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Fitswimmer04
July 16th, 2004, 10:46 AM
Help! I'm going to my first practice ever for a master's swim team on Sunday morning. I've been swimming on my own since March and have worked up to 50 minute sessions-a little over a mile-3 days a week. I've never been coached or trained before, so the whole thing has me pretty intimidated. I've been reading the forum and from what I see, you all seem to recommend team training to improve. I'm over 40, still about 10 pounds heavier than I'd like to be but not in horrible shape. I'm a little nervous that I won't be able to keep up or that people will resent a slow untrained swimmer messing up their practice.
Any advice?

Thanks!!

aquageek
July 16th, 2004, 11:03 AM
I can only suggest the following:

1. Eat lots of garlic before practice, improves your swimming.
2. Wear big baggy trunks as that is how most USMS swimmers train between meets.
3. Big, snorkel type goggles are very popular now and most USMS swimmers have adopted them for training and meets.
4. A generous lubing of your head with baby oil is what most people are using instead of swim caps these days.

Have fun, you'll do fine.

Fitswimmer04
July 16th, 2004, 11:08 AM
funny, dude-but I was being serious. It's easy for people who were swimmers in high school or college. For those of us who have never done this kind of thing everything about it is intimidating. There are "unwritten rules", the language is unfamiliar and there are lots of people that are better at it. The only way to keep the sport growing is to welcome and encourage beginnners-unless growing the sport isn't really a major objective.

swimpastor
July 16th, 2004, 11:27 AM
Hi Julie,

I understand the feeling, even though I started competitive swimming as a child. As I have mentioned elsewhere in these posts, I generally swim alone, though there are other swimmers who also swim where I work out. I've started talking with and getting to know one of those guys who often swims at the same time I do. Last night we were in adjacent lanes and so he asked me, "What are you swimming... Can I join you in your workout?" Now this guy is 12 years younger than I am, and in much better condition, and so I felt a sharp pang of uneasiness and embarrassment. So I said to him, "Yes, feel free, but I'm afraid my pace will hold you back." He said that that would fit what he was doing yesterday anyway, so we were off on a 500 - me swimming, he pulling.

Like the Geekster said, however, you will do fine! I believe you'll come back exhilarated - and maybe exhausted. If anyone does give you any kind of grief because you're a 'newbie', its their problem, not yours.

Joe

Fitswimmer04
July 16th, 2004, 11:33 AM
Thanks. From reading the forum and the articles on the website I've started to get an idea of the lingo. I know about intervals and drills but I've never tried them. I just do my 2000 meters freestyle 3x a week, slowly. The posts I've read say that I will never know how good a swimmer I could be if that's all I do, which led me to contact a local master's team. There are faster swimmers at the Y, but I've been shy about approaching any of them for advice.

dcarson
July 16th, 2004, 11:50 AM
New swimmer:

1 - A large number of Masters swimmers weren't high school or college competitive swimmers. Many of us got the bug later in life.
2 - You'll likely find your teammates are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet and will gladly help you.
3 - The 3 Masters teams I've worked out with have all had a wide range of abilities and coaches that work with each and every person according to their abilities.
4 - Have fun! Most teams have some serious goals of getting fit, competiting, etc..., but they all usually also just like having fun in doing the workout. Some of us actually get pushed a bit because we talk too much in the pool during our "rest" between intervals.

Good luck! As others said, you'll do fine...

dcarson
July 16th, 2004, 12:53 PM
Julie,

One more thing... You mentioned you are 10 pounds from where you want to be. Don't worry about it. To give you a bit of inspiration: I competed in Melbourne, Australia in Oct. 2002 and was at my ideal weight. Well, over the past year, starting a new job and traveling, I put on 45 pounds and although I've only shed 5 pounds of it, I'm competing in a local meet in a week. I'll be the fat one on the blocks but I don't care. Masters is accepting of everyone no matter where a person is at a point in time. Good luck. I'll see you on the blocks one day!

Dan

Guvnah
July 16th, 2004, 01:25 PM
Julie -- I usually swim on my own. Occasionally (probably 5 times per year) I find myself swimming with some masters team. Each time is like a first time for me.

Some personal observations: Probably most of your current swimming is not "circle swim". You stay in your own lane, or on your own side of your lane, and nobody interferes with you. In most cases masters teams are concentrated into fewer lanes (so as not to monopolize the whole pool) and therefore you will be doing circle swimming. (Always keep to the right, or always keep to the left, as designated that day.)

I suppose I could give a list of circle swim etiquette points, but I'll bet there are some old threads on this board already discussing it.

The point I wanted to make about circle swim is that in your initial plunge with a three or more swimmers in one lane, you will tend to find yourself swimming harder than you normally would. That, in itself is not a problem. You'll do a really vigorous workout. But you may find that you burn yourself out sooner than you want. So just be aware of it. (And maybe it's just something that happens to me and won't happen to you. I just don't want the guy behind me touching my toes. I want to "keep up" and prove that I can swim with these guys.)

You will hear all sorts of workout terminology you may never have heard before. There are usually some local ideosyncrasies at any pool, as well as terms that are common among masters teams but will be foreign to you as a newcomer. My recommendation is to buddy up with someone in your lane. Introduce yourself as the new kid on the block, and let that person know up front that you are unfamiliar with some of the things and would it be OK if you ask them for explanations as you run across them... You will find that people are more than glad to help you out with that. It's one of the charms of masters swimming.

You do not have to do every lap or every set or every drill or every stroke. If they're doing 200s and you are starting to croak, stop at 6 lengths. If they're doing a bunch of butterfly and you're gasping for air, sit out for a 50 or two, or do free. If you are used to doing 2000 total and their workout is 5000, you can get out whenever you want. If you find yourself in a lane of people you THOUGHT were of the same performance level but are leaving you in their wake, it's OK to move to a different/slower lane.

Enjoy!

Yardbird
July 16th, 2004, 01:38 PM
Hi Julie,

This website has a pretty good run down of pool etiquette:

http://www.cartegic.com/pooletiquette.htm

This one has a nice list of terminology:

http://www.brandonbluewave.com/swimterms.html

(Don't get overwhelmed!)

I echo the sentiments of the other posters that you will be fine! Just communicate with your lane mates and don't be afraid to ask questions. I bet many of those swimmer you wanted to ask advice would be happy to offer their expertise!

Good luck!

Fitswimmer04
July 16th, 2004, 01:55 PM
boy-I hope the people at my pool on sunday are as helpful as you guys have all been. Part of the reason I've gotten up the nerve to do this was from reading the posts on this board and seeing how everyone relates to one another. The websites were very helpful about courtesy and terms. I read another post somewhere that recommended Phil Whitten's book on Swimming-I'm going to Borders on the way home and pick that up. I might be able to find some workouts in there I can use during the week. I don't know that I'll ever "get on the blocks", but I'll be happy if I can lose the last 10 pounds and improve my skill level. Maybe someday I'll learn a flip turn!!

Yardbird
July 16th, 2004, 02:00 PM
Don't get us started on flip turns... :D

Fitswimmer04
July 16th, 2004, 02:14 PM
bad topic? The woman that I share the lane with in the morning does them, but I haven't figured them out yet. The only time I tried I ended up just doing a somersault! Then it took me a few minutes to stop laughing at myself before I could swim again.

Honestly, I just want to learn to do more than 2000 meters of freestyle and get in better shape. I don't have any great ambitions to be in races or anything like that.

mattson
July 16th, 2004, 02:21 PM
You can practice flipturns in the middle of the pool. (It is the pushoff that requires a wall. :) )

Yardbird
July 16th, 2004, 02:28 PM
Quite the contrary, an excellent topic! It's been discussed on this forum at length! Do a search and you will find mounds of offerings.

Let us know about your experience at your masters practice.

Fitswimmer04
July 16th, 2004, 02:30 PM
I will-I'm looking forward to it now. Still a little nervous, but less than I was before.
Hopefully I won't be too wiped out to type!

Sonic Swimmer78
July 16th, 2004, 03:50 PM
Originally posted by aquageek
I can only suggest the following:

1. Eat lots of garlic before practice, improves your swimming.
2. Wear big baggy trunks as that is how most USMS swimmers train between meets.
3. Big, snorkel type goggles are very popular now and most USMS swimmers have adopted them for training and meets.
4. A generous lubing of your head with baby oil is what most people are using instead of swim caps these days.

Have fun, you'll do fine.

Aquageek's facetiousness strikes again!!

I can relate to your story, Julie. I too was a bit nervous meeting my Masters team for the first time. Once you meet your teammates and coaches, your nervousness will disappear.

Like most of us here (Not counting Aquageek's first post) said, you'll meet some of the nicest people in your team who are willing to give you pointers and tips on improving your stroke, and your overall swimming technique. I just started working out with my Masters team for about a week and it's absolutely fun!

Also, don't listen to Aquageek's advice (he's just being facetious and silly) unless you want to look like a dork and have really bad breath on your first practice!! :p

The key here is have a good time on your first workout! ...Trust me, you most certainly will

Fitswimmer04
July 18th, 2004, 07:02 PM
jumped in the pool at 7 am this morning and worked out with a team for the first time. I survived it, and got some really good pointers from the coach. There are posted workouts, but everyone seems to adjust them to fit their ability and interest. I discovered that I can't swim backstroke to save my life, but my free and breastroke might be redeemable. I got through the 50 fly set wondering the entire time who made this stroke up and why anyone would want to swim it?:confused:
The only thing that would keep me from continuing weekly is the cost. In order to join the Master's team, you have to join the Y. I've had a membership at a different Y for 12 years that is more convenient for me to go to before work. (That one costs less too) The bottom line is that I would have to pay over $600 to swim with the team on Sunday morning. Is this a standard practice?

KenChertoff
July 18th, 2004, 07:36 PM
Originally posted by Fitswimmer04

The only thing that would keep me from continuing weekly is the cost. In order to join the Master's team, you have to join the Y. I've had a membership at a different Y for 12 years that is more convenient for me to go to before work. (That one costs less too) The bottom line is that I would have to pay over $600 to swim with the team on Sunday morning. Is this a standard practice?

It depends on the team and the facility -- there really is no "standard" practice, throughout USMS. (I don't know about the Y.)

For example, my team isn't affiliated with any facility (we rent pool time at a local college, but other than that we're completely independent) so there's no issue of joining a facility -- we just pay dues to the team. The pool where I swim when I'm not working out with my team, has it's own team (which I'm not a member of, obviously) but they give people the options of joining the team, with or without membership in the facility (different fees for each). Others, as you've seen, require membership in the facility.

So if cost is an issue you really have to shop around for a deal, but bear in mind that the team that has the best fee structure, may not have the most convenient schedule or the most appropriate philosophy for you -- every team is different :).

agameofyou
July 19th, 2004, 03:30 PM
I've really enjoyed this post so far Fitswimmer 04. Please continue to post your experience. I am 25 and have never had a swim lesson or been on a swim team. Swimming is something I would love to get into for fitness and pure enjoyment. I swam freestyle last summer for couple of months, 3 days a week but then got on a new job on the road and stopped swimming. I haven't really swam since but really would like to make it a life long hobby. Unfortunantly I'm very nervous about it. I've never been trained I just plod along plus I'm a little bit over weight. There's a master's team right up the street from me that swims mornings. I think that would be perfect since my girlfriend has to get up and be at work by 6. I could get up with her a swim before work. I'm just nervous that masters swimming isn't for me since I have basically "zero" swimming experience. Is master's for me? Should I try to swim on my own and get to a certain point before taking the plunge?

dcarson
July 19th, 2004, 03:43 PM
Andrew,

Most Masters swimmers have your same nervousness. However, be assured that swimmers join Masters along the entire spectrum of abilities from beginners to advanced swimmers. A good Masters club does accept everyone and works with everyone at their level. And, nothing will help you more to advance, than other swimmers. Many Masters swimmers are in it for fitness and being with a great group of people. You should go for it! Give one workout a try with the team. Your truly have nothing to lose giving it at least a try.

When I started with a large Masters team that had a wide range of abilities, one of the coaches had some very tough workouts. When I said "I can't do some of those sets yet" to another swimmer, the swimmers said "you're an adult and this isn't high school swimming, you don't have to do it all." That puts it into reality. And, the coach then worked with me on what "I can do" at that point and time. I think most Masters coaches have similar approaches.

Good luck!

Dan

Fitswimmer04
July 19th, 2004, 06:25 PM
I can attest to that-just from my initial experience on Sunday. I was in a 6 lane pool, and the lanes were split 3/3 with competitive and fitness swimmers. The coach made up 2 workouts, one for the more advanced swimmers and one for the fitness swimmers. During practice, we adjusted the level of training to what we felt we could do without drowning! I noticed that nobody really had the time (or the energy) to watch what anyone else was doing. Everyone was concentrating on their own workout. Nobody made fun of the fat lady in the speedo (me),everyone was very welcoming and supportive, answering all my questions. Go ahead and try it!

DocWhoRocks
July 21st, 2004, 05:10 PM
I'd say swimmers in general are pretty accepting. I'm the only masters swimmer here (at least that I know of). I wanted to get back to swimming so I started practicing with the local USS team (my old college coach is the coach, that's why I even considered joining). I was leary that the kids would think I was 'the old weird guy'. But they all accepted me. They even get mad when I don't show up because I make practice a little more fun and give them someone to chase :cool: