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Sumorunner
April 6th, 2017, 05:01 PM
Masters team article in the New York Times, by Nancy Stearns Bercaw

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/04/well/move/swimming-in-the-fast-lane.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fhe alth&action=click&contentCollection=health&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=7&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0

ourswimmer
April 7th, 2017, 09:32 PM
This story was going really well until the very end. I hoped the conclusion would describe how she let go of needing to be comparatively great just to make swimming worthwhile. Instead she threw in that nutty thing about being in the "top five."

Chris Stevenson
April 9th, 2017, 09:54 AM
I hoped the conclusion would describe how she let go of needing to be comparatively great just to make swimming worthwhile.

It was pretty clear to me well before the end that she was not heading down that road. Different strokes for different folks and all, but honestly I didn't like the article very much.

SoTxSwimmer
April 9th, 2017, 10:39 AM
For many who swam competitively at a high level during their youth and college years, the competition is a big part of why they started training again. For me, I started training for health reasons but once I started to get in shape and find some speed, I was bit by the competitive bug and I, too, feel like a young age grouper trying to hit a time and place high in meets....and I'm hitting my original goal of better health and fitness.
At the same time I train with swimmers my age who are every bit as fast as me, or faster, and they have no interest in competing....to each their own....but the story does touch some of us who spent so much time in the pool so long ago, and have rediscovered the thrill in swimming competitively.

Sumorunner
April 9th, 2017, 01:57 PM
I never competed at anything when I was young, entered my very 1st swim meet at 68. A heart defect prohibited me (unnecessarily) from even participating in any sports until I was about 30. But I do understand the competitive fire. Swimming is the only sport I have seen where middle aged people can come anywhere close to, not to mention exceeding their younger times.

A few decades ago I was a track & field coach, and I organized "masters" teams for the corporate cup relays. I spent much of the year trying to motivate formerly competitive athletes to return to good form, sprinters, middle distance runners, throwers, jumpers. Those who were most reluctant were those who performed at the highest levels when young. They knew they could never come close to college times and seemed to be somehow embarrassed by being a lesser athlete than they once had been. Those who were most enthusiastic were the ones who came into competitive form rather late and were still seeing improvements.

cinc3100
April 10th, 2017, 12:42 AM
I never competed at anything when I was young, entered my very 1st swim meet at 68. A heart defect prohibited me (unnecessarily) from even participating in any sports until I was about 30. But I do understand the competitive fire. Swimming is the only sport I have seen where middle aged people can come anywhere close to, not to mention exceeding their younger times.

A few decades ago I was a track & field coach, and I organized "masters" teams for the corporate cup relays. I spent much of the year trying to motivate formerly competitive athletes to return to good form, sprinters, middle distance runners, throwers, jumpers. Those who were most reluctant were those who performed at the highest levels when young. They knew they could never come close to college times and seemed to be somehow embarrassed by being a lesser athlete than they once had been. Those who were most enthusiastic were the ones who came into competitive form rather late and were still seeing improvements.
It depends upon the swimmer. Male swimmers are usually able to hold the times better than women in their 50's. The top female swimmers in the 55 to 59 and 60 to 64 are swimming really good in a 100 yard breaststroke if they swim under 1:20. Some of these women as kids swam 1:10 to 1:13 when they were young. None do that in their age group since the record I think for 55 to 59 year old women is 1:13.

Rob Copeland
April 10th, 2017, 08:48 AM
It was pretty clear to me well before the end that she was not heading down that road.It should have been pretty clear with
I was a sprinter...

knelson
April 10th, 2017, 10:41 AM
Nice one Rob :)

Now someone needs to tell her the 25 free is not a "real" event!

knelson
April 10th, 2017, 12:17 PM
It depends upon the swimmer. Male swimmers are usually able to hold the times better than women in their 50's. The top female swimmers in the 55 to 59 and 60 to 64 are swimming really good in a 100 yard breaststroke if they swim under 1:20. Some of these women as kids swam 1:10 to 1:13 when they were young. None do that in their age group since the record I think for 55 to 59 year old women is 1:13.

I'd hate to make this assumption purely based on the results from a single event, but the 100 breast in the 55-59 age group does support your claim. I compared the #1 and #10 swims in the 2016 SCY USMS Top Ten listing with the American Record for the event in 1981 (when someone who was 55 in 2016 would have been 20). For the women the #1 time was 24% slower than the 1981 record and the #10 time was 32% slower. For men, #1 was 14% slower, and #10 was 25% slower.

The 1981 American records were 52.93 by Steve Lundquist and 1:01.13 by Tracy Caulkins, by the way.

Karl_S
April 10th, 2017, 10:16 PM
... I compared the #1 and #10 swims in the 2016 SCY USMS Top Ten listing with the American Record for the event in 1981 (when someone who was 55 in 2016 would have been 20). For the women the #1 time was 24% slower than the 1981 record and the #10 time was 32% slower. For men, #1 was 14% slower, and #10 was 25% slower.

The 1981 American records were 52.93 by Steve Lundquist and 1:01.13 by Tracy Caulkins, by the way.
I wonder how fast Lundquist and Caulkins could swim 100 SCY breast today if they took say 12-18 months to train. I'd bet they would crush the USMS records.

I have sometimes thought about what swimmers I would like to see do masters, Mary T. would be very high on my list.

orca1946
April 11th, 2017, 11:34 AM
There must be a reason that not many "world class" swimmers come back into master to "crush" records. They have had their time as top flight swimmers and now prefer to help others or relax. I have witnessed some that have done crushing times and it is awe inspiring and humbling.

quicksilver
April 15th, 2017, 02:48 PM
There must be a reason that not many "world class" swimmers come back into master to "crush" records. They have had their time as top flight swimmers and now prefer to help others or relax. I have witnessed some that have done crushing times and it is awe inspiring and humbling.

Agreed. A lot of people would take great pride in saying that they just whooped Mark Spitz in a 100 free. ...He did swim with a masters group for a while, but I'm not so certain that he competed. ...I recall reading a local article that he was not fond of having a target on his back.

On the other hand, Rowdy Gaines, Matt Biondi, and Brian Goodell have all been active masters competitors... and they do it for fun it seems, rather than trying to prove something. It's a sport for life, and a great way to stay in shape. Granted, Rowdy is still a phenomenal sprinter, but he has a humble spirit, and can't help but do well based on his gift and hard work.

This mindset is a far cry from the zealots who need to fill some kind of internal void by smashing records, and "crushing" their competition. ...Yes we all have competitive drive, and it's wonderful to enjoy reaching a goal, and some personal success after all the hard work, but it's almost kind of sad when one's drive to win somehow seems a tad extreme.

knelson
April 16th, 2017, 02:04 AM
I'm not so sure the number of super elite swimmers who don't swim masters is substantially different than the number of swimmers as a whole who swam when they were younger but don't swim masters. The bottom line is the vast majority of kids who were competitive swimmers leave the competitive side of the sport never to return.

Dan Kornblatt
April 16th, 2017, 08:36 AM
I'm not so sure the number of super elite swimmers who don't swim masters is substantially different than the number of swimmers as a whole who swam when they were younger but don't swim masters. The bottom line is the vast majority of kids who were competitive swimmers leave the competitive side of the sport never to return.

This is precisely the major long term issue of Masters Swimming. The numbers are staggering if you include age group, high school and colligate ex swimmers. Sadly the issue is with their former swimming not Masters. How do we get the point across that Masters Swimming is both fun and self directed. The latter is the key. No one is going to tell you that you have to be the 200 Flyer. I always stress to prospective ex swimmers we swim fun things like 50's of all strokes and 100 IMs. The swimmer decides on the level of involvement such as to number of workouts a week, number of meets a year, and coached or self coached.

If USMS wants to get to the 100,000 member mark this is the group we need to attract. As always the devil is in the details but we should be willing to spend some money on a trial and error basis advertising wise.

cinc3100
April 30th, 2017, 12:10 AM
Well, I open my mouth and Caroline K lowered the 100 yard breaststroke record in the 55 to 59 to 1:10.5 and she was about a 1:06 supporter as a teenager. So, 1:13 is no longer the standard of the 55 to 59 age group.

m2tall2
April 30th, 2017, 07:28 PM
I'm not so sure the number of super elite swimmers who don't swim masters is substantially different than the number of swimmers as a whole who swam when they were younger but don't swim masters. The bottom line is the vast majority of kids who were competitive swimmers leave the competitive side of the sport never to return.

I don't want to drive this too far off topic but THIS I find to be a huge issue. I have about 50 swimmers from my youth days I still keep in touch with through Facebook or whatnot. The number that still swim regularly? One, me. The number that will occasionally dabble back in the pool? Another three.
A husband and wife couple from my youth days, one of whom was crazy fast, just posted that they are getting rid of the pool that came with their new home last year because they are "not pool people". This makes me so sad.
Our facility attracts members from 12 towns with youth teams. We have only 9 former swimmers and 5 of them had the same coach on three separate teams. The three dabblers on my Facebook feed? Same coach as the 5 masters members and I have friends from 4 different teams. This is not a coincidence. A coach can make or break whether kids want to swim for life.

Chris Stevenson
May 1st, 2017, 01:04 PM
A husband and wife couple from my youth days, one of whom was crazy fast, just posted that they are getting rid of the pool that came with their new home last year because they are "not pool people". This makes me so sad.

Our facility attracts members from 12 towns with youth teams. We have only 9 former swimmers and 5 of them had the same coach on three separate teams. The three dabblers on my Facebook feed? Same coach as the 5 masters members and I have friends from 4 different teams. This is not a coincidence. A coach can make or break whether kids want to swim for life.

I want to push back on two things in this post. One is that it is "so sad" that previously fast swimmers don't want to swim masters. Yes, I think it is sad if they are not doing any serious exercise. But if they've found something else to do that they enjoy more than swimming, more power to them. (As an aside: not wanting a backyard pool doesn't make you a hater of all things swimming. I have such bad memories of HS years spent scrubbing pools -- including a backyard pool -- that I can't imagine owning one.)

The other thing I challenge is the idea that the reason that former swimmers aren't participating in masters is because of their coaches. If that were true, then something like 90+% of all college coaches are crap and I don't believe that. Isn't it just possible that after many, many years of high-level competition, most varsity college swimmers are ready for something else? And for the truly elite swimmers that swim past college -- something that didn't really happen back when I was that age -- they may be even more ready to do something different.

Some of my college team-mates "dabble" in masters, most do not, but in all cases it is not because they loathed swimming when they were young. Same thing in the university where I work: I know many of the former varsity swimmers who are still in town and most do not swim very much. But they mostly found other activities that they enjoy. They don't hate their former coach and they fully understand that masters swimming is low pressure; they decide to do other things anyway.

Maybe part of the reason that former fast swimmers move on is that it can be enjoyable to do a sport in which you have little history; I got heavily into cycling for about 10 years awhile back for much this reason. When I'm swimming, there is always a part of me that laments how much slower I am now than I used to be, but there were no such comparisons to be made in cycling.

Personally I think USMS is doing the right thing in trying to forge partnership with college CLUB swimmers rather than spend a lot of time marketing to varsity college swimmers.

loonytick
May 1st, 2017, 02:37 PM
If a person was drawn to swimming at a young age because they were good at it, much more than because of a real enjoyment for the sport, then of course they aren't going to feel the urge to keep swimming when they won't feel good at it anymore. Likewise, a fundamentally very competitive person is going to find fulfillment from finding activities in which he or she feels like a strong competitor; if at some point they don't feel that way from swimming it's only natural for them to find another outlet for putting that competitive drive to work.

We all have different motivations, we all operate in different contexts. I don't think there's anything sad about another person making different decisions than I did. The fact that some folks aren't not swimming anymore, or that someone else swims for reasons other than my own, doesn't take any enjoyment away from me. It's not sad. It's just normal life.

opeleroy
May 2nd, 2017, 11:15 PM
I don't want to drive this too far off topic but THIS I find to be a huge issue. I have about 50 swimmers from my youth days I still keep in touch with through Facebook or whatnot. The number that still swim regularly? One, me. The number that will occasionally dabble back in the pool? Another three.
A husband and wife couple from my youth days, one of whom was crazy fast, just posted that they are getting rid of the pool that came with their new home last year because they are "not pool people". This makes me so sad.
Our facility attracts members from 12 towns with youth teams. We have only 9 former swimmers and 5 of them had the same coach on three separate teams. The three dabblers on my Facebook feed? Same coach as the 5 masters members and I have friends from 4 different teams. This is not a coincidence. A coach can make or break whether kids want to swim for life.

Same here. Most of the swimmers that I still talk to don't have great memories of how their swimming careers ended (injuries, fall out with coaches, disappointing end to their career, etc). It took me ten years to get back into the pool.

I love it more now than I ever did then, something I try to impress on old swimming buddies, but for most of my former teammates the sport is associated with less-than-awesome club swimming memories.