Triangle Olympian Brings Home App for Youth Swimmers
When Olympic gold medalist Charlie Houchin was a teen growing up in the Triangle, his mom and dad were his timers at swim practices. Back then, when Houchin swam for the Oak Park Swim Club and the YMCA summer leagues, his parents measured his time with old-fashioned pen and paper—his dad timing his start, and his mom clocking his stroke and turn.
Since then, Houchin has gone on to win many awards. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, in London, he earned a gold medal in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay as a member of the winning U.S. team. But Houchin has never forgotten the work that went into planning those summer youth swim leagues. He saw the effort his parents and other volunteers took to arrange the meets and measure their children’s progress.
Now, Houchin is back in the Triangle marketing a new app, which he believes will make running summer swim meets easier and timing students a breeze. The app, Meet Central, is designed by HydroXphere, a company Houchin founded in Cary. It allows volunteers to use their mobile devices to run, time, score, judge and access meet results directly on their screens in real time.
“You can imagine every parent gets to the pool deck, and they already have their mobile device on them. So, instead of having to buy other hardware or use a pad and paper or a manual stopwatch, the starter, for example, can pull his or her phone out of a pocket and use that to start each of the races,” Houchin says. “The stroke and turn judge, the same thing, just pulling the phone out of the pocket, opening the app and using that to officiate and make any disqualification necessary.”
Parents, family and friends also can use the app’s virtual scoreboard to gain real-time access to their swimmer’s meet results, while swimmers can use the app’s social interface to share their results with friends and on Facebook and Twitter.
Houchin sees the app as a way that swimmers at community meets from California to North Carolina can connect. “The great thing about summer club swimming is the participation,” he says. “All over the country, every summer you have these communities that come together and this is kind of their social thing. …There’s a lot of complexity that goes into it. With Meet Central, the primary goal is removing all those complexities … so we can just to broaden their horizon and create a better experience for these folks.”
To promote the app, Houchin is making a free offer to Triangle-area leagues or clubs: He’ll swim with the youth, while their parents can use Meet Central and get a free demonstration of how it works. To learn more about Swim with an Olympian and to register, call HydroXphere toll-free at 1-855-210-2736 or email firstname.lastname@example.org