© 2022

Patrick Miley and the swim coaching app

“Every time a spreadsheet is sent by email, a SaaS idea is born.” ~ Ancient Chinese proverb

I have a surprise for you, dear reader. I have another SaaS project on the go.

Just before Christmas I was approached by Patrick Miley, who happens to be an Olympic swimming coach, who happens to be father of thrice-Olympic finalist Hannah Miley, and who happens to be good friends with my father-in-law. As I’ve always said, it’s not what you know, it’s what those whom those whom you know know… know.

Someone doing some actual swimming

As a high-performance trainer, Patrick spends his life poring over spreadsheets, analysing his students’ swim data, comparing their split times with those of past winners and calculating the optimal stages to focus on shaving a few vital milliseconds off their times.

Patrick showed me Excel sheets he had compiled, bringing together the split times of world record holders and Olympic gold winners so they could be compared to the relative split times of a student. He had even used #nocode product Openasapp to convert the spreadsheet calculations into a simple mobile app.

He has perfected the system over many years and likens it to the speedo or rev counter of a car – or more specifically he compares people trying to train swimmers without it to trying to optimise a car engine with no instrumentation.

Initially I thought I would ask Patrick to hire me under a typical client/contractor relationship to develop, promote and distribute a version of the above system, but in the light of how much I enjoy working with him, and in the context of my ongoing quest for a decent SaaS idea, I am happy to say we’ve agreed to approach this as a 50/50 joint venture.

Eventually the product will be used to regulate swimming live, by using existing wearable hardware (perhaps Apple Watch) to transmit metronomic “stroke rate” beeps directly to the swimmer. But for now, we have boiled it down to an MVP which (we hope) will be the simplest version of the product we can hawk for actual money:

To give an idea of the potential market size, Swim England has 188,499 members across 1,045 clubs, with approximately similar numbers in Canada, USA, Australia and NZ before you’d even need to think about localisation (multi-language). The product could also discriminate between coaches/clubs and individual swimmers/parents to provide an affordable offering for individuals and a pricier version with more features for groups.

Over the course of a few late-night sessions over the last week I have managed to put together a working version. I chose to use Angular, to which I am relatively new, for its platform agnostic architecture. This will clearly need to go through a few more iterations first – it still needs various “nice-to-haves” like user authentication (!) - but theoretically we should be able to release an early-stage prototype in the coming weeks.

It has been a very long time since I have stayed up late coding – especially coding something for myself – and the process, the research, the self-teaching, and the act of creation has made me very happy indeed. I can’t wait to share the results!

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