Paris Jacobs became the American Swim Coaches Association’s first chief operations officer earlier this year, and she’s tasked with bringing the organization into the future.
After undergoing a business review last year, it was recommended that the organization create the role to provide support to Executive Director John Leonard. Jacobs, who owns and runs Virginia-based Machine Aquatics with her husband, was initially on the committee to pick the right candidate – but it became clear she herself should be the pick.
“Initially I was like, ‘No,’ but honestly, I give a lot of credit to my senior management within the five divisions of Machine, and the ASCA Board,” Jacobs told SwimSwam. “I said, ‘Can you give me four or five months to see how this would work – would my companies be okay, would my senior management be okay with this?’ So we kind of evolved through the summer thinking of what it could be, what it would look like.”
Jacobs ultimately took the reigns of organizing the 2018 World Clinic, and then come September, was totally sold on the job.
“So my role in the vision of where we’re heading is primarily – and it’s still evolving – is brand management and sponsorship and marketing,” she said. “But also looking to enhance services to anyone who is affiliated with the ASCA. So coaches, obviously swim schools, all of that that we want to bring resources to, and make them more readily available to our coaches… and start strategizing what that means and what that looks like going forward into 2020, into 2024.”
On the day-to-day level, Jacobs is focused on restructuring and “enhancing” services for the 2019 World Clinic. She works out of the Florida office eight to 10 days a month, looking for “outside-the-box” sponsorship and marketing opportunities for the ASCA that will, in turn, bring opportunities back to coaches.
“One example is the GoSwim partnership that we have. That’s a deal I did as a business consultant right before I came on as COO. But in the GoSwim partnership, it’s something that is unique, at a price point that is different if they just came in to GoSwim on their own – they’re getting unique information, they’re getting coaching tools, they’re getting help on a daily basis as a benefit when they go into that GoSwim plan as a member of the ASCA,” Jacobs explained, also highlighting her ongoing listening campaign.
“Those are the kinds of things that we’re looking for. What that exactly looks like, I can’t tell you right now. There’s a lot of things on the table, but coaches want to give suggestions and I think that’s the biggest thing of what they’d like to see from their association. We want to know.”
In addition to the work that needs to be done for the clinic, Jacobs joined the ASCA at a clear juncture in terms of the sport’s governance. As the International Swim League tries to gain traction to change the structure of swimming as a professional and spectator sport, much to FINA’s opposition, the ASCA has emerged as a clear supporter of the ISL.
“I am very confident; we have been in talks with ISL. And obviously when we had the PSA [Pro Swim Association] last year – making this sport a truly professional opportunity for our athletes to make a sustainable living is incredibly important to us. ISL we believe is a good avenue for them to be able to do this,” said Jacobs. “We’re very confident that ISL and FINA will come to a mutual agreement to continue to move forward, and that form, our coaches are in supportive of – this is something that we believe that is beneficial to our athletes. And so from that standpoint, we firmly stand behind it, and want to see them succeed, because we believe that their success will ultimately benefit the athletes.”