Busy with Swim Team

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It seems like most of my free time has been consumed with swim team lately.  I volunteered to help bring the MacDolphins into the 21st century this year and it has taken quite a bit more time than I expected it would.  A lot of that is because it is fun working a technical problem and doing it right.

We had some goals for the season.

  1. Report results in a timely manner.
  2. Capture times and keep a history so swimmers and parents could monitor their progress.
  3. Electronic registration to minimize data entry errors.
  4. Communicate quickly and effectively.

After searching the internet for an existing swim team solution I determined there really wasn’t anything suitable do I decided to write my own WordPress plugin to address part of the problem.  I had no aspirations to build a complete solution but I did want to offer something which addressed goals 1, 3, and 4 above.  I started working on the plugin early this year and for the most part, it is working out pretty well.  I wish I had a few more things done but I am happy with what I have been able to do.

For actual meet management, our team (actually me) ended up choosing WinSwim over the industry standard Hy-Tek solution.  I went with WinSwim mostly because their support was excellent and their ability to import our roster electronically.  For whatever reason, Hy-Tek has made doing this difficult if not impossible to do.  (Read more on my wp-swimteam plugin blog regarding my dealings with Hy-Tek.)

WinSwim is easy to use but it hasn’t been without some problems.  Fortunately they don’t seem to mind the volume of e-mail and issues I am sending them and they turn around solutions really quickly.  To distribute the data our parents and swimmers want to see (mostly their times), I have learned quite a bit about Crystal Reports.  It is pretty powerful once you get the hang of it but the learning curve is non-trivial.  This weekend I think I had the “ah-ha” moment because now I am able to edit and create new reports pretty quickly.

The season is coming to a close and I still have a few things to do.  I need to get end of season reports done for our banquet.  I think this will be pretty straight forward now that I think I have a handle on Crystal Reports!

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