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Giving it the Old College Try
Many universities might welcome the addition of a Masters program
Many colleges and universities have recreational swimming pools for students, faculty, and alumni. In some areas, the community can participate at these recreation centers for a fee. If you are fortunate to live in a city that has a college or university, you may have the opportunity to develop a Masters program there. Our experience with Indy Aquatic Masters is one example of how USMS club teams can build relationships with local universities.
The fact is, colleges and universities are always looking to add new programs for students, faculty, and alumni. Masters programs are ideal in that they offer a program for all and can produce revenue. In Indianapolis, Ind., we approached Butler University in hopes of starting a Masters program at the Butler University Recreation Center.
Butler University had recently dropped its men’s swimming team, leaving an opening in the pool schedule. We approached the aquatic director with the idea of starting a “Butler University Swim Team” that would be open to students, faculty, and alumni, and would be open to competing with other college and university club teams. The students embraced the idea and went to the Butler University Student Government Council to apply for club status. The idea was accepted and the Student Council provided the new club with a $1,500 grant.
We put out a call to all students and faculty on campus; 26 people attended our first meeting. To incorporate this Butler club into our USMS club, we agreed to coach the club for free with two caveats: First, all swimmers are required to become registered USMS members, and second, our existing Masters swimmers would have access to the pool and practice sessions.
This turned out to be a winning situation for both organizations. Butler students, faculty, and alumni now have a club and a coach, and Indy Aquatic Masters has a new facility for its program.
As we further developed our relationship with Butler University, we discovered they were closing their pool for two hours every morning to reduce operating costs. In our program, we had several young moms who found making the early morning workouts difficult and were seeking a later time to swim, after getting their kids to school and their husbands off to work. We approached Butler University to rent their pool from 8:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. during this daily shutdown. We pay pool rental and our moms get their morning workout. We now also have several retired men swimming at this time as well. The Butler University Recreation Center gained revenue for a pool that was closed, further strengthening its relationships with Indy Aquatic Masters.
Building relationships is critical in developing a Masters swim program. With the correct approach, perhaps you can expand your Masters program at a college or university in your community.