View Full Version : New- Quick Question?

January 27th, 2005, 08:45 PM
Hello All...
My name is Elizabeth and I have a quick question. I used to be a swimmer but haven't since high school because I do not do well with competing for time.

But I love the distance... so my question is this....

Is there long distance swimming that is more based on endurance than on time... if so, what is this called? Is this a professional event thing, or is there ameteur... What's the longest distance out there... etc. etc.

Thanks, I appreciate any comments.

January 27th, 2005, 10:31 PM
Check out the long distance calendar on the USMS site:

January 28th, 2005, 09:56 AM
Hi Elizabeth,
Definitely check out the long distance calendar at USMS web site. But here is some general info..... longest distance races at Master's swim meets are the 1000 and 1650 (short course yards ) and 800 and 1500 (long or short course meters). It is often difficult to find a meet which will offer both long distance races unless it is a national or regional championship. Often, you must choose one or the other even when they are offered as they run them on the same day! (This needs to be changed).

Postal swims are really where the distance events are offered. You do this at a local pool and send in the splits/entry to the host team which breaks them into age groups by distance or time. These include the Hour Swim, 3000/6000 yd, 5k/10k meters, plus a few others. These are good ways to rank yourself nationally against other swimmers your own age. And it gives you a benchmark to measure your improvement by each year.

And finally there are the Open Water Swims which vary in distances from 1/2 mile up to 25K swims and are in various lakes, bays and oceans regionally. USMS has several national championship open water swims which they try to spread out nationally. Hope this helps! Website has all this info on it and some open water swims may be listed in the regional websites for your area. (Good luck and congrats on getting back into it).

January 31st, 2005, 04:39 PM
Open water is what fascinates me...

I think for now what I'll need to do is get out to the Y, and start training... I remember enough from High School to work on my own, and I'll look into masters after a few years of training...

Any recommendations on when a person is ready for masters?

I have a lot of rebuilding to do... first of all, though I've lost 55 pounds so far this year, I'm still overweight and have to keep going on weight loss, I also have weight induced asthma, and I am now a 1 week old ex-smoker.. Smoked for 15 years and decided to quit to get back into swimming.. so my lungs are pretty messy right now... so I've got a lot of work ahead of me and I don't want to jump right in and think "I can compete" cuz I know better than that...

I think my biggest concern really is that I was average in school for swimming, I couldn't tell you what my times were or anything... our coach only focused on the ones she felt could get our team to win which meant she focused on 2 people who I certainly wonder now if they made the olympics, one girl in every meet would win atleast 8 events... simply amazing swimmer) anyway, I was average and I do worse when competing... hence why I don't think I would do well with short distance as I do with long distances... even as a smoker and weight induced asthma, I could still swim 2 miles out to the ocean and 2 miles back which I did on my honeymoon... I was slow, but I did it. ROFL... imagine with training and not smoking... that's more of what I'm hoping for.

Anyway, I'm going to keep reading and researching...

Thanks for the advice guys,


January 31st, 2005, 08:08 PM
Wow, I'm impressed by your resolve to get on a healthy lifestyle routine! I have no doubt that you can do it and swimming is going to "light the fire". By all means, do not wait to join a Master's team. There are all levels from super competitive to people just like you. You will be inspired by your team mates, have some coaching and will make great new friends. Anyway, it sounds like you are no beginner anyway! So, absolutely do not wait 2 years to join a team! Do it soon.....Good luck and maybe I'll see you out there in the middle of a nice lake one day?

January 31st, 2005, 10:14 PM
Thank you for your encouragement!! Every time I want to smoke, I keep thinking about being in the water and it's working wonderfully..
so are you an open water swimmer? ( you said maybe you'll see me in a lake some time) :) What's it like.. do you only compete in your area or do you go all over? and I am sorry, but I have to ask the obligatory question... in oceans, what do they do about the fishies with big teeth. :)


February 1st, 2005, 11:41 AM
Hi Elizabeth,
Yes, I have swum many open water races since I joined Masters. First, out in the SF Bay area as they have a series of open water lake and bay swims and now ocean swims here in Florida. Gotta admit to liking the lake swims best. While I have never had any close ocean encounters with big fishies with teeth - the thought has crossed my mind and limits me to mostly pool training. I have had a few jelly fish incidents! I just like the fresh water and will take my chances with trout and bass! To be honest, I find the most dangerous part of open water swimming to be the start! It's often a mass of tangled swimmers and it's hard to avoid getting kicked or swam on top of. This alleviates itself once the pack has spread out. Best advice to newbies doing their first open water swim - stay towards the back of pack or out on the sides to avoid the pile up at the start. Oh, and be sure your goggles fit well and don't fog up! If you can't sight the buoys or some other landmarks along the way - you will swim off course and probably add a lot of unneccessary time and effort. I've lost many places in ow swims to ill fitting goggles that made me constantly stop to empty out water or defog! You want to swim the most direct route you can!

February 1st, 2005, 09:17 PM
OK, please, someone tell me if I'm wrong. is it harder to swim in a lap pool than in open water because it seems like it is to me.

I grimaced the minute I heard "few incidents with jelly fish" OUCH!!!!! I've been lucky to avoid them the few times I saw them.. I don't get to the ocean much being I live in the midwest.

Well, I swam tonight. First lap swimming I've done since 1992!!!! and first time I've swam since our honeymoon in 2003.

Oh my I am in very very bad shape... I didn't make it to 50 meters before I couldn't catch my breath. I had to stop and rest every 50 meters so that I could start again, and I only did 400 meters tonight...

Funny thing, I immedietly tried to "push" myself when I'm in a lap pool rather than taking my time like I do in open water... there was no "slow" lane, just med. and fast, but noone was in the fast lane so I asked her if I could use it as a slow lane until someone showed up, and I ended up swimming faster than I had been intending. That, and a friend of mine came with, and I instantly wanted to be 15 years old again with non-smoker lungs who could just keep going. ROFL... I'll learn... one of these days.

I was REALLY disappointed that there are no starting blocks here let alone a diving board. ( For some reason, I wanted to see if I could still do a back dive or if I'd just land on my back, even though I'm pretty sure it would be the latter of the two, but it sounded like fun anyway.. ahahahahaa)

Oh, and I got the flyer for the masters program out here. They're called W.I.M.P.S.

I think I will be giving them a call. They say to start right away too but with how I felt after my pissy 400 meters, I'm still not sure it's the greatest idea. :) But I could atleast call and see if they'd take me. :)

Anybody got a spare lung they can swap?

Wheezy. :)

February 1st, 2005, 09:20 PM
Oh PS Sharon!

My friend who came with me tonight had gotten speedo goggles a year back and lent them to me, they were perfect, no fog, no water! So she's letting me use those till I can find a pair for me like them.

I will officially join the Y on the 9th ( payday) so I have to wait a week before I can start practicing daily or every other day ( preferably daily)

February 2nd, 2005, 09:37 AM
Baby steps. 400 today, 500 tomorrow, 1000 in a month. You will build up and feel better. And, yes, by all means call the master's program. If anything, it will make you feel better about your abilities and can give you goals to achieve. I did not go near a pool for over 10 years after college and now I have withdrawal if I miss two days in a row! You'll be surprised how fast your competitive drive comes back. Sounds like you had a small dose of that in the lap pool last night! That's good. As I said before, your fellow swimmers will inspire you. So, make that call and join that Y.

ps - In response to your question - no, I do not find lap swimming more difficult than open water. Open water always has curves it throws you - currents, waves, water temp, no lane lines, etc. Lap swimming is pretty consistent unless you constantly have to swim around loafers and waders.

February 2nd, 2005, 06:41 PM
well, it'll have to be 500 meters on Next wednesday because I can't join the Y till then. HA.. but you better believe I will be there at 5:20 sharp ( which is the fastest I can drive after work without getting in trouble. :)

I figured out why I swam and swam and swam all day in the ocean and swam distance but couldn't do it in the lap pool... it's the snorkel... I was breathing regularly through it... So apparently I need some MAJOR work on breathing during laps which doesn't surprise me because I would start losing my breath after 3-4 laps and be physically exhausted during swim meets back in high school...
Any suggestions?

You've been so helpful Sharon, I really appreciate it!

February 3rd, 2005, 10:34 AM
Hi Elizabeth,
Stopping smoking is going to make a big difference in your breathing! Plus, you will get in better physical condition as you swim more regularly. So, this will correct itself in time. But I would recommend that you read up on "Total Immersion" swimming also known as "downward fishlike swimming". This is kinda the bible on new stroke technique. It's all about keeping your head down and not lifting your head up to breathe. Many people lift their head and then turn to breathe. If you can keep your head down (like when you wear a snorkel) and simply rotate your shoulders to one side. You should be able to breathe during that rotation without lifting and breaking your stroke glide. There are lots of drills to get the position correct. I know you can find info on this on the USMS website. Since you are starting over - you might as well start over correctly!

February 3rd, 2005, 07:53 PM
Hey Sharon,

I did 500 meters tonight pretty much non-stop but I did it very slowly and focused hard on my breathing. Only when I found myself pushing myself did I start not breathing correctly... so this will be my goal, to continue slowly until I'm completely comfortable and breathing correctly and getting enough oxygen while slowly increasing speed. I had to stop a couple times not on my own behalf, but because I was in the med lane which seemed to be going painstakingly slow and I didn't want to pass them. The fast lane was way to fast for me and I knew it was so I figured better to stay in the med/slow lane and just work on breathing.

I will work on the technique you described below and make sure I'm doing that correctly... I honestly have to wonder if the reason I had troubles in high school had a lot to do with the breathing issue, just wearing out too fast... I never had formal training to learn this stuff....

I felt so great tonight and I most certainly could have kept going but my friend quit after 350 ( she's not that much into swimming, I think she's just hanging in there to help me out) and I am there as a guest with her right now.... She hopped out early, and she said "I'm amazed you didn't keep going, you were just gliding away" That acknoledgement felt good. :)

We played an hour of raquetball BEFORE swimming ( whoo doggie, it was a workout today!) and I still have a 1-2 mile walk with the dog tonight... croak.

I think Julie wants to workout every other day, so I'll swim on her off days. The Y gave me two more passes to get me through till payday for sign up. :) it was very nice of them.


February 4th, 2005, 03:25 PM
In response to your question about open water swimming being different than pool swimming - VERY different! There are no lines on the bottom of lakes to keep you straight, I worked hard last year on improving my spotting technique so I could look up for the buoy and not lose any momentum, and you will swim a lot further (i.e. off course) if you get distracted and or/lost mental focus on what you are doing. This happens easily because the swims I have done are so beautiful and fun I start sight seeing. Oops. Oregon has a circuit of open water swims in the summer, my favorite is at Elk Lake in Bend, where we do a three day series of swims at different distances. Last year they tried something new, grouping us in heats for the 1000 meters, so you were with about 7-8 other people about the same speed as you, heats left the starting line 3 minutes apart. It was very tactical as the group stays together so you are constantly jockeying for position instead of having the fast group just swim away from you.

February 4th, 2005, 06:06 PM
So I can't just follow whoever is up ahead of me or follow the main group out there???

How quickly do I need to be able to swim to be able to keep up during open water events? Right now I swim slowly so that I am breathing correctly ( though I was getting stuck behind people when I was in slow mode so my slow is probably medium slow... and what should be a good aim for endurance swimming to judge.. Right now I'm only doing 500's and then plan on moving up a bit each week... I know some long distance swims are 1850's, i don't know how far up they continue to go...

Also, the masters group which is local to me counts in yards. I have never counted in yards, always meters, so when he says they do 3300 and 2800 swims in 1:15, how far is that on a 25 Meter pool??????? or did he mean meters and just said yards by accident? Confused.. :)


February 4th, 2005, 06:09 PM
Oh, I'm sorry, another question on open water... so how do you plan in advance for these trips? Are they normally held over a weekend or during the week? How many do you do per year. Where all do you travel to do them?
How much does it typically cost to enter them? Do you do this with your masters group or can you go to these events on your own? Do you need sponsorship...

Sorry, Just had a slew of questions fly off the top of my head.


February 4th, 2005, 06:55 PM
As for planning our trips, my family loves to go to Elk Lake because we camp for the weekend, they reserve the group campsite at a nearby campground for swimmers so we all tent camp there. The open water swims are on the Oregon Masters calendar just like the pool swims, with entry forms available right off the website just like anything else.
Elk Lake offers several different length swims, last year it was 500m, 1000m 1500m 3K and 5K, you could swim any or all of them.
Here is an addy for some pictures from last years swim, its off the Central Oregon Masters website and gives you an idea of how lovely it is. Its always the last weekend in July so its hot! The mountain is the South Sister and you can also see Middle Sister and Mt. Bachelor from the lake while you are swimming:http://www.comaswim.org/photogallery/index.html

February 4th, 2005, 09:09 PM
Such beautiful pictures, I can only imagine it was 100% times more than that in person....

I live pretty far away from Oregon though. :) Are there people who travel all over the US for open water?

I want to say thank you all for this information, I'm so excited about all of this...

I wonder if there are ever any open water events on the Mississippi. ( I live on it, but don't recall any) but then again. I will have to look around and see if there are any events that are along our state borders.

February 5th, 2005, 12:18 PM
Wow! what a nice event.
I've done one (1) open water swim in So. Cal and i swore it would be my last. It was crowded, chaotic,
and felt like half the participants were swimming with fists and brass knuckles. 100s of people.

This looks so.....well intimate. Or....are these really pictures of the day before?;)

February 5th, 2005, 01:44 PM
Yep - those are all on the swim days! I don't know the stats on numbers of people but most of the swims I didn't feel crowded at all, and I am a middle of the pack (or is it "pod") swimmer. The only swim that got a lot of physical contact was the 1K where we started in heats and we jockeyed for position the entire time. But it was FUN! Everyone was about the same speed so we couldn't swim away from each other, the course was tight to keep us together.
If you check the Open Water category of these discussion forums, you will see that the Elk Lake entry form is already available, this year it is the site of the 1-Mile open water national champs so we are swimming those (imperial?) distances, instead of meters.
I will be there as it is one of my favorite swims, even though I tend to be a better pool swimmer!

February 5th, 2005, 01:52 PM
Oops, its under Announcements - Waht's new, 1 Mile open water champs.

February 5th, 2005, 06:46 PM
What are heats????

Bob McAdams
February 8th, 2005, 01:25 AM
Swimming events are normally divided into heats because there are frequently too many swimmers to have them all swim at once. A heat is a group of swimmers who start swimming the event at the same time.

February 8th, 2005, 07:12 PM
Ahhhhhh, thank you.. .sorry for the newb question there.