Thinking about jumping into the masters lane? Here are 6 reasons that you should consider joining your local masters swimming team.
When you join your local masters swim team you are linking up with a group of like-minded people who are into swimming fast, getting fit, and enjoying every minute of it.
Unlike your age group swimming days, which were experienced in a sleep-deprived stupor with days book-ended by 8,000m workouts, masters swimming offers a whole bunch of benefits that you can truly only appreciate as an adult.
Whether you are a former swimmer looking to stay in shape, or you are a newbie to the sport, here are a few reasons that you should join your local masters swim team:
1. The social perks.
Working out solo can be therapeutic and your time to decompress from everything else that is going on in your life. Masters swimming is not only a place to get in shape, but is also a social and networking setting.
With the wide range of ability that you see in most masters clubs you’ll get a chance to learn from other swimmers, whether it is a former Olympian, or the lessons of persistence and grit from the masters swimmer who has just taken up the sport for the first time.
Most masters teams have socials and outside of the pool events which are just a couple reasons that masters swimming are a place of strong community.
2. Be as competitive as you want to be.
Competition is good—it pushes us and keeps us honest about our effort. On the other side of things, if you are happy cruising along and doing your own thing Masters is a good place for that too.
How competitive, and how serious you want to get with your swimming, is your call, which wasn’t always the case during your age group swimming days.
With masters swimming you sign up, and for most, train towards a year-end meet. Having a goal in mind helps keep you motivated to make it back to the pool, even if you aren’t serious about it as you might have been in your age group days.
3. A scheduled training program.
Working out on your own isn’t easy. Especially if you spent most of your life getting exercise in structured programs, whether it was PE in school or the various sports teams and clubs.
For many retired swimmers the surge in weight that comes from being released from the confines of a structured training program can be almost unavoidable. No longer do we have to be at practice.
While the shot of freedom is great, so is the impetus to be at the pool every day, and left to our own devices it’s easy to sink into a workout routine that is the polar opposite of your former active self.
Having a set schedule for your practices means you don’t have to depend on getting to the gym for a workout when you “feel like it.”
Let’s face it, we aren’t always the best at being able to detect our own flaws and shortcomings in the water.
Having a coach on deck who can critique our technique, and give us the feedback we need in order to improve can greatly speed up the rate of improvement.
Coaching can come from teammates as well—having other swimmers in the water checking out your technique can give you the awareness necessary to make positive changes in your technique and training habits.
Similarly, having a coach write up the swim practice means you can just follow the workout instead of having to depend on your willpower and motivation that day to push yourself.
5. Dedicated pool space.
This one could go either way depending on your pool situation. For those who have cracked the schedule at the local pool and know exactly what slots of time provide maximum pool space this can be a moot point.
But for those swimmers who have to jostle with reams of lap swimmers of varying ability during lap swim masters swimming can be a welcome refuge, where swimmers are grouped up by ability and speed, and all *generally* understand and follow lane etiquette.
6. It’ll get you in shape.
Beyond the social aspect of masters swimming, the big benefit of getting in the pool for a few hours a week is that you will get in better shape. You know, that whole “health” thing!
Working out on our own is tough as we do our best to be adults, with commitments piling up in the form of family, work, and everything else going on in our lives. Swimming provides a double whammy of being excellent aerobic and resistance training, giving you a full body workout without having to log a ton of hours in the gym.
Plus, for you former swimmers out there, swimming is something you already know you like and are good at, and if there is a guaranteed way to stick to a workout regimen it is by doing something you enjoy.
Take the plunge.
A lot of swimmers that I used to train with and compete with laugh when I ask them if they still swim from time to time. They think about it, they’ll say, but more often than not, the discipline and exhaustive commitment that age group swimming required back in the day turns them off.
I thought the same way for a long time (I was out of the pool for a solid ten years), before slowly coming back to the sport on my own terms and falling in love with it again.
Maybe now it’s time to see if you missed your calling as a breaststroker. Or dabble in the sprint events after an age group career of endless 1,500’s.
Coming back to the sport after a break you will find that the sport was always there deep within you, that you never completely let it go, and enjoying it in a less pressured environment can be the thing to rekindle that love for the water.
Some Resources for Masters Swimmers
Here are some resources for those of you looking to get into masters swimming: