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robertsrobson
March 13th, 2012, 11:48 AM
I trained and worked as a sport psychologist before I took up masters swimming (and about the same time stopped private practice due to my boring corporate job), and for the first time really I'm looking to put both together with some articles for the web.

There's no lack of material on swimming performance but there's not much out there, for physical or mental aspects of swimming, that really acknowledges the specific challenges that masters swimmers face.

I'd really like to hear your own views on what you have to manage as a masters swimmer. This doesn't have to relate to racing specifically.

For example, I have to plan around my family, never manage to do as much training as I'd like, so I have to manage my own expectations, yet bring what I have in my locker on race day and make the most of it. I also have my 'former' life as a swimmer and the negative experiences that led to me quitting at 18 that shape my motivations now.

Thanks,
Rob

P.S. I've yet to start my own site, but I do have a swimming psychology page on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/swimpsych) and I'm on twitter (http://www.twitter.com/swimpsych). I'd really appreciate a boost with likes/shares as I build a readership.

sickfish
March 13th, 2012, 12:09 PM
For me, the toughest part is convincing myself that the work is worth the reward when the reward is more than a few weeks away. At least once a week I find myself looking for excuses to skip the next morning's practice.

The second toughest part is putting in the full effort when I'm swimming on my own. This has become less of a problem since I've discovered the diversity of workouts available here on the forums, and the social aspect of blogging and reading other peoples' blogs. Having my in-practice times in writing on the Internets gives me something to chase for the next workout.

And sometimes I feel guilt, or disappointment, or something along those lines, about that day my freshman year of college when I decided that I just didn't want to get up early to go to practice anymore. I use that as motivation now.

robertsrobson
March 13th, 2012, 12:19 PM
For me, the toughest part is convincing myself that the work is worth the reward when the reward is more than a few weeks away. At least once a week I find myself looking for excuses to skip the next morning's practice.

The second toughest part is putting in the full effort when I'm swimming on my own. This has become less of a problem since I've discovered the diversity of workouts available here on the forums, and the social aspect of blogging and reading other peoples' blogs. Having my in-practice times in writing on the Internets gives me something to chase for the next workout.

And sometimes I feel guilt, or disappointment, or something along those lines, about that day my freshman year of college when I decided that I just didn't want to get up early to go to practice anymore. I use that as motivation now.

Great start - thanks!

EJB190
March 13th, 2012, 12:57 PM
I don't know exactly if this helps, but here it is:

I started swimming competitively when I was 5-6 years old. I loved the water but didn't enjoy the competition. I didn't like having all the focus on me and was anxious that in swimming you only have one chance, whereas in soccer or lacrosse (my other passions) you can always make a comeback.

Swimming was just something I had to do because my parents made me. I didn't love it. None of my friends swam so socially it wasn't that fun because I never got very close with any other people on my team. This feeling continued through High School. I was a decent swimmer, not great, probably average or a hair above, but by no means phenomenal.

In 2007 (at the age of 17) I was in a really bad car accident leaving me with permanent back damage and pain. Soccer and Lacrosse became out of the question as the resulting pain from running and getting hit was too intense. Swimming became the only sport I could really do tolerably. I began to excel, and finished high school being one of the top swimmers in my division.

Last year I took a break from swimming due to pain. I became very out of shape, lost probably about 20lbs, and just wasn't happy. I realized that the pain being out of shape and inactive was about the same as being in shape and swimming. I started swimming again, and now I'm doing 3000-4000 yards per day. It's not easy since I'm in college, taking 6 classes and 2 labs, onto of an internship. Scheduling can be hard, but I make it work- even if I end my workout at 10:30 at night.

As depressing as my back situation sounds, I has had it's benefits. It tore away the reasons covering my enjoyment of swimming. The anxiety and the social concerns, etc. It made me realize that I actually like the sport for what it was and that the things I didn't like were ancillary. I live a very busy life, and swimming is my way to let out all that tension. I can swim and think about nothing, and it's a great feeling. Motivation can be tough, but I know this really is one of the only physical activities I can still do without being in excruciating pain. Soccer, Skiing, Swimming, Tennis- even Golf just are not feasible.

I think another source of motivation for me is my regret that I didn't enjoy and appreciate swimming when I was younger. I feel like I would be a better swimmer and somehow a better person had I realized my enjoyment of the sport at an earlier age.

I'm currently not competing. I think I have this fear that I will never be as good as I was in high school. I think it's a little irrational, considering I'm only 21 and could have been swimming for a college team. I certainly still have plenty of potential left. There is also the time factor though. I'm not sure my schedule is flexible enough to fit in meets.

I guess the major things I have to manage are: Time, motivation, regret, and chronic pain

gdanner
March 13th, 2012, 01:39 PM
I can really go any number of directions with this. Just a quick background: I started swimming when I was 6 and I am now 30. I have never taken off more than 3 months consecutively and that was only one time when I had surgery on my hand. I love the sport and, more specifically, competition. I swam high school, club, college, and currently both USA-S and USMS.

My physical challenges are probably the same as many...my body cannot handle the workouts it once could. If I swim a challenging 6,000-8,000 LCM practice, I need a full day to recover. In college, I could do doubles of that distance and be ready to go the next day.

This ties directly to the mental side. Based on how hard I trained, I was always confident heading into a race. Now, when I'm racing these USA-S kids, I am well aware that they do significantly more work in the pool than I do. Not the greatest feeling in the world! So then the mentality switches to "well, I'll just do the best I can" type of mode. I will say though, the experience that comes with age is definitely advantageous. I never go out too hard and rarely go out too slow.

In terms of managing the schedule, I probably have more options than most masters swimmers who aren't retired. I am not married and I don't have any kids. I have a full time job, so then it's just a question of balancing the social life. For me, it's infinitely easier to focus on swimming when I'm single. Try explaining to someone that you intend to work out five days a week for two hours for three straight months just so you can do a two minute race :)

Allen Stark
March 13th, 2012, 01:56 PM
For me swimming is my personal mental health time(also physical health time,meditation time etc.)It isn't so much what I have to juggle to swim(life) as what happens if I don't.I feel better and am easier to get along with when I swim.

smontanaro
March 13th, 2012, 02:38 PM
... I am now 30....

My physical challenges are probably the same as many...my body cannot handle the workouts it once could. If I swim a challenging 6,000-8,000 LCM practice, I need a full day to recover. In college, I could do doubles of that distance and be ready to go the next day.

You think it's tough at 30? You ain't seen nuthin' yet. :cane:

Skip

jswim
March 13th, 2012, 05:01 PM
Great thread!

I swam one year on my high school team, but mostly my focus was diving. As an adult, masters diving is not something that I run across, well... ever. So I began swimming again after finding masters. I had always done sports my whole life, so after I graduated college, I really missed that social and physical aspect of being on a team and going to practice.

I find that over the years on and off it has taken me awhile to adjust. I have had many a hiatus from exercise but eventually find my way back to the water. At 37 (now 38) I finally gained the self discipline to realize how to exercise regularly and make it a priority in my life. I also now realize how crucial it is to my overall health and well being. When exercising regularly, I find that I handle stress much better, I have more energy (usually) and I feel better about myself.

That being said, trying to increase strength and stamina at this age after so long waffling with exercise, is a challenge. I have a full time job and family at home. We also don't have a team workout that I can attend here in Juneau so I'm on my own for motivation.

I often find myself struggling to keep up with career, home and exercise. I've had moments of my mind wandering during workouts to what's at home in our pantry and freezer, and asking myself if I need to go to the store on the way home in order to cook dinner. LOL..

I am also working harder than I ever had as an adult, because the importance to me is now more than social and physical. It's about making myself push past barriers and improve on my own terms. I finally realize that the only person I'm really racing is myself!

ElaineK
March 13th, 2012, 06:15 PM
I am happy to say that as a Masters swimmer, the one thing I don't have to manage is motivation. No matter how beaten down I feel, I can't wait to get into the pool the next day! :bliss:And, I hate the one day off I do take off each week to rest. :bitching: But, I must; my body needs it- desperately, at times.

Which leads me to what I do have to manage as a Masters swimmer: My mind is willing, but my body isn't always quite as willing. Although I am a very fit and healthy (as far as getting "sick" goes) 50 year old, I didn't pick the best father when it comes to genes. I got it all from him: Bad back (I had back surgery at 25), bad knees (I had to quit the high school volleyball team and just swim, instead; a good decision, as it turned out! :D), mitral valve prolapse, high eye pressure, and auto immune disorders. My dad rarely got sick, but when he did, his body's immune system turned against itself. Same here. I have only had one cold since moving to Georgia three years ago- and, I picked that up overseas on a sick ship. Prior to that, I maybe get a cold once every two years. And, I have rarely been sick worse than that. But, when I do get sick, I am left with something permanent, like Meniere's (inner ear disorder) and tinnitus, which has left me unable to do flip turns anymore, without getting seasick after a few hundred yards.

I have also had serious repetitive stress injuries, thanks to the body type I inherited from my dad. In addition to the back surgery, I had major surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. My surgeon said I would be able to swim again, but I don't think he ever envisioned me competing again and logging 92 miles in my FLOG, so far this year! :D

So, all of this I have to manage. It's a fine line: Swimming is the best thing I can do to keep me off the treadmill (and keep my tarsal tunnel syndrome from flaring up- another repetitive stress injury), but still stay fit and keep the endorphins kicking in. It makes me happy, it keeps me motivated, and I love how it feels to be in the water. And, I love the competition and all that goes with it; especially USMS! But, I have to really listen to my body and make sure I am using proper technique and resting when I need it. My Tuesdays &Thursdays coach keeps a good eye on that, knowing how important it is. And, my husband serves as my deck coach after he finishes his workouts on the other days, making sure I am protecting my shoulders with good technique. When something doesn't feel right in my shoulders, I switch to kicking. And, if my knees have had too much breaststroke, I switch to pull-only breaststroke or switch to another stroke. I am constantly monitoring my body. And, if that isn't enough, I have medical issues with the heat, so I have to monitor that, too! :afraid:Air and water conditions are something I really have to pay attention to; especially if the combo. gets too hot.

So far, so good. 3-4 taper meets each year seems to be what I need to keep from :cane:. My goal? To grow up to be like Anne Dunivin, my 95 year old teammate who is breaking national records, because she has outlived her competition! :cheerleader:

orca1946
March 13th, 2012, 06:46 PM
I learned to swim in Lake Mich. as a young kid, swam in H S & college at Ill. State Univ. From 23 to 28 took off & went thru life, started to run -swim - bike on my own & did a 5 miles Masters race in Fox Lake & was hooked. I have been swimming Masters for over 25 years at this point.
Watching the Grandson, working on the kids houses to help them with repairs & errands for my wife are things I fit around swim practice. Swimming has always been a calming thing for me & still is.

Fresnoid
March 13th, 2012, 07:30 PM
What I have to manage is probably what most masters swimmers have to to some extent: desire vs. physical limitations.

I have an impingement in both shoulders. If I swim they hurt. If I swim too much, I get long term injuries (tore both rotator cuffs at one point). According to the orthopedic surgeons, my shoulders can't be fixed. I do every exercise the physical therapists say I should. I have to ice after every swim workout. It's tough to accept that I can be good, but never elite at swimming due to chronic injuries.

ganache
March 13th, 2012, 08:33 PM
I'll give two views, one as a swimmer and one as a coach.

I started swimming competitively at the age of 16 in California. I really got into swimming in college, where my team was slightly better than my high school team. In grad school I loved the Masters swim team I swam with. I think that since I started competing so late is why I still love it. I am constantly trying to change/improve my stroke (breaststroke) and that makes it lots of fun. They keep changing the stroke every few years! I also am constantly trying new ways to train. I swim in Masters meets and for the past three years have been going to USA-S meets. It is sort of fun since I also often workout with the kid's team our Masters team is part of. So I know the kids and they know me. Of course it is fun racing someone one fourth your age. I think racing more often has really helped. My kids are both in college so my home life does not interfere too much with my swimming. I do have a long commute to work every day (75 miles one way), but that is life.

As a coach I try to write workouts that challenge and motivate the swimmers. I often get smiles after workout from swimmers saying they loved that set. Also they'll tell me when a set really made them work hard. I let the lane and swimmers self-motivate themselves. Very rarely will I ever tell them to go faster. The trick is to write a workout that makes people go faster than they might want to and make it totally fun. I know that some swimmers have a hard time getting to the pool, but once they show up they always work hard. We also to let them pro-rate their dues if they cannot make it to workout (sick, injured, vacation or business). They are supposed to pay if they are just lazy. I also never bug people about not showing up. That way everyone who is there wants to be there.

thrasher
March 13th, 2012, 09:05 PM
Started swimming competitively around age 8, and things quickly took off from there. I was a pretty accomplished junior USS swimmer (state high point, placing at zones, etc...), but got burnt out by about age 14 due to the intense training and juggling 2 year round, highly competitive sports. I stopped swimming year round then to focus more on soccer, and I was a serious under-achiever in the pool in high school. Shortly thereafter, I quit swimming for about a 10 year period.

Fast forward to now, and I have just recently started getting back into the swing of things. I'm with a team now, swimming 4-5 times/week, about 3000-3500 yards per day. It's been a difficult road getting back to what I consider to be in shape, however I have found that swimming regularly, with high intensity, has made me feel like I'm 16 again. :bliss: I have more energy than I can ever remember during my adult life, my level of satisfaction in life has increased greatly, and my relationships with co-workers, friends, and family alike have all improved.

My motivational struggles at this point center mostly on being able to push myself like I want to. I would like to believe that I have the tools to become an excellent Masters swimmer, but I am SO far behind some of my teammates, it can be disheartening at times. I don't have the stamina that I once did, so understanding, accepting, and learning to work with that has been difficult. Other than that, my only major issue is getting up at 5:15am everyday to get to practice on time :bolt:

tjburk
March 13th, 2012, 10:20 PM
Haven't been on here in a while, but, swimming used to be my escape from everything else. It was my sanity. Got to the point where I was doing between 7-10k a day. Then a couple of years ago I was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome. This put a quick end to anything more than a couple thousand yards a day. After SCY Nats in Atlanta, I haven't done much swimming at all. Started playing and competing in Racquetball again, but that's not going real well either. It's about time to make an appointment with a Rheumatologist to see what options are available.

One thing can be said for this...it has slowed me down to enjoy things in life again...:2cents:

Bobinator
March 13th, 2012, 11:22 PM
My swimming time is important to me for so many reasons:
1. I am a happier person after a good workout. Swimming = Prozac?
2. Physical Fitness is amazing. I love being 56 years old and having no problems running around and keeping up with my 10-11 year old students at school.
3. I love my master's swimming friends! Whether we're swimming, partying, or even cleaning toilets at the pool it's a fun time for all.
4. Swimming team mates create yet another fantastic support group for adults. I totally trust all my Nasti Team mates, value their opinions, and care for them deeply.
5. I love being a 56 year old female and wearing a size 2 skirt/pants.
6. Through Masters Swimming I have been able to network and become friends with some amazing swimmers from all over the country! It's so cool to become familiar with people on this forum and travel to meets where you get to meet them and become friends! I have never met a master's swimmer I didn't like. A truly dynamic group of people!
7. I try to swim 5 workouts per week. Whenever I am lacking motivation I try to remember the things I love about swimming and it's usually enough to get me to the pool. I am never sorry I worked out once I get in the water!
8. I love the fact that the water envelopes us in its cool slippery sheen! to be part of the group you have got to jump in. Once you're in it's total bliss!

swimshark
March 14th, 2012, 06:35 AM
Haven't been on here in a while, but, swimming used to be my escape from everything else. It was my sanity. Got to the point where I was doing between 7-10k a day. Then a couple of years ago I was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome. This put a quick end to anything more than a couple thousand yards a day. After SCY Nats in Atlanta, I haven't done much swimming at all. Started playing and competing in Racquetball again, but that's not going real well either. It's about time to make an appointment with a Rheumatologist to see what options are available.

One thing can be said for this...it has slowed me down to enjoy things in life again...:2cents:

But in Tracy's case, I will get him back in the water for my December trip there! Right, Tracy?

As for me, I started swimming at age 4, competing at 5, following in my sister's footsteps. I swam year round until 14 when we moved and the schedule was just too much. I continued HS and swimmer league until college where I stopped completely.

I got back in to it when my sister went to Nationals in 2000. I thought "if she can do that, I can too". So my main motivation was my sister yet again. At the time I started back my thyroid was bad and I was gaining weight. No matter what I tried, I couldn't stop gaining. I got back in the water and felt at home. Within 8 months I had lost the 30 lbs I had gained and felt wonderful. Now my motivation is keeping that weight off. My sister no longer competes in swimming (she does Ironman instead which I will NOT follow her footsteps!) but she still practices with a team so we still have that connection.

I swim with age groupers who are fast! I'm almost always the slowest one in practice. It's an ego-killer every day but when they give me kudos, it boosts me back up.

As for what can kill my motivation, going to bed at 8pm. When I swim, I get up at 4am which means a very early night the night before. There are times when I want to stay up and relax, spend time with my husband, watch something on tv but then I think about the feeling I'll have the next day and I go to bed.

I do find a balance of mommy guilt/ time is hard. The morning practices are easy to get to since my son isn't awake and I get home in time for my husband to go to work. But the weekend meets can easily have mommy guilt. My husband is a great supporter of me but guilt can still seep in. At some point my husband will change jobs and have to leave a lot earlier for work which means no more team swimming for me. When that day comes, it will be very difficult for me.

pmccoy
March 14th, 2012, 09:21 AM
I swam in summer leagues until I was 12. I begged my parents to let me swim year round on a club but had no luck with that. I don't blame them. I wasn't deprived of activities growing up and a swim team would have been stretching it. 30 years later I'm basically living a childhood dream. Getting up early 6 days a week for a long hard practice is no problem for me. I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to do it.

My biggest worry is injuries. I'd be devastated if I had to stop swimming for any length of time. Swimming does take time away from family. I am able to swim and be home before everyone wakes up but I also have to go to bed fairly early at night. When I don't swim, it aggrivates the arthritis in my back and I end up in bed for a day or two every month or so in severe pain. I think my family prefers me not complaining about my back all the time.

Overall, swimming is a huge net positive for me. There are aches and pains to manage, anxieties over injury and time issues. But the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

tjburk
March 14th, 2012, 12:18 PM
But in Tracy's case, I will get him back in the water for my December trip there! Right, Tracy?

Was going to get in this Friday and see what I can do...I do float well now!!! LOL

Debugger
March 14th, 2012, 12:23 PM
I was swimming 4 years starting from 8. When I was 12 I was fed up by 7 to 10 kilometers workouts every day (though 10km were splited in 2 workouts a day). Seems that time it was common coaching methodology but I couldn't understand why do I need all these long sets if the event I swam that time was 100 brest. Though we had such a long workouts didn't have good endurance to swim 200 and 50 was not in the list during that time. So finally after my result was standing still for 1 year and I couldn't drop even 0.1 of a second I decided to quit.
I didn't even approach swimming pools for 25 years and didn't have any desire to return. But now after 5 years working in the office at computer I started to pickup some weight. 2 years ago my weight was already 220lbs but the worst thing I found was high blood pressure so when I visited a doc she said that the only way for me is to start doing some sports and swimming is the best option she told. It actually took me about 1 year to make myself to get to the pool after that.
Now I'm swimming already 2 years and the best thing is that I enjoy it again. At the beginning I was swimming for fitness only - I never thought about becomming competitive again but after a year and something I realized that I became fit enough and fitness only doesn't satisfy me anymore and I wanted to compete - that's how I found masters club in my city.
My weight now is 182lbs and the main thing is that since the time I started swimming my blood pressure is absolutely normal. Hope it will remain the same in future.

Paul 1953
March 14th, 2012, 12:35 PM
I'd really like to hear your own views on what you have to manage as a masters swimmer. This doesn't have to relate to racing specifically.
TIME TIME TIME...!

I read that a lot in this thread. It's been an issue for me as well.
I started "Fitness/lap swimming" 30 years ago in my 20s. Have never competed except against my own time.

Training for a triathlon back then, my wife had 3 toddlers in diapers, I was away training early morning, working 8 hours, then training in the evening. How selfish was that?? I quit the triathlon training.

Now I'm retired. They say that when you stop working, your physical fitness needs to become your main job. But still..., I'm in the pool for an hour, but house -> locker room (5 min away) -> gym warm-up -> and back home is more like 2 hours out of my day!

When am I supposed to work on my taxes AND practice guitar which I have belatedly decided to learn, AND AND AND...??!! (I'm a guy and struggle with multitasking) :)

swimlong
March 15th, 2012, 01:09 AM
Like others, I struggle to balance time between work, home, and swimming. I also fear injury - I "returned" to swimming after too many injuries in soccer and running (although I still run, just not as much).

Some other things I battle:

1. fear of competition/fear of failure What if I go to a meet and post lousy times? I know others won't judge me for slow times, but I am hard on myself.

2. fear of working really hard - what if I can't finish a hard set? How do I know when I should push myself harder, or when I should say "that's hard enough" before I have a heart attack or laryngospasm?

3. Unlike Bobinator, I am not a size 2...do I look ridiculous in a Speedo? Am I being juvenile or vain for worrying about it? Maybe I should just stay home instead of going to practice...I could always make cookies...

4. Goggle marks around my eyes. I look like hell at work. I don't swim in the evenings because then I am too pumped to sleep. Swimming right after work isn't an option b/c the pool has lessons in one half of the pool and the other half is open for diving, climbing wall, and rope swing.

5. Inevitably my "training" hits snags - work, family, pool closures, etc. - and it is hard to get back in shape.

6. Only a couple other adults in my community are interested in going to meets. I wish I knew more people in the competitive swimming community. I am shy so have a hard time going to a meet by myself.

Despite all the above, I do love swimming for the endorphins and fitness it gives me.

robertsrobson
March 15th, 2012, 05:32 AM
These are all brilliant, thanks! More detail than I thought I'd get so please keep them coming. There will be enough data in these to pull out some interesting themes to summarise, and then perhaps to build on specifically.

swimshark
March 15th, 2012, 07:23 AM
Was going to get in this Friday and see what I can do...I do float well now!!! LOL

Considering the last time we swam together it was mostly talking while kicking, floating will be fine in Dec, too.

jethro
March 15th, 2012, 02:05 PM
Unlike the majority of folks here, I have no background in age group, HS, or college swimming at all. Moreover, I had no experience in any team sports whatsoever when I was younger. For a number of reasons, I was never afforded the opportunity.

One thing I personally love about masters is that it gives me the chance to do something as an adult that I always felt I missed out on when I was younger: compete in athletic events as part of a team. However, I wasn't even aware of the existence of masters swimming until I was in my late 30s. Although I have made great strides since I began, I do have to manage a sense of, I don't quite know what it is - frustration, disappointment, maybe - that at age 41, not only am I unlikely to fully realize whatever potential I might have had with an earlier start, but that the window in which I can accomplish certain goals in terms of performance is not particularly large.

But that certainly is not to say that I don't get a tremendous amount of enjoyment and satisfaction from swimming. I just wish I had discovered it years earlier!

swimdaily
March 15th, 2012, 09:32 PM
I could've written everything Jethro just said--except I'm 43, not 41!

Sometimes I get caught in a regret/rage cycle about WHY didn't I discover this earlier. But then I work back to acceptance and gratitude that I did get this wonderful opportunity to find my sport and to be nurtured by coaches that were interested in developing me.

tpost2
March 16th, 2012, 09:45 PM
Interesting thread...

Back story: I started swimming because a friend invited me to join her in age group around age 12 (a little late by some standards). I swam in HS but was fairly mediocre and probably would not have continued into college except that by a mere fluke my coach discovered my breaststroke was actually pretty good and began encouraging me. My relative success in that stroke motivated me to continue through my NCAA Div III college years.

After college, life overtook swimming interest. I didn't log a single lap for 20+ years. The last couple of years were spent trying to motivate myself to get to the gym and lose weight.... and failing miserably.

Present day: Last fall, I joined a local Masters team and found much to my extreme pleasure that I am completely hooked! I have (re?)discovered my joy of swimming, workouts are fun and painful in a good way, I've dropped weight without feeling like I'm trying, and I am setting my sites on re-attaining my college times (or maybe even better :D?). I use competitions to set personal goals and to assess my progress.

Motivation: Granted, not being a morning person it's tough to get out of bed in the wee hours, especially when it's cold and dark and my husband is cozily snoring away next to me, but I know I will regret it later in the day if I don't go.

Juggling life: Hubby is supportive, but work can sometimes get in the way. But working out in the early morning means I have time for home and hubby in the evening, and I don't run the risk of a work crisis keeping me too late to make it to the pool. As for the weekends... would I rather catch up on laundry or go to a swim meet? Mmmmmm....

Celestial
March 17th, 2012, 05:14 PM
It seems like the older I get, the more perfect conditions have to be for me to have a "good" swim - whether in workout or in meets. Although I don't think of myself as an accident waiting to happen, it seems I have chronic injuries - I envy those who have never had sore shoulders or knee problems! Sometimes I have to remind myself that there is more to life than swimming, and that these are the only arms/legs I'm going to get, so I should listen to my body & be careful - there is a fine line between that however, and pushing your body to the limit to maximize performance! How to find the balance between pushing yourself safely & injuring yourself?
My biggest struggles in years gone by were Mommy issues - it was always way more important to me to get the kids to their practices & meets etc than it was to do mine - after all, I had the opportunity when I was a kid. Now that they have all flown the nest, I have nothing holding me back & I am loving it!

robertsrobson
March 19th, 2012, 06:54 PM
Hi everyone -

Thanks again for the rich and thoughtful responses. Broadly they seemed to fall into 3 categories - motivation, challenges and fears/barriers.

Here's the first article, on masters swimmers motivations (http://www.swimpsych.com/2012/03/19/masters-swimmers-motivation/) for swimming.

I'll summarise the challenges / fears / barriers soon and hopefully be able to do a few practical articles on the specifics.

Rob

swimshark
March 19th, 2012, 08:04 PM
Hi everyone -

Thanks again for the rich and thoughtful responses. Broadly they seemed to fall into 3 categories - motivation, challenges and fears/barriers.

Here's the first article, on masters swimmers motivations (http://www.swimpsych.com/2012/03/19/masters-swimmers-motivation/) for swimming.

I'll summarise the challenges / fears / barriers soon and hopefully be able to do a few practical articles on the specifics.

Rob

Good job!

Karl_S
March 19th, 2012, 11:05 PM
'saw a USMS team at a meet with T-shirts that said,"xyz Masters Swimming: Last one alive wins". (It didn't say "xyz", I just don't remember the name of the team.) That about sums up a big part of Masters swimming.

robertsrobson
March 20th, 2012, 03:15 AM
'saw a USMS team at a meet with T-shirts that said,"xyz Masters Swimming: Last one alive wins". (It didn't say "xyz", I just don't remember the name of the team.) That about sums up a big part of Masters swimming.

Brilliant!

__steve__
March 20th, 2012, 08:17 AM
. Although I have made great strides since I began, I do have to manage a sense of, I don't quite know what it is - frustration, disappointment, maybe - that at age 41, not only am I unlikely to fully realize whatever potential I might have had with an earlier start, but that the window in which I can accomplish certain goals in terms of performance is not particularly large.

Just means your potential is yet to come

couldbebetterfly
March 20th, 2012, 09:56 AM
Although I have made great strides since I began, I do have to manage a sense of, I don't quite know what it is - frustration, disappointment, maybe - that at age 41, not only am I unlikely to fully realize whatever potential I might have had with an earlier start, but that the window in which I can accomplish certain goals in terms of performance is not particularly large.



Start from now, set yourself a goal and enjoy the journey. I'm 37 and aiming for a lifetime best this year to get into the TT for the 400 free.

I did swim when I was younger, but not at a very high level. I didn't make the University team, took 7 years off, came back, did 4 lifetime bests age 31 after having my 1st baby, had my 2nd baby, moved across the pond, and am now on the comeback once again.

It has been said before, but its all about doing your best with what's available to you right now.

Sojerz
March 20th, 2012, 10:50 AM
Unlike the majority of folks here, I have no background in age group, HS, or college swimming at all. Moreover, I had no experience in any team sports whatsoever when I was younger. For a number of reasons, I was never afforded the opportunity.

One thing I personally love about masters is that it gives me the chance to do something as an adult that I always felt I missed out on when I was younger: compete in athletic events as part of a team. However, I wasn't even aware of the existence of masters swimming until I was in my late 30s. Although I have made great strides since I began, I do have to manage a sense of, I don't quite know what it is - frustration, disappointment, maybe - that at age 41, not only am I unlikely to fully realize whatever potential I might have had with an earlier start, but that the window in which I can accomplish certain goals in terms of performance is not particularly large.


As Steve and Couldbebetterfly mentioned, it's the journey that counts, and that can start at any time and go in any direction. It's an even greater accomplishment to come to this sport without the earlier swimming. Swimming is complex and requires an enormous amount of training to do it well. You are accompllshing what many wouldn't even think to try.

And, if you follow some of the threads, you'll notice that some swimmers have lots of problems with swimmer's shoulder (often shreaded rotators) and sometimes knees and ankles too, possibly the result of too much yardage when they were younger. Hopefully, you've managed to miss any and all of those problems, and can now "backend" your journey.

It was comparatively easy for me to get back in the water, I've been at it for a long time. However, I too wonder "what might have been." Yes, I have expereiences that go further back in time, but you and swimdaily have the advantage of looking at swimminig through fresh adult eyes as a new sport for you, and deserve the kuddos for great accomplishment. Good luck, don't look back, you never know what jaws might be gaining on yah, and keep it up!

philoswimmer
March 20th, 2012, 10:59 AM
Here is my swimming history: I swam summer league starting when I was about age 5, then at age 13 swim all year round, but only twice a week with a Y team during the school year (my thought that more would take too much time away from other activities that they wanted me to do :P). Then in high school I swam with my high school team (which was great, we were a really good and fun team), and, in the last couple of years, an age group team. I always felt behind the curve and was mediocre at best. I swam my freshman year in college, but the coach was overtraining us and it was a miserable experience, especially on top of keeping up with classes, so I quit. There was a new coach my junior year, but by the I felt like I'd be out of the pool too long. (Ha!). Then I did masters for a few years in my late 20s until I moved to CA. I couldn't find a team that worked for me time-wise until I moved to my current location about 5 years ago. Now I am training consistently and loving it, although I wish I could get into the pool more often than I do -- I am training 3X/week for 1 hr each session. I have a sabbatical from my job coming up and I am hoping to use it to get more swimming in.

Looking back on my swimming as a child, I was always frustrated that I was not a better swimmer even though I was working hard, was tall and strong, etc. From my perspective today, I can see that two things were holding me back: 1) a lot of negative self-talk and 2) asthma (my coaches liked to make fun of my breathing, but no one ever thought to send me to the doctor :bitching:). I'd like to say that knowing these things has made me a better swimmer, but those are the same two main things I struggle with today (aside from not being able to train as much as I like). I still feel like I am not swimming as well as I should be, and I get embarrassed about my times, but I can't seem to move forward in any significant way.

moodyrichardson
March 20th, 2012, 12:42 PM
For me, the motivation of Masters is the enjoyment. Unlike so many here, I don't have a background in swimming at all. I never swam age group, high school, or college. It wasn't even offered in the small town, where I live. I never took a swim lesson. I'm self taught. I have always LOVED to watch competitive swimming, though. I'm an Olympic junkie!

One day, I decided that I wanted REALLY swim. The Masters program members and coaches said that it wasn't too late for me to do that. So, I joined and that's exactly what I did. This is only my second year competing, and I'm totally addicted! The feeling of accomplishment and pride after a good practice or meet, is what keeps me motivated and coming back! Also, it was fun to finally realize my childhood dream of swimming competitively!!

robertsrobson
March 29th, 2012, 05:17 PM
I've now added a follow-up article on the challenges faced by masters swimmers (http://www.swimpsych.com/?p=159). All shares/likes and comments appreciated.

Thanks

Redbird Alum
March 30th, 2012, 01:51 PM
I've now added a follow-up article on the challenges faced by masters swimmers (http://www.swimpsych.com/?p=159). All shares/likes and comments appreciated.

Thanks

Rob -

Reading this, I found myself thinking that really, only point 3 seemed to be soley a Masters level issue. The others are common to all swimmers regardless of one's age, aren't they? Also, you want to correct your last sentence, where you used "won" in place of "one".

ColoJoel
March 30th, 2012, 07:15 PM
As Steve and Couldbebetterfly mentioned, it's the journey that counts, and that can start at any time and go in any direction. It's an even greater accomplishment to come to this sport without the earlier swimming. Swimming is complex and requires an enormous amount of training to do it well. You are accompllshing what many wouldn't even think to try.

And, if you follow some of the threads, you'll notice that some swimmers have lots of problems with swimmer's shoulder (often shreaded rotators) and sometimes knees and ankles too, possibly the result of too much yardage when they were younger. Hopefully, you've managed to miss any and all of those problems, and can now "backend" your journey.

It was comparatively easy for me to get back in the water, I've been at it for a long time. However, I too wonder "what might have been." Yes, I have expereiences that go further back in time, but you and swimdaily have the advantage of looking at swimminig through fresh adult eyes as a new sport for you, and deserve the kuddos for great accomplishment. Good luck, don't look back, you never know what jaws might be gaining on yah, and keep it up!

I, too, seem to be one of a fairly rare breed (at least here on these forums) that began swimming seriously as an adult. I heard of masters many years ago, but only started with it a bit over 2 yrs ago. I so agree with the first part of Sojerz' quote -- its the journey that counts, that this is a difficult & technical sport, and that I'm likely doing more in masters than 99% of the general adult population :)

After saying that I'd "Never do one", I started doing meets last June & haven't looked back since! I use them as a gauge of my training, coaching, and techniques -- & really don't worry about what other swimmers do (timewise) at them, just how I'm doing (hopefully better than last time). For the most part, that's been my experience :agree:.

I say that I'm quite glad that I didn't swim competitively in my younger years (only swim lessons as a kid); I have nothing to 'regain', didn't 'burn out'; nor do I seem to have the classic swimmer's ailments or at least 'issues' that others mention (thanks be to God!). It's been a great sport for my health, fitness, & confidence -- all of these have helped me to become a better person, I feel! :). And when my ego is deflated at times, I just remember that there's more to life than swimming -- hence my signature!

TomK3
March 30th, 2012, 09:11 PM
A hard workout relaxes me better than any drug I could imagine (ideally I don't get too relaxed and doze off :)). In fact, I try to schedule stressful meetings right after swim.

The challenge for me is the beginning of a workout. I don't know if it's being 66, but it takes me at least 1500 yd before I start feeling good, and it takes major will power to push through the first half of the set. Eventually I stop hurting and start cruising, and it's a great feeling when that happens, too.

Allen Stark
March 31st, 2012, 05:21 PM
I have been trying to live by the philosophy that the NEXT big meet is the important one.I generally have 3 taper meets/yr : SCY,LCM,and SCM.Those are my big meets.By making the next one the big one it keeps my focus forward.It keeps my training focused forward.If I swim a poor race I can use it as learning for the next meet.If I feel I wasn't prepared well enough for a meet I know better what to do for the next meet. Paradoxically the biggest impediment to this philosophy is swimming really well.At LCM Nats last year I swam a 200M BR much faster than I thought I could go.I spent about 2 mo replaying it over and over in my mind,resting on my laurels instead of focusing forward and my training suffered.One of the greatest thing about Masters is that it is a lifetime sport, really a fountain of youth, and there is always another meet.

Celestial
March 31st, 2012, 09:24 PM
Rob - you know what I would really appreciate? A thread of sorts with sports psychology HELPS. I have only recently begun to appreciate my "improvements" at the masters level - in other words, I've stopped comparing myself to my times as a youth. Some masters swimmers seem to be able to retain, or regain the speed of their youth, but I, alas, am not one of them! This really held me back for a long time & I see some comments on here & hear them at practice or at meets as well, that let me know I'm not the only one! My last two meets have been some of my funnest, because I have finally begun (again) to swim the entire meet without negative self talk! This has been a huge breakthrough for me, and not just in terms of time improvement, but also my happiness factor! It would be great if you could help us all in this way,

jswim
April 1st, 2012, 03:15 PM
Hi everyone -

Thanks again for the rich and thoughtful responses. Broadly they seemed to fall into 3 categories - motivation, challenges and fears/barriers.

Here's the first article, on masters swimmers motivations (http://www.swimpsych.com/2012/03/19/masters-swimmers-motivation/) for swimming.

I'll summarise the challenges / fears / barriers soon and hopefully be able to do a few practical articles on the specifics.

Rob

Nice article and blog Rob, thanks for sharing!

Celestial
April 1st, 2012, 05:22 PM
Just found this http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1Y8eeB/www.swimpsych.com/2012/03/29/masters-swimmers-challenge/
Great beginnings Rob, thanks!:)

robertsrobson
April 2nd, 2012, 04:08 AM
Rob - you know what I would really appreciate? A thread of sorts with sports psychology HELPS. I have only recently begun to appreciate my "improvements" at the masters level - in other words, I've stopped comparing myself to my times as a youth. Some masters swimmers seem to be able to retain, or regain the speed of their youth, but I, alas, am not one of them! This really held me back for a long time & I see some comments on here & hear them at practice or at meets as well, that let me know I'm not the only one! My last two meets have been some of my funnest, because I have finally begun (again) to swim the entire meet without negative self talk! This has been a huge breakthrough for me, and not just in terms of time improvement, but also my happiness factor! It would be great if you could help us all in this way,

Hi - this is a big one for a lot of masters swimmers. One of my team mates was the British record holder at 100 breast, and joined masters 7 years later. She just couldn't reset her expectations, and hasn't been back - hopefully she will try again.

If the appetite is there I will start a Q&A type thread for psychology. It will also help me to generate ideas for articles.

ElaineK
April 2nd, 2012, 01:26 PM
If the appetite is there I will start a Q&A type thread for psychology. It will also help me to generate ideas for articles.

:turkey: Yep, it's there; at least with me! That would be great, Rob- thanks! :D

Debugger
April 2nd, 2012, 02:12 PM
Hi - this is a big one for a lot of masters swimmers. One of my team mates was the British record holder at 100 breast, and joined masters 7 years later. She just couldn't reset her expectations, and hasn't been back - hopefully she will try again.

If the appetite is there I will start a Q&A type thread for psychology. It will also help me to generate ideas for articles.
I absolutely understand her. For 25 years break I had no desire to come to the pool. If not doc's prescription to swim I would never return. That actually helped a lot because my mind set was: I need it for my health. So I didn't worry much about results. If I worried about the result 1st day I returned to the pool I would give up swimming again - that's for sure. Only after 1 year swimming for health I felt that I became stronger and understood that I miss competitions again.

ddskier63
April 2nd, 2012, 04:29 PM
To Mr. Stark, it was a pleasure meeting you at Pac Masters Champs. Unfortunately the only time I spotted you was immediately following your 50yd. breaststroke. Not an optimal time for an introduction but I needed to formally thank you for your postings regarding breaststroke drills, competition, and the psychology of a highly technical stroke. BTW, nice swim.:applaud:

Erudition
April 6th, 2012, 02:58 PM
I am a 32 y/o male with Cystic Fibrosis. I swim to stay alive.

I manage treatments, family, and work, but swimming is right at the top, because if I do not have my health, none of the others will be around.

The only major downside is that I have to travel a decent amount for work, and I lose my fitness level much faster than normal athletes.

Fortunately, I have a great team! (TXLA)