The light bulb
After 15 years in the pool, swimming has always been a big passion of mine. I have built up a considerable knowledge of the sport and management required to run a successful swim club.
The idea started with a small book that was distributed around my club – it was designed for swimmers to log in their training drills and attendance, supply coaches feedback on the training drills and track other external exercises the swimmer was doing. The book was supposed to help improve coach-to-simmer assistance and feedback. Sadly the take up of this lasted for only 2 weeks, as swimmers didn’t input their data and coaches never asked to see it. Mine got mangled inside my swim bag and wasn’t used. It was a great idea by the committee, but the execution of it wasn’t thought out.
Over lunch with a good friend, I told him that I wanted to turn that logbook into an app for all swimmers. “The best ideas are ones that can solve problems,” he told me, but also questioned me “How will you create this?” Having no experience in application development, the process wasn’t going to be easy.
February 2013 I started work on trying to enhance the original logbook idea. The core of the app was broken down into 2 functions:
- Swimmers to log their competition data into the app
- Coaches to send their training material for each class to swimmers
I wanted each swimmer to input their competition data so they could then track their performance in each competition they entered. I’d been using an Excel document to track my times and it has helped me to see my progress throughout 2012.
Allowing the coaches to send their training material to each app was a great idea on paper, but I didn’t think of the background processes necessary for this to function. This element of the app then grew into an online management system where the coach would write and create each training set online and then push that information to each swimmers app.
The scope became bigger than what was anticipated which meant that I was no longer creating a single platform, but 2 systems that would collaborate and work together. This allowed me to increase the functions to the following:
- Swimming data logged into the app would then be sent back to the coach under the swimmer's profile in the management system
- Coaches are able to build sets and drills within the online management system, on the day, for a month or for a whole year
- Club profiles were created for swimmers to enrol in – this would lead to better management of swimmers. Also, club location information was now available for swimmers to find a local pool to train in
- Alerts to all swimmers could be sent via the management system for pool issues or general communication
There are a number of swimming apps available on the iTunes store. Look through and you start to notice that each app is dedicated to the specific user. This is great for professional and individual swimmers but not for a club. The information gets stored on the app and that’s where it ends.
I wanted to create an app and a system that will enhance communication between the swimmer and coach, whilst providing swimmers with a digital solution to track their progress in the water.
The growth and the complexity of the system was a big challenge to sort out. With new advancements and functions necessary to maintain functionality, the expertise and time needed grew. Sourcing a developer was a tough decision and a big process. One tip I could pass on to anyone wanting to get their app created overseas is – Always partner up with a company rather than individual freelancers.
I’ve had issues working with one-off freelancers in the past. Awarding my work to a company allowed me to work with a number of departments (Account management, development and tech support), time lined project plans and daily communication via Skype.
Communication and explanation of the brief to the company was also a challenge that I didn’t think about. This process of communicating the brief took 1 month to get right, as a language barrier, swimming jargon and time zones proved to be a challenge for the team and me.
With the scope of work increasing and upgrades necessary to bring the application up to iOS7 standards, finance became an issue. I don’t have a trust fund, I don’t have wealthy parents; I just had my small amount of savings and a credit card. Credit card is now maxed and most of my monthly payments from my current job had been put towards this project for a number of months now. Nights out with the boys, shopping and even feeding myself became a sacrifice to get this dream a reality. Personally, I would like to thank my partner for helping me during this time, it’s been a strain especially financially and emotionally on our relationship.
23… It’s a number of change, of importance and excitement for me. I’ve been able to create something that could enhance and improve swimming and club management. I still have a long way to go on this journey, hoping to launch CoachPass in late October and commence full-time work on this project from then. I will be saying goodbye to my current employment and giving my dream the time it needs to become a successful and highly used system.