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View Full Version : When to think about joining Masters Swimming



floatything
July 18th, 2018, 01:35 PM
Hi! I'm new to swimming as far as proper stroke technique goes. Learned how to swim as a kid, though.

I'm currently taking the Stroke Introduction (Stage 4) class at the local YMCA. Figured it would be good to start with the basics and build up with a solid foundation from there. There are still two other class levels after Stage 4. Should I wait until I've maxed out of all YMCA offered levels before looking at joining the local Masters program?

flystorms
July 18th, 2018, 04:36 PM
HI there and welcome, Floaty. Talk to the Master's coach there at the Y. More than likely, s/he will give you an assessment to see where you are with your skills. They can let you know if they feel you're ready to jump in with them or if you need a bit more work. A lot of times, depending on the size of the team, there are a lot of different skill levels, speeds and needs. See what they think. Good luck!

Sumorunner
July 19th, 2018, 09:31 AM
Yes, check with the coach and corner one or two of the current team members to ask if they do only advanced workouts or allow for novices to jump in with them. I was not really ready since my stroke skills were far from good, but they welcomed people just starting up. "Beginners" occupied the last lane and could skip or substitute a set or two if they weren't up to the posted sets. The coaches would also give us remedial drills to develop skills. It took me a whole year to work up to an acceptable 100 IM, but at age 70 that was a major accomplishment.

Sojerz
July 19th, 2018, 02:43 PM
Joining usms for a year is fairly inexpensive ($30 or $35 as I recall) and among other things this gets you within usms for insurance purposes. You can then "drop in" at many usms clubs' practices in your area to see which you like before joining the club (club payments for coaching and pool time are separate from usms membership). Some clubs have a drop in fee for a single occassion, but many club coaches will let you try out a few practices for free if you think you might join the club. Pretty much all clubs have a progressive system for swimmers ranging in speed and ability i.e., some slower lanes, moderate lanes, faster lanes and a few even have lanes and practices for elite swimmers.

If you are just learning to swim from scratch a masters team might not be the right spot for beginning. If this is the case, look for a USMS or YMCA adult learn to swim program before trying a club team . But, if you can get up and down the pool, say 10 to 20 times, and want to improve quickly, starting in the slower lane in a club practice session a couple of times per week (or more) is a great way to get going, because you are in with other swimmers and that helps motivation a lot. You don't even have to do the whole practice starting out, just do what you can a build from there. You'll be shocked at how fast you improve and how much fun it is.

Hope this helps and looking forward to hearing how you make out.

ssumargo
July 19th, 2018, 03:50 PM
Definitely check with the coach or try it out. Each masters club is different. The one I swim with, there is a lane where you can literally just bob up and down in. I've visited a masters team while at Chicago where every lane was pretty "advanced". Before I joined my team, I was swimming 3 days a week for 30 min. Zero flip turns, only freestyle, and at most 100m straight swimming. So yes, I started out in that you-can-just-bob-up-and-down lane the first week I started masters.

floatything
July 21st, 2018, 05:32 PM
Thanks for the input everyone! I think I'll ask my lesson instructor on Tuesday if she's familiar with how the Masters program is at our Y as far as allowing for slower/newer/weaker swimmers. If she doesn't know, I'll seek out someone with the program. I'm mostly looking for a way to supplement my once a week lesson, but for now I can probably just go swim by myself and practice what we've been working on in class (drug my husband along with me today).

My biggest issues besides sloppy technique and not even knowing how to do butterfly yet, are that as a kid I held my breath rather than exhaling underwater so I'm working on fixing that so I don't get so out of breath. At this point I'm only swimming 25-50 meters continuously, and then I'll stop for a quick break before going again. I'm not sure if I could go farther, especially if I slowed down? So far in class we've never done more than 50m b/c we're focused on stroke technique. I also have issues with pacing myself; have the same problem in running.

So far we've worked on freestyle and breaststroke in the class. I had H take video of me today towards the end when I was tired and a medium, relaxed breaststroke (for me) takes me 00:35 for 25m; freestyle was 00:27. I had no concept of what I looked like or how fast/slow I'm swimming so it was interesting to see. Humbling for sure. lol

flystorms
July 23rd, 2018, 09:40 AM
"Humbling for sure. lol"
Yeah, but a month or two from now, video yourself again, then look at the old tape. I'm sure you'll see a marked difference if you stick with this as you keep learning and improving. :)

Swimming is a lot like golf. It's all about tiny movements and tweaks to make a difference. It's a sport you can continue to learn and grow in for your entire life. Never stop learning. :)

Sojerz
July 23rd, 2018, 05:36 PM
I think you are on the right track, and as flystorms said, you 'll be surprised at how much progress you can make in a month, if you stick to it. Getting technique down is so very important. Take your time and build your base from 1 or 2 days per week to 3 days and up increasing the no. of laps. Try out the masters team when you feel up for it.

Butterfly is the toughest of the strokes to master - it takes more strength and timed movements. When you're ready to start flying get some coaching and try out some short swim fins to help with the kick, breathing, speed, and body position and motion. You've done the hard part and rest will come, including the breathing.

cinc3100
July 23rd, 2018, 11:12 PM
Yes, check with the coach and corner one or two of the current team members to ask if they do only advanced workouts or allow for novices to jump in with them. I was not really ready since my stroke skills were far from good, but they welcomed people just starting up. "Beginners" occupied the last lane and could skip or substitute a set or two if they weren't up to the posted sets. The coaches would also give us remedial drills to develop skills. It took me a whole year to work up to an acceptable 100 IM, but at age 70 that was a major accomplishment.
Very good.

orca1946
July 23rd, 2018, 11:17 PM
As a guy that "pushes" swimmers into fly -- we do LOTS of drills to help others learn this tough stroke.
I you feel as if you are ready , try a few workouts with a local team. If you want to complete some more Y class , that is ok too.
Don't shy away from the team, most welcome new swimmers of all abilities. Good luck and have fun.

floatything
August 1st, 2018, 10:52 AM
So my instructor and I worked out one thing at lessons this week that made a difference in how far I can swim. Rather than breathing every 3rd stroke, she had me switch to every other. This doesn't give me enough time to really start holding my breath. Breath, exhale underwater, breath, exhale... Went from barely eking out 50m to swimming 100m freestyle, although I was tired by the end of 100m. Also did another couple rounds of 75m freestyle during the class too.

Started learning butterfly last week and worked on backstroke this week. Did 75m backstroke, but I definitely feel like I could have gone a lot farther. Which, again tells me my distance issue is (at least partially) a breathing issue.

Sojerz
August 1st, 2018, 01:41 PM
So my instructor and I worked out one thing at lessons this week that made a difference in how far I can swim. Rather than breathing every 3rd stroke, she had me switch to every other. This doesn't give me enough time to really start holding my breath. Breath, exhale underwater, breath, exhale... Went from barely eking out 50m to swimming 100m freestyle, although I was tired by the end of 100m. Also did another couple rounds of 75m freestyle during the class too.

Started learning butterfly last week and worked on backstroke this week. Did 75m backstroke, but I definitely feel like I could have gone a lot farther. Which, again tells me my distance issue is (at least partially) a breathing issue.

Guess I didn't realize you were breathing every 3 (aka alternate side breathing). Yikes! Breathe 3 in my opinion is not a good approach for a swimmer starting out, because it is much harder to do, and there are many higher priority things to work on starting out. Although it sounds simple (i.e., just holding your breath for another split second or so), you are burning a great deal of oxygen while you swim and oxygen consumption is generally a limiting factor for most swimmers. Glad your instructor changed that and believe it will really help you progress without as much difficulty.

Breathe 3 (or more) is a great goal (for conditioning and racing) for the future as you get stronger and more comfortable in the water and have stroke, kick, body position, and breathing mechanics nailed down.

floatything
August 1st, 2018, 11:49 PM
So I got my answer to my question of when you should think about joining Masters. Showed up midway through the Masters practice just to watch to see what levels of people they seem to have. Nobody remotely close to my level! Watched the end of their practice from the luxury of the hot tub. Anyhow, one of the members came over after, he's also an instructor at the Y. He suggested I aim for being able to do 1000 yds. (10 sets of 100 yds. would be fine). So anyhow, it's going to be some time until I get there. So until then, I'll just keep doing the Y lessons and practicing solo. Maybe I can make a friend in a lesson to practice with.

Stayed and practiced in the rec pool as the lap pool was BUSY and I'm slow and take frequent breaks and didn't want to hold up what I call the "real" swimmers. OMG the rec pool is like a bath tub; it was so warm and gross. But I practiced all 4 strokes in that bath tub of human soup. Swam 4 lengths of the rec pool freestyle (not sure if it's 25 yds. like the lap pool?). Managed 1 full length of awful butterfly. As it turns out the lap pool is yards, not meters. Got in 50 yds. of breaststroke in the lap pool before I gave up my lane to a better swimmer and moved to the rec pool.

So all in all a good night and informational. I hope you all don't mind if I still ask questions from time to time, even though I won't be joining Masters anytime soon.

orca1946
August 2nd, 2018, 11:57 AM
Please don't give up!! Take more instruction and keep working on your distance. let us know how you are doing.

Sojerz
August 2nd, 2018, 01:56 PM
The ability to swim 10x100 seems like an appropriate goal and learning the other strokes will be helpful when you are jump into a masters practice.

In a lap pool don't worry too much about other better swimmers in the same lane. Most swimmers are used to swimming in a lane with other swimmers and know how to pass. You can wait on the wall for them to pass, move closer to the lane line and let them swim by mid-lane, or just ask if they would like to split the lane which eliminates passing. And you'll need to learn to swim with other swimmers in the lane anyway.

Keep swimming and the lessons up and you'll reach that goal.

floatything
August 3rd, 2018, 04:03 AM
I'm not going to quit. It just sucks I'm going to be hanging solo for the foreseeable future. A DNA test showed the bulk of my muscles are fast twitch, former and current gymnast, so don't think I'm gonna get to 10x100 anytime soon. But I'll keep plugging along. I'm envious of all of you who are good at endurance sports. Running and swimming long distances comes so naturally to so many of my friends and families, but not to me at all. I challenged my 5'10" husband to a sprint once.... I'm 5'1". I had him solidly beat initially but he eventually caught up to me and then dusted me.

Sojerz
August 3rd, 2018, 03:11 PM
I'm not going to quit. It just sucks I'm going to be hanging solo for the foreseeable future. A DNA test showed the bulk of my muscles are fast twitch, former and current gymnast, so don't think I'm gonna get to 10x100 anytime soon. But I'll keep plugging along. I'm envious of all of you who are good at endurance sports. Running and swimming long distances comes so naturally to so many of my friends and families, but not to me at all. I challenged my 5'10" husband to a sprint once.... I'm 5'1". I had him solidly beat initially but he eventually caught up to me and then dusted me.

So the 10x100 thing isn't cast-in-stone and only a guideline for when you would be comfortable. There are lots of sprinters around who aren't going to want to be swimming sets like 10x100 (you may be among them).

The strength and flexibility from gymnastics will help you with your mechanics too. And the more you swim the more your aerobic energy system will develop, sustaining your effort over longer distances. Swimming is a bit different from other sports - technique is complex using many if not all major muscles, and development of one's anaerobic and aerobic energy systems are key. It just takes time and work in the water. Good swimmers do make it look easy, but they've probably been at it for a long time.

FYI - there is a relatively new training theory that some swimmers are following called Ultra Short Race Pace Training (USRPT). It is not a traditional training method, but you may want to check it out. It involves less distance, shorter repeats (25s and 50s) at a goal race pace time. It's being used to train for shorter events - 50s, 100s and 200s. It reminds me a bit of "Tabata" that was initially developed for training in speed skating by a Japanese speed skating trainer named Tabata, but is now used for training in other sports too. You can search the USMS website for "USRPT" and Google.

You might want to talk to your instructor about training recommendations starting out so you avoid "grooving" bad habits.

Allen Stark
August 3rd, 2018, 04:40 PM
So the 10x100 thing isn't cast-in-stone and only a guideline for when you would be comfortable. There are lots of sprinters around who aren't going to want to be swimming sets like 10x100 (you may be among them).

The strength and flexibility from gymnastics will help you with your mechanics too. And the more you swim the more your aerobic energy system will develop, sustaining your effort over longer distances. Swimming is a bit different from other sports - technique is complex using many if not all major muscles, and development of one's anaerobic and aerobic energy systems are key. It just takes time and work in the water. Good swimmers do make it look easy, but they've probably been at it for a long time.

FYI - there is a relatively new training theory that some swimmers are following called Ultra Short Race Pace Training (USRPT). It is not a traditional training method, but you may want to check it out. It involves less distance, shorter repeats (25s and 50s) at a goal race pace time. It's being used to train for shorter events - 50s, 100s and 200s. It reminds me a bit of "Tabata" that was initially developed for training in speed skating by a Japanese speed skating trainer named Tabata, but is now used for training in other sports too. You can search the USMS website for "USRPT" and Google.

You might want to talk to your instructor about training recommendations starting out so you avoid "grooving" bad habits.
USRPT works for longer distances to, as shown by Glenn Gruber's master's world records in the 400 free.

Sojerz
August 7th, 2018, 11:21 AM
USRPT works for longer distances to, as shown by Glenn Gruber's master's world records in the 400 free.

Yes, I've been following his progress and posts a bit. Definitely moved USRPT up into the middle distances - guess 8x50=400 and 10x50=500 works in math and in usrpt.