Watching Swimwatch

By David

When your doctor asks, “Do you smoke,” what do you reply? I bet it’s either a firm, “No,” or maybe, “Just one or two on social occasions.” Even the packet-a-day crew lie like flat fish. A few years ago, the Marlboro man may have been as tough as hell, riding his horse into the snow capped Rockies; today he’s a social pariah, hiding behind a brown stained hedge, outside his place of work.

Television soaps are the same. There they are, running on for years – As the World Turns – 50 years, Days of Our Lives – 40 years, Coronation Street – 46 years, Shortland Street (of New Zealand origins) – 15 years, and no one watches them. At least, I’ve not met anyone who admits it: all that advertising and no one at the other end! Imagine.

It seems Swimwatch is a bit like that. No one reads Swimwatch. I’ve come across a few, “I glanced at it once,” or “I accidentally opened it,” but never, ever anything more. The mayor of the New Zealand town of Napier told me she never read Swimwatch and then proceeded to demonstrate a detailed knowledge of everything we’d ever published. We wrote about this years ago, but the trend continues!

Several years ago, a prominent official in New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay swimming district told me he never read Swimwatch and sure enough his home computer did not appear on our logs or our analytics reports. His work computer, however, had a very recognizable URL and it cropped up twenty or thirty times a month. I guess he didn’t want his wife to know he read our stuff.

So, what is the truth? We are by no means a widely read site, and we’re by no means daily posters. However, we have fun with the site and we have a pretty consistent user-base, much like we did when we used to post to “Swimwatch 1.0” between 2002 and 2004. Since we reinstated Swimwatch on a blogger platform on November 10, 2006, this is what has happened.

  1. We’ve been visited by 158,213 unique visitors.
  2. The most popular story wasn’t a story, but was my son-in-law’s photograph, “I’ll take the Camera He’s Using, Thanks.”
  3. The most comments on a single story was 58.
  4. The strangest family-friendly Google search leading to Swimwatch was, “what’s a good camera to take pics of my fish”. There were number of search terms that I won’t repeat here, suffice to say that Google definitely receives some odd requests.
  5. The lowest day for visitors was 18, on the third day after we reopened, November 13, 2006
  6. The biggest day for visitors was 8914 on June 25, 2007.
  7. Readers came from 126 countries.
  8. The highest readerships were in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Germany, Finland, France and the United Kingdom.
  9. The smallest nation appearing every month was the Seychelles.
  10. The lowest visits from a country was one, from Fiji.
  11. Our biggest referrer was The post Digg links to has nothing to do with swimming.

Edward, Jane and I began Swimwatch because we enjoyed writing and the only thing I knew anything about was swimming. Jane and Edward have a wider range of skills. Of course, we’ve got our critics; and we’re pretty bloody pleased about that. Much of the Swimwatch data is the product of their efforts. I love that quote of Lyndon Johnson’s, “If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: “President Can’t Swim.” I know exactly how he felt. Every month one of our new seven or eight year old team members will climb dripping from the pool, study me for a moment and ask, “Coach, can you swim?” Of course I know how Johnson felt.

Our most proud moment? We began ranking for this term a few weeks ago. This pleases us very much.