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letsrace
May 19th, 2009, 11:23 AM
Is it my imagination or is the smarter gender under represented in masters swimming. I would like to get some real numbers to confirm my observations. Forumites like Rick Osterberg, can you give some data about the ratio of men to women at USMS meets? Perhaps we could break it down by age group (I can hear the CPUs humming at Chris Stevenson's place all the way from up here in Mass).

If women are under represented, then I would like to discuss the causes of the imbalance and begin to work on improving the ratio.

JimRude
May 19th, 2009, 11:31 AM
Is it my imagination or is the smarter gender under represented in masters swimming. I would like to get some real numbers to confirm my observations. Forumites like Rick Osterberg, can you give some data about the ratio of men to women at USMS meets? Perhaps we could break it down by age group (I can hear the CPUs humming at Chris Stevenson's place all the way from up here in Mass).

If women are under represented, then I would like to discuss the causes of the imbalance and begin to work on improving the ratio.

It depends what you mean by "under-represented". At most masters meets that I attend, there are typically more men, but not dramatically so. Why? Good question.

However, when I look at Nationals, etc and I look at the number of male "re-treads" in their 30s, 40s and 50s (loosely classified as former National/NCAA-level competitors), it seems they dramatically outnumber the female re-treads. Why? Good question.

I think it is because the women are generally busy raising the family, while the men are off drinking, racing and carousing with their old buddies. Just my :2cents:.

Having said that, it appears that I have been able to convince my wife - a female re-tread - to resume competition, including Indy this summer. So I have done my small part...:cheerleader:

ourswimmer
May 19th, 2009, 11:53 AM
Is it my imagination or is the smarter gender under represented in masters swimming.

I think there are two parts to your question: (1) overall membership, and (2) people who compete regularly. The relationship between (1) and (2) could also be interesting, and different between men and women.


However, when I look at Nationals, etc and I look at the number of male "re-treads" in their 30s, 40s and 50s (loosely classified as former National/NCAA-level competitors), it seems they dramatically outnumber the female re-treads.

Maybe so. (Except for the Olympians whose names I recognize, I don't know who among my competitors is a "re-tread.") It's certainly true, though, that competition is more intense in both quality and quantity for women in the 40s than in the 20s and 30s, just as it is for men. You can see it in the meet results and in the Top Tens and event rankings.


If women are under represented, then I would like to discuss the causes of the imbalance and begin to work on improving the ratio.

I think the biggest reason has got to be historical. Probably the main predictor for entering a swim meet as a grownup is having been to many of them as a kid. And when you and I were kids, more boys than girls swam. Not as dramatically more as when people who are 80 today were kids, but still more. I understand that today, more girls than boys swim seriously, so maybe in 20 or 30 years the sex ratio among 40-50 year old swimmers will be different from what it is now.

Other factors over which we have present-day influence might also be at work, of course.

Jazz Hands
May 19th, 2009, 11:56 AM
If women are under represented, then I would like to discuss the causes of the imbalance and begin to work on improving the ratio.

Why?

letsrace
May 19th, 2009, 12:01 PM
Good point ourswimmer, but I just feel like I don't see very many women swimmers with whom I went to college coming back into the sport and I thought those numbers were more equitable. Perhaps that belief is wrong.

ourswimmer
May 19th, 2009, 12:13 PM
Good point ourswimmer, but I just feel like I don't see very many women swimmers with whom I went to college coming back into the sport and I thought those numbers were more equitable. Perhaps that belief is wrong.

I see what you mean. You seem to be asking a narrower question than the one I was addressing with my remark about history. Across the entire population of people who are now 40-ish, more men than women have childhood swimming experience (I think). But there ought to be about equal numbers of men and women who are now 40-ish and who competed in D1 20-ish years ago. So among those people, if more men than women return to serious swimming, the explanation for that imbalance can't be historical.

letsrace
May 19th, 2009, 12:15 PM
Why do I want to improve the ratio? To improve the aesthetics of Masters swimming, of course.

Seriously, what started me thinking about this was a discussion that I had with Jennifer Arndt (http://www.utladyvols.com/sports/w-swim/mtt/arndt_jennifer00.html) this past weekend. I mentioned that I thought that fewer women got back into (or got into) masters swimming and we were discussing the possible causes. Jen suggested the idea of hosting some masters meets targeted at women. I have often marveled at how successful the Danskin triathlon series has been at attracting women to compete in Tris, so I thought a women's only meet might also encourage more women to get into masters swimming.

Chris Stevenson
May 19th, 2009, 12:23 PM
Numbers from Clovis; I think they are pretty typical.

swimmieAvsFan
May 19th, 2009, 12:27 PM
I see what you mean. You seem to be asking a narrower question than the one I was addressing with my remark about history. Across the entire population of people who are now 40-ish, more men than women have childhood swimming experience (I think). But there ought to be about equal numbers of men and women who are now 40-ish and who competed in D1 20-ish years ago. So among those people, if more men than women return to serious swimming, the explanation for that imbalance can't be historical.

i know it's been mentioned somewhere on the forums before, about the whole mindset that it was bad (and unfeminine) for females to be competitive, so i think that might have something to do with it all...

case in point (although i know anecdotal evidence isn't all it's cracked up to be) is my masters team (terrapin masters in MD)... we have at least 2 groups of intervals at our workouts, grouped into the "A" and "B" practices. the "A" swimmers are almost all meet swimmers, with the "B" swimmers tending towards either open water or pure fitness... when you look at the gender breakdown between the two groups, the "A" group is just about exclusively men (with yours truly being the exception) and the "B" groups slightly favoring women...

again, that's just one team, but i'm wondering if other teams out there have similar breakdowns???

ourswimmer
May 19th, 2009, 12:33 PM
Numbers from Clovis; I think they are pretty typical.

I think we also need some graphs, and some calculations of statistical significance based on similar data from past years, adjusted of course for any disparities in population sex-ratio between the parts of the country that are within a four-hour nonstop flight of the meet venue and the parts of the country that require a change of planes. :D

Ahelee Sue Osborn
May 19th, 2009, 01:06 PM
I can only speak to my own experience as a masters coach and swimmer.

Until I started coaching, I was not very aware of the low numbers or smaller percentage of women in the masters swim workouts. The swimmers were just lane mates and training partners. I was looking for compatible athletes for pacing and fitness male or female.

But as a new coach, it became clear to me that female athletes (generally - not exclusively) need a coach who can not only challenge them, but communicate, inspire, and encourage.

It goes as well for some male athletes. Especially as they start up in a program or return from time off. But generally, male athletes are self-motivated or motivated by "trash-talk" among each other which is cool and it works.

Once a swimmer is set with lane mates or friends on the team, this responsibility becomes an effort shared between coach and the team of athletes.
I like to call it a team culture.

Some masters clubs have it and some do not.

Coaches who do not understand the concept of a great team culture (GTC) are probably impatient, burned out, not willing to spend minutes on deck outside the published workout times, have an agenda outside of building a great masters swim club.

Sometimes it is one coach within a team of coaches who is very good at this type of team building. This can work, but the team of coaches must actively communicate with each other regularly.
If your club is missing this type of coach, either find one and hire her/him right away - or create a group of swimmers within the team who can provide this type of consistent support.

Clubs grow and thrive with a great team culture. The club does not have to be large to have a GTC.

Female swimmers love a GTC - and a female coach on the coaching team can help balance and create a more welcoming atmosphere for them.

Ahelee
P.S.
This post has nothing to do with my own personal quest for all clubs to have a GTC!
:)

pwb
May 19th, 2009, 01:14 PM
Good point ourswimmer, but I just feel like I don't see very many women swimmers with whom I went to college coming back into the sport and I thought those numbers were more equitable. Perhaps that belief is wrong.

That's my anecdotal experience, as well.

What strikes me as odd, though, is that when I go to our gym, the number of women workout in almost every class, on every piece of equipment (save free weights), etc. seems to be (again, my perceptio) skewed towards women. Also, it seems that women have no problem racing/being competitive (as was mentioned before) in running and triathlons.

Ahelee Sue Osborn
May 19th, 2009, 01:27 PM
That's my anecdotal experience, as well.

What strikes me as odd, though, is that when I go to our gym, the number of women workout in almost every class, on every piece of equipment (save free weights), etc. seems to be (again, my perceptio) skewed towards women. Also, it seems that women have no problem racing/being competitive (as was mentioned before) in running and triathlons.

I just recently began coaching (swim only) a women's triathlon team in my area that is 100+ strong.

Very few of them actually swim on a masters swim club.
So obviously, women on a quest to get fit are out there.

The comaraderie on this team is unbelievable to see... even for me. The coach is incredibly special and she drives it.

I love and encourage this kind of thing within my own male/female masters swim club.
But what happens among the women in these groups and at the all-women triathlon & running races is unique.
Working with a team of coaches who share this great team culture philosophy is rewarding beyond measure for myself - and the athletes as well.

osterber
May 19th, 2009, 02:02 PM
Some data points from the New England SCY Champs over the past years:


2009: 380 women, 478 men
2008: 350 women, 412 men
2007: 393 women, 454 men
2006: 320 women, 387 men
2005: 336 women, 432 men
2004: 267 women, 354 men
2003: 315 women, 411 men
2002: 294 women, 381 men
2001: 233 women, 358 men


-Rick

osterber
May 19th, 2009, 02:08 PM
The linear fit for that is about:

men = 0.75 women + 165

http://tinyurl.com/o5fmfn

-Rick

quicksilver
May 19th, 2009, 02:57 PM
If women are under represented, then I would like to discuss the causes of the imbalance and begin to work on improving the ratio.

That may be a hard statistic to pin down.

Maybe there's an equal, if not greater number of female usms members, but they chose not to compete.
Our local masters team has twice as many ladies in the pool than men. Yet only 1 or 2 of the women attend the meets on a regular basis.

Maybe women are in this for the fitness aspect more than they are for the competition?

Chris Stevenson
May 19th, 2009, 02:58 PM
The linear fit for that is about:

men = 0.75 women + 165

So what you are saying is that, except for a minor offset -- blubber, I suppose -- a man is really worth about three-quarters of a woman.

Sounds about right...

letsrace
May 19th, 2009, 02:59 PM
I knew I could count on Chris and Rick. Nice work gents.

aquageek
May 19th, 2009, 03:13 PM
So what you are saying is that, except for a minor offset -- blubber, I suppose -- a man is really worth about three-quarters of a woman.

Sounds about right...

Alternatively, it takes over two women to equal one man. I didn't say that, yes I did, I don't mean it, I live with all women.

The Fortress
May 19th, 2009, 03:39 PM
If women are under represented, then I would like to discuss the causes of the imbalance ...

Mommy guilt.

aquageek
May 19th, 2009, 03:45 PM
I would agree with Fort, living with a Fort-esque person myself. And, I think men don't suffer with the guilt like the women do, it's certainly no problem for me to abandon my family without remorse.

The Fortress
May 19th, 2009, 03:47 PM
It's certainly no problem for me to abandon my family without remorse.

I'm getting better at this as I get older and the children become more ungrateful and selfish.

~Wren~
May 19th, 2009, 04:05 PM
Mommy guilt.

:agree: . . . and for some, swimsuit anxiety. I would have no problem hopping in the pool and heading off to meets if I were in better shape. For now though, I am plugging away at dropping pounds and regaining some strength in hopes of being back in "meet shape" next year.

eta: Fort, mini-me is almost three and seems to be doing a great job with ungrateful and selfish already - please tell me they go back to being cute and sweet for awhile before ungrateful and selfish comes back full force.

gobears
May 19th, 2009, 04:07 PM
Mommy guilt.

LOL. Sad, but so TRUE! That and the now-seemingly-required "helicopter parenting..."

hnatkin
May 19th, 2009, 04:12 PM
I'm also inclined to believe that parenthood has a lot to do with it. Several teammates and colleagues of mine have significantly cut back on their swimming/competing as a result of having kids. It's much easier to push a stroller while running or pull a kid on a bike trailer than to find child care while you're in the pool. Plus it takes longer to get in a swim workout than it does to go on a quick run, ride, or drop in for a fitness class (and fitness centers may have childcare).

Also, in the business world, I've seen research showing how women often wait longer than men to go for stretch jobs because they don't have the self-confidence that they are ready. Perhaps this translates into their thoughts about entering into meets and thinking they're not good enough to compete.

swimshark
May 19th, 2009, 04:12 PM
I would agree with Fort, living with a Fort-esque person myself. And, I think men don't suffer with the guilt like the women do, it's certainly no problem for me to abandon my family without remorse.

I'll 2nd Fort. If I didn't have the opportunity to practice at 4:30am, I don't know when I'd be able to practice. I select my meets based on when I feel like I can make my husband be alone with our 4 year old for the day. Some times, during a 2-day meet, this means I don't swim both days or I don't swim all my events, etc.

The Fortress
May 19th, 2009, 04:19 PM
eta: Fort, mini-me is almost three and seems to be doing a great job with ungrateful and selfish already - please tell me they go back to being cute and sweet for awhile before ungrateful and selfish comes back full force.

One of my kids was such a disaster at 3 that I wondered why I bothered to procreate ... However, she went back to being cute and lovable. The worst of it comes when they are teenagers. Of course, they spend so much time ignoring you in pursuit of their social life and selfish needs that you then have MUCH more time to ponder your own athletic endeavors!

The Fortress
May 19th, 2009, 04:23 PM
LOL. Sad, but so TRUE! That and the now-seemingly-required "helicopter parenting..."

All I can say is mommy guilt seems to abate somewhat as the years pass. As does the urge to engage in helicopter parenting type behavior. The latter is only counter-productive for your kids anyway (I think) because they are then less independent and less creative.

orca1946
May 19th, 2009, 04:38 PM
All things being equal - I WOULD LIKE TO LOOK MORE AT WOMEN THAN MEN!

gobears
May 19th, 2009, 04:54 PM
All I can say is mommy guilt seems to abate somewhat as the years pass. As does the urge to engage in helicopter parenting type behavior. The latter is only counter-productive for your kids anyway (I think) because they are then less independent and less creative.

That's a relief! I don't know when I'd swim if I didn't do the early morning/ before anyone is even awake thing either. I don't want to helicopter parent but the pressure to do so is sure annoying. As a part-time coach, it's annoying as well. Good god, you'd think that it's the end of the world if every kid doesn't get to swim every event they want to every single week. Sheesh...