View Full Version : HELP...Should I join or get in shape first?

July 11th, 2002, 11:29 AM
This has probably been covered before, and I know what the "organization" would say, but I want the truth from those of you that are serious members. If I showed up, a 29 year-old mom of three who is about 30 lbs overweight but was once a good swimmer and has continued lap swimming all these years since high-school and would take her committment seriously, to your practice and wanted to join, how would you feel? What if you had to pass me by a few times because I slowed you down? But...at the same time you saw me working hard in my ability and pushing myself farther and fasther each day - would you snicker behind my back, would others? Should I continue swimming on my own and trying to get in shape before I join?

It is ok to be honest. I would tell you the truth. And please, don't yell at me for worrying about what others think.

Thanks everyone!

July 11th, 2002, 11:56 AM

My suggestion as a swimmer and a coach would be go ahead and jump in. I have worked with swimmers of all levels, abilities and goals. Hopefully the team you decide to join has a coach or at least a workout leader who can help guide you into a proper fit (I would hazard a guess that there are going to be swimmers faster and slower than you). Most masters swimmers are very accepting and understanding, so you shouldn't be worried about ineterfering because you are not fast/good enough. If you decide to try a team and you get the impression you are inconvenience to their workout - would you really want to swim with a group like that ? There is probably another program nearby (maybe not as convenient) but would be more accepting. Just like buying a new car - sure it runs and it will get you from here to there, but if you had the resources wouldn't you rather drive something you want that would be more functional. Good luck and happy swimming.


k kelble
July 11th, 2002, 12:01 PM
By all means join a masters club if you are fortunate enough to have an active club in your area. Masters swimmers come in all shapes and sizes and with all different levels of ability. I think what I enjoy most about being a part of a masters team are the friendships that are made.

Have fun!

July 11th, 2002, 12:06 PM

I am so excited for you! My advice is to just shop around as Jeff suggested and join a masters team. You'll make new friends and being a member of a team will inspire you to work out. Don't worry about being out of shape. I'm sure you'll find a lane which will be at your ability level. Have fun and enjoy getting back in shape with a great group of people. (Masters Swimmers are very cool.) :)


Bert Bergen
July 11th, 2002, 12:38 PM
Welcome to the party. In a "glass half full/empty," mode: who is to say that the fast person am not getting in YOUR way if he/she is passing you? There is room for everyone...just make sure you enjoy every minute and swim with folks who do the same.

July 11th, 2002, 12:39 PM
I've been wrestling with similar problems (and a lot of pastries in my time away from the pool).

My advice is to join, but find a lane slower than you think you should be in.

At every opportunity whine about how fat and out of shape you are. Your lane-mates will likely tell you that you're swimming pretty well and you look fine.

This works really well for me.


July 11th, 2002, 01:01 PM
Don't hold yourself back--at least give Masters a try! I used to lap swim on my own before starting Masters swimming. I was amazed how much different the Masters workout is from lap swimming (as in way better for fitness and fun). In Masters there is so much feedback, and there are so many challenges, and tons of technique improvement drills and tips. I would recommend it to anyone who likes swimming as a workout. There is a lot of mutual admiration on a team, a lot of support, some healthy competition, but I have never heard one snicker. It's just not a concept. Masters swimming is such a good deal, and you sound totally ready for it.

July 11th, 2002, 01:02 PM
Masters is about fitness, friendship and competition, if you so desire. I swim with all shapes and sizes and have never, ever heard anyone ridicule anyone else.

Here's a little anecdotal evidence. At a SCM meet I attended in January a larger woman competed in the 400 IM. Well, she was quite large actually. When she finished she recieved a standing ovation from the crowd. And, it was a well-attended meet.

Jump in and have fun.

Kevin in MD
July 11th, 2002, 03:13 PM
If you swam in high school and have continued swimming lightly since then, you would be one of the faster swimmers at my practice.

A fair fraction of practices are split by ability so yo do whatever you can.

Do you thinnk the local masters practice is like the local USS club team? Did you look at the top ten times and now think you need to be close to those times? Well that's not what most practices are like. Practices included everything from really fast swimmers to triathletes to people just beginning, you'll fit right in,

July 11th, 2002, 04:36 PM
HMMM I joined at 38 having learned to swim 6 months before, having two kids, and definately overweight. I swam in the lane with the 86 year old gentlemen who was quite an inspiration and faster than me.

Now at almost 41, I swim at the bottom of the fastest group, even attended a meet last winter(attending more is pretty impossible with the reponsibilities of two active children). I still have a lot to learn, but I could probably complete a 400IM in a meet(very slowly) and am fairly fast at sprinting.

I have had a whole lot of fun in the last 2.5 years, and have improved my fitness quite a bit.

Just get in there, swim, meet new people and have a great time.


Matt S
July 11th, 2002, 05:32 PM

The main point of "C'mon down!" has been covered almost to death. Let me add a couple of minor themes in harmony.

First, should you try to get "in shape" on your own before joining? If you don't think you are "in shape" (whatever standard you have set for yourself) now, you will never get there on your own. The primary obstacle for adults to following a regular exercise program is not age, time/responsibilities, injury or cost; it's boredom. If after a regular schedule of lap swimming you have not reached that standard, more of the same on your own will get you no closer. Eventually, you will get bored with same old/same old, and quit, falsely thinking you are a failure. BALONEY!!!!! Joining a Masters teams is the most effective means (and to be blunt, the only realistic means for the vast majority of people) of reaching whatever goals you set for yourself.

On the other hand, suppose you are one of those exceedingly rare, highly motivated individuals who can stick with a program and progressively challenge yourself such that you get substantially faster working on your own. Even if you have to stop after each 25 yard lap, your intensity will glow with such incandescence that you will be welcomed as an inspiration on any masters team I have ever encountered. Three examples: first, some of the most admired swimmers on my current masters team are the ones who could barely finish a lap when they started, but stayed on the team and are demonstrably better now. (BTW, these people now have no clue how fast you were way back when. Jump in now when you are fat, slow and sloppy; let 'em think that you are setting a new PR every time you swim something just a hair faster than before, and soak-up the compliments on how far you have come.) Second, on my college water polo team, one of the most admired players was a guy who showed up one day able to swim one, maybe two laps before he had to stop. But, he stuck with it, got better, and even though he was still the slowest guy on the team, he had other strengths to his game and contributed. Third, let's just skip over to the highest level of competition in the swimming world--the Olympic Games. Remember Eric the Eel and Paula the Pirahna? Where they greeted with snickers? I seem to recall standing ovations and people asking them for their autographs like they were Ian Thorpe or Inge de Bruin.

Second, as my title suggests (if you know a little French) the "organization" is us. The reason why you know what "the organization" would say is that it represents the near unanimous opinion of its individual members. (And the ones who would disagree are jerks.) Similarly, your "team" is you and the other swimmers in the pool with you. WE decide what USMS will look like. You and your teammates decide how you team will operate. YOU decide what part of any workout is appropriate for you and whether you need to modify it. This is not age group, high school or college. No coach, not even the ones who own and operate their team as a privately held business, can yell at you like you are a little kid. Coaches like that don't stay in masters swimming long. Either the team's BoD fires them, or if they can't, their swimmers vote with their feet (and take their membership fees with them). So get your USMS Card; it's mostly for liability insurance and to keep the magazine running. Join your local team, and guess what? You're as much of a member as anyone else.

Welcome to the jungle. Grab a vine and swing on in.


July 11th, 2002, 10:02 PM
Thank you all so much! You have really helped give me the confidence I need. The funny thing is - I went to sign up so I could start tomorrow morning and it seems that all of the 11 or so swimmers that meet regularly decided to go informal for July. They aren't meeting as a group. The meeting time is still available though, and the coach said he is bored - so it looks like I am going to get some one on one for a couple of weeks. That works for me! I am anxious for the camaraderie and push that I will get from the others, but it wont hurt to get in a groove with the coach until the others return.

Thanks again - you guys gave me just what I needed!