years, is why I am still standing here, that I haven’t burned myself out.  Mark Schubert talked about balance.  You know, if he had it all over to do again, the thing that he would try to do is spend more time with his family as he went through his coaching.  That is what I love about Wednesdays, when my children were small, because Wednesday was Dad’s day, I didn’t have to work.  I could go in, swim the 5:30 workout, get my swimming out of the way and I would play with the kids.  That was my day, if I needed to rest I could, all of a sudden every Thursday I feel a lot better than most people do on Thursday.  That is my guess, because I had that Wednesday off, I think that has probably been the biggest key of me still being able to do this after 22 years.  I think it was just insightful on my part, and my supervisor’s part to negotiate that as a part of our contract and I think we are both happy that I am still here, I hope.


That was my day, if I needed to rest I could, all of a sudden every Thursday I feel a lot better than most people do on Thursday.  That is my guess, because I had that Wednesday off, I think that has probably been the biggest key of me still being able to do this after 22 years.  I think it was just insightful on my part, and my supervisor’s part to negotiate that as a part of our contract and I think we are both happy that I am still here, I hope.


We talked about challenging yourself as you would challenge others.  Set goals for yourself.  Share those goals with your team so that you are held accountable.  You know, in your newsletter say here are my goals this year. I want to do at least ten weekend clinics of working on mechanics.  You know those people are going to feed on that, they are going to want that and they are going to hold you accountable to it, okay?  Challenge yourself as you would challenge your athletes and be held accountable to that, then make sure that you give back.  Okay, there are so many different ways to do that.  Some of the ways that we have done that with our program and again, all we are trying to do is we are just trying to build community between the City of Walnut Creek, the mayor, the city council, the people in our area and stuff.  We have hosted the Northern California Senior Olympics where our team put on the meet.  We have hosted the Northern California Police and Fire games (the swimming portion of it), it is just something that we give back.  A couple of things that I do are I teach the teachers.  They have a pretty extensive lesson program in the summertime, which they also offer adult lessons.  I am not in a position where I can take all those adult lessons and teach them myself, but what I want to do is, I want to go in and give those who are teaching them some tools that they can use.  Like we talked about, Mike was talking about with the triathletes, teaching them about balance and form and staying on top of water.  Give them some of these tools that you know these Red Cross or programs don’t address.  These are not conscious things that they have in their mind when they are trying to teach adults how to swim.  They are not at that teaching/coaching level yet, so I try to come in and run them through a program so that they have some of these tools that they can take and hopefully help the adult swimmers.


We have done some stuff with at risk kids from other cities who come in.  This is a tough one, but we brought in these ten kids, the first time we brought them and put them in a classroom situation.  It was tough, I mean we are just trying basic, basic things.  We are going to try to swim freestyle, we are going to try and keep our face in the water and we are going to try and reach your arms out as far as we can.  That is pretty much all we are giving them and to keep these at risk kids in that classroom for 10-15 minutes to show them what we are doing and kind of go through stuff  was horrendous.  But once we got them outside they were much easier to control because they just didn’t like being boxed up.  We put them in the water, we worked with them for ten minutes, they played for 30minutes during recreation swim and then we would bring them back and work with them another ten minutes and they would go and play for another thirty minutes. We would give them a snack and then we could come back and we did that once.  The second time the people were organized to pick them up and they had the choice of going to an A’s game, going to the Monteray Aquarium or going two other places and they all wanted to come back to the pool.  They just loved being at the pool.  It was great and so we brought them back and we did it again and again.  It is just kind of trying to give back to your community.  The community I think in most part, are being pretty good to us and any strong bridges we can build between us and the people who are in charge of that community it is only going to help benefit our programs.


I think that is pretty much – yeah, Chris ?  Yeah – some personal goals I set for myself was one, I was going to try to pick up the floor around my desk once a week.  As a goal that I set for the City of Walnut Creek where I would come in an hour before our night workouts about once every four weeks and just do a one hour lecture series with the lap swimmers.  No charge, let them come in and we will talk for an hour.  We talked about the basic freestyle mechanics on one of them.  We talked about energy systems and how to read a pace clock on another one.  Just spend an hour doing that, again, trying to strengthen that bond between the City of Walnut Creek and Walnut Creek Masters.


So there is kind of this teamwork thing going and that was the goal that I set and again, when I do my evaluation there, is basically three questions that I am asked.  One is what do you feel good about that you have done over the last worth session.  I put down whatever it was you know, we had 32 people go to the ironman this year, or that we have incorporated this mentor coach program at Pacific Masters Swimming, you know this type of stuff.  The next one is what is an area that you still feel you need to work on and what are your goal plans for the next work session.  Then the third part of that evaluation is how can the City of Walnut Creek help you.  What tools can they give you, whether it be educational tools or to help you reach those goals.  So then I have to fill those out and then I sit down with my supervisor and we go over them.  He has three questions that he answers basically and then he gives it to me and I sign it and we send it down town, so that is how I am being held accountable.  Then also I put it in the newsletters and I will have people come up and say you know I thought we were going to do more stroke work this month, that is what I said wasn’t it?  Okay, lets change the sets, you know we are going to change the sets.  We are going to throw a little backstroke work in.  I do think it is very important that once you have set your goals that you have got to throw them out there and you have got to let people know what they are or a lot of times they just go by the wayside.


Yes, yeah and a lot of times what we do is we would do, it just so happens that it would fall on a day where that workout that starts at 7 o’clock is a stroke mechanics workout.  We would say you can go and work on it here or you can come over here and work on it here and get a little bit more attention.  These people are really good about working with you so sometimes we will try to coordinate it that way and it works out good.  Any tool to draw them in is good because usually there aren’t that many who come over and try the program and leave. You know, you just got to get them over there.  You have got to get them fed into this.  You have to have someone there who is going to support them and tell them when they leave, say you did a great job for your first day, a lot better than I did – boom – that is all they need to hear.


Yeah, my creative side I think comes from when I first started swimming masters and started coaching a lot as I did probably 75% of my swimming on my own.  So the way that I developed my sets and stuff had to be interesting to me because I had to do them.  I think that was the races that I won in my mind are incredible when I work out, the people I beat and the races I won are just incredible and that kind of motivates me to go.  I think we got to show them a good time and I think they want to be part of it.  They want to be part of the big plan.  If we can lay those plans out early enough, like Hawaii, one of the goals we had when we are talking about goals.  One of our goals was when nationals were in Santa Clara is we wanted to take 200 swimmers, that was the goal that I threw out there.  So I said we are going to try and take 200 swimmers to Santa Clara.  We took 168, we didn’t make 200 but we took 168 but I felt great about that.  You know, I felt great and my plan was to take 200 swimmers.  If we took 200 swimmers and we got the crap knocked out of us and we got 4th place I was perfectly fine with that because my job isn’t necessarily to win championships.  My job is to get these people involved in the program and do whatever I have to to get them there.


We do a lot of banners.  You know, we try to come up with slogans and Santa Clara was right here, right now.  There is no other place that I would want to be and that banner goes up three months before the meet and as soon as people commit to going they sign the banner.  We put that there.  For this year it was for Hawaii, it was come on, I wanna race you so Y2000 come on I wanna race you, that was our theme.  Same thing, that banner goes up and when people commit to go they sign up.  Hawaii was an easy sell.  You know that was a pretty easy sell, but we took 70 people to Florida one year which really blew me away.  To go to Ft. Lauderdale with 70 people was a long trip and a pretty expensive trip too.  I think once those wheels start turning that way it is kind of like the law of constant momentum, once you get an object moving it is much easier to keep it moving than to let it start and stop again.  I think that once we got that mindset that we liked to travel together as a team and our older swimmers are incredible.  They are the fist ones to sign up and they are the first ones that are there for the whole thing.  Mel was telling me about at Cleveland, they are in a small division, we are in a small division.  Because we only had seven swimmers, he looked at the last day and there were a lot of our old swimmers who went and he thought they would blow it off and catch an early plane home.  Well they are the ones who stayed through the whole thing.


I like catchy phrases and we will get into this a little bit tomorrow with our sets, designing sets and stuff.  I like the phrase, catch phrase stuff.  It is easier for them to pick up on and it is just like marketing on TV.  The ones that you remember, the products aren’t always that great, it is just the way they kind of grab you and that is what we have tried to do.  We try to grab our swimmers and we set goals.  Usually when we set goals to travel to another meet our goal is not to win.  Our goal is to get as many people as we can there to participate. Actually just be involved and experience what it is like to be at a national championship.  The winning, like I said, we go back to our vision statement that we had there, if we keep going back to that on a regular basis a lot of these other things, successes that we have had as a club are just a byproduct of trying to meet those needs on a day in and day out basis.  That is kind of who we are and again, this is what works for us.  You are going to hear from Mel Goldstein and his Indy Swimfit program.  A lot of things will be parallel.  A lot of things will be different and it is just another way.  Another successful way to run a program and as many teams as there are out there, there is going to be different blends of ways t make things successful.  But this is kind of what has worked for us.


Are there any other questions?  Yes, no, this $68,000 is done within house.  That is Walnut Creek Masters budget.  The city has no part of that because they get all their swim fees at the counter.  No, they never see our budget.  I am basically hired by two separate entities.  Oh that was different.  That wasn’t coming out of that $68.000 budget.  That was them giving me another position or allowing me to elevate one of my part time employees to a full time position.  That, yes, for the City of Walnut Creek.  It includes the subsidies that we get from that $165 but the base salary, most of  my salary is paid through the city of Walnut Creek.   I would say to try to make yourself and your program as available as you can.


You know, we ran across this with the city of Concord, which is right next to Walnut Creek.  It has a 50-meter pool and they have a great senior age group program.  They were going to start a masters team and they had at the time.  This was years ago, they had Amy Caulkins, she was working out training with the senior team and she was going to run the masters program.  So the city of Concord says okay here is what we will do.  We will give you these hours and there were not that many and here is what we are going to do.  We will charge them so much a month to come in and you get a percentage of that.  So they are starting this brand new program, they are starting off with six swimmers or nine swimmers.  Well that is not a whole lot of money coming through the door.  After about a month or six weeks of this Amy is going, you know this isn’t really worth my time and effort.  So it is like any other businesses, in the front end you have got to spend money to make money.  That is where I will always applaud the City of Walnut Creek to give me a full time position.  When I started the team we had some swimmers and were running two workouts a day, one at 6 in the morning and one at noon.  They had 48 members I believe and you know, it was just them being able to look beyond where we are and say okay, lets commit to this.  Lets spend the money up front and let the program develop.  I think if the city of Concord had done that they would have a masters program today too, but they don’t.  To this day they don’t because you know it is just like any other business.  If you are going to open a business you got to buy the store, you got to get the supplies in there and you got to spend money up front to make money on the back end.  That is probably the first thing is say, find out even if they are going to do it on a probationary period.  If you are going to go through a municipality like a city or a recreation division, something like that, try to get them to commit on a probationary period for the first year.  Put up the money and then look at it in a year and see, is it going in the direction you want to go.  But to not put the money up in front, I mean, none of us would start a business you know without having a store and having the product in place.  You know, you got to do that.


I think it is both, I think the reason you look at any pool, no pool is going to be in the black okay? And if it is run like that, it is going to lose money.  But it is a valuable part of the community.  This was another way that I hoped that they saw to draw in more of the community.  By offering and by being able to pay someone who will spend more time here, run more workouts and we kind of added the workouts as we went.  As the team grew the workouts grew and anytime I wanted to add a workout I could do that as long as it didn’t impact any other programs.  Like the age group team was there first.  They had set hours that they had the pool and we had barely gotten our – except for weekends you know, they have got that.  Now our program is you know and now we kind of getting priority and stuff but I think they saw it as another way to involve more of the community.


No – the counter money goes directly to the City.  Again, they pay that at the counter when they come in, their swim fees. their pool usage fees.  Their annual dues that they pay go directly to the treasurer of the team, exactly, two separate entities.


Yes, okay, can I go backwards on this?  There okay? This is how it is set up.  We work it out that you know the stuff at the top of the pool, users fees, I have no control over that.  I don’t touch that.  We control the $165 a year, 25 of that goes to get their registration card, that is a given.  The balance of that is with the idea that they know they are supplementing our salary okay?  They are trying to pay the coaches you know an annual salary that they can live on and we break that down to 44 cents a day.  That is how we sell it.  If you come to six workouts a week you are basically, for the expertise that we are trying and the professional program that we are trying to provide for them comes down to 44 cents a day.  Our dues has probably gone up, it went up, what we did this year it went up $15.  It was $150 last year and it went up to $165.  But what they got is a $15 voucher from Nike that they can put towards any Nike product.  That is one of our sponsorships so you know it really didn’t go up that much, I mean it stayed the same.  But we try to sell it and that comes back to accountability too.  That if we are going to charge them a $165 to be on our team we had better give them what they want.  We had better provide the type of service that they are not going to feel that they are not going to wince about it.  They are paying $165 a year.  It is an annual fee, they pay it right up front.  It doesn’t, I mean again, it comes back to treating everybody the same differently.  We are going to run our program for whoever is there.  The fitness swimmers they say about all this other stuff and I say, you know, what if I just want to get in and do laps, well this is the best.  If all you are worried about is physical fitness the best way to do that is to train all these energy systems.  We throw out that monthly calendar and I say that is what we are doing here through these training cycles and so we are training all those monthly.  All those different energy cycles on a pattern that is going to be best for you, so the best way to stay fit is to train competitively.  You know they don’t have to compete if they don’t want to but it is the best way to train so we treat everybody the same differently.  I think that is about it.  Yes – handouts are in the back.  It doesn’t have all stuff, it talks a little bit about the program, it shows the monthly calendar, our training cycles, an information page that we have and just a couple of other things but it doesn’t have all the other stuff.  Thank you very much.


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