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shannalee80
September 21st, 2011, 05:35 PM
I just started seriously doing lap swimming and joined USMS at the first of this year. I even did my first swim meet at Colonies Zone in April just to see what they are all about.

I do all of my training alone and I started with doing only 400m total a workout and now I up to 850m. I am adding gradually each month. But I am still the same speed - horribly slow (about 1:00 for 50 free) so I have purchased a Masters workout card.

I figured that I am not getting any faster despite swimming almost every day because 1) I don't know how to improve, and 2) maybe being in a workout will speed me up.

Now I am nervous about 1) showing up and being with swimmers who qualified for Nationals, and 2) having a coach who sees how slow I am.

I have signed up for some swim meets in October/November - mostly 50/100 back, 50/100 free, and 50 fly - and I would like to see my time drop somewhat. Or should I not compete until I see my times in training drop?

fmracing
September 21st, 2011, 05:48 PM
should I not compete until I see my times in training drop?

Competing is one of the things that can help make you faster. Race pace swimming is not always that easy to replicate in practice, so definitely keep up the meet participation.

jswim
September 21st, 2011, 06:45 PM
Good for you! I haven't had much of a chance to compete in races because I'm in Juneau, AK, but I think that participation in competition can be inspiring. I did go to one meet in Oklahoma while I was still there and had a great time. I met a lot of competitors at a whole range of ability levels, all were encouraging and very nice!

Also if you have the ability to sign up and go with a group I'd say go for it. The coach should be able to help you with workout strategies and techniques that can get you improvements more quickly than on your own.

Good luck!

-J

qbrain
September 21st, 2011, 07:08 PM
If you enjoy competing, then compete. No need to wait.

Master's teams are pretty laid back. The coach will help you with your stroke, which will help you with your speed and you will try to fit in with what everyone else is doing, which will improve your endurance. Everyone who has not swam before starts out slow and most people remember the experience and are considerate to the new swimmers. Many people relive the "new" feeling by taking time off and returning out of shape and slow again.

I will warn you, the first couple weeks I started swimming with a masters team, I couldn't bend my arms very well. Don't feel bad if you need to get out of practice early to keep your buildup gradual. It is much better than developing shoulder problems from adding too much too soon (I've done that too... twice).

I suggest building up time before distance. Get comfortable swimming an hour with lots of breaks and then try not to skip stuff. Get used to swimming several times a week before swimming long practices.

Good luck, have fun.

Chris Stevenson
September 21st, 2011, 07:46 PM
You absolutely should not be embarrassed to show up either at a practice or a meet.

I very strongly recommend you try a masters group, the coach will help you with technique and having people to swim with will motivate you. Talk to the coach beforehand, discuss your goals and current speed and s/he will let put you with lane mates of similar ability.

As far as meets go, as I said you shouldn't worry about your speed; compete if you enjoy it and use it to help gauge your progress. Use others if you wish to race and get faster, or ignore everyone else in your heat and just swim against the clock. There is nothing like an actual meet to get you "up" for a race, and you'll have a chance to swim in a nice meet in your area in early November. Plenty of time to prepare; good luck!

200free
September 22nd, 2011, 12:29 PM
Now I am nervous about 1) showing up and being with swimmers who qualified for Nationals, and 2) having a coach who sees how slow I am.

I see you're from Virigina Beach. I dropped in on a few workouts in Virginia Beach when I was there on vacation. The swimmers and coach were very welcoming. As they have been any time I've dropped in on another team's workout. I think most masters teams have fast people, slow people, people who can't kick, people who love to kick, people who have been swimming for 40 years and people who just started this year. I'm sure there will be someone in the pool around the same speed as you to train with. And once you dive in the pool you'll forget about being nervous and start enjoying the camaraderie of swimming with a team.

Jeff Commings
September 22nd, 2011, 01:14 PM
I concur with everything people have said above, and I must add that swimming just 850 yards will not bring improvement. If you have never swum laps in your life until this year, you should give yourself some time to adapt to the sport. To swim in your first meet four months after starting can be daunting, and your body is just getting used to swimming. If you are stuck at a particular time, it usually means your body is getting over a hump, and once it gets used to swimming, you should see improvement.

I congratulate you on swimming alone (even if it is only 850 yards). If I had to do that every day, I would have quit! Masters teams are fun, low-key and offer motivation within the group you swim with, and within the team as a whole. If you can only make 1,000 yards in the first workout, don't feel bad. Pretty soon, you'll be doing 3,000 no problem!

knelson
September 22nd, 2011, 01:58 PM
Jeff brings up a good point that 850 yards is very minimal. Even at 1:00/50 this would take you 17 minutes. Most masters groups are going to be in the water for an hour minimum. Are you ready for that? Obviously most coaches aren't going to force you to do the entire workout the first time, but I think you need to be willing to work up to that level quickly. I'm not trying to discourage you, but I really think if you are going to join a team you need to be willing to put in the commitment the team expects.

Good luck!

shannalee80
September 22nd, 2011, 02:41 PM
I am aware that one the biggest reasons why I am not improving on speed is that my yardage each workout right now is low. I am mainly working on getting my strokes comfortable. I am gradually adding to it each month. I wasn't going to show up to the Masters workout until I am at 1,000m/workout at least. Should it be higher?

I am wanting to work up to a lot of yardage but I don't think I can do a workout at 2,000m+ by myself.

The reason why I went to the punchcard option was that I wasn't going to be able with my schedule go to most practices, so it's more economical than a monthly fee. Plus, at the beginning, I know the workouts are going to be an adjustment.

knelson
September 22nd, 2011, 04:07 PM
I wasn't going to show up to the Masters workout until I am at 1,000m/workout at least. Should it be higher?

Maybe, but don't let that stop you from giving it a try. The only way you'll know is going to a masters workout and trying!


The reason why I went to the punchcard option was that I wasn't going to be able with my schedule go to most practices, so it's more economical than a monthly fee. Plus, at the beginning, I know the workouts are going to be an adjustment.

I think this is a good plan.

It's hard to know without seeing you swim, but odds are you have some serious technical issues in your stroke mechanics. If you can make your stroke more efficient you'll be amazed by how much farther you'll be able to swim. A good coach will be able to help you immediately.

pmccoy
September 22nd, 2011, 04:12 PM
I am gradually adding to it each month. I wasn't going to show up to the Masters workout until I am at 1,000m/workout at least. Should it be higher?When I first started swimming with a masters group about 2 1/2 years ago, I was very worried about being fast enough and if I was somehow holding the group back. Looking back, the only regret is that I didn't start with them on day one. My guess is that you will get to 2000m (or whatever your swimming goals are) a lot faster with a group than you will alone.

sbegonia
September 23rd, 2011, 11:18 AM
I was a 1:50/100 swimmer for 16 years then after about 3-4 months of working out with a non-masters (but very similar) group, I was going 1:35/100. That's hardly fast, but I think it's a huge improvement. For 16 years, I would get in, swim a mile or a little more in a steady pace, get out. That did nothing for speed/endurance/power. I also got some stroke tips from the coach, but that wasn't until well into the initial 3-4 months. What really helped me was interval training and pushing myself to make the intervals even when it hurt. It really built up my speed and endurance in a major way, forcing me to go another 100 when it was uncomfortable, understanding the idea of active recovery, descending sets, sprint sets, etc. Check out the Workouts board here or just google some swim workouts. Tailor them to your ability (interval length, distance, # of repeats, etc.) - this will probably take a bit of trial & error to figure out what works for you but you'll figure it out soon enough. Write out what you think you can do and stick to it, even if it hurts. Always structure your workouts: warm-up/kick/maybe some drills/main set/cool-down. Before doing this type of workout, I was happy to get 2000 yards into a single session. Now I go 3000+ in about an hour. I totally understand the punch card preference - I'm kind of in the same boat with my schedule... so I kind of have to make do w/ solo workouts and only occasional team workouts. Also don't feel weird or embarrassed to sit out some sets in a masters workout.

Edit: haha, I have no idea how that frownie got there!

orca1946
September 23rd, 2011, 11:29 AM
Look for a masters team!! It will give you team mates & a coach with workouts for you to improve .:applaud:

thewookiee
September 23rd, 2011, 12:26 PM
Betsy Durant, a poster on the forum, is a masters coach in the Va. Beach area. If you have gotten a punch card with her team, I highly recommend you attend any of her practices that you are able to get too.

Joining a masters team is a blast! You will be amazed at how quickly you reach a 1000yds while swimming with a coach and teammates. You will probably not even know that you have passed way over a 1000 yds while swimming with the group one day.

ColoJoel
September 23rd, 2011, 01:52 PM
Shannalee -- I concur/agree with all of the posters here! -- I started swimming with a masters group Jan 2010 & haven't looked back. For me at least, swimming with others is beneficial (the camradere, others to keep up with-- "chase the bubbles", to hold intervals, that sort of thing). And on the day that my coach is on deck (Saturdays) I have received many tips, pointers, etc. :)
IOW, I think the discipline of a structured workout & having fellow swimmers doing them is a great motivation factor. I swim on my own (on my workdays) & try to do masters-like workouts. My feeling is that if I just swam on my own, I would not have come a fifth as far as I have swimming w/ a team (my :2cents:). Best wishes to you!

orca1946
September 23rd, 2011, 05:01 PM
Well??????? Did you look yet?????
We all seems to agree that a team will help a lot!

shannalee80
September 23rd, 2011, 05:11 PM
Betsy Durant, a poster on the forum, is a masters coach in the Va. Beach area. If you have gotten a punch card with her team, I highly recommend you attend any of her practices that you are able to get too.

Joining a masters team is a blast! You will be amazed at how quickly you reach a 1000yds while swimming with a coach and teammates. You will probably not even know that you have passed way over a 1000 yds while swimming with the group one day.

The punchcard I got is from the Tidewater Aquatic Club. I did meet Betsy at Colonies Zone and she (and the others from VMST) are very nice. I think all of her practices are early morning - I will try one of hers if I have the day off.

Really, 1000m isn't much more than 850m. What I was worried about if showing up right now and being expected to do 2,000-3,000m. But I don't think that will happen in the beginning.

taruky
September 23rd, 2011, 06:36 PM
Swimming with a masters team is fun and not so fun at the same time. My coach has us do things I would NEVER push myself to do when swimming alone. The workouts he writes on his board average 5000-6000 yards. Our last practice he had us do seven 200 yard swims on intervals of our choice (3:00, 3:15, 3:30, 4:00). I did the 3:15 interval and was cursing under water the whole time. But when I finished I was smiling ear to ear. The practice before that it was eleven 150 yard swims on intervals. No way I do that swimming by myself.

All the yardage I have been putting in plus the pointers I get have been invaluable. I have improved more in the 10 months since I joined than in the 2+ years prior. This morning there was no practice so I swam on my own and did a 500 yard free warmup at a very relaxed pace in 7 minutes. That 500 yard warmup used to easily take me 10 minutes. There have been few AHA moments, but better technique has somehow diffused into my swimming. Same with my other strokes.

Mike137
September 24th, 2011, 08:09 PM
I have been working on my swimming for the last 3 years. I took a few classes, but I initially swam alone and could do 50m in about 70 seconds. Latter I joined a very small master group at the gym. Swimming with group help with my stamina and kept it interesting. About 6 months ago the group at the gym died after the coach left, and Iím back to swimming by myself although I just started weekly dropping in on a master team.

Currently I swim about 2000m four times a week. I can now do a 50m in 48 seconds which I suspect is not stellar improvement. Iím 55 so maybe everything takes longer. The biggest problem I have when swimming with a team is finding the slowest lane and then convincing people that I should swim last.

I just discovered that National Age Group Motivational time (grade B) for boys 10 and under for a 50 m free is 42.9 seconds. Sigh. I need a beer.

Regards,
Mike

couldbebetterfly
September 24th, 2011, 08:45 PM
I just discovered that National Age Group Motivational time (grade B) for boys 10 and under for a 50 m free is 42.9 seconds. Sigh. I need a beer.



I was going to direct you here:

http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=15722&highlight=masters+motivational+times

but looking at the times I now think you'd need 2 beers :chug:

Still 70s to 48s is no small improvement, keep going at that rate and in another 3 years, you'll be swimming 26s for a 50 :D

qbrain
September 25th, 2011, 08:46 AM
What I was worried about if showing up right now and being expected to do 2,000-3,000m.

We are adults, not children. You can get out when you have met your goals for the workout.

Mike137
September 27th, 2011, 05:54 PM
Like shannalee80 I'm been thinking about the benefit of swimming with the team versus swimming alone and I had decided that swimming with a team made the most sense. But after seeing the "motivational times" for kids and masters, I'm not so sure now.

Given that I would have trouble keeping up with a proficient 10 year old boy or a 75 year old master, it's clear to me that my free style has serious problems. Fixing the problems (more classes or coaching?) probably makes more sense than continuing to reinforce my current “skills”. It's hard to see much benefit from slogging along in the slow lane with a team if I’m not constantly improving (even if only slightly).

shannalee80
September 27th, 2011, 10:34 PM
Like shannalee80 I'm been thinking about the benefit of swimming with the team versus swimming alone and I had decided that swimming with a team made the most sense. But after seeing the "motivational times" for kids and masters, I'm not so sure now.

Given that I would have trouble keeping up with a proficient 10 year old boy or a 75 year old master, it's clear to me that my free style has serious problems. Fixing the problems (more classes or coaching?) probably makes more sense than continuing to reinforce my current “skills”. It's hard to see much benefit from slogging along in the slow lane with a team if I’m not constantly improving (even if only slightly).

Maybe it would help if we saw our swimming and swim meets the same way most runners see their running and races. Especially at the 5K/10K level. Sure people like to get faster, but at a race you see all kinds of paces - from those that have qualified for the Boston Marathon to those who take 45:00 to finish a 5K. And many even just walk it.

So I can accept that 1) I will probably never have a National qualifying time ranked time, 2) the only time I will get a medal/ribbon for any race will be because I got it by default, and 3) at a meet like Colonies Zone I can still get points for my team (VMST) even though it will be at events like relays, 100/200 Fly, and 200 Back and the points I get will be, again, won by default.

couldbebetterfly
September 27th, 2011, 10:44 PM
Like shannalee80 I'm been thinking about the benefit of swimming with the team versus swimming alone and I had decided that swimming with a team made the most sense. But after seeing the "motivational times" for kids and masters, I'm not so sure now.

Given that I would have trouble keeping up with a proficient 10 year old boy or a 75 year old master, it's clear to me that my free style has serious problems. Fixing the problems (more classes or coaching?) probably makes more sense than continuing to reinforce my current ďskillsĒ. It's hard to see much benefit from slogging along in the slow lane with a team if Iím not constantly improving (even if only slightly).

I'm sure if you joined the team and spoke to the coach about your goals and how you want to improve your stroke, they'd be able to offer some good advice - that's what they're there for after all! Don't let the fact that you perceive yourself as slow prevent you from joining up.

Mike137
September 28th, 2011, 02:55 AM
Good point about running. It doesn't bother me if I can't run a mile at a 6 min. pace. It is just not going to happen. So I can live with my wicked slothy swimming. Although the idea that Iím not improving because Iím vigorously practicing poor technique is still worrisome.

In any case, I donít have much to lose (except $65 a month) staying with the team for at least a few months. Tonight was I was second in the lane of shame with 5 others and I enjoyed it.

It would likely also help if I concentrate more on form work at the gym and less on distance. This would also allow me to work on my awesome 58 s per 50 m breast stroke.:D

Thanks,
Mike

pmccoy
September 28th, 2011, 09:36 AM
So I can accept that 1) I will probably never have a National qualifying time ranked time,I wouldn't give up on that too easily. It takes about 4 years to master something. You might be disappointed if you make this a short term goal. Long term, just about anything is possible so long as you are willing to put in a good bit of effort. NQTs are not the sole domain of ex-High School/College swimmers. I've made a couple after 2 1/2 years and I was a non-athlete in high school. NQTs don't have to be your goal... there's plenty to enjoy from being on a swim team without being fast. I never really made them my goal but I never wrote them off as impossible either. I try to focus more on the small monthly gains and making sure I'm faster at my next meet. NQTs just kind of happened along the way.

2) the only time I will get a medal/ribbon for any race will be because I got it by default,My favorite way to win!

and 3) at a meet like Colonies Zone I can still get points for my team (VMST) even though it will be at events like relays, 100/200 Fly, and 200 Back and the points I get will be, again, won by default.All short term stuff. Stick with it and it won't be long before you beat someone in your age group. The fun part about being the novice on the team is that you get to improve faster than everyone else.

knelson
September 28th, 2011, 10:53 AM
The good thing about swimming is winning really isn't everything. Setting best times, swimming an event you've never done before, etc. are also worthy achievements. Remember that even those of us who grew up swimming are used to losing.

Redbird Alum
September 28th, 2011, 04:17 PM
The encouragement and accountability swimming with a team brings into your swimming mix has no equivalent benefit in attempting to swim alone.

Looking at cut-times, records, and such for the extremely proficient is not motivational. Swimming along with someone who is working through the same issues you are is very motivational.

Forget the beers, until after you and your team finish a workout together!

Michael Heather
September 28th, 2011, 05:16 PM
Maybe it would help if we saw our swimming and swim meets the same way most runners see their running and races. Especially at the 5K/10K level. Sure people like to get faster, but at a race you see all kinds of paces - from those that have qualified for the Boston Marathon to those who take 45:00 to finish a 5K. And many even just walk it.

So I can accept that 1) I will probably never have a National qualifying time ranked time, 2) the only time I will get a medal/ribbon for any race will be because I got it by default, and 3) at a meet like Colonies Zone I can still get points for my team (VMST) even though it will be at events like relays, 100/200 Fly, and 200 Back and the points I get will be, again, won by default.

You need to determine what you want out of your swimming. If you would like to improve your speed and/or endurance, it is best to join a club. The interaction with a coach and other swimmers is valuable as a gauge for you to use to track improvements.

I was a collegiate swimmer and have tried to train by myself before. It is incredibly difficult to maintain a high level of performance, let alone attain one, and I know what I need to do. Some people are fine training alone, but the vast majority of us need interaction and feedback.

Don't worry about yardage. I know a guy that only trains about 850 yards per day and is a way fast sprinter. It is what you do with your time in the water that counts, not the gross yardage. Another place that a club experience will help.

Welcome, and best of luck!

aztimm
September 29th, 2011, 11:59 AM
I wouldn't give up on that too easily. It takes about 4 years to master something. You might be disappointed if you make this a short term goal. Long term, just about anything is possible so long as you are willing to put in a good bit of effort. NQTs are not the sole domain of ex-High School/College swimmers. I've made a couple after 2 1/2 years and I was a non-athlete in high school. NQTs don't have to be your goal... there's plenty to enjoy from being on a swim team without being fast. I never really made them my goal but I never wrote them off as impossible either. I try to focus more on the small monthly gains and making sure I'm faster at my next meet. NQTs just kind of happened along the way.
My favorite way to win!
All short term stuff. Stick with it and it won't be long before you beat someone in your age group. The fun part about being the novice on the team is that you get to improve faster than everyone else.


I started masters swimming in 1998, and the workouts for the first couple weeks were a struggle. I started in the slowest lane, but within 3 months I was more toward the middle of the pool.

The increases after that were much much slower. I still haven't gone under 1:00 for 100 SCY free, and a NQT is still nowhere within range.
But I'm in nearly the best shape I've been in ever, enjoy swimming with the team, and I'll do a couple meets here/there.
My endurance is definitely higher now than it was then. I struggled with 2,000 yards at first, and now there's days when I'll do 6,000 or even 7,000 yards.

no200fly
September 29th, 2011, 04:18 PM
Maybe it would help if we saw our swimming and swim meets the same way most runners see their running and races.

So I can accept that 1) I will probably never have a National qualifying time ranked time, 2) the only time I will get a medal/ribbon for any race will be because I got it by default, and 3) at a meet like Colonies Zone I can still get points for my team (VMST) even though it will be at events like relays, 100/200 Fly, and 200 Back and the points I get will be, again, won by default.

To put in my $.02. Swimming with a team/group is much more enjoyable than swimming alone. Having a coach construct the workouts for you and friends to share the pain of the workout with you is so much better than trying to do it alone.

Very few of the people I swim with compete in meets. I had no interest in competing when I started back swimming, but I tried it, liked it and used the improvement I made in meets as a reason to work harder in workouts. Don't worry about the medal/ribbon from the meets - the drink/dinner that you share with your team afterwards will mean much more to you.

Finally, if you swim the 200 fly and get a point, medal, ribbon or anything else, it is not won by default - there is a reason that most people choose not to swim that race and those people who do, are deserving of their rewards.

KatieK
September 29th, 2011, 05:13 PM
I've learned so much about myself from swimming.

I waited to join a team until I was sure I could keep up and not embarrass myself. False pride really held me back on that one. My coach is unbelievably generous with helping newbies. I would have progressed much faster if I'd had the humility to show up.

The flip side of false pride is genuine pride. I should have been proud of myself for trying to improve. Being a newbie is not for sissies. It takes courage, dedication and hard work.



Finally, if you swim the 200 fly and get a point, medal, ribbon or anything else, it is not won by default - there is a reason that most people choose not to swim that race and those people who do, are deserving of their rewards.
Nicely said.

jbs
September 29th, 2011, 07:59 PM
I joined a workout group by happenstance. I was swimming by myself and lucky to swim 50s in 55 seconds. Then the local YWCA closed. A noon workout group moved across town to the YMCA where I was swimming. Most days, I was finishing my workout when they were starting, so I got a pretty good idea of just how much slower I was. Because of that, I would have never have joined them if a couple of the swimmers hadn't suggested I try to do their workouts. Even then, I was nervous at first. I was slow, I didn't want to get in people's way, etc.

Several years later, I'd say joining that group was one of the luckiest things to ever happen to me. Sure, at first, I'd sit out parts of sets and even then some days I'd leave the pool wondering how I was going to lift my arms. But I learned a lot and got faster -- much faster and in a shorter period of time than I ever got on my own.

That's just the swimming side. I also met a bunch of great people and made many friends. I am lucky to be able to swim, but I am luckier to be able to swim with friends. I know everyone's experience will be different, but mostly I've found swimmers to be welcoming and good people to know.
Just my :2cents:

ColoJoel
October 5th, 2011, 11:49 AM
Very few of the people I swim with compete in meets. I had no interest in competing when I started back swimming, but I tried it, liked it and used the improvement I made in meets as a reason to work harder in workouts.

This is so true for me! :). I swam in my first meet back in June (after saying that I'd NEVER do one), & I too use them to gauge my progress, set objectives, & for the opportunity to try new events. Also (as my coach said) gives you something to work toward.

I feel fortunate that I can work out with my team, then on other days, practice on my own (often in areas that I need to improve on). But definitely takes discipline to stay on intervals, complete the set, etc. on your own when others aren't there with you, doing so.

joshua
October 6th, 2011, 01:46 AM
Personally, I swim alone because of my job. I have to keep it flexible but I usually swim at 05:45 AM four times a week doing about 2000m. each time. I just can't coordinate with a masters club scheduale.

I really wish I could swim at least part time with a coach. Swimming is not like running. It's a very technical sport and a coach can really help. In the past I took a basic TI course but I was one of the minority who couldn't get into it.

If you can swing it, definately join a group.

rxleakem
October 9th, 2011, 10:45 PM
Most of my workouts are solo. The local masters team meets twice a week, and right now I can only make it to one Saturday practice a month with them. At our town's pool, there are three adult/lap swim times daily, so I try to go when the lanes are less busy so that I can get some decent set work in.

I do find that when I practice with the team I am able to grind out the sets with more energy. I have always tried a little harder when I have folks to pace from and feel accountable to. It is nice to check in with people between sets as well when we are working together as a team.

I also find that the team workouts help me to slow down a bit and work on stroke mechanics more, as we have different ability levels and try to help everyone swim more efficiently, regardless of what their personal goals are in the water. That is one of the great movements of the Masters programs - not so much of the "us vs. them" mentality that I remember from age group days.