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John C Smith
September 21st, 2009, 11:38 AM
Yet...... another comment on "elitism" in masters swimming. This ongoing battle of two imaginary groups....... the selfish former elite swimmers and the non elite counter parts.

Yes..... The Evil Smith and I have taken great pleasure throughout the last decade trying to secretly split USMS into these two groups. Our efforts to perpetuate this divide and fuel our intolerance for "learners" is now being undermined..... :-)

One Big Happy Family: Marcinkowski’s Masters
http://reachforthewall.com/2009/09/20/one-really-big-happy-family-curl-burke-masters/ (http://reachforthewall.com/2009/09/20/one-really-big-happy-family-curl-burke-masters/)

"Butcher, Zerkle and others say numbers have soared because Marcinkowski has tried to strip the elitism from masters swimming, often thought to be populated with former competitive stars who have little tolerance for learners."

Bobinator
September 21st, 2009, 11:41 AM
Who really cares? I don't know why this needs to be discussed. Enlighten me if I am wrong please. :blah:

I did enjoy your attached article. I swim on a team that is similar to the Curl-Burke Master's. If you're not happy with the attitude of your current team why not start a revolution and recruit more members that you wuld enjoy swimming with.

TRYM_Swimmer
September 21st, 2009, 11:51 AM
I think this is a very valid point for discussion. It's sometimes hard for us in our little town to recruit new members because they will say they are not good enough. We have a wide variety of abilities in our little team and once we get them to a practice or two, they see there is a place for them. The problem is getting them to come the first time. Some still won't go to meets, but, again, get them to one meet, swim a few relays, and they are hooked.

Is it marketing in general, or just individual situations?

John C Smith
September 21st, 2009, 11:56 AM
Who really cares? I don't know why this needs to be discussed. Enlighten me if I am wrong please.


Much a do about nothing.

Why it was mentioned in the article is unfortunate.


John Smith

pwb
September 21st, 2009, 12:04 PM
Given that the stats I've seen thrown around are that something like 10% (correct me if I'm wrong) of USMS swimmers compete, I don't think we have this elitism problem. I've trained with a number of teams around the country when traveling and I just don't get this vibe. I generally find a bunch of people of widely varying ability who are happy to be able to squeeze in a refreshing early morning swim, chat with their friends pre/post/during workout and stay in shape. Most of them are also pushing themselves in these workouts to get their heart rate up and their times down, whether they are going to race in a meet or not.

If coaches or clubs or other swimmers are creating that attitude at their pool, that's too bad. I admit to being in a place where I'm personally very intense about my swimming, but I hope that doesn't create a negative vibe where I train.

aquageek
September 21st, 2009, 12:10 PM
Our efforts to perpetuate this divide and fuel our intolerance for "learners" is now being undermined.

I think as long as the triathletes and learners are kept in the shallow end, all is ok.

thewookiee
September 21st, 2009, 12:53 PM
I think as long as the triathletes and learners are kept in the shallow end, all is ok.

Then what are you doing in the deep end?

cantwait4bike
September 21st, 2009, 02:09 PM
I think as long as the triathletes and learners are kept in the shallow end, all is ok.

I think as long as swimmers keep to the right on the road so we don't have run the bike up over their rear end, all is ok.

orca1946
September 21st, 2009, 02:15 PM
All will be taken into the fold Grasshopper!!
You only have to be faster than the slowest to not be eaten in the world of predators! :bolt:

aquageek
September 21st, 2009, 02:16 PM
I think as long as swimmers keep to the right on the road so we don't have run the bike up over their rear end, all is ok.

It's not the bike where we get caught, Einstein.

pwolf66
September 21st, 2009, 03:58 PM
It's not the bike where we get caught, Einstein.

Eating dinner in T1 gets me every time.

thewookiee
September 21st, 2009, 04:01 PM
Eating dinner in T1 gets me every time.

Dinner isn't what gets you in T1...

Kevin in MD
September 21st, 2009, 05:01 PM
Yet...... another comment on "elitism" in masters swimming.

The point is not whether or not you are elitist, whatever that means, the point is that is the image we give off intentional or not. If the organization wants to grow then we should put some thought into this.

Our own member survey showed that 58% of new swimmers worried that they would be too slow for masters, that number is significantly higher for non-competitive swimmers and triathletes.

http://www.usms.org/admin/surveys/May2006/coach_club_report.pdf

However, both here and on swiminfo in the past week I have seen talk about growing usms clubs. Rob quoted 11% growth in the past year, yet what no one has mentioned is that we started online registration last year. So the 11% isn't surprising at all, we lowered the hassle in signing up and more people started signing up.

JimRude
September 21st, 2009, 05:19 PM
What is the definition of "elitism" or an "elite" in masters swimming?

Are you an elite if you have one or more Top 10 times, National records, World records....?

Is elitism a negative behavioral or personality trait?

We inquiring non-elites want to know.

Paul Smith
September 21st, 2009, 05:51 PM
What is the definition of "elitism" or an "elite" in masters swimming?

Anyone who swam for Duke...

JimRude
September 21st, 2009, 06:08 PM
Anyone who swam for Duke...

Does Duke have a swimming team?

Chris Stevenson
September 21st, 2009, 06:09 PM
Anyone who swam for Duke...

Paul, yours is a common mistake, mistaking snobbery (describing dookie attitudes) and elite performance.

mattson
September 21st, 2009, 06:12 PM
Our own member survey showed that 58% of new swimmers worried that they would be too slow for masters, that number is significantly higher for non-competitive swimmers and triathletes.

That's not surprising. But it doesn't say whether that fear is rightfully earned or not.

That's kind of like the surveys that report a ridiculously high percentage of people in the US who don't believe in the theory of evolution. Besides the fact that the conclusions being reported may not match what was actually being asked, the survey results don't mean that evolution is wrong. It shows that a lot of people are misinformed about the issue.

John C Smith
September 21st, 2009, 06:59 PM
What is the definition of "elitism" or an "elite" in masters swimming?

There are none. It's just masters swimming.

aquageek
September 21st, 2009, 07:08 PM
Does Duke have a swimming team?

Yes, a friend's son swims for them at present.

Dook still sucks, however, in all aspects.

Syd
September 21st, 2009, 07:58 PM
Does Duke have a swimming team?

Isn't Shaq from Duke? And he beat Phelps you know...

mindy
September 21st, 2009, 08:19 PM
Elitism and Masters swimming is an oxymoron.

thewookiee
September 21st, 2009, 08:21 PM
Isn't Shaq from Duke? And he beat Phelps you know...

Please, don't insult the SEC. Shaq is a proud graduate of the LSU Tigers.

Chris Stevenson
September 21st, 2009, 08:38 PM
Isn't Shaq from Duke?

Please! All Duke bball players are whiny little boys. The mind just boggles at the thought of Shaq in their company. My mind begins to unravel at the image of Coach K trying to teach Shaq to flop properly.

slknight
September 21st, 2009, 08:39 PM
Yes, a friend's son swims for them at present.

Dook still sucks, however, in all aspects.

I think my fellow Dook haters will appreciate this article. Check out #2.

http://men.style.com/gq/features/landing?id=content_10779

Of course it pleases me to no end that UVA is also on the list. :agree:

carlos_fernandez
September 21st, 2009, 09:07 PM
Between 2000 and 2004, the Curl-Burke Masters Swimming team languished. It was home to between seven and 26 swimmers during that five-year span. At the time, Marcinkowski thought it was flatly ridiculous that his masters group in swimming, a true sport for life, could not attract more athletes in the swim-crazy Greater Washington region.

Yet he understood the club’s reputation for imperious and unwelcoming athletes.
I was in DC btw X-mas and New Years in 2004 or 2005 and wanted to work out. I stayed about 10 minutes from Curl Burke's pool, so I figured I could work out there no problem. I went to website to check up on drop-in swims, and was immediately turned off.

They essentially discouraged drop-ins b/c they were a serious club w/ serious swimmers and the coach needed to be appraised of the exact workout(s) you were going to attend at least one week in advance and your level and your times and...

Overall it just seemed like somebody needed to just chill the **** out over there.

They shouldn't have been surprised by their pathetic numbers.

Kinda bummed they've got their numbers up. I got beat in the 200 breast at Indi by a C-B swimmer. If he hadn't been there, I would have dropped the 400 IM and gone for the number 1, but nooooooo.

Paul Smith
September 22nd, 2009, 11:49 AM
I was in DC btw X-mas and New Years in 2004 or 2005 and wanted to work out. I stayed about 10 minutes from Curl Burke's pool, so I figured I could work out there no problem. I went to website to check up on drop-in swims, and was immediately turned off.

They essentially discouraged drop-ins b/c they were a serious club w/ serious swimmers and the coach needed to be appraised of the exact workout(s) you were going to attend at least one week in advance and your level and your times and...

Overall it just seemed like somebody needed to just chill the **** out over there.

They shouldn't have been surprised by their pathetic numbers.

Kinda bummed they've got their numbers up. I got beat in the 200 breast at Indi by a C-B swimmer. If he hadn't been there, I would have dropped the 400 IM and gone for the number 1, but nooooooo.

I can't speak to this Club's policies but can say now that I'm spending a significant amount of time on "the other side" getting the Mesa team up and running there may be more to it than what the website would leave you to believe.

Again...I don't know the details of Curl-Burke but one major issue in masters is the liability we as coaches/teams incure when someone "drops in". If CB is using the USMS insurance exclusively then they have a pre set format that must be followed to make sure a visitor is covered and it usually is much easier if that is completed before you arive on deck when the coach is trying to get a workout up and running. In case your curious her is how one team does and does it very well: http://www.indyswimfit.com/documents/forms/30daywaiver.pdf

We have taken a slightly different approach at MAC...we are a USMS insured club but we have also taken out a secondary "3rd party" policy that pretty much covers the gaps in the USMS coverage (you will never know till you are sued, however our 3rd party waiver has already been successful in court in another state). For example we can have kids under 18 train with us...something we wanted to do because we are working with the age group team to do a 1-2x a month "family" workout. I know USMS is working on improving its coverage and incorporating some basic certifications for coaches, all of which is a good thing.

I brought up the concerns I had with liability on an earlier thread and have since gotten even more freaked out to see how little attention is paid to the issue not just by clubs/coaches but also athletes. So I would ask anyone who is interested in visiting a team to not just rush to judgement when you see some simple requirments in place...call or email the coach for a better explanation.

carlos_fernandez
September 22nd, 2009, 12:06 PM
I can't speak to this Club's policies but can say now that I'm spending a significant amount of time on "the other side" getting the Mesa team up and running there may be more to it than what the website would leave you to believe.

Again...I don't know the details of Curl-Burke but one major issue in masters is the liability we as coaches/teams incure when someone "drops in". If CB is using the USMS insurance exclusively then they have a pre set format that must be followed to make sure a visitor is covered and it usually is much easier if that is completed before you arive on deck when the coach is trying to get a workout up and running. In case your curious her is how one team does and does it very well: http://www.indyswimfit.com/documents/forms/30daywaiver.pdf

We have taken a slightly different approach at MAC...we are a USMS insured club but we have also taken out a secondary "3rd party" policy that pretty much covers the gaps in the USMS coverage (you will never know till you are sued, however our 3rd party waiver has already been successful in court in another state). For example we can have kids under 18 train with us...something we wanted to do because we are working with the age group team to do a 1-2x a month "family" workout. I know USMS is working on improving its coverage and incorporating some basic certifications for coaches, all of which is a good thing.

I brought up the concerns I had with liability on an earlier thread and have since gotten even more freaked out to see how little attention is paid to the issue not just by clubs/coaches but also athletes. So I would ask anyone who is interested in visiting a team to not just rush to judgement when you see some simple requirments in place...call or email the coach for a better explanation.

Thank you for the very thorough explanation! It's nice to hear from an admin perspective, and I can see quite clearly how liability is a concern. :)

I guess I hadn't really heard that perspective as much as coaches and board members complaining about drop-in swimmers are difficult to manage logistically (pay in cash? check? who holds the money? does the money ever get to the club?) or that many swimmers over-use drop-ins so as to avoid making a commitment to the club and paying monthly dues.

Having said that, the tone and wording of the drop-in policy as stated at the time clearly made it seem like Curl-Burke was only for serious swimmers, which is what the coach said in the article.

Paul Smith
September 22nd, 2009, 12:27 PM
I guess I hadn't really heard that perspective as much as coaches and board members complaining about drop-in swimmers are difficult to manage logistically (pay in cash? check? who holds the money? does the money ever get to the club?) or that many swimmers over-use drop-ins so as to avoid making a commitment to the club and paying monthly dues.

Carlos...no doubt those are factors as well, especially for teams that are maxed out on lane space/members (not a bad problem to have in some cases). There is no doubt that in some cases the people who want to utilize drop-in's "cost" more than they make a club...which is why see some teams raise that fee quite a bit or try to discourage the practice.

Funny story about that, we have a "new" swimmer that only wants to pay the drop in fee to save money even though they want us to help them prepare for an Ironman event coming up which cost them several hundred dollars for the entry fee...

gull
September 22nd, 2009, 12:29 PM
I was in DC two years ago and swam with Curl-Burke at American University. I did email the coach before my trip (the website says it is desirable to do so, but not required). They were extremely nice--would recommend highly if you are in the area.

aquageek
September 22nd, 2009, 12:59 PM
Having said that, the tone and wording of the drop-in policy as stated at the time clearly made it seem like Curl-Burke was only for serious swimmers, which is what the coach said in the article.

Tone is easily misinterpreted in writing. But, I don't have a problem with stating a USMS workout is for serious swimmers because it is. Even our least competitive level requires very good swimming skills. I think it probably conveys that you need to be able to swim and swim well. I'm not sure how many people just drop in for a noodle splash anyway so it can't be that off-putting.

With the exception of one club, I've never had any coach discourage me from dropping in during my travels. Most have been very welcoming.

SLOmmafan
September 22nd, 2009, 01:11 PM
Perhaps I am going way to far out on a limb here, but the very name by which we all go "Master's swimming" has a certain elitist ring to it. I know a lot of non-swimmers assume you need to be "masterful" in your swimming abilities, or otherwise an ex-elite swimmer to compete (kinda like The Masters in the PGA).

carlos_fernandez
September 22nd, 2009, 01:18 PM
Tone is easily misinterpreted in writing.
Maybe. But it was abundantly clear that they were pimping their IronMan triathletes and serious swimmers. I didn't get any "all levels welcome".

Again. I'm just giving my impression, which was confirmed in the article. The coach said that they had that reputation in the area. Given what I saw on the website 5 years ago, it doesn't surprise me.


With the exception of one club, I've never had any coach discourage me from dropping in during my travels. Most have been very welcoming.
I've never had a problem when traveling either. That's why it just struck me the way it was worded.

The only problem I've had w/ drop-in was when I had a shoulder injury and the doc said I should only swim 2x/month. I had stopped swimming entirely a few months b4 so I stopped paying dues during the injury. When I approached my local club about it, they refused b/c they have a zero tolerance for drop-ins. Not even for injuries.

I was stunned.

So I found another team w/ a nice coach (Brian Stack) and swam w/ them. I supported the team w/ about $3,000 in dues over 5 years.

TRYM_Swimmer
September 22nd, 2009, 01:22 PM
Please, don't insult the SEC. Shaq is a proud graduate of the LSU Tigers.

The SkipEducationConference insults itself every day!

Tim L
September 22nd, 2009, 04:40 PM
"Butcher, Zerkle and others say numbers have soared because Marcinkowski has tried to strip the elitism from masters swimming, often thought to be populated with former competitive stars who have little tolerance for learners."

I thought it was interesting that Curl was able to grow so much in a short amount of time. However, I doubt it has much to do with the lack of elitism. Maybe the lack of elitism from the new coach allowed them to combine with the local triathlete training group whereas the prior coach wasn't as open minded. Many masters groups in Colorado are comprised of mostly triathletes and fitness swimmers, not USMS swim competitors. Open door policies are the rule, not the exception so I don't understand how Curl's lack of elitism really helped them produce results better than the many other teams that do the same thing. I would guess that Curl has to be doing something else very well and it would be interesting to know what other factors have contributed to their growth.

You never know how these articles get written, but you would think that Rob Butcher would be a bit more careful in how he is quoted. Some of the people I have seen take the most time, provide the most encouragement, and have the most patience with beginners and triathletes in the pool and outside the pool are some of the "elites" in our sport. We see it every day in this forum. I think the "elitism" angle to this article is silly especially coming from USMS leadership. The real angle seems to be partnering with other training groups and possibly some other things that failed to even get mentioned.

Tim

scyfreestyler
September 22nd, 2009, 05:00 PM
I was in DC two years ago and swam with Curl-Burke at American University. I did email the coach before my trip (the website says it is desirable to do so, but not required). They were extremely nice--would recommend highly if you are in the area.

Gull, surely you would agree that an elite swimmer such as yourself is always going to be given preferential treatment at these high level swim clubs, no? :cool:

Ripple
September 22nd, 2009, 07:36 PM
...Even our least competitive level requires very good swimming skills. I think it probably conveys that you need to be able to swim and swim well...
How well? Numerous times newbies have posted here asking for advice, and usually at least one person will urge them to "Join a masters club". Someone new to swimming could be too intimidated to come out if the bar is set really high, and they might very well see it as elitist.
Perhaps if a masters clubs only wants very good swimmers, they should also offer an introductory program for people who don't yet come up to the standard required for their regular workouts.

Muppet
September 22nd, 2009, 08:07 PM
If the 80% "non-elite" swimmers think there is a problem of elite vs. non-elite masters, i'd say there is a problem.

Paul Smith
September 22nd, 2009, 08:15 PM
Perhaps if a masters clubs only wants very good swimmers, they should also offer an introductory program for people who don't yet come up to the standard required for their regular workouts.

Exactly!

I know that some of the better clubs out there offer (and market) adult learn to swim, private and semi-private instruction and steer these folks into these programs. Dallas is an example of a team that does a VERY good job: http://www.damswim.com/instruction.htm

aquageek
September 22nd, 2009, 08:23 PM
How well? Numerous times newbies have posted here asking for advice, and usually at least one person will urge them to "Join a masters club". Someone new to swimming could be too intimidated to come out if the bar is set really high, and they might very well see it as elitist.
Perhaps if a masters clubs only wants very good swimmers, they should also offer an introductory program for people who don't yet come up to the standard required for their regular workouts.

Good points. I contend that it is a rare occurrence for someone with zero swimming experience to want to join a Masters team. Most true newbies will start with adult lessons before stepping up to a team setting.

While I agree all USMS clubs should be welcoming, someone who can't swim a 100 should probably take lessons first. Otherwise the coach can't coach the entire team. Most large clubs (like ours) and many Ys offer adult lessons for true adult beginners.

nyswimmer
September 22nd, 2009, 10:42 PM
Perhaps I am going way to far out on a limb here, but the very name by which we all go "Master's swimming" has a certain elitist ring to it. I know a lot of non-swimmers assume you need to be "masterful" in your swimming abilities, or otherwise an ex-elite swimmer to compete (kinda like The Masters in the PGA).

I don't think you're going out on a limb. I was once told by a triathlete, in all seriousness, that there had to be some kind of qualification standard to join USMS; he thought that you had to have been on a college team.. He insisted that I was wrong when I said there wasn't (which I thought was amusing since I'm a member and he's not).

Chris Stevenson
September 22nd, 2009, 10:53 PM
Masters swimming is intimidating to those who pick it up as adults. Generally even the slow lanes swim fast compared to a typical lap swimmer, and the workouts are hard if you aren't used to them. Throw in the jargon too, which can be confusing, plus the fact that the regulars all know each other. And have green hair.

With such barriers, it doesn't take much to come off as unfriendly to newbies. Just showing up and minding your own business -- ie, trying to get in a good workout, or a coach who is preoccupied with getting everyone else going -- may be enough to come off that way. It takes special effort to bridge that gap.

mattson
September 23rd, 2009, 11:26 AM
It's too late now, but in olden times, a boy would be called "master" until they were old enough to be called "mister". :blah: But I don't think I would want to be part of an organization called Misters (or Misses) Swimmers.

John C Smith
September 23rd, 2009, 06:34 PM
If the 80% "non-elite" swimmers think there is a problem of elite vs. non-elite masters, i'd say there is a problem.

Baloney.

First of all....... none of us is young enough or good enough to be elite anymore..... :-)

Secondly, I have never encountered a old ex-national finalist swimmer trying to make a new masters swimmer uncomfortable or unwelcome.


John Smith

rtodd
September 23rd, 2009, 08:57 PM
Chris:


Masters swimming is intimidating to those who pick it up as adults. Generally even the slow lanes swim fast compared to a typical lap swimmer, and the workouts are hard if you aren't used to them. Throw in the jargon too, which can be confusing, plus the fact that the regulars all know each other. And have green hair.

With such barriers, it doesn't take much to come off as unfriendly to newbies. Just showing up and minding your own business -- ie, trying to get in a good workout, or a coach who is preoccupied with getting everyone else going -- may be enough to come off that way. It takes special effort to bridge that gap.

I started from absolutely zero four years ago and you are right it is intimidating. But I'm grateful it was/is not "dumbed" down, because I wanted the challenge. If I didn't walk into the pool and see crazy IM sets and fast swimming I might have looked for something else to do. You are right, it takes special effort to bridge the gap.

scyfreestyler
September 23rd, 2009, 11:43 PM
Baloney.

First of all....... none of us is young enough or good enough to be elite anymore..... :-)

Secondly, I have never encountered a old ex-national finalist swimmer trying to make a new masters swimmer uncomfortable or unwelcome.


John Smith

Trying to make them feel uncomfortable? I am sure that would be a very rare case but unintentional probably happens far more frequently.

dorothyrde
September 24th, 2009, 07:20 AM
Good points. I contend that it is a rare occurrence for someone with zero swimming experience to want to join a Masters team. Most true newbies will start with adult lessons before stepping up to a team setting.

While I agree all USMS clubs should be welcoming, someone who can't swim a 100 should probably take lessons first. Otherwise the coach can't coach the entire team. Most large clubs (like ours) and many Ys offer adult lessons for true adult beginners.

I agree. I followed this exact route as an adult. I took adult lessons, then worked on my own about 4 months to build up some stamina and skill before I joined the Masters group. Even then I was the slowest person, and had to skip sets and such for a while.

I find going to meets intimidating. Once I am there, not intimidated, but the thought of going, I don't feel I belong at them because I am not very fast compared to others in my age group. So for me, it is not worth the effort to spend a day driving 2 hours away. So I don't go.

carlos_fernandez
September 24th, 2009, 08:25 AM
Trying to make them feel uncomfortable? I am sure that would be a very rare case but unintentional probably happens far more frequently.
Honestly, their level makes novices feel uncomfortable.

Most ex-serious swimmers are just happy to be able to swim for fun w/o the pressure of a coach or team counting on them and yelling at them. They truly have a lot in common w/ novices. I think this attitude does get projected, but the speed of the top swimmers is what intimidates beginners.

__steve__
September 24th, 2009, 09:31 AM
I'm hoping to be intimidated, or looked down as a beginner wanker, that's what drives me.

When I get good if all goes well, I will do the same

John C Smith
September 24th, 2009, 10:49 AM
Honestly, their level makes novices feel uncomfortable.

Most ex-serious swimmers are just happy to be able to swim for fun w/o the pressure of a coach or team counting on them and yelling at them. They truly have a lot in common w/ novices. I think this attitude does get projected, but the speed of the top swimmers is what intimidates beginners.

Agreed..... many ex-serious swimmers are indeed happy to just be able to swim for fun, excercise and commaraderie.

but... just because a new swimmer feels the talent in the pool or the workout/agenda is competitive or daunting, doesn't mean there exists elitism by ex-serious swimmers.

ande
September 24th, 2009, 11:00 AM
I welcome non elite swimmers in practice and at meets.
Swimming is about personal health & self improvement.

Everybody can swim faster faster

aquageek
September 24th, 2009, 11:10 AM
Agreed..... many ex-serious swimmers are indeed happy to just be able to swim for fun, excercise and commaraderie.

but... just because a new swimmer feels the talent in the pool or the workout/agenda is competitive or daunting, doesn't mean there exists elitism by ex-serious swimmers.

Totally agree. Over the years I have invited scores of newer swimmers (not folks who can't swim but folks who want to swim better) to USMS workouts. Without exception they all state, "I'm not good enough." When they discover that there are typically 3 or more workouts written for all levels they seem pleased and are more inclined to give it a try.

What is more interesting is why newer swimmers leave USMS teams. Here are the reasons I've heard:

1. Cost (red herring to me)
2. Work/family/time of day
3. Just decided swimming wasn't their thing and couldn't stay regular, which totally kills your swimming.
4. Wookie's advances in the locker room.
5. Runners have a terrible time sticking with it because they can't get the breathing right (have others seen this?).

John C Smith
September 24th, 2009, 11:24 AM
Geek,

Runners are interesting to watch in the pool. The two sports may be great for general cross training and cardio purposes, but they never seem to translate into direct improvements from one to the other. How so many great runners can be so pathetic with a kick board is interesting..... the reverse (swimmers who run) doesn't seem quite as bad.

aquageek
September 24th, 2009, 11:29 AM
Runners are interesting to watch in the pool. The two sports may be great for general cross training and cardio purposes, but they never seem to translate into direct improvements from one to the other. How so many great runners can be so pathetic with a kick board is interesting..... the reverse (swimmers who run) doesn't seem quite as bad.

I think you are dead on with this. I do think that running has helped me on distance events purely from a cardio/endurance perspective. Alternatively, running turns ankles into boards which is not good for swimming. Running is also the magic bullet for weight loss and weight loss can benefit swimming.

pwb
September 24th, 2009, 11:52 AM
Back to the original topic of this thread, I don't think there's any greater elitism in Masters' swimming than any other organized adult athletics, especially for newbies. It's the internal reaction of newbies more often that creates this feeling than the external actions of the existing 'players.' For example ...


I feel intimidated when I walk into a free weight gym, not because the muscleheads there say anything or do anything more than ... well, looking like they know what they're doing. I still lift my girly-man weights, though, because that's what I came for.
I did one triathlon years ago, setting up my mountain bike and Sports Authority-cheap running shoes in the transition area next to all the hi-tech bikes, shoes, tri-outfits, energy gels, etc. ... all the while overhearing tri-jargon that I couldn't make heads or tails of. No one paid me any attention, but, sure, I felt intimidated about the upcoming bike & run. I still did it and had fun ... came out of the water right behind Kurt Dickson and then proceeded to get passed by practically every man, woman and child on the bike and run legs.

The point is this: if you go into a new sport, you're bound to feel somewhat intimidated because of your own lack of knowledge and experience. I think it's rare, though, that the others experienced in that sport will go out of their way to pile on that feeling. It's your own issue, not others.

Ahelee Sue Osborn
September 24th, 2009, 01:38 PM
Last night I spoke about masters swimming and my triathlon experience to the largest triathlon club here in Orange County, CA.

Afterwards one of the members came up to me and introduced himself. Told me he saw me at the Nadadores pool coaching often since he swims in the lap swim lanes utilized by our neighboring YMCA.

I asked him why he didn't swim with the masters group or at least give our free workouts a try.
He explained there was no way he could hang with the swimmers in the masters workout lanes. That he had watched all the world class athletes, the butterfly, flipturns and felt it would be impossible.

When I explained about the "Cruiser Lanes" at the other end of the pool full of novice athletes he was stunned. Said he never noticed those swimmers.

The fact is, 50-75% of the swimmers in masters clubs are novice and or fitness swimmers. Some teams may be a bit more or less.

Coaches need to be out there, aware, and very involved in the promotion of the sport and their own clubs.

No one else can explain it better than the masters swim coach who works with 5 different levels of ability at the same time, in every single workout. And makes it nicely flow...

Allen Stark
September 24th, 2009, 01:40 PM
Back to the original topic of this thread, I don't think there's any greater elitism in Masters' swimming than any other organized adult athletics, especially for newbies. It's the internal reaction of newbies more often that creates this feeling than the external actions of the existing 'players.' For example ...


I feel intimidated when I walk into a free weight gym, not because the muscleheads there say anything or do anything more than ... well, looking like they know what they're doing. I still lift my girly-man weights, though, because that's what I came for.
I did one triathlon years ago, setting up my mountain bike and Sports Authority-cheap running shoes in the transition area next to all the hi-tech bikes, shoes, tri-outfits, energy gels, etc. ... all the while overhearing tri-jargon that I couldn't make heads or tails of. No one paid me any attention, but, sure, I felt intimidated about the upcoming bike & run. I still did it and had fun ... came out of the water right behind Kurt Dickson and then proceeded to get passed by practically every man, woman and child on the bike and run legs.

The point is this: if you go into a new sport, you're bound to feel somewhat intimidated because of your own lack of knowledge and experience. I think it's rare, though, that the others experienced in that sport will go out of their way to pile on that feeling. It's your own issue, not others.

Well said.In my work I am constantly counseling people to exercise.Being intimidated by others is a common excuse.Just being in a a swimsuit is intimidating for many newbies.

That Guy
September 24th, 2009, 04:32 PM
I'm not sure where it comes from, but there is a widespread notion that you have to be "really fast" to swim Masters. Newbies and ex-swimmers both think this, though the newbies do not actually know what "really fast" means. A few times each year I get asked by random people if I'm a professional swimmer. I'm not saying that to brag - I'm nowhere near the level where I could ever get paid to swim, but the newbies have probably never seen an elite swimmer in person, so they don't know.

Allen Stark
September 24th, 2009, 05:19 PM
There is a very wide dispersion of swimming ability levels.Watch lap swimmers at any pool and you can easily tell those who have any competitive background(and that is the swimmers,not the talkers,frolickers or noodlers.)Given this I can see why someone who doesn't swim smoothly might be intimidated by one who does.

quicksilver
September 24th, 2009, 06:00 PM
We recently had a few new people decide to get registered so they could sign up for some meets this Fall.

I told one guy that if there a dozen heats of the 50 free (a very popular event)...that the first eight or so would be filled with people from all ages and abilities. I would guess that only 10 or 15% are considered "the elite"...whatever that means. ....Maybe those who do really well?.

Sure there are experienced swimmers at the meets, but they seem to be way outnumbered by more everyday average folks who are there to have fun. Not once have we witnessed a better than thou attitude.

Maybe this kind of behavior is more noticeable at the bigger meets?

aquageek
September 24th, 2009, 06:02 PM
Not once have we witnessed a better than thou attitude.

Have you met the Smiths?

ViveBene
September 24th, 2009, 06:27 PM
Not sure what the Main Idea (or Author's Message) of this thread is, so I'll throw in my :2cents: :
Fortunately, all the Masters coaches I talked to when I sought out workouts made a point of saying I didn't have to be fast or good or a "master" of anything. That was helpful. And they've all taken special care with the not-so-good and not-so-fast.
Recently I started weights and horrible equipment the Fortress's way: walked into the gym, said "What's this for?" and got some ideas.
Life is way too short to be intimidated into not trying something. At least once you're past the teen years and ruthless peers.
:D

notsofast
September 24th, 2009, 07:21 PM
You guys crack me up. Check out the link:
define: master - Google Search

Why on earth would someone think you had to be fast to be a master's swimmer?

funkyfish
September 25th, 2009, 09:02 AM
Sure there are experienced swimmers at the meets, but they seem to be way outnumbered by more everyday average folks who are there to have fun.
Also like to point out that it's been my experience that many of the experienced swimmers are also there to have fun, myself included. The only time I see "not fun" as a facial expression is on the starting blocks. Even then, I see many experienced swimmers trying a new event or new stroke, and at least for myself I have a smile on my face because I don't have any previous time to measure up to.
:banana:

quicksilver
September 25th, 2009, 09:37 AM
many of the experienced swimmers are also there to have fun, myself included.

Absolutely.

The game faces behind the blocks can be rather intimidating though. Fun or no fun.
I've seen people in their black apparel, all jacked on andrenaline, hufffing and puffing, swinging their arms, jiggling their legs.


That'll put the fear into any newbie for sure. :)


But wait, ...isn't that what most swimmers do afteralll? Elitism might be confused with being serious minded about one's performance.

aquageek
September 25th, 2009, 10:42 AM
Swimming is no different than any other adult endeavor for fitness, you wonder how you will fit in or if you are good enough. You look at the Cat for a group ride. You ask about the skill level of the other players for a basketball league. You want to know the handicap expected for a golf tourney. Are you church league softball teammates all ex-collegiate players? There is always some apprehension about joining a new group and 99% of the time that is the fault of the participant, not the team. Most adult fitness groups are overjoyed to have new members.

Lump
September 25th, 2009, 02:51 PM
Yet...... another comment on "elitism" in masters swimming. This ongoing battle of two imaginary groups....... the selfish former elite swimmers and the non elite counter parts.

Yes..... The Evil Smith and I have taken great pleasure throughout the last decade trying to secretly split USMS into these two groups. Our efforts to perpetuate this divide and fuel our intolerance for "learners" is now being undermined..... :-)

One Big Happy Family: Marcinkowski’s Masters
http://reachforthewall.com/2009/09/20/one-really-big-happy-family-curl-burke-masters/ (http://reachforthewall.com/2009/09/20/one-really-big-happy-family-curl-burke-masters/)

"Butcher, Zerkle and others say numbers have soared because Marcinkowski has tried to strip the elitism from masters swimming, often thought to be populated with former competitive stars who have little tolerance for learners."

This is the #1 reason I now train myself/train alone. I was once a former world class swimmer, but that is beside the point. I'm now 38, slow (at least I think so), and its not ALL about the competition. Its unfortunate that the Master's coach in my area is way too pompous for my taste.

I've actually thought about starting my own team based on the Curl-Burke model. Finding folks is not the problem, for me all the other logistical things are. I've coached kids from 4-18 yrs old back in my 20's so I definitely have the patience and knowledge to teach any level of newbie or experience swimmer.

Bobinator
September 25th, 2009, 03:20 PM
Lots of people I know like the idea of a "master's team" but when it comes down to swimming FREQUENTLY enough to be able to survive a proper workout they just can't cut it. I think that's why many people turn to open lap swim where they control their own distance and pace.
In the winter our team has all 8 lanes for 1 hour. There is always 1 lane where members can lap swim if they want. It's a little crazier in the summer; we usually only have 3 or 4 lanes. Somehow no matter how crowded it is in the the wall lane turns into a lap lane and the "proper workout" group is squeezed into 2 lanes. (although it is 50 meters)
Most of the 'lap" people never swim in meets but they are great participants in other aspects of the club. (fund raising, partying, having fun) :angel:

Ripple
September 25th, 2009, 03:55 PM
I recently joined a masters club & am finding it a bit disappointing in some ways.
First, because the bulkhead is always up (dividing the pool into two 25m pools), and the whole reason I joined this particular club was that the sessions were held in a 50m pool. If I'd known, I probably would have just joined up with the master-type class at the YWCA, registered as an "unattached" and saved my money.
Second, because there doesn't seem to be any actual coaching in the form of stroke correction so far, just workouts. (It is only three weeks so far, admittedly.)
Third, because the intervals are really short and for the most part not very strenuous. I find the kick sets strenuous, but not the actual swimming. The one night there was a tougher one - 200m on 4:00, which is eye-balls out for me - I couldn't swim continuously because there were always people clinging to the wall or bulkhead at the end of each length. I'd have to wait for them to leave, let them get a few meters out, then start the next length. Flip turns, not that I do them well anyway, are impossible in this situation. Supposedly, the ability to swim 200m continuously is the only swim requirement for joining this club, but I suspect there are a few people in my group who don't quite meet it.
I don't know if I should move up to the next fastest group and use fins for the kick sets, or just insist on going ahead of the two swimmers in my current group who are slower than me. The others seem to be about the same speed as me.
I'm sort of hoping they take us aside at some point and ask what our individual goals are, because this doesn't seem to be great training for moving up to 5k distance in open water, which is what I'm hoping to do.
Not having any experience with swim clubs, I have no idea if this club is typical or not.

BigNoodler
September 25th, 2009, 04:19 PM
Yet...... another comment on "elitism" in masters swimming. This ongoing battle of two imaginary groups....... the selfish former elite swimmers and the non elite counter parts.



Then I'm really in the dead zone being a former non elite who really enjoys pushing myself and competing now.

Unfortunately, after about 10 years of masters experience all over the country, I've found these things in masters:

No coach on deck with perhaps a written workout if you're lucky
No stroke or technique instruction
Workouts geared towards triathletes
Very little speed work or quality work
Minimal kick sets
Lack of pool time and/ or space for masters
No SDK work
Lack of variation in workouts. For example, there is warm up always followed by a pull set followed by a fin set
No instruction for weight or dryland programs

It has been very challenging to excel as a non-elite with these kind of workouts and the attitude that everyone seems to have of, "Oh, it's just masters." I see the opposite issue in that one is labeled as "too serious" or "too uptight" if you actually want to consistently do workouts geared for your specific goals. Just sayin'

And yes, there are many positives that I don't need to name here, but its been a huge process to get what I need. I can see why masters can seem overwhelming to many.

nkfrench
September 25th, 2009, 04:23 PM
I recently joined a masters club & am finding it a bit disappointing in some ways.
First, because the bulkhead is always up (dividing the pool into two 25m pools), and the whole reason I joined this particular club was that the sessions were held in a 50m pool. If I'd known, I probably would have just joined up with the master-type class at the YWCA, registered as an "unattached" and saved my money.
Second, because there doesn't seem to be any actual coaching in the form of stroke correction so far, just workouts. (It is only three weeks so far, admittedly.)
Third, because the intervals are really short and for the most part not very strenuous. I find the kick sets strenuous, but not the actual swimming. The one night there was a tougher one - 200m on 4:00, which is eye-balls out for me - I couldn't swim continuously because there were always people clinging to the wall or bulkhead at the end of each length. I'd have to wait for them to leave, let them get a few meters out, then start the next length. Flip turns, not that I do them well anyway, are impossible in this situation. Supposedly, the ability to swim 200m continuously is the only swim requirement for joining this club, but I suspect there are a few people in my group who don't quite meet it.
I don't know if I should move up to the next fastest group and use fins for the kick sets, or just insist on going ahead of the two swimmers in my current group who are slower than me. The others seem to be about the same speed as me.
I'm sort of hoping they take us aside at some point and ask what our individual goals are, because this doesn't seem to be great training for moving up to 5k distance in open water, which is what I'm hoping to do.
Not having any experience with swim clubs, I have no idea if this club is typical or not.

My experiences are...
* Our pool is set up long course April through August when training for long-course meets. September through March the bulkhead is in to train for short-course meets and to make life easier since we share with high school teams that only swim short-course. It also provides more lanespace short-course and it's easier to manage a group with diverse skill levels.
* Most coaches will vary workouts over the course of a season. Early fall is generally a time to work on establishing an endurance base. Later on the swimmers will add more intensity and work on racing skills.
* Even within a club the coaching can vary depending on who is filling the coach position. Each coach will have his own philosophy; or maybe the club is searching for a replacement coach and "making do" with a warm body on deck. Some new/younger coaches can be very intimidated with adults who question and negotiate each set.
* Be polite but assertive about taking your proper position in the correct lane. New swimmers may not "get it" that they are interfering with your workout and might be focusing on survival rather than fitting into the "flow" of the lane.
* Talk to your coach ! (He can't read your mind.)

John C Smith
September 25th, 2009, 04:39 PM
Then I'm really in the dead zone being a former non elite who really enjoys pushing myself and competing now.

Unfortunately, after about 10 years of masters experience all over the country, I've found these things in masters:

No coach on deck with perhaps a written workout if you're lucky
No stroke or technique instruction
Workouts geared towards triathletes
Very little speed work or quality work
Minimal kick sets
Lack of pool time and/ or space for masters
No SDK work
Lack of variation in workouts. For example, there is warm up always followed by a pull set followed by a fin set
No instruction for weight or dryland programs

It has been very challenging to excel as a non-elite with these kind of workouts and the attitude that everyone seems to have of, "Oh, it's just masters." I see the opposite issue in that one is labeled as "too serious" or "too uptight" if you actually want to consistently do workouts geared for your specific goals. Just sayin'.....

You're not in the dead zone. Many swim with your ambition. I wish I had more these days. This issue was merely brought out by an article I read, and it implied something that has been complained about off and on for years in masters..... but noteably.... not by the accused.... i.e. the so called elite swimmers.

Your complaints are frequently valid. I have witnessed many of them over the years. In the end though..... it's just you and your willingness to get to the pool and do something productive every day despite the program. I've been swimming by myself for many years now. I am always the least prepared in the final heat at masters nationals. And although it has been difficult and unmotivating to keep swimming, I seem to keep showing up.... :-)

Ripple
September 25th, 2009, 05:13 PM
My experiences are...
* Our pool is set up long course April through August when training for long-course meets. September through March the bulkhead is in to train for short-course meets and to make life easier since we share with high school teams that only swim short-course. It also provides more lanespace short-course and it's easier to manage a group with diverse skill levels...
We don't have long course/short course seasons in Canada. The population is too small and spread out, so there are both 25m and 50m meets from early November through June. I can see where 25m would be better for different skill levels, I was just hoping they'd have some 50m workout times. I guess I'll just have to gently insist on going ahead of the two swimmers who are slower and have to stop more.

guppy
September 25th, 2009, 07:16 PM
I agree with Gull. When I've visited DC I asked if I could work out with them at AU and they could not have been nicer.

EricOrca
September 26th, 2009, 05:45 AM
I haven't encountered that phenomenon (yet). I am in my first year as a master and as an old man (48), I have swam with some fast swim teams as a drop in and the only qualifier was being able to keep up in the lane I was in, and if I didn't feel like pushing it , just swim in the slow lane. Compared to the rest of the swimming world; I would be a learner.
I think the general attitude of "come one, come all" to a masters swim practice is just awesome.
Even with my "suck" times, nobody has ever given me that "you don't belong here" attitude at the meets I have competed at as well.
The coaches defiantly set the tone, my coach knows I have goals and she pushes me to meet them, however most of the people in our little group only come for a workout and she gladly accommodates them. Ive seen an openness, hospitality and patience in all the coaches I have encountered.

dorothyrde
September 26th, 2009, 06:36 AM
I recently joined a masters club & am finding it a bit disappointing in some ways.
First, because the bulkhead is always up (dividing the pool into two 25m pools), and the whole reason I joined this particular club was that the sessions were held in a 50m pool. If I'd known, I probably would have just joined up with the master-type class at the YWCA, registered as an "unattached" and saved my money.
Second, because there doesn't seem to be any actual coaching in the form of stroke correction so far, just workouts. (It is only three weeks so far, admittedly.)
Third, because the intervals are really short and for the most part not very strenuous. I find the kick sets strenuous, but not the actual swimming. The one night there was a tougher one - 200m on 4:00, which is eye-balls out for me - I couldn't swim continuously because there were always people clinging to the wall or bulkhead at the end of each length. I'd have to wait for them to leave, let them get a few meters out, then start the next length. Flip turns, not that I do them well anyway, are impossible in this situation. Supposedly, the ability to swim 200m continuously is the only swim requirement for joining this club, but I suspect there are a few people in my group who don't quite meet it.
I don't know if I should move up to the next fastest group and use fins for the kick sets, or just insist on going ahead of the two swimmers in my current group who are slower than me. The others seem to be about the same speed as me.
I'm sort of hoping they take us aside at some point and ask what our individual goals are, because this doesn't seem to be great training for moving up to 5k distance in open water, which is what I'm hoping to do.
Not having any experience with swim clubs, I have no idea if this club is typical or not.

Rhoda, move up to the next lane and use fins for awhile for kicking.You will improve, and not be as frustrated. As for goals, you may have to push the point with the coach. Also technique, start asking questions, or request for feedback.

gobears
September 26th, 2009, 09:37 AM
A few times each year I get asked by random people if I'm a professional swimmer. I'm not saying that to brag - I'm nowhere near the level where I could ever get paid to swim, but the newbies have probably never seen an elite swimmer in person, so they don't know.

I get this too--but I swim at a 24 hour fitness pool where there aren't many people who do more than a few laps here and there. It's clear to me that those asking have never really seen elite/professional level swimming.

I did swim at the national level years and years ago and I find that I have a real love for the newbie. I coach a lap swim class and enjoy each swimmer. The new ones, though, are often the most fun because they benefit so easily from beginner stroke information and drills. They're so eager to learn and seem to see vast improvements fairly quickly so they are probably my favorites to work with, if I had to choose.

Sometimes my newer swimmers are overly concerned with others in their lanes being upset by them not keeping up. I try to explain that, as long as they are conscientious and let people pass, most swimmers don't mind. I've had many newer swimmers tell me how useful explaining basic lane etiquette has been for them to feel comfortable.

Chris Stevenson
September 26th, 2009, 10:00 AM
I try to explain that, as long as they are conscientious and let people pass, most swimmers don't mind. I've had many newer swimmers tell me how useful explaining basic lane etiquette has been for them to feel comfortable.

Lane etiquette is key and it has to be something that is agreed upon (ie, discussed openly) if there is going to be an issue due to a speed disparity. For example, there was some disagreement in a thread on this forum about whether it is the responsibility of the faster swimmer to pass (which is my own preference) or the responsibility of the slower swimmer to slow/stop and let the other swimmer go by.

They should also decide whether a foot tap is okay. I don't do it b/c it offends some people, but on the other hand sometimes the swimmer I'm passing has not been paying attention and doesn't realize I've caught him. He'll start pulling to the middle to do a flip, pushing me into an oncoming swimmer or into the lane-line.

As long as the slower swimmer is paying attention to that sort of thing, everything usually works out.

The one exception is backstroke...I've never figured out a good way to pass that doesn't involve turning over on my front. I usually just avoid the stroke if I'm in a lane with multiple slower swimmers.

rtodd
September 26th, 2009, 10:35 AM
I've been swimming by myself for many years now. I am always the least prepared in the final heat at masters nationals. And although it has been difficult and unmotivating to keep swimming, I seem to keep showing up.... :-)

John,

Have you thought of triathlon? I've heard of a few elite swimmers who turned to it for a fresh challenge. Running is arguably the most important part of triathlon so it would be something new. It may be just the thing to avoid the grind of just pool swimming.

swimmj
September 26th, 2009, 10:40 AM
The one exception is backstroke...I've never figured out a good way to pass that doesn't involve turning over on my front. I usually just avoid the stroke if I'm in a lane with multiple slower swimmers.

I have the answer on backstroke - avoid it at all times as it's Eeeevil. LOL.

Seriously, an open discussion is best. I don't mind a foot tap if I'm swimming with someone much speedier - but it's usually not needed as I know exactly where he is and I'm working very hard to try to finish a swim without being lapped. I'm lucky in that we have 10 lanes available to us and only rarely do I get put in a lane with a big speed difference. The one time I had to share a lane with a super fast guy, we were swimming a mixed free and IM set in a lane with ladders on the side so you could not just split it. He's 6'7", with a wing span to match, so I just stayed in streamline and kicked on fly to avoid crunching when facing him oncoming and he either passed or flipped early when needed. It wasn't ideal, but we never crashed and we got the workout done.

I do know at least one person on my team who absolutely hates for anyone to tap her toes. As always, open and frank discussion helps to avoid misunderstandings.

__steve__
September 26th, 2009, 11:04 AM
My question for elite swimmers, how much longer until I start getting fast? It's been 15 months and I can't do 50M under 34 seconds (push-off start) and 500M is worst (9:00). The first 6 months of swimming showed consistant progress. Then from there on, no matter how hard I trained or my level of strength and fitness, improvements were just marginal (already 15 months swimming now). Recently though, I did improve some by working on correcting discovered errors (hands crossing, drag from body position).

Unfortunately, I work until midnight making it difficult to attend team practices so I am left with practicing alone, but I did attend one. A typical workout will always have 10-15 x 50M on a long restfull interval, like 2:00 so I don't get sloppy and relapse into bad technique. I also pay attention to the feel of water drag and try to distinguish between bad and positive feel, then I do drills I read on here and go-swim. One thing I do think I should look in to is an underwater camera. Nevertheless, I'm left with some questions.

So, how many years does it take to get the hang of this, 3 - 5 years (If so, this will put me in the 45-50year group:agree: when time comes)? Is improvement gradual or spontaneous? Any suggestions for an underwater camera that's cheap, but good enough to get the job done?

Thank you very much for reading.

rtodd
September 26th, 2009, 04:15 PM
If you are starting from scratch without a swimming background I would say a 6-8 year progression would get your times down to within 10-20% of where they could/will end up. That's with about 10 to 15K of training a week.

If you had a good swimming background and it's not a techique issue, it should happen maybe 2-4 years with steady training.

Of course this is my guess.

A typical progression always shows tremendous gains initially, with a gradual plateau.

I started swimming in 2005. My progression in the 100 SCY free is this:

date 100 free

4/2/2006 1:10.24
4/30/2006 1:08.76
1/21/2007 1:04.00
3/11/2007 1:03.22
4/28/2007 1:01.75
11/4/2007 1:03.98
2/9/2008 1:02.52
4/5/2008 1:01.04
10/26/2008 59.31
1/25/2009 58.01

Herb
September 26th, 2009, 05:59 PM
I wish more slower swimmers participated in meets so my times didn't suck so bad.

It was a little intimidating signing up for the first meet as I hadn't been on blocks since I was 12, but that was more experience than others would have that took it up as an adult. But I've found Masters swimmers nothing but friendly. No one seems to mind the differing levels and the elite seem to encourage as much as anyone else. I can't imagine doing anything like this where I didn't have some kind of measurable goal. All kinds of people run/walk 5ks and no one cares how long it takes. Then again I guess there is a large percentage of people that are happy just to jog for fitness sake.

I have only done a grand total of one Masters team workout.

rdtodd those times are somewhat encouraging as I have done a 1:08 and then 1:05 so far in six months. I want to break a minute this season or at least before I die.

__steve__
September 26th, 2009, 10:11 PM
Interesting the number of years of hard work and discipline it takes to swim fast and be an elite swimmer. It's got to be much less fitness related and more a learning experience. This is a relief for me, I was expecting too much too soon.

Very linear progression despite the the nonlinear dates for times, Rtodd. Thank you for the info!

I attached a graph I used to show advanced progression. What happened from April to November 2007?

John C Smith
September 26th, 2009, 10:42 PM
John,

Have you thought of triathlon? I've heard of a few elite swimmers who turned to it for a fresh challenge. Running is arguably the most important part of triathlon so it would be something new. It may be just the thing to avoid the grind of just pool swimming.

Unfortunately, my legs were made for dragging. Hip fracture 5 years ago and athritis don't make for good running. Wish I could, but its not in the cards. I don't really have the time for triathlon training either, but I appreciate the suggestion.

John Smith

rtodd
September 27th, 2009, 09:19 AM
I attached a graph I used to show advanced progression. What happened from April to November 2007?

Steve, thanks for the graph!

When I learned to swim, I was freestyle only for quite a while, so at meets I was only focused on the free since that was all I had the ability to do. As I learned the strokes, I started swimming other events at meets and so the 100 free may have suffered a while.

For my age group I think "elite" would be sub 50 for SCY, so I have alot of work to do. That is why I say maybe as long as 8 years with no swimming background. I am giving myself another three years and I think my progression will slow down.

For someone with a big swimming background getting back into it, I think the time is WAY less since the technique is always hard wired and it is just a matter of conditioning. I think you can get that in 1-2 years of steady training. Just my guess.

rtodd
September 27th, 2009, 09:43 AM
Unfortunately, my legs were made for dragging. Hip fracture 5 years ago and athritis don't make for good running. Wish I could, but its not in the cards. I don't really have the time for triathlon training either, but I appreciate the suggestion.


John,

Sorry to hear about the hip fracture. I guess the pool is the place to be.

I've often thought of getting back on the bike and then doing some tri's where they only score the swim and bike. Maybe the bike is agreable with your hip? unless that is how you fractured it!

Paul Smith
September 27th, 2009, 09:44 AM
Unfortunately, my legs were made for dragging. Hip fracture 5 years ago and athritis don't make for good running. Wish I could, but its not in the cards. I don't really have the time for triathlon training either, but I appreciate the suggestion.

John Smith

Let me correct a few things:

A) You are 6' 3" and have sz 7 girls feet

B) Your ankles are the size of a blade of grass

C) Why limit your whining to just the hip? We all know about your allergies, nose bleeds, paranoia, hallucinations...

D) You have nothing but time because you work from home and as Tori has told us all sleep under your desk most of the day.

dsyphers
September 27th, 2009, 11:05 PM
Steve,

You may (or may not) be able to speed up the descent of your times. I am not sure I'm an elite swimmer yet in my age group (50-54), but I came back after a 24 year layoff and in less than a year progressed from a 1:03 for the 100SCY down to 56.9 in about 1 year. Having a feel for the water, and some time when I was young hardwiring the basics, definitely helps - but so does training in a way that gives you the maximum benefit.

Ande has an important tip (among many in his Swim Faster Faster series) -- anything you measure will improve if you focus on it and work hard. When I started up again I knew I needed to work on my aerobic swimming fitness, my anaerobic swimming fitness, and build muscles that I hadn't been using.

My workouts interleaved these three components as much as possible, pushing myself on distance work, interval work (50's, 100's and eventually 200's), and stroke mechanics. I kept track of all times in my workouts. I tried to stay clear of garbage yards, only doing as much as I could with reasonable form, and pushing hard (defined differently for each distance). At the start my workouts would only be 1000 to 1600 yd. One year later they average about 2700 yds. I kept track of how many yards I did within 2-sec ranges for my 100 yd. times in each workout. I tried to have a pyramid with some yardage at my fastest range, and successively more in each higher range up to my cutoff speed (the 1000 yd rate for any time period). As a key measure, I tried to get my pulse into the 160-170 range at least once each workout, preferably toward the end where I was pushing when it was hardest to do so.

As soon as I could finish 500 yds in less than 7:30 ( not far from your 9:00 for 500m), I made sure to do a 500 yd time trial as part of my workout at least once a week. At least one other day I tried to see how far I could go just slightly off that 500 pace. By the time I could do 1000 yds in 14 minutes. I did time trials for the 500 and the 1000 each week as part of separate workouts. At the same time, in each workout, I would do at least 3 x 100 yds on whatever interval I could stand -- to start it was 2:00, but I pushed it down to 1:50, and then 1:40 as soon as I could without falling too far behind in my 100 yd. time in these. Now it is often 1:30. The key here is to make these fast, but keep then close in times -- and slowly bring these times down over the months while slowly bringing the interval time down. At the end of the first month I could do 1:15's or 1:16's on an interval of 2:00. Now, one year later, I'm down to 1:09 on 1:30. These interval sets, especially the last one I can handle, are where my pulse hits maximum and it's mind over matter with every stroke. But I can feel the payoff as the weeks go by. I also make sure I recover before moving on to the next set where I push myself (pulse down to 90 works for me).

By keeping track of all my workouts on a spreadsheet I could see that I had a natural 9 to 11 week cycle of hitting a temporary plateau (as well as feeling really tired) and then moving on to the next level. I used this to modify my training to take advantage of where I was in each cycle and get the most out of it without breaking down.

One caveat. I had some incredibly fitful sleep during the first six months as my muscles were building, and repairing, and the heat output and some general muscular discomfort was quite a lot to handle. But I only went as fast as I felt I could go without overstressing my shoulders -- I backed off if I felt any twinges. Eventually my shoulders were strong enough that they felt pretty well protected and could be more easily pushed.

I'm not a coach, and not yet an elite swimmer. This kind of approach may not work for everyone, and it may just work for me, but I think that working simultaneously on pushing yourself on distances and on interval work may lead to more rapid improvement. The problem with muscles is that they become habituated to doing anything, and to get them to go to the next level you need to convince them that it is expected of them. To do that you need focus, and you need a mix of little recovery time within a set, more recovery time between sets, and distance with no break.

(Attached graph of best 100 yd times over the past year)

TRYM_Swimmer
September 28th, 2009, 09:40 AM
Maybe this kind of behavior is more noticeable at the bigger meets?

I don't think it's a matter of behavior as of perception. If you read an article in the general press about Masters Swimming, it usually highlights one of the "elites." Those not familiar with the program may feel intimidated by this. I have found that the hardest thing, even on a small, local level, is convincing someone that everyone is welcome.

We had a lady on our team who had a panic attack while swimming 100 free at the local Senior Games. She had just been intimidated by the whole scene. Took her to a Masters meet and the same thing happened, but we (almost literally) dragged her back to swim a relay. That took care of that and she eagerly awaits the next meet.

When someone of lesser ability meets some of the stars who are so gracious and welcoming, it removes all doubt about who belongs. Everyone!!!

The problem, as I see it, is how do we market that welcome up front while still celebrating the amazing achievements of our superstars.

Solve that, and the membership should rocket.

John C Smith
September 28th, 2009, 09:53 AM
..... If you read an article in the general press about Masters Swimming, it usually highlights one of the "elites." Those not familiar with the program may feel intimidated by this. I have found that the hardest thing, even on a small, local level, is convincing someone that everyone is welcome......


True.... but there have also been some USMS magazine covers with run of the mill average "John Smiths".

What is ironic.... is that most ex national caliber swimmers that still participate actually enjoy making stroke corrections and offering basic advice. It's a huge part of who they were so long ago. I don't think many beginner masters swimmers really understand this....... I for one love a reason to stop in the middle of a set and chat....:-)

John Smith

__steve__
September 28th, 2009, 10:34 AM
Thank you for the info Dale. Since I started from scratch, I think before I structure my workouts as condition based (aerobic and endurance training), I should concentrate primarily on basics, relaxation and efficiency, for several more months until it becomes more natural. Anything over 100M for me results in a sloppy style. Nevertheless, I will definately be logging workouts into a spreadsheet now.


Although I did get anxious right before I got into the water when I practiced with the team, everyone was welcoming and actually happy to have me there - they even invited me to breakfast. I am intimidated about other things - waking up at 5:30 AM after working to midnight:bed:Or even worst, the nicest pool in my area is located right in the middle of the worst part of town. I would hate to finish a good session to find my car sitting on blocks in the lot. Not too long ago, one person was attacked in the lot as she was leaving the pool!

But who knows, if Masters swimming grows enough eventually there will be more pools to use and more options for swimming practices, like evening practices;).

notsofast
September 28th, 2009, 10:45 AM
Steve,

You may (or may not) be able to speed up the descent of your times. I am not sure I'm an elite swimmer yet in my age group (50-54), but I came back after a 24 year layoff and in less than a year progressed from a 1:03 for the 100SCY down to 56.9 in about 1 year. Having a feel for the water, and some time when I was young hardwiring the basics, definitely helps - but so does training in a way that gives you the maximum benefit.

Ande has an important tip (among many in his Swim Faster Faster series) -- anything you measure will improve if you focus on it and work hard. When I started up again I knew I needed to work on my aerobic swimming fitness, my anaerobic swimming fitness, and build muscles that I hadn't been using.

My workouts interleaved these three components as much as possible, pushing myself on distance work, interval work (50's, 100's and eventually 200's), and stroke mechanics. I kept track of all times in my workouts. I tried to stay clear of garbage yards, only doing as much as I could with reasonable form, and pushing hard (defined differently for each distance). At the start my workouts would only be 1000 to 1600 yd. One year later they average about 2700 yds. I kept track of how many yards I did within 2-sec ranges for my 100 yd. times in each workout. I tried to have a pyramid with some yardage at my fastest range, and successively more in each higher range up to my cutoff speed (the 1000 yd rate for any time period). As a key measure, I tried to get my pulse into the 160-170 range at least once each workout, preferably toward the end where I was pushing when it was hardest to do so.

As soon as I could finish 500 yds in less than 7:30 ( not far from your 9:00 for 500m), I made sure to do a 500 yd time trial as part of my workout at least once a week. At least one other day I tried to see how far I could go just slightly off that 500 pace. By the time I could do 1000 yds in 14 minutes. I did time trials for the 500 and the 1000 each week as part of separate workouts. At the same time, in each workout, I would do at least 3 x 100 yds on whatever interval I could stand -- to start it was 2:00, but I pushed it down to 1:50, and then 1:40 as soon as I could without falling too far behind in my 100 yd. time in these. Now it is often 1:30. The key here is to make these fast, but keep then close in times -- and slowly bring these times down over the months while slowly bringing the interval time down. At the end of the first month I could do 1:15's or 1:16's on an interval of 2:00. Now, one year later, I'm down to 1:09 on 1:30. These interval sets, especially the last one I can handle, are where my pulse hits maximum and it's mind over matter with every stroke. But I can feel the payoff as the weeks go by. I also make sure I recover before moving on to the next set where I push myself (pulse down to 90 works for me).

By keeping track of all my workouts on a spreadsheet I could see that I had a natural 9 to 11 week cycle of hitting a temporary plateau (as well as feeling really tired) and then moving on to the next level. I used this to modify my training to take advantage of where I was in each cycle and get the most out of it without breaking down.

One caveat. I had some incredibly fitful sleep during the first six months as my muscles were building, and repairing, and the heat output and some general muscular discomfort was quite a lot to handle. But I only went as fast as I felt I could go without overstressing my shoulders -- I backed off if I felt any twinges. Eventually my shoulders were strong enough that they felt pretty well protected and could be more easily pushed.

I'm not a coach, and not yet an elite swimmer. This kind of approach may not work for everyone, and it may just work for me, but I think that working simultaneously on pushing yourself on distances and on interval work may lead to more rapid improvement. The problem with muscles is that they become habituated to doing anything, and to get them to go to the next level you need to convince them that it is expected of them. To do that you need focus, and you need a mix of little recovery time within a set, more recovery time between sets, and distance with no break.

(Attached graph of best 100 yd times over the past year)
A lot of very good advice here, but I would dispute that the difference between a 7:30 time at 500 yards and a 9:00 time for 500m is not that great. When I do the math, that's a difference of 8 seconds per hundred yards.
Your time on 100 yards dropped by an impressive seven seconds in a year, but you were recapturing skills that you had developed in your teens. A lot of your improvement is probably attributable to developing your aerobic base again. Rtodd's times dropped by 12 seconds over three years, which is probably more realistic for a person who is relatively new to swimming.
I don't want to sound like I'm busting your chops - your strategy is detailed and sounds like it works. But I wouldn't want someone to read your very sound advice and feel like a failure if they don't drop 8 seconds off their hundred in six months or a year. If they do it over two years, it will still be pretty darn impressive.

lefty
September 28th, 2009, 12:01 PM
Let me correct a few things:

A) You are 6' 3" and have sz 7 girls feet



This goes a long way in understanding the root of the passive-agressive comments made in the past by JS (and I am not talking about being 6' 3").

TRYM_Swimmer
September 28th, 2009, 01:49 PM
True.... but there have also been some USMS magazine covers with run of the mill average "John Smiths".

What is ironic.... is that most ex national caliber swimmers that still participate actually enjoy making stroke corrections and offering basic advice. It's a huge part of who they were so long ago. I don't think many beginner masters swimmers really understand this....... I for one love a reason to stop in the middle of a set and chat....:-)

John Smith

I think most prospective members get their exposure from mainstream press rather than USMS Swimmer. Of course, getting more of them in circulation would help immensely in recruiting IMHO. Maybe there could be an effort to send copies to Y's, Swim clubs, etc. that could have them available in their waiting areas.

And of course, meeting any member named Smith would be a life-changing event!!!

John C Smith
September 28th, 2009, 02:52 PM
I think most prospective members get their exposure from mainstream press rather than USMS Swimmer.

Is there such a thing as "main stream press" for masters swimming?

John Smith

dsyphers
September 28th, 2009, 05:05 PM
A lot of very good advice here, but I would dispute that the difference between a 7:30 time at 500 yards and a 9:00 time for 500m is not that great. When I do the math, that's a difference of 8 seconds per hundred yards.
Your time on 100 yards dropped by an impressive seven seconds in a year, but you were recapturing skills that you had developed in your teens. A lot of your improvement is probably attributable to developing your aerobic base again. Rtodd's times dropped by 12 seconds over three years, which is probably more realistic for a person who is relatively new to swimming.
I don't want to sound like I'm busting your chops - your strategy is detailed and sounds like it works. But I wouldn't want someone to read your very sound advice and feel like a failure if they don't drop 8 seconds off their hundred in six months or a year. If they do it over two years, it will still be pretty darn impressive.

I totally agree, and didn't mean to imply that it would work for everyone the same way. The intent was to get a focus that distributes gains across the workout spectrum, and get that heart rate up when you feel like slowing down -- with enough recovery in between. I agree that someone without a background in swimming getting their times to drop 8 seconds over 2 or even 3 years is pretty darn impressive. I actually only swam two years as a teenager and then for a year each when I was 23 and 27, but I do agree that even that short history helps. What I wanted to try to get across is the thing that is really hard to learn without having been on a swim team when you are young -- namely that you see gains when you push yourself at precisely those times that you'd rather not. The pressure of the other lane swimmers, and the coach, do that for you when you're young (and you recover quickly). Trying to replicate the situation (with expanded recovery) when you're older, across the aerobic and anaerobic spectrum, may help you improve as fast as you are able. So I was just trying to note that if you practice in a rut, you'll stay in a rut. Try to push yourself in different ways, and the body will respond better (maybe not in a single year, but as fast as you can progress.)

preeder61
September 29th, 2009, 12:35 PM
I was really bummed out when as a former competitive swimmer I wanted to start swimming masters and was immediately turned off by a large local club because I was not into getting up at 5:00 am, swimming doubles or spending 4 hours on a Saturday training then going out with the team for brunch. There was an obvious message that if I wasn't in with both feet then I was out. So we started a new club with old HS friends and were snubbed again at our first meet for starting a new group, instead of being welcomed for bringing 8 new USMS paying members to masters swimming.

That elite attitude kept me out of USMS for almost 10 years. Just now getting back to it with another club with a much better vibe.

knelson
September 29th, 2009, 12:51 PM
I wanted to start swimming masters and was immediately turned off by a large local club because I was not into getting up at 5:00 am, swimming doubles or spending 4 hours on a Saturday training then going out with the team for brunch.

Seriously? The number of masters swimmers doing doubles has got to be exceptionally low. My experience has been the exact opposite. Most teams are very laissez-faire: here's the workout schedule, come swim when you feel like it.

aquageek
September 29th, 2009, 01:03 PM
Seriously? The number of masters swimmers doing doubles has got to be exceptionally low. My experience has been the exact opposite. Most teams are very laissez-faire: here's the workout schedule, come swim when you feel like it.

Totally agree. Plus, the highlight of the workout week is the breakfast after the Sat morning practice.

I've visited and trained with a lot of USMS teams and have never come across one with a 4 hour workout.

Paul Smith
September 29th, 2009, 01:47 PM
I've visited and trained with a lot of USMS teams and have never come across one with a 4 hour workout.

The only time of seen this even after swimming with dozens of teams all over the US is the New Years 100 x 100's. The exception being the multisport crown that "bricks" after a swim workout....

And I beg to differ on the doubles Geek, I know of a fair amount of Masters swimmers/Triathletes doing 2 swim workouts a day. Certainly not even remotely the majority but a fair amount.

orca1946
September 29th, 2009, 05:21 PM
Doubles? The only doubles we do is after a meet & that might be 2 shakes or beers !

Mswimming
September 29th, 2009, 06:40 PM
The only time of seen this even after swimming with dozens of teams all over the US is the New Years 100 x 100's. The exception being the multisport crown that "bricks" after a swim workout....

And I beg to differ on the doubles Geek, I know of a fair amount of Masters swimmers/Triathletes doing 2 swim workouts a day. Certainly not even remotely the majority but a fair amount.


Our club has two evening works, one at 6 pm and another at 7 PM. Since my my kids are swimming their age group work outs during that entire time, and I'll stick it out for a double on occasion. No one would ever confuse me for hardcore or for being a serious swimmer. Its better than getting out and waiting or going home and coming back to pick up my kids. I know the morning group has a similar situation and I think a few swimmers do the same then as well.

mattson
October 1st, 2009, 10:42 AM
Honestly, their level makes novices feel uncomfortable.

Most ex-serious swimmers are just happy to be able to swim for fun w/o the pressure of a coach or team counting on them and yelling at them. They truly have a lot in common w/ novices. I think this attitude does get projected, but the speed of the top swimmers is what intimidates beginners.

The idea of "unintentional intimidation" reminded me of a Howard Jones song. At some point, the problem is the person who thinks they see elitism, rather than expecting others to hold back because of someone's insecurity.

Under his nose was a dream come true
Been there all the time and he almost knew
Thoughts of people in misfortune stopped him doing things well
His duty was to use it - left his pearl in the shell

nkfrench
October 1st, 2009, 01:42 PM
Our club has two evening works, one at 6 pm and another at 7 PM. Since my my kids are swimming their age group work outs during that entire time, and I'll stick it out for a double on occasion. Usually when I think of "doubles" it means doing a 90-120 minute workout at o-dark-thirty in the morning; then coming back to the pool for another 2+ hour workout around 5 in the afternoon. That's pretty rough for adults to manage that kind of schedule AND still be useful at work, home, etc. Some of our Masters have trained with the Seniors group (elite HS/college/post-grad) where that type of workout schedule is expected.

Rykno
October 2nd, 2009, 01:43 AM
The sun rises around 5am and sets after 10pm during the summer months over here, and since we have 5 weeks vacation over here, I like doing doubles during the summer.

my last few weeks of work I go to the pool before going to work, then head to the lake after dinner.

while on vacation I just did two lake swims a day 3-4x/week

if our evening practices were not so late at night I would be doing doubles 3x a week. as it is now I don't get home until 10pm and can't handle going back to the pool 8 hrs later.

carlos_fernandez
October 6th, 2009, 05:01 PM
Steve,

You may (or may not) be able to speed up the descent of your times. I am not sure I'm an elite swimmer yet in my age group (50-54), but I came back after a 24 year layoff and in less than a year progressed from a 1:03 for the 100SCY down to 56.9 in about 1 year. Having a feel for the water, and some time when I was young hardwiring the basics, definitely helps - but so does training in a way that gives you the maximum benefit.

Ande has an important tip (among many in his Swim Faster Faster series) -- anything you measure will improve if you focus on it and work hard. When I started up again I knew I needed to work on my aerobic swimming fitness, my anaerobic swimming fitness, and build muscles that I hadn't been using.

My workouts interleaved these three components as much as possible, pushing myself on distance work, interval work (50's, 100's and eventually 200's), and stroke mechanics. I kept track of all times in my workouts. I tried to stay clear of garbage yards, only doing as much as I could with reasonable form, and pushing hard (defined differently for each distance). At the start my workouts would only be 1000 to 1600 yd. One year later they average about 2700 yds. I kept track of how many yards I did within 2-sec ranges for my 100 yd. times in each workout. I tried to have a pyramid with some yardage at my fastest range, and successively more in each higher range up to my cutoff speed (the 1000 yd rate for any time period). As a key measure, I tried to get my pulse into the 160-170 range at least once each workout, preferably toward the end where I was pushing when it was hardest to do so.

As soon as I could finish 500 yds in less than 7:30 ( not far from your 9:00 for 500m), I made sure to do a 500 yd time trial as part of my workout at least once a week. At least one other day I tried to see how far I could go just slightly off that 500 pace. By the time I could do 1000 yds in 14 minutes. I did time trials for the 500 and the 1000 each week as part of separate workouts. At the same time, in each workout, I would do at least 3 x 100 yds on whatever interval I could stand -- to start it was 2:00, but I pushed it down to 1:50, and then 1:40 as soon as I could without falling too far behind in my 100 yd. time in these. Now it is often 1:30. The key here is to make these fast, but keep then close in times -- and slowly bring these times down over the months while slowly bringing the interval time down. At the end of the first month I could do 1:15's or 1:16's on an interval of 2:00. Now, one year later, I'm down to 1:09 on 1:30. These interval sets, especially the last one I can handle, are where my pulse hits maximum and it's mind over matter with every stroke. But I can feel the payoff as the weeks go by. I also make sure I recover before moving on to the next set where I push myself (pulse down to 90 works for me).

By keeping track of all my workouts on a spreadsheet I could see that I had a natural 9 to 11 week cycle of hitting a temporary plateau (as well as feeling really tired) and then moving on to the next level. I used this to modify my training to take advantage of where I was in each cycle and get the most out of it without breaking down.

One caveat. I had some incredibly fitful sleep during the first six months as my muscles were building, and repairing, and the heat output and some general muscular discomfort was quite a lot to handle. But I only went as fast as I felt I could go without overstressing my shoulders -- I backed off if I felt any twinges. Eventually my shoulders were strong enough that they felt pretty well protected and could be more easily pushed.

I'm not a coach, and not yet an elite swimmer. This kind of approach may not work for everyone, and it may just work for me, but I think that working simultaneously on pushing yourself on distances and on interval work may lead to more rapid improvement. The problem with muscles is that they become habituated to doing anything, and to get them to go to the next level you need to convince them that it is expected of them. To do that you need focus, and you need a mix of little recovery time within a set, more recovery time between sets, and distance with no break.

(Attached graph of best 100 yd times over the past year)

What an awesome post! Thanks for sharing!