While the multisport industry was growing in popularity, year-over-year registration for a major market triathlon was in decline, primarily from a lack of new participants.
We connected with local influencers, training groups, and veteran participants to better understand the marketplace. Based on the market research, we recognized a growing fear of swimming in Lake Michigan and a direct lack of swim-related programming. As a result, we created free, organized open water swim training events for the entire community. Local triathlon clubs and swim experts were recruited as volunteer coaches and provided small-group swimming lessons. Local breweries and restaurants were recruited to provide post-event social opportunities.
The swim clinics became the largest single feeder of first-time participants into the triathlon weekend, contributing to a 30% growth in new triathletes. More than 75 coaches supported 12,000 swimmers between 2012 and 2019, including 9,000 first-time open water swimmers. The swim clinics became one of the largest swim programs in the nation, selling-out at 1,000 swimmers and generating more than $100,000 in charitable donations.