How Using the Right Software Can Bring Your Swim Team Together

Have you ever coached a team without using scheduling software? Or have you ever run a swim meet with software so difficult to use that your computer volunteers wanted to quit their positions? Keeping everyone organized is difficult, but using outdated spreadsheets, paper signups, and other outdated methods makes it more difficult. Better communication is essential for your swim team’s success.

Many student-athletes could already be involved in several activities, and their parents may be scrambling to get them (and possibly their siblings) to other after-school and weekend extracurriculars. You may have two dozen athletes and their parents messaging you, trying to confirm dates, times, and other critical information while you’re trying to help coordinate events from different platforms.

If you have to message athletes on the half-dozen or so most popular social media platforms, text a dozen parents, and keep the rest informed in other ways, team communication can become a stress and burden. You’re losing time that could be spent coaching—and you risk missing someone in the process. 

In addition, parental efforts to support their children can be waylaid by incomplete information. Communication difficulties can facilitate tensions and, in extreme cases, even feuds. A parent who drives their child 45 minutes to a canceled meet won’t want to hear explanations about an app failure or being left off an email thread. Expect a testy exchange or two afterward. And if communication issues persist, you may find yourself with some extremely toxic team dynamics throughout the season.

If it’s difficult to simply convey to everyone that a meet’s location has changed at the last minute, then it’s doubly difficult to make sure you’re communicating effectively with your team, as only a coach can outside of the pool. 

Important details—as well as bits of advice, a link to a helpful training video, or a motivational line or two—are all elements with a big potential impact to fuel your team, helping them understand their goals and perform at a new level.

The right swim meet app is vital to building and establishing team spirit. That may seem like an overstatement, but it’s true. Too many teams in all sports disciplines are hampered by disorganization, unclear communication, and the resulting frustrations that have nothing to do with the sport itself. 

And swim teams aren’t just about the practices and competitions. It’s important to get your team together outside of the pool. Team lunches and picnics, end-of-semester parties, and championship celebrations are all vital to building and fostering the kind of cohesiveness in which future champions thrive.

Related: How to Become a Lifelong Swimmer (or, at least, how it happened for me)

When you have a single unified platform that makes it easy for your athletes and their parents to communicate, you’re more likely to be able to build and nurture the kind of team spirit, pride, and cohesiveness that can make your team a contender. 

With the right platform, your athletes (and their parents) will build connections without the frustration and time spent simply getting the details right. And in doing so, they’ll build the kind of connections and friendships that will help them endure the challenges they face, work together to overcome them, and strive for greatness. They may even build lifelong friendships with fellow athletes they never knew before joining the swim team. And those relationships will often come to mean more to them than any medal.

What to Look For In a Swim Meet App

There are plenty of apps out there for managing teams. But there are only a few that are specifically designed for swim teams. When it comes to managing your team throughout the season, it’s best to identify a platform that’s designed specifically for swim meets and teams and is used by swim teams across the country. Other key factors for consideration include features we’ll look at below, including:

  • an intuitive, user-friendly platform
  • flexibility/scalability
  • website integration
  • document management/payment processing
  • volunteer recruiting
  • fundraising capabilities
  • price

Let’s take a look at how each of these contributes to swim meet software that will bring your team together.

An Intuitive, User-Friendly Platform

You certainly don’t want to have to spend a lot of time training athletes and parents on how to use a team app. Fortunately, with Americans spending more than 4 hours on their phones a day, people are pretty adept at learning new apps themselves. 

Unfortunately, some mobile developers still haven’t mastered the art of making apps intuitive and easy to use. Ideally, your app is just that, and by the start of each new season, new athletes and parents can jump right in and get the information they need to move forward with confidence.

Flexibility/Scalability

Not only is it important to have the right app right now, but you also need the right app down the line. Your team may grow (or shrink) from season to season, and your team may have unique administrative needs that other teams in your league don’t share. You need a platform easily customized to support your team’s needs without extensive technical support or expensive add-ons.

Like any sport, swimming is constantly evolving. League and federation rules change, program standards change, and new competitions develop. Technology also changes, from best usability practices to new cybersecurity mandates. 

You need an app used by thousands of swim teams with a development team that thrives on user feedback. And you need the company behind your swim team app committed to the best data privacy and security practices to protect your team from online and offline threats—through any changes your swim team experiences.

Website Integration

A team that’s organized is a team that can focus on the reason they’re there: swimming. And the more administrative hurdles and bottlenecks around the logistics, the less time athletes have to focus. And when your website and mobile app aren’t synchronized, you’ll have athletes and parents toggling between both to ensure they didn’t miss something. Ideally, a custom website is synced to your team’s mobile platform, allowing seamless communication between you, athletes, parents, and the public.

Document Management and Payment Processing

Keeping requisite documents and records current and centralized is also critical. After all, you don’t want to chase down team members to ensure they’re properly registered with USA Swimming or that their emergency contact information and medical forms are up-to-date. 

Related: Swim Parent Expectations- How Best to Support Your Athlete

Having a secure portal from which you can easily see each team member’s records and send them necessary reminders at a glance will save you considerable and tedious effort. The best systems also integrate payment processing.

Volunteer Recruitment

Of course, you’re not keeping your team organized alone. Throughout the season, you’ll be relying on parents to volunteer—whether you’re coordinating carpools, enlisting chaperones for travel meets, bringing snacks, or keeping morale up. To get parents plugged in, you need a platform they find easy to learn and use. 

If your app feels like you need a Master’s degree to master it, parents are going to opt out, disengage, or find workarounds. That means you’ll be inundated with email threads and spreadsheets. Or you might just find yourself with fewer volunteers. Ideally, your system must include a parent portal that allows the adults to communicate about the finer details of the meets and activities ahead of time.

Fundraising Capabilities

Survey the parents in your organization, and you’ll likely find at least a couple who had to download multiple apps for a single team. They’d find an app for league registration, one for team communication, and even one for ordering spirit gear. It can make for a frustrating experience for parents, but having multiple apps can also hurt your ability to fundraise. 

Selling spirit gear can help keep money in the coffers for group outings and travel. Sponsorships can, too. But getting parents, community members, and prospective sponsors excited will not happen if they’re struggling to find or navigate your online store.

And, of course, selling spirit gear isn’t just about the money. It’s also about getting the word out to your community about your team and garnering their support. Ask any competitive athlete, and they’ll tell you just how big a difference it makes when the home crowd is filled with fans wearing their team’s colors. You want to make it as simple as possible for your members to encourage their friends, family, and neighbors to buy team merchandise to help build team spirit.

Pricing

Without a doubt, pricing is a crucial factor in the decision-making process. You can’t blow your whole budget on an expensive team management system, leaving nothing for team activities. You need an affordable system, which, by helping you raise money, effectively pays for itself and then some.

Choose the Perfect App for Your Team

No matter the size or dynamic of your swim team, a team platform with comprehensive features that adapt to your needs and grow with them is essential to establish your team as an organized, unified force to be reckoned with. 

If you’re tired of spending more time on administrative tasks than coaching, you’ll be amazed by how much less time you can spend handling logistics when you have the right software. A fully featured platform can be the key to increasing volunteer recruitment, selling sponsorships, and, most importantly, building the spirit and camaraderie that’s a hallmark of winning teams.

SwimTopia is an intuitive, customizable, and affordable system that’s already in use by thousands of teams nationwide. With SwimTopia, you can easily set up a custom website, manage registration and payments, provide practice and meet information, recruit volunteers, and sell spirit gear. We offer plans that start at $150 a year, plus $1.50 per athlete, and services that can be customized for your specific swim team’s needs. And thanks to a partnership with Sporfie, you can even add on live streaming of practices and meets with your smartphone. Check out our website to start a free trial today.