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by Matt Donovan

January 27, 2022

Focus on what you have, not on what you don't have

There will always be someone, somewhere who has more than you do. But no one has the perfect situation. Spend five minutes with the coach or director of what you deem to be the perfect facility, and you’ll soon find out they have their own set of issues. The key to success is to stop thinking about what you don’t have and start maximizing what you do have. Don’t have a power rack? Kick with your boards submerged for resistance or do sneaker swims. Don’t have speed cords? Take the lane lines out and do fin work in widths. No yoga mats? Use kickboards. If there’s a will, there’s a way, but the first step is to take inventory.

Take Inventory of What You Have in Your Facility

Walk around your facility, and see what’s there. Many pools are connected to recreation centers, which can be gold mines or graveyards for exercise equipment. One person’s trash is another’s treasure. Chances are there are items in closets and corners that managers are more than eager to move out of their space. Anything that’s clean and safe can likely be refashioned into something functional in or around the pool. The bin that used to hold basketballs can now hold kickboards. The mats for the canceled yoga class can now be for pre-practice stretches or post-workout ab sessions. You might find unused whiteboards and markers, or boxes of T-shirts that can be used for your swimmer-of-the-day, giveaways, and more. A deep dive around the facility can reveal a lot.

Take Inventory of Who You Have in Your Facility

When looking at different things in your facility, be sure to take time to find out who is at your facility. Go speak with the front desk staff, the maintenance director, and the fitness staff. In addition to them offering equipment, they might be able to help you with more. The desk staff might be aware of an upcoming membership promotion that your Masters club can tag along with. The maintenance director might be able to help you fix that power rack that never seems to work right. And the fitness director might be willing to run an abs class for your club a few times a month. Furthermore, they are all potential new swimmers, or connections to new swimmers, to help build your club. You’re likely to hear, “I always wanted to join a swim team, but I didn’t think I was fast enough.”

Take Inventory of What You Have in Your Club

Members of your club might have some equipment. At the next meeting, ask everyone to go home and list what items they have. Chances are someone has a box of gear that he or she put in his or her garage one day and forgot about. Ask members of your club if they have any personal items at home that they no longer use. From there, you can develop a new-swimmer gear box. When new people join the club, the box can hold kickboards, buoys, fins, etc., that new swimmers can borrow until they get their own.

Also reach out to your local swim shop and the major swimming gear companies. If you have relationships with manufacturers or vendors, you might be surprised to know that your club might be guaranteed a certain amount of annual support in the form of tech suits, gear, etc. If you don’t yet have a relationship with a major suit company, reach out to as many of them as possible and have them bid to represent your club. Depending on the size of your club, they might be willing to support in some way because they see your club members as a large customer base. If you’re a smaller club, you might want to partner with the local age-group program and see if you can combo off their plan.

Take Inventory of Who You Have in Your Club

Most swim coaches I know are the best at wearing a million hats and wearing them successfully. One of the worst traits, however, is that many coaches don’t like asking for help. Don’t be afraid to ask and delegate responsibilities to those who might be better at a task than you are. If you have a mechanic on your team, ask her to fix broken equipment. If you have someone in sales, ask him to negotiate deals with swim shops and suit companies. Empowering others is what coaches do in the pool. Now is the time to empower your club out of the pool. Everyone in the club will be better for it.


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