If you build it, they will come
Linda Irish Bostic, 52, never intended to found one of the fastest-growing Masters programs in the country or to become a top coach within U.S. Masters Swimming. All she was looking to do back in 2009 was to start swimming again.
Bostic had swum her whole life and competed at the 1980 Olympic Trials, but took 20 years off from swimming to work and raise a family. Shortly after leaving the corporate world she found herself swimming laps at the local pool in Jupiter, Fla., and decided she wanted a more organized swimming routine. “I bugged the pool manager to find a coach,” she says, pointing out that there was untapped potential for a Masters group in the area. Someone suggested she be the coach, and “next thing I knew I was interviewing for the job. My intent in the interview was to ask about the other applicants, but no one else showed up, so I got the job,” Bostic says.
Palm Beach Masters, which started life as North County Masters of Jupiter, launched with about 40 swimmers. By the end of that first year, Bostic says they had grown to 70 swimmers, and from there it’s just continued to grow, and even more quickly over the past two years. The program now has three locations in Palm Beach County and has grown to more than 400 registered USMS members.
Bostic says growth over this past summer has been particularly brisk, and that she thinks the recent Olympic Games were a contributing factor. “A lot of new swimmers said they were watching the Games and wanted to get off the couch. Several have asked about competing.”
But the Games weren’t the sole source of new recruits; Bostic says fall is typically a time of growth for PBM. “I think this time of year folks are getting into their routines with the kids going back to school. We tend to see a little bump right around this time of year.” Regardless of how they found PBM, 51 new members joined in the month of August, good for first place in the Colorado Time Systems Pace Clock contest. For being among the top five clubs to add the most members during our August membership drive, PBM will receive a brand new pace clock worth $1,200.
Bostic says she’s thrilled to have the new equipment but isn’t entirely sure where it’s going to end up. When she got wind of the contest, she challenged the eight coaches who work for her to see who could get the most new members to sign up with the clock ending up at their facility as a reward. Because the drive was such a success and all the coaches were so enthusiastic, Bostic says she may move the clock around based on need.
Bostic is quick to credit her coaches with making PBM what it is. “They have great personalities and they make it fun and enjoyable. The swimmers keep coming back because they want to see that coach and hang out with this great group of people who make the workouts a lot of fun,” she says.
And fun is definitely a hallmark of the PBM experience. Bostic has decorated an RV she and her husband own in the PBM colors and logo and take the vehicle to meets and triathlons. There, it acts as a home base for PBM swimmers to congregate in between events and afterwards for pizza and tailgating. “It makes a nice meeting spot for people to hang out together,” she says. It also doubles as a highly visible marketing tool for a fun and thriving club.
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