Keeping U.S. Masters Swimmers Informed and Engaged
Betsy Durrant of Virginia Masters is the publisher of both the "Wet Gazette," the Virginia Masters bimonthly newsletter, and her local club newsletter. Betsy, like other newsletter publishers and contributors, treats her members to human interest stories, workouts, healthy recipes and calendar updates. "Not only do I like bringing people news and updates about what's going on in Virginia Masters, but I love connecting people to other swimmers in the area. Virginia Masters swimmers go to meets and recognize one another from stories or articles from the newsletter," said Betsy when asked what her favorite part of publishing the newsletter is.
Masters swimmers train hard, compete well and are conscientious about their personal health and fitness, but it is the hunger for information that sets Masters swimmers apart from the rest of the swimming community. In addition to resources provided by U.S. Masters Swimming, such as the member magazine and information via www.usms.org, Local Masters Swimming Committee and club newsletters serve as a local portal for information, news and updates about Masters programs across the country.
All of us would love to contribute to our LMSC, but often people are intimidated when presented with the responsibility of publishing a communication piece. How does Betsy stay motivated? "I always have the newsletter in the back of my mind. I ask Virginia Masters swimmers throughout the month for contributions, story ideas and full articles; by the end of the month when it is time to pull together the newsletter, I have all of the content I need," said Betsy. Want to get started with your own newsletter? Betsy offers advice: " Try to include as many members as possible. It makes people feel good, like part of the team, when they see their name in print, and use lots of pictures." Betsy's other tricks for publishing a successful newsletter include talking to a local printer about quantity discounts and not feeling hard-pressed by a deadline. "I really enjoy being a part of the newsletter. I feel connected to my LMSC and like I am contributing to the enjoyment of my teammates in U.S. Masters Swimming. Providing information to other swimmers enhances their U.S. Masters Swimming experience."
Paul and Margie Hutinger of Florida Mavericks received the 2008 TYR Newsletter of the Year award in September at the annual U.S. Masters Swimming convention. The Hutingers' newsletter has been in the top five newsletters within U.S. Masters Swimming for the last six years, and according to Margie, "it was a thrill" to receive the recognition of Newsletter of the Year. "We don't have a home workout pool so we feel that it is imperative to communicate with our members on a consistent basis."
Paul and Margie both had experience writing, and after the formation of the Florida Maverick Masters the Hutingers decided to combine their skills and started their newsletter in 1997. Like Betsy and the Virginia Masters, Paul and Margie depend on their members for most of their content. "We feel that it is important to recognize our swimmers, whatever level they are, from world record holders to fitness swimmers."
As for advice from Paul and Margie: "Your newsletter should reflect the personality of your team. Start simple and expand as you see the need. Be creative. There isn't just one way to put it all together. Recognize your members for whatever their accomplishments."
Are you green? Many newsletters are going digital to cut down on paper waste in addition to cutting the cost of communicating to their LMSCs or clubs. Tracy Grilli, U.S. Masters Swimming Director of Membership Services, sends a newsletter called "Streamlines" to LMSC officers regarding the business of U.S. Masters Swimming. Streamlines is sent quarterly, and in October "Streamlines" went green for the first time. "I think people will appreciate our effort," said Tracy, but most importantly U.S. Masters Swimming is confident that it will receive Mother Nature's seal of approval.
Whether you are a seasoned newsletter publisher or just getting started, there are plenty of stories within U.S. Masters Swimming to be told. As U.S. Masters Swimming reaches 50,000 members, we are reminded that each member has his or her own story. Each of us became a member for a different reason, each of us are motivated by various factors and each of us set unique goals, and it is up to you to seek them out.
Want a challenge? Find out who publishes your LMSC newsletter and volunteer to write an article. Tell your own story or a story of one of your teammates or coaches; offer a new healthy recipe or a clever workout.