Written by: Kevin Koskella
Many people in the triathlon community, particularly the beginner crowd, believe that Masters swim teams (coached group workouts for those 18 years of age and older) are for fast, competitive swimmers that have been swimming on teams their whole lives. These triathletes tell me that there is no room for novices, and they feel out of place or left out when they attend a Masters workout.
The reality is that approximately 80% of swimmers on Masters teams are there for fitness. The other 20% is made up of triathletes, competitive swimmers and open water swimmers.
Whether you are a beginner triathlete new to the idea of swimming with a masters team, or an experienced triathlete who has always done swim training on your own, here are 10 things you should know about Masters swimming:
1. The stated goal of Masters swim programs, according to the US Masters website Usms.org, is that “All USMS programs are designed to help swimmers improve fitness and/or train for specific goals, and offer active support for a healthy lifestyle through friendship and camaraderie.”
2. Accept that most of the other swimmers will realize that you are a beginner. Most Masters coaches and swimmers love having new swimmers and will be more than happy to help you out.
3. Not all masters teams are the same. Talk to the coach about what level you’re at and what your goals are, and see if there is a fit. Most coaches will work with you at any level. If not, there may be another option close by in your city.
4. Be on time. It makes life easier for the coach, and for your fellow lane-mates.
5. Learn to swim “circle pattern”. There is a line in the middle of each lane on the bottom of most pools. Stay to the right of the line when you are swimming. Circle pattern allows more than two swimmers to swim comfortably in each lane.
6. If someone touches your feet when you are swimming, let them pass by staying to the right, or stopping at the next wall and moving to the right side of the lane. Try not to take any offense to getting passed, this happens all the time.
7. At the beginning of the workout, find the time to introduce yourself to whoever is in your lane. Knowing the people you swim with will make your workout a pleasant experience. Don’t forget that part of Masters swimming is the social aspect!
8. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Learn how to read the clock and the order of the lanes within your first week.
9. Make sure to get enough rest. If you can’t make the interval in your lane, move to a slower lane.
10. Bring a positive attitude and a sense of humor to every workout!
Keep these tips in mind, join a Masters team, and get ready to add more fun into your workout routine!