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by Elaine K Howley

November 7, 2016

Everything’s bigger in Texas

How big and amazing could your Masters program be if only you could find enough pool time?

If you’ve ever wondered about that, Texas Ford Aquatic Masters in Frisco, Texas, may have an answer for you sometime soon. The club, which registered with USMS in 2015, is a program of Texas Ford Aquatics, which owns and operates its own facility. Unlike how most programs have to scrounge for pool space from municipalities and health clubs, Texas Ford Aquatics has full control over its programming and scheduling.

Founded in 2014, by Dan McDonough, Stuart Smith, and Matt Fosheim, Texas Ford Aquatics has grown rapidly and offers a variety of age-group and swimming lessons programs. When it came time to add a Masters program, finding pool time wasn’t as tough a battle as it is for most fledgling Masters clubs. 

The Texas Ford Aquatics indoor facility is an 8-lane, 50-meter pool with two bulkheads that can be converted to 17 short course lanes, meaning there’s lots of room for a growing Masters program. The pool is covered, but Masters head coach Richard Garza says it’s surrounded by “large garage doors, so we get a nice breeze coming through, but we’re protected from the elements.”

Garza came to TFAM in July 2016 after a 5-month road trip in which he spent at least one night in every state in the U.S. (He had founded a Masters club in his native South Florida in 2013 before deciding to take a break and make a big move.) In the short time since he’s been in charge of TFAM, which registered with USMS in 2015, the club has grown to 133 registered members, more than doubling in size from the 54 who registered in 2015. Twenty-seven of those new members signed up in August, good for fourth place in the Colorado Time Systems pace clock contest. That earns TFAM a brand new pace clock worth $1,200.

Although winning the clock was a nice bonus, Garza says it wasn’t the focus of his activities in August, rather it was a happy coincidence of his mandate to grow the Masters program. Garza, a Level 3 USMS-certified coach who received a Kerry O’Brien coaching award in 2014, was brought into the organization “to focus on just the Masters. That’s my sole focus.” In pursuit of that, he’s not only begun growing membership through word of mouth and good, old-fashioned fliers, but has also developed a website for the club and manages its social media outlets.

TFAM offers 11 workouts per week and Garza is on deck or in the water for all of them. On the days he swims, coach Jonathan Brandt is on deck. Garza says most of the swimmers in the program are fitness swimmers and triathletes, but Texas Ford Aquatics “have brought me on board to help the club become a nationally recognized club in competitions.”

Although he’s still quite new to the role, Garza says that the program is off and running and he’s been working very hard to raise the standards of an “already well-established program” and bring it to the next level. And with room to grow, who knows just how big this Texas-sized program might get.


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