Delegating SKWIM



Let's dwell on the delegating

Head Swim Coaches can't do it all. And with SKWIM, a sideline activity, the head coach shouldn't be doing it all. 

For SKWIM to have a meaningful impact in your community, come to understand it and then set it onto the broad shoulders of others.

Head coaches should do SKWIM, as in play SKWIM once or twice. Get in the game. Become aware of the rules, energy, style of play and ping into the soft skills that can blossom in the game, for the sake of one's perspectives. Get in the water. Play a couple of games of SKWIM. Do it.

The learning — the true learning — is in the doing. You must experience it for it to become ingrained in you. Employees must experience the decision making for it to become ingrained in them.

After doing, the next step in the four Ds is deciding. The head coach has to decide that SKWIM can help those on the team, and others in the community, Decide that SKWIM can play a role in the overall program. Decide after one has played and done that discovery of the basics of SKWIM. 

A few other decisions as to the design are still to be determined, but begin with a one-shot implementation. Hold an opening day. Begin with an exhibition game and take it from there into the future. The last "D" in this clockwork approach is design. Come back to the design decisions as to the specific impacts later.

The mission critical part, the third "D,"  in the evolution of interjecting SKWIM into the program is delegating. Take the bold step and quickly announce that the head coach is going to delegate the SKWIM game's operation to others. 

It is about delegation of duties and not burnout of the coaches. Clockwork is a book by Mike Michalowicz. Commit to designing your team to run itself.

Scott Oldford, founder of INFINITUS Marketing & Technology, said, “The biggest problem is that no one has taught the mind-set of delegating. It’s not that they don’t know they need to delegate. They just need to get into the mind-set of letting go. Then, when they are committed to it, they need to do it the right way.”
Scott explained that the delegating is a process. “First, you assign a task. Then you assign the responsibility. Then you ask them to own the results. Finally, you ask them to own the outcome, which is repeated results over time.”


  1. Assign the task.
  2. Assign the responsibility.
  3. Allow them to own the results.
  4. Ask them to own the outcome.. The outcome is repeated result throughout time.

It is about delegation of duties and not burnout of the coaches. Clockwork is a book by Mike Michalowicz. Commit to designing your team to run itself.

Who matters

There are many to consider: Assistant coaches, boosters, captains, lifeguards, swim instructors, parents, spouses of coaches, remote coaches, scholastic coaches (even of other sports) and non-swimming managers. Go to alumni, masters swimmers, triathletes, water polo friends, college students, gym friends and even senior citizens.

Since the game of SKWIM is friendly and without contact, so folks who are less than threatening are better. Think dependable. Got a golfing friend or old classmate that might like to be a helper for the program -- who understands a bit about sportsmanship too? 

It is about delegation of duties and not burnout of the coaches. Clockwork is a book by Mike Michalowicz. Commit to designing your team to run itself.

As SKWIM and the seasons march along, expect for some evolution and changes. Dedicate some time for delegating. After you're convinced, then the next step is to hire a SKWIM delegator with the primary job of continually empowering the team and SKWIM leadership to make game-day, house-league and competitive decisions. With delegation and a hired delegator, the responsibility with the head coach shifts more towards the doing of the design work. For example, throttle up SKWIM by setting up games of SKWIM among other swim teams. Design a way to make SKWIM part of a swim camp, a swim meet, a summer program experience -- before the summer comes. Design a way to get SKWIM into the local schools, into the realm of the Scout Troupe activities, and into the larger, feeder pattern that can aid your team and the fitness participation at the pools with greater audiences.

Create a better future for yourself, your populations and your programs by being willing to chart of vision, by design, with SKWIM. Figure out ways to promote the game, the opportunity and brand these fun, teamwork rich lessons with your logo. Heighten the presence of the game in your community and let SKWIM be a welcome incubator for competitive swimming's growth. Be the brains and take the credit for the successes and the crafting of the soft skills among the participants. 

If you’re going to save your Saturdays and your soul and scale your business / team, being acutely aware of what phase of the four Ds you are in is essential. Will you ever stop Doing entirely? Maybe not — but you will do a fraction of the work you do now, and you will transition to doing only the work you love.

The suggested Clockwork percentages of effort for an ideal mix for a coaching staff is 80 percent, Doing; 2 percent, Deciding; 8 percent, Delegating; and 10 percent, Designing. Don't fumble after the delegating. Design the mix, the mastery, the excitement and design for leadership handoffs and overall stewardship to continually optimize. The design efforts can super-charge the dynamic challenges for the program and its participants. Just as everyone does not need to go to the Olympic Trials, everyone does not need to play in the game you've established with another squad  But that game's opportunities and quest is sure to add more gusto and purpose to the local SKWIM play.

The design should include excursions to other venues so as to get into the door elsewhere. Play SKWIM outdoors in a local lake or beach. Play at a YMCA or other school -- in a game against the other staff's lifeguards. Go to a public pool and teach the patrons there about SKWIM and set up a swim jamboree. Face it, the team captains are not going to figure out these design elements and navigate the invitations without the leadership from the head coach.

The long-term journey of SKWIM should hit upon the four Ds. 

Start by playing SKWIM games, (do). Next, the program's leaders made a conscious effort to incorporate SKWIM in the program on a regular basis, (decide). Then comes the assigning of others, after their recruitment, to lead the players in the game-play, (delegate). The Doing, Deciding, and Delegating are maintenance efforts for the program and team. The final "D", the Designing, is what elevates your team, operation, business and experiences. 

Head coaches can streamline the SKWIM programs. The leaders don't need to do all the work. But, some efforts to create design directions are should come from the top. Ask who will get in and lead the game-play. Ask when will the SKWIM occur? Figure out where SKWIM can fit in the water. All aquatic situations are unique and the magic of the design should rest with the boss. These blended, evolving designs of implementation are going to lead to some special opportunities and engagement experiences for the participants. The keys to the success might be found in the content here, but surprise us with your designs and your uniqueness that fits into your community. The SKWIM system and tools are being provided, but the artistry of design falls into the domain of the leaders in each facility. 

Joyful play follows

By all means, the point of this approach is to delegate greatly. Give away the responsibilities of the game-play leadership to a few, or to a host, of other caring people who can be social guidance around the goals. Then jump in and play from time to time. Re-awaken your youthful self in SKWIM games too. Play. Grab a head-band. Be part of a team with other patrons. Score with your fitness and fun. Getting in the water can do wonders for your mental health too -- and build some nice relationships in the process. Be empowered and free to jump in the SKWIM games yourself. 

SKWIM's inventor, Kevin McCarthy, manages many settings in the state of Washington where they play SKWIM, and he always plays in the SKWIM games too. He leads from within the water. He gets a good deal of his fitness from playing,. So, don't watch from the office and don't just pace the deck. Have your suit. Jump in. Play along. Invite your friends, and have some joy so as to celebrate the program's merits -- first hand.

Those in recreation need to re-create as well. SKWIM can give the top leadership including the board members, the CEOs, the head coaches, and the division heads, opportunities to enjoy, play and do some recreation.

About the author 

Mark Rauterkus

Coach Mark, the executive director of the nonprofit 501(c)(3) of SKWIM USA, lives and coaches in Pittsburgh, PA, USA, where he helps to lead swim, SKWIM and water polo activities for a wide range of participants.

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