Is it a surprise to know that swim teams are highly lucrative businesses? As we all know, the average cost for swim families each season is between $2500-6000. It should be no surprise that small teams can bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars, while some of the larger teams rake in millions.
But what is surprising- coaches barely make a living wage. As a coach and a swim parent I understand the intricate costs to run a club, still the disparity in coaches pay is nonsensical. Especially considering that coaching requires roughly 50 hours a month in meet commitment alone. Most full time coaches work at minimum 60 hours, and part time coaches can expect the demands to reach 30 hours at the very least each week. I should also point out that coaches of every level are often expected to donate hundreds of unpaid hours a season to their teams for things like fundraising, team dinners, parties, travel, and required training.
Swim coaches typically get paid less than fast food workers, though they are expected to have a college degree, work weekends, come with an elite athlete pedigree, while also having years of prior experience coaching and working with kids.
How many people would be willing to work for so little? How many coaches on your team have families and children of their own? How can we expect coaches to dedicate their lives helping other people's children, while not offering them fair recompense? Take a look around your team- the answer in right in front of you. Heavy turn over. Underqualified coaches. Too few experienced coaches. Unhappy swimmers.
Coaches are the heart of your team. They create the culture and the atmosphere that allow swimmers to thrive. They are what keep your kids engaged and swimming. Unfortunately, we lose entirely too many talented coaches because they simply can no longer afford to coach.
It is an easy fix- but one that requires action. Demand your team hire the best people possible to coach your swimmers. Advocate for better coaches pay and benefits, that is the best way to draw in the most talented coaches. Talented coaches will make for a better team and better swimming. Don't your kids deserve that? You should want to do better for your coaches so they can do better for your kids.