Try Masters Swimming allows prospective members to try at least two free workouts during January and July
Try Masters Swimming allows coaches to offer a sneak peek into what makes their clubs so great by allowing prospective members to try at least two free workouts.
But working with these new swimmers while attending to your current swimmers’ needs can be challenging, so we asked two coaches, Marin Aquatic Masters’ Shari Cruse and Academy Masters Swim Team’s Mark Noetzel, for advice on how to put on a successful Try Masters Swimming event that’s welcoming for all swimmers.
Get to Know Each Participant
All swimmers come in at different levels of experience and ability. Spend time upfront learning about them and their goals for swimming, and then help them put together a plan or routine to reach it, whatever it may be.
“Before the swimmer comes to practice, I try to find out a little bit about their history, learn what they are interested in, and ease any fears or worries they may have,” Cruse says. “At their first swim, I make sure that I know their name and remember some personal details about them so that when we meet in person, they know that I have taken the time to get to know them and that I am dedicated to their success.”
Welcome All Ages and Abilities
Having swimmers with a wide range of abilities and ages on your club is fun. New swimmers are excited about learning, which often transfers to a longtime swimmer who has maybe forgotten how fun it is to learn new things. New swimmers might also be more open to fun swims, drills, and events.
“Our older members enjoy seeing new faces in the water, mostly for the socialization aspect,” Noetzel says. “New members broaden the conversations based upon their role in our greater community.”
Promote a Healthy and Happy Lifestyle
People are likely trying your club because they want to establish a consistent workout regimen with a group that will keep them accountable. Encourage the swimmers trying your club to join for the healthy lifestyle it’ll provide.
“‘Happy swimmers equal a happy community’ is a line I've been using lately,” Noetzel says. “Across the globe today, we need all the happiness we can get.”
Prospective members are putting themselves out there by reaching out for more information, so respond to their inquiries quickly so they don’t lose interest or feel ignored. A good rule of thumb is to respond within 48 hours, but replying even sooner can be helpful.
“I try to respond to every Try Masters Swimming request in under an hour,” Cruse says. “The first email is welcoming and encouraging to a prospective swimmer. I then follow up if I don’t hear back.”
Pair Them Up
When prospective members arrive for their first practice, welcome them and pair them with an experienced club member of equal ability who has an engaging personality.
“I try to put them in a lane with another swimmer who is fun and welcoming, has similar interests, and is not intimidating,” Cruse says. “This is where learning about them ahead of their arrival helps. I give them extra attention at the first couple of practices and make sure that I have extra gear, a team cap, etc., so that they are as comfortable as possible.”
After prospective swimmers’ first workout, reconnect with them. Ask them if they have any questions, and try to inspire them to return.
This is key to keeping them engaged and wanting to return for the next practice. Let them know each practice gets a little easier as they reacclimate to the water (depending on how long it’s been since they last swam). Make them feel included and heard.
Make it Fun and Inviting
Think outside the box and host fun, inclusive events whenever possible and your budget allows. Engagement and inclusion in and out of the water helps with retention.
“We did an event incorporating the Fall Fitness Challenge [a 1-mile swim that serves as a fitness goal],” Cruse says. “We had prizes (not based on ability) and a breakfast get-together afterward. I am going to do another event in December and then try to add in one Sunday morning fun practice or stoke clinic followed by a team breakfast each month after that, which is what we did pre-pandemic.”
Cruse adds that being together again after the pandemic makes the club environment a more joyous experience.
“Because we struggled so much over the pandemic, all of our swimmers are happy to see new swimmers join the team,” Cruse says.
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