View Full Version : Time to walk the walk

June 21st, 2005, 11:40 PM
Forgive me if this topic has been raised before, but here goes:

I was jogging around my favorite urban lake yesterday thinking about swimming (of course), and I decided that one thing I'd like to do before the end of the year is actually compete in a real live swim meet.

I don't have regular access to an organized swim program because of my work schedule, but I'll happily take any advice on how to train. Currently I'm about 20 lbs. overweight, but I jog regularly and swim about 3 - 4 times a week. Thus far, all my swimming has been for the fun of it.

Any ideas on how I should actually train for a competition? What kind of workout regimen, schedule, etc.?

Now, I know that Masters swimmers are great, wonderful, supportive and not at all hostile to those of us who are complete novices. However, I would like to make a decent showing, even if I finish last in whatever events I swim. (Also, I don't know what meets are coming up at the end of the year, so if anyone has any clue on competitions in the Seattle area, that'd be swell.)

I came up with the idea because I'm training for a 5K road race at the end of July, and asked myself why I "compete" in a sport I only marginally like, while I don't do the same in swimming, which I consider just about the most fun you can have with your clothes on. So to speak.



Rob Copeland
June 22nd, 2005, 08:12 AM
"I jog regularly and swim about 3 - 4 times a week. Thus far, all my swimming has been for the fun of it. Any ideas on how I should actually train for a competition? What kind of workout regimen, schedule, etc.?"

Since you are already swimming 3 to 4 times a week, Id say that you are already ready to go swim in a Masters meet! Now if you have some specific event and time goals, then you may wish to focus on these events and work on more speed in your workouts. But my advice for your first meet is to go have fun, meet the other swimmers and focus more on having a good time rather than on having good times.

June 22nd, 2005, 09:49 AM
Swimming 3-4x per week is more than enough to think of competitions. Training for competition could be a bit different. If you are just going in and swimming laps (non-stop) 3-4x, then I'd suggest swimming sets (ie. 10 x 100 @ 1:45), etc. If you are already swimming sets, then just try dropping the times on the sets with the idea that by the time you reach #10 you can still beat the interval (but be challenged by doing so). Other workout examples are available on this site in the workouts section. Good Luck!

June 22nd, 2005, 11:09 AM
"I would like to make a decent showing, even if I finish last in whatever events I swim"...

That's the right attitude going in...The great thing about Masters is your heats are grouped by time, not by age (in most meets) so you will be in close company in most of your events.

I'm a relative new-comer myself. After a 20+ year hiatus from swimming I got back in ambitiously 3 years ago. In my first 6 months of training I had no structure to my workouts and no real gameplan. I was just putting in yardage, but I felt that I was ready to give competition a try. I was very (very) pleased with my times and the overall Masters experience provided me with a boost to go further.

Regardless of how it goes, If you view your first meet simply as a benchmark from which to build on you will get the most out of it. Set yourself up to succeed in that first meet and allow a little leeway in your seed times. Your second meet will provide you with better feedback and so on...

I guess after all that, I'm just echoing what Rob said..."focus more on having a good time rather than on having good times."
There will be plenty of opportunities to place high expectations on future meets. (My 2nd meet, a month later, was Y Nats! ).

June 22nd, 2005, 11:59 AM
Originally posted by benair
That's the right attitude going in...

I'm even more of a newcomer than benair - I just started swimming again in late April after a 30+ year hiatus and at that I only swam summer league, no high school or college. Right now I'm just putting in yardage, trying to increase distance per workout. I've enterend one event so far - an open water 800m. As I finished, I consider it a resounding success. I'm going to enter a meet in July (Zone LC champs!) to basically get some benchmark times. I know my technique & stamina will not allow me to be competitive but, like in the 800, if I just finish my events, it will be a major accomplishment for me. I'm also taking the advice of someone on an earlier thread and entering many events (8) rather than just one or two to "get my feet wet" so to speak. They had done that but ended up deck-entering everything they could just for the experience and said they had a blast (if I'm remembering correctly!).

I guess what I'm saying is that what qualifies as decent is totally up to where you set your expectations.

If I don't DQ, I'll have met my expectations. (And, with any luck, nobody will fall asleep waiting for me to finish!!:D )

June 22nd, 2005, 01:21 PM
I recommend Mo Chambers workouts on this site. Easy to understand, and pretty simple to adjust the yardage/intervals to match your abilities and maximum workout times. I find I progress a whole lot faster with structured workouts versus unstructured. I'd like to swim with the local team, but the 6 am workouts don't fit with my kids' current penchant for getting up several times a night, so I swim by myself at lunch.

When I started back in the pool, I began by searching for a workout that I thought sounded easy or fun and swimming as much of it as I could at the time; now 5 months later I just print Mo's workout for the day and swim it whether it sounds fun or easy or otherwise.

I haven't competed since high school (I'm 44), but I'm starting to feel the urge. I won't worry too much about "training" for specific events; I plan to just make sure I can actually complete and/or swim legally whatever I choose to enter and worry about dropping times later.

I see a quite a few of the same folks swimming regularly over the lunch hour; but I don't see much improvement in the ones who aren't doing a regular workout and are just punching out laps.

Good luck!

June 23rd, 2005, 11:27 AM
I realized that we didn't point you in the direction of any upcoming meet info.

*I'm no expert (and I'm in the opposite corner of the country), so if anyone wants to clarify or correct me feel free, but here's the basics....

First and foremost.... If you haven't done so, you'll need to register as a USMS member prior to entering any USMS sanctioned meet. This doesn't neccesarily mean that you have to join a "team", You can register as "Unattached" (UNA). Also....Once registered, You are not limited to competing within your LMSC and/or Zone. You can travel anywhere and enter USMS events.

Here's some info for your area...USMS is broken down into Zones and Local Masters Swimming Committees (LMSC's).

here's your Zone:
Once there, click on the LMSCs link to get more info

I didn't find a lot of upcoming meet info, but here is one.

July 7 or 8, Long Course Time Trials, Wenatchee Washington.
that's close, so If you're not USMS registered yet, I would contact the local registrar by phone to see if you'll make the deadline on that one.

Well I had a few minutes, so I wanted to pass that along...

Good Luck!

June 23rd, 2005, 12:31 PM
Wow! Thanks for all the great tips!

July is probably a little too soon, especially since I have to join Masters, as well. But now I feel jazzed about going to a meet, rather than intimidated.

(OK, I'm still a little intimidated, having never swum competitively before.)


Rob Copeland
June 23rd, 2005, 01:16 PM

If you are feeling a little intimidated about competing in your first swim meet, then Id recommend you just go to the meet and volunteer to be a timer. This gets you right in the middle of the action, without the stress of competing. It allows you to see this is fun and you dont need to worry about how you will look in the water. Also, meet directors can always use more volunteers, your presence would be greatly appreciated!

Sabretooth Tiger
June 23rd, 2005, 01:33 PM
Here's a link to a race in Lake Washington if open water rings your bell.


Another Lake Washington race, the Fat Salmon (a longer race) is canceled this year per the website.