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Registration requirements for Thursday Swims

What is the problem?

Every Thursday, a sizable number of people either do not show up to their registered swim slot or cancel too late for most people on the waitlist to make it to swim. This results in three problems:

  1. We do not always fill the pool to its full capacity even though many members would like to swim.
  2. It is difficult for members who make it off the waitlist later in the day to adjust their plans. 
  3. There is a large administrative overhead on the order of hours each Thursday. 

What are we doing about it?

After exploring multiple solutions and discussing them at length with the board, the ambassador team, and various members, we have decided on a low-key fine system to reduce the number of no-shows and day-of cancellations.

To incentivize people to only register for Thursday swims when they have every intention to actually swim, we will add the following rules:

  • Members who are “no-show” for a swim will not be allowed to sign up for more swims until they pay $20 into our swim fund.
  • Members who cancel their swim registration anytime on Thursday will not be allowed to sign up for more swims until they pay $10 into our swim fund.

Common Questions

What is the swim fund?

We do not hope to raise a lot of money here. To the contrary, the whole point of this plan is that we will all simply only sign up when we actually can swim - and nobody pays any money whatsoever. Whatever little money we do raise will be used to improve the swim program for all members.

Do I need to cancel waitlist registrations, too?

If you cannot actually swim on Thursday, you should not be on the waitlist. Our backend system (Wild Apricot), which powers, does sadly not support self-canceling waitlist registrations, so please let us know in Slack’s #swim channel or by emailing that you would like to be removed from the waitlist by Wednesday night.

Could we only disallow cancellations a few hours before swim?

Our backend system (Wild Apricot), which powers, sadly does not record times for cancellations, only dates. Many of us agree that an 8-hour penalty window (which is common at gyms for classes) would be preferable, but we sadly don’t have the tech to support that right now.

Will there be exceptions?

The swim director (Felix) has discretion. We do not want to list all possible excuses for canceling last minute, but be assured that if you have a car crash on the way to swim, we won’t make your day worse by also banning you from future swims.

Are you just trying to raise more money?

No. In fact, if our swim fund is filled with any amount of money worth mentioning, our experiment will have failed. The goal here is to make sure as many people as possible can actually swim, not to generate revenue.

How are you going to administer all of that?

This will be done manually by your (volunteer) Swim Director. Even though it’ll be a lot of work, we believe that it’ll overall have a higher Return-on-Investment when it comes to making swims fun for everyone in the club.

Have you considered…?

Simply asking people to please not no-show or cancel last minute

We have made multiple appeals but none of them have actually resulted in a change in the numbers of no-shows or late cancellations.

Getting additional pools

We have tried asking every private pool in the city – none of them rent out to teams. The city is aware that we are in search of more pool time (and we remind them every couple of months), but so far, no capacity is available. Specifically, there’s a lifeguard shortage.

If you know of a pool that you know would rent out to us, please immediately let the Swim Director (Felix) know. Day or night, because we’ll jump on that opportunity.

Giving each member “swim credits”

This approach seems fair on the face of it: Everyone gets, say, 10 swims a year. The problem is that demand for our Thursday swims is highly seasonal, so we’d still have the problem of no-shows and late cancellations during our most in-demand months. At the same time, we’d be artificially limiting the number of swimmers during our least-in-demand months, like December.

Additionally, Wild Apricot, the backend system that supports, does not support a credit system, meaning that we’d be looking at an untenable amount of work for our volunteers.

Making members choose between Thursday and Sunday swims

Our numbers do not indicate that this would solve the problem outlined above - we’d still have too many interested swimmers for Thursday swims while artificially limiting the number of swimmers we support each Sunday.

Additionally, Wild Apricot, the backend system that supports, does not support either-or registrations, meaning that we’d be looking at an untenable amount of work for our volunteers.

Charging for all swims

Experience tells us that charged events do not have problems with no-shows or late cancellations. At the same time, we’re a Non-Profit organization and a bunch of volunteers who’re excited about the work we do for you<<em>because

Banning people for late cancellations or no-shows

Initially, we actually thought about maybe giving people a one-month ban for late cancellations or no-shows. It’d probably solve our problem, too, but we prefer a “Alright, pay $10 into the swim fund jar” approach because it’s not purely punitive – that way, we can at least do some good with the “punishment”. 

I have another idea!

Awesome! Please let your Swim Director (Felix) know, he’s always excited to hear about other solutions.

Golden Gate Triathlon Club is a 501(c)7 non-profit organization.

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