Get Thee to a Master's....

author : infosteward
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Sometimes the best way to master something is to be around people who are masters of it. For non-swimmers - there is the Master’s Swim group.

By Ovetta Sampson
B.T.com Managing Editor

So swimming isn’t your strong point? You can run from here to Egypt without breaking a sweat. You can cycle the Alps and still be ready for more. But you take a dip into the water and you’re Samson without the hair. You’ve lost your athletic prowess. You’re not a man. You’re a mouse and you’re frustrated as all get out. Why can’t I master the swim? Never fear there is help out there. There are books. There are videos. There are tapes. But sometimes the best way to master something is to be around people who are masters of it. For non-swimmers - there is the Master’s Swim group.

Yeah, I know, kind of intimidating. Hanging out with a bunch of people who are masters of a sport you can’t possibly master? That just sounds like suicide. But hey, if you want to be a dolphin you gotta’ be around them right?

Don’t Let The Name Fool You
Let’s dispel some myths. A master’s swimmer isn’t exactly a master of the sport of swimming.


“A Master’s Swimmer is quite simply an adult that participates in a swimming program,” said Marcia Anziano, president of the Colorado Masters Swimming Association. Anziano said she started swimming in her 40s but she now competes on a national level. “There are participants who have been swimmers throughout their entire life, but by no means is that a prerequisite.”

Though Master’s Swim teams do engage in competition on the local, state and national levels, most teams are receptive to adults who want to engage in the swimming.

So guess what? If you’re swimming, even splashing around as an adult and you’re over the age of 18 then you’re a Master’s Swimmer. Didn’t even know that did you? So what about all that angst people expel about going to a master’s swimming class? Well, don’t get all egotistical. Your average master’s swimming class will be filled with adults who were good swimmers in their prime. So taking a master’s class won’t be a cakewalk. But it could help you improve your swimming.

The Need for Master’s
So why do you need a master’s class? Why not just swim on your own? Basically, when you attend a master’s class you get a wonderful workout. But more than that, in a good class, you can get personalized attention to your swim stroke. You can focus on technique.

“Most function on a specific schedule,” Anziano said. “They have one to two hours of pool time, have a coach on the deck to direct the workout and monitor the strokes of the swimmers. There is usually a specific cycle to the swimmer’s season and the workouts are planned to meet the requirements of this cycle.”

In addition to workouts, Anziano said a master’s class offers special clinics that usually focus on one specific stroke such as freestyle or on one specific topic, such as open water swimming. While all those are great, a master’s swim class can give a triathlete something he or she can’t get on their own – the chance to swim with real elites in a sport that may be a weak link. “To improve your speed, especially as an adult, you must not only train your body but you need to improve your technique and this comes from the coaching provided with a master’s team.”

What to Expect
So now that you know you don’t have to be Michael Phelps to join your local master’s class. What should you expect when you sign up? Most Master’s Swimming Classes meet two to three times a week. Each swim lane is focused on time. The slowest swimmers are usually in 2 min/100 m lane. Depending on the master’s swimming team the lane times could go down to as little as 1 min/100m. Don’t freak out if you can’t meet the minimum time. There is hope for you. With a little finesse you can be the slowest in the lane and still swim with the fishes while you improve.

“This is where lane etiquette is very important,” Anziano said. “Many swimmers new to swimming with others in the lane are unaware of proper lane etiquette. It is important to be aware of where you are and not to interfere with the flow of the lane. You can always ask the deck coach or someone in the lane for help.”  Once you’ve figured out what lane you fit into then you can pick a workout to do. Most Master’s Swimming Classes have a set workout each day. There will be a warm up, a main set and then a cool down. Don’t freak out if the sets seem longer than you’ve ever swam. Do what you can and over time you will improve.


Benefits of the Master’s
Now that you’ve got the logistics down let’s get to the mechanics. Just how can a master’s swimming class help you the lowly triathlete? Training with a master’s team can help improve:

  • Speed

  • Technique

  • Taste

On speed – Nothing will make you swim faster than someone swimming on your heels. Most master’s classes swim circular because of the number of people in one lane. You could be swimming with four, five even six people in a lane. Like an L.A. traffic jam, the lane will probably be bumper to bumper – or foot to foot. Stick it out for a few weeks. You’ll be surprised how much faster you get.

On technique – Nothing beats one-on-one attention. Even though your swim lane will be crowded, the coach of a master’s class can watch out for you if you ask. You can have him or her stand on deck and watch you as you swim. Then you can ask for personal feedback on your stroke from someone who knows that they’re talking about. Not your local gym rat!


On taste – Swimming with a master’s class can help you get a taste for the sport. It may help you like the sport better. Being around people who love swimming will make you at least appreciate its draw.


“It is amazing how much fun you can have with a group of people that share your same interests even though the majority of the time that you spend together is spent with your face in the water,” Anziano said.

So get thee to a master’s swimming class. You just might like it.


“I have to say that I think that master’s swimming has changed my life,” Anziano said. “And while I compete, not all master’s swimmers do. The majority of them are in the program for fitness and life. I would highly recommend that a beginning triathlete give a Master’s program a try.”
 

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date: February 28, 2005

infosteward

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avatarinfosteward

New biz venture for me check it out: writewaywriting.com
Literature - the big heavies - Wright, Shakespeare, Zora, etc.
Love movies, singing (Karaoke), traveling, swimming, dancing and playing all kinds of card games. Love good food, better wine and even better entertainment.
Help children in poverty. Sponsor a child today.
www.compassion.com

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