I was always keen to get my first event on TV. ‘Start how you mean to continue’ was my motto during this development phase. I wanted to have the highest profile swim in NZ and TV would help put it on the map from year one.
To get TV I needed elite swimmers to attract the TV networks. Sky TV wouldn’t be interested in covering our event if we couldn’t demonstrate we had a creditable competition with elite swimmers taking part. After recently retiring from swimming I still had a number of connections with the elite swimmers training at the Millennium Institute and knew head coach Jan Cameron well as I had trained under her. After ringing around and some gentle persuasion I managed to get most of the NZ team to swim. I then went back to Kevin Cameron, the head of Sky Sport at the time, with this news and he agreed to give us air time and support with our own TV show. The bonus of having the King of the Bays on TV was that it would not only open this event up to a national audience but give our sponsors valuable exposure…and that was going to be important when it came to securing the necessary sponsorship support the event needed.
Running a good event on my first outing was going to be important. I wanted to give swimmers a great experience, deliver a return to sponsors and ensure our event looked good on TV. As well as my own gut feel about how to put together a successful event I had observed what other experienced event operators had done with their events and learnt a lot of what I needed to know from an operational point of view from the great team running Auckland Harbour Swims back in late 2003.
A marketing plan was next. How was I going to get people to find out about this event and get swimmers to enter? Without a lot of money most of the marketing was going to be a hard graft. In that first year all I did was a little bit of outdoor signage in the form of cross street banners and roadside signs (with the generous help of the North Shore City Council) and 5000 flyers and 500 posters. I made an extensive list of swimming pools, swim coaches and events to attend to promote the event. I can vividly remember countless missions out to promote at triathlon, multisport and swimming events in the early hours of the morning armed with a fist full of flyers. I really appreciated in those early years the large number of friendly event organisers who were kind enough to let me promote to their participants.
Next was securing a family of sponsors to help fund the event and gather the prizes I needed.Scott Rice, Race Director, State NZ Ocean Swim Series