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Space, the Final Frontier

Sneaky ways to get more pool time and space

Scott Bay | September 20, 2013

While at dinner with some coaches a few months back, the subject of water time and pool space came up. Several coaches lamented the fact that they want to grow but can’t, because of the restrictions on water space or time imposed by their facilities. For their part, these facilities are trying to juggle the needs of various different groups using the pool, so there’s not always a cut-and-dried answer.

To solve sticky situations, sometimes you need a slightly sneaky solution! The following are a few such sneaky ways to convince your facilities operator or aquatics director that you need more space and time.

Just Give it a Tri

We started an 11-week program to teach newbies about triathlon which culminated in a local race. We partnered with our local running clubs and bike shops and pitched the idea as a new way to increase membership at the facility and generate revenue. Fifteen students signed up. We sports experts donated our time and asked the facility operator for a convenient time outside of our Masters swim practice sessions to make the program successful. Lo and behold, there was water available where previously there had been none! We convinced the pool operator that this is a viable time slot for programming, not just for kids, but adults as well. We now have a new time slot for swimming and have added new members for both our group and the facility. That’s a win-win.

Lap Swimming 101

Chances are, you have gone by a pool and seen some lap swimmers who have such bad technique, it makes you cringe. How many times have you heard that we need to “save space and time for our lap swimmers?” Why not reach out to the lap swimmers who are not part of your program and offer a lap swim with technique advice? Occasionally we have heard people say they are not “good enough” or will join Masters when they are “in shape.” They may be intimidated by your better swimmers or perhaps don’t understand what Masters swimming is all about. But, if you recruit enough people to your program, you can make a compelling argument to the facility operator to grant you more space and time for your program.

Free Learn-to-Swim

If you find that you need more members for your program to get more time and space, why not create more members? A couple of Masters programs have done just that with great success by offering learn-to-swim programs for adults. When starting with a brand new swimmer, you can teach that person the proper technique, thereby opening up a whole new fitness or even competitive activity for that individual, who may become one of your most dedicated swimmers. I’ve seen plenty of folks crossover from other group exercise activities to swimming because it’s a healthy, no-impact activity. Usually, these people just needed someone to teach them the basics before they felt confident enough to put the goggles on and go with the Masters group.

In all of these cases, I’ve found that oftentimes, the new folks you bring into the sport of swimming end up helping you the most by asking the operator or aquatics director for more pool time and space. These individuals can be a great asset to your program and help you grow; you just have to find the time to find the time! 

USMS Wave Seperator

About the Author—Scott Bay

Scott Bay is an ASCA Level 5 certified coach and has been actively coaching for more than 25 years. Team Blu Frog Masters swimmers he currently coaches include national champions, All-Americans, and world record holders who have swum to more than 300 Top 10 USMS swims in just the last five years. Bay is also the chair of both the USMS Coaches Committee and the Florida LMSC, and is head coach of Father Lopez Catholic High School Men’s and Women’s Swimming.

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