15 September 2009

What would it take to make me a Master's swimmer

This was a question asked on the Masters Swimming Blog. I think the answer is too detailed to put in a comments box...besides I have a daily word-quota to hit on my blog.

The reason I'm not a Master's swimmer is simple: I'm intimidated. Never mind that I'm a self-taught swimmer who's only been doing it for 4 weeks, I KNOW that joining a team will solve a lot of my swimming issues. But I'm still intimidated by the length and ferocity of their workouts. I've watched the end of a few Master's workouts and those guys are SWIMMING. I know that I can't do that yet. But, eventually, and hopefully soon, I will be able to.

But then the next problem crops up...meets. And this is where I have some experience as a Swim Dad. I knew going into CK's first meet about where she was compared to the other kids. I was able to counsel her to not feel overwhelmed, in fact she won her first heat ever, getting a B time. From there, I've always had enough information about meets, time standards, and what to expect that I could help solve any anxiety that she might have.

I can't find any information like that to solve my own anxiety. From the results that I've seen, it appears that every 40-45 year old master's swimmer swims a 25 second 50 free. Since I don't, why would I get in the pool with them? But, logically, I know that isn't true but take a look at the results. Where are the meets that have the slower guys? Where are the A/B/C standards to help me gauge my progress?

I know that the entire US Master's organization is only about 5 times the size of Pacific Swimming (the SF Bay Area), but still, is that it? No introductory meets to let new swimmers dip their toes in before having to race these 25 second freaks of nature?

So, that's what it would take for me...some small sign that it's not that drastic, that a reasonably fit new swimmer isn't going to be all by himself at the back of the pack, that there's a way to join, and more importantly race, with similar swimmers. Call it the Newbie challenge and I'm in.


  1. The thing to remember about masters is that it is waaaay more mellow than kids swimming. Everyone that can swim is welcome, you won't get picked on for being slow. Masters also seeds most meets by time not age so you'll swim with people your speed. There aren't time standards for anything except nationals and even then you can swim 3 events at nationals without making the time cut. I'm probably going to make my way up to the Mountain View meet in October, you might want to try that one. It's the first meet of SCM season and everyone will just be getting back into the swing of things. You just gotta get out there and start swimming, the speed will come with experience.

  2. Rob, I might just do it. It will be fun to be seeded with the septuagenarians! Even though I'm kind of used to that when lap swimming.

    My daughter *might* have a dual meet the day of the Mt. View meet but if not, it would be good for her to see a meet from the other side of the fence.

  3. Some of those old people are no joke dude! I'm 28 and I get worked over by people 20-30+ years older than me on a regular basis. Let me know if you make the trip. I've made a habit of going into northern California once a season just to swim with a different crowd and meet some new people.

  4. Let go of it, and join! Your swimming will improved, your social network will grow, your accomplishments will exceed your expectations and the girls are really hot!

  5. Thanks for responding to my question at http://MastersSwimmersBlog.com! I think it's perfectly normal to feel intimidated by "Masters Swimming," I know I was. I had known about the local masters swim club for 3-4 years before I finally joined. It wasn't until I got pummeled in the swim portion of my first sprint triathlon that I decided to join a club. I'm just an average athlete who wanted a little assistance so I could mix it up at the next tri. Our program is fairly large, one of the largest in the Pacific region. We have a blend of first-time swimmers, former college athletes, triathletes, young/middle-age/elder, single, married, widowed, divorced swimmers, people who train incessantly so they can beat their rival at the next swim meet, as well as folks who never compete. The beauty is you make it what you want. Not only has my swimming improved dramatically since joining USMS, I've also discovered a wonderful sense of community. Come on in - the water's fine!