Problems with Team Unify, swim times, club records and swimmers age

Our club uses Team Unify. I love and hate it with equal measure, which is a bit of an odd thing to say as I was instrumental in pushing the club to use Team Unify in the first place.

Using Team Unify has been great for our membership data. It allows parents, coaches and team managers access to the right information to run the club. This is a big improvement.

However, one area where I think Team Unify is weak for British swimming clubs is in how it handles members swim times. British swimmers are used to having access to the British swimming rankings database. It works, it is simple and all licenced meets are required to submit results. A huge amount of effort behind the scenes by membership secs, club gala entry secs, meet organisers and the rankings database makes this the definitive source of swim times for British swimmers.

Team Unify does not have access to the British Swimming rankings database. This is a shame and something I hope is fixed in the future because it creates all sorts of unexpected issues.

As a club that uses Team Unify to do gala entries, we need it to contain up-to date swim times for our swimmers. This requires the results file (.sd3) from galas to be entered (uploaded) in to Team Unify. The quickest way to get results for any gala a club member has entered is to use the Club Rankings program from British Swimming is to ‘export’ the results file in .sd3 format, and then import it in to Team Unify. I know many club admins and this is how they all do it. It is much quicker than contacting each and every gala organiser and asking for the results file.

However there is a problem, the .sd3 results files from Club Rankings do not contain the swimmers ‘age’, so when the results are imported in to Team Unify the age is set to zero! This has knock on effects throughout Team Unify. The club records don’t work properly (*1), the reports don’t work properly (*2) etc

Now you could argue that Club Rankings should include the swimmers ‘age’ in their results files, but what is the swimmers age? For British swimming we have two ages, “age on the date of swim” (*3) or “age at 31/12”. The two different ‘ages’ are needed for different uses. e.g. open meets can use “age on the date of swim” (more correctly ‘age on last date of event’) but events like regional and nationals use ‘age at 31/12’.

Alternatively you could argue that Team Unify has our swimmers Date Of Birth and knows the date of the swim, so should be able to work out how old the swimmer was for any swim (There is an interesting edge case here working out the ‘age on last date of event’ but that is not beyond the wit of a software engineer).

I raised this problem with Team Unify and the response was “This is because SportSystem files when sent to us for this do not include the age”, to which I would reply “We pay you good money to run a team management system, this problem affects the majority of British users, so go fix it!” And my response is pretty much true. Team Unify is increasingly popular in the UK and there is less and less reason why British users should put up with how Team Unify stores and uses swim times. We need a system that works with how British swimming works and is not based on Team Unify’s US origins.

For British Team Unify users little things make a huge difference, like a swim time having no use without knowing the date and Level gala it was achieved at. Just try entering your regions winter championships without a Level 2 swim time in the correct qualifying period. Team unify does not have gala ‘Levels’ designed it to it from the outset and it should have. Without gala levels you can’t produce a list of who has qualified for particular events.

Ideally we, as swim clubs who pay money to both Team unify and Swim England/Wales/Scotland, need to bang heads together and get Team Unify to stop running parallel times database and link into the British Swimming rankings database. There are vested interests here, but I for one am fed up and just want a system that works properly.

I could go on, but I don’t want this to be a tirade. So I am going to leave it with my conclusion that currently Team Unify is lacking when it comes to swim time management for British swim clubs. If you are aware of this then you can avoid some of the pitfalls and hopefully they will improve in the future.

*1 See my post “Using ‘Club Rankings’ to find club records” for a way to get club records from Rankings.

*2 When the coaches ask for a reports of best swim in each age group to select a team for an event, the reports a meaningless as all the swimmers did their best swims when zero years old 🙁

*3 More correctly “age on the last day of the event”.

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