View Full Version : VO2 Max & late bloomers

February 8th, 2006, 12:17 PM
This is a motivation question, not a reprise of an old debate.

I'm wondering if there are any swimmers posting Top 10's in the ultra-competitive middle age ranges who did NOT swim in college, or were not standout HS or age group swimmers.

I swam age group as a kid, then took a break for HS because we had no pool until my senior year. I swam my senior year, and was supposed to swim at my Div. III college, but bailed because I thought it would take too much time away from my chosen major of beer drinking, guitar playing, and chasing (invariably unsuccessfully) women.

After swimming off and on over the years, I joined masters in September, and swam my first meet in November. I'm in the 45-49 age group.

So I'm currently in those heady early days when my times are dropping, I've lost some weight, and I'm feeling stronger. My meet times suck, but at least they are all PB's because I can't even remember what strokes I swam in HS, much less any times (it was the 70's. Hmm)

I understand setting personal, achievable goals. I have those and am working toward them.

But like any red-blooded competitor, I look at the Top 10's and records to see just how high the bar is set. Pretty damn high is the answer. "Who are these guys," I wonder, and so I read the bios. "Former NCAA record holder" or "standout swimmer for Texas/Stanford/fill in blank here" jump out at me.

So are there any swimmers at the elite levels who are certified late bloomers? Or are we latecomers to the game doomed to be mid-level cannon fodder for the fast crowd?

February 8th, 2006, 12:39 PM
Please, for the love of Gull80's FSII, don't start this topic.

February 8th, 2006, 01:46 PM
I too am in the 45-49 age group. I don't believe it's possible to crack the top ten in our age group without a strong college swimming background.

February 8th, 2006, 02:00 PM
The top ten times in masters swimming for any event in any agegroup looks to be very fast IMHO.....I was not able to crack the top ten last year in the 40-44 agegroup in any event....but it was my first year back into competitive swimming after an 18 year layoff....and I lost around 80 pounds or so over the course of that year......I was hoping that this would be my break out year...but unfortunately, so far it hasn't proven to be anything like that. I had a modest college swimming career in that I never qualified for NCAA's in any events in college....but I did make the senior national cuts in a few events and I swam at Junior Nationals twice while in highschool....I can't recall my highest individual placing in any event at Junior Nationals....but we did win the 800 free relay one of those times I went...and I led it off in something like a 1:42 or 1:41 high as a junior or senior in high school......I'm no where near that fast in the 200 free now though.....It would really be nice to just break 1:50 again!....unfortunately I think I would have needed at least a 1:49 something last year to make the top ten in that event for my agegroup.


February 8th, 2006, 02:03 PM
I think it has a lot to do with learning to swim when you are young and have good muscle memory, which you did. But the HS and college swimming gives you a base for knowing how to train.

As someone who started in my late 30's, as a somewhat overweight, but fairly fit person, what I struggle with is technique. Something that people who learn as children just "know" how to do. I am not giving up though, and hope to outlive all the fast ones, and be in the top ten when I am 95!

February 8th, 2006, 03:37 PM
I did no formal swimming ever until I was 29 and joined the USMS team in Tucson. I swam my first meet (LCM) that year, and wasn't close at all in my free, but was in 100 breast. The 25 to 29 age group was not very competitive then. I was pretty fit at that point, had done a few triathlons the year before, had been in the Army for 4 years.

I'm now in the 35-39 age group, and I don't come anywhere near top 10 times for any of my freestyle. However, for some strange reason, the breast times aren't far off, especially the 200 breast. Maybe it is just that not as many people do those events, or maybe I was strong when I learned it as a kid and it somehow stuck with me.

February 8th, 2006, 04:24 PM
Sure there are lots of late bloomers. I won't mention names, but in Kentucky we have a swimmer that just keeps winning and setting records and he didn't start swimming until his early 50's. I'm not sure if that's the age range you are talking about, but he impresses me everytime he swims.

February 8th, 2006, 04:50 PM
I truly believe that it all comes dwon to accessiblity, good coaches, and experience. I swam sometimes as a child, a lot in high school and then for a while at both small colleges I went to. However, I never had a really good coach. In high school my coach retried my senior year. He had never coached swimming until my sophmore year. His name was Fish. In high school I learned a lot from the girls' coach who also taught the swimming classes. The first college I went to the coach was right out of grad school and was far more interested in picking up girls. Then I went to a very small college (there were only 967 students there) with a terrible pool. I don't remember this coache's name even. Wen I was in high school this college had a pretty good team. That team's coach left. Small colleges tend to have either coaches that have been there forever and not always any good or coaches who are trying to make it either to a big high school or just starting their career.

February 8th, 2006, 07:57 PM
I had never even looked at the top ten times before reading this thread. I found it very interesting.

It appears that I have top ten times in four of the six events in which I competed last year, including the top time in one event. That was in the 25-29 age group. I've been swimming forever, and I did swim in college, but I was not a stand-out swimmer. I was only a walk-on at a Div. I school. My coaches have always appreciated me for my work ethic, but I've never been the one that they're going to put on an "A" relay.

My training partner, a 45 year-old male, placed in the top ten in one event, the 100 breast. He did not swim in college, but was an age group swimmer. He only started training seriously again when I recruited him out of a lap lane three years ago. He is very close to the top ten in several of the shorter freestyle events, and the way he's training now, I would be surprised if he doesn't get in there this year.

We have a great coach, and I think that makes all the difference.

February 9th, 2006, 03:19 PM
First of all congrats on all the top ten times last year!....especially your first place time. Its kinda wierd though that you didn't know about your first place time though?....I would have thought that you would have been notified about that by USMS since that makes you an All American in that event. Do the swimmers themselves have to notify USMS in order to receive thier All American patches etc...?....or top ten patches for that matter?...I guess I just assumed the swimmers were contacted by mail or something....but since I didn't make the top ten last year in any events, I wouldn't know?


Frank Thompson
February 9th, 2006, 03:44 PM

All American selections are not final until the 2005 year is over. That means all of the 3 courses (SCY, LCM, SCM). The 2005 SCM Top Ten has not been released yet and that is the final course for the selection of the 2005 USMS Pool All Americans. Any day now you will see the preliminary listing on this website and when it becomes final the 2005 season will be final. USMS notifys swimmers with a congratulations letter and a signed USMS Certificate from the President of USMS. At least that is what I know of the past since I received some. The USMS All American and USMS All Star lists are usually published in the USMS swim publication in the May/June issue of the following year. For some sort of reason, the 2004 USMS All American/All Star list for Pool and Open Water was extremly late getting into the USMS publication but made it in toward the end of last year.

One this process is done you can order your patches for USMS Top Ten and Relay patches. Check the Top Ten page to send for the correct patches because it sometimes changes from year to year.

February 9th, 2006, 05:10 PM

Thanks for the congrats. I was pretty pleased to see my results. I had no idea that having a top time makes me an All American -- pretty cool! I've aged up to the next group for this year, so I'll have to see if my times hold up.

February 10th, 2006, 11:27 AM
I am a 50 yr old woman who only swam summer country club meets as a kid. I didn't swim in high school or college and began masters as a 40 year old. I regularly make top ten in my age group for SCM and LCM, and have made it in SCY a few times. I even won the 200 IM in Mission Viejo this year. But making top ten only started about 5 years ago when I started working with a great coach who redid all my strokes. Now I train 5 days a week and lift weights 3 days a week. However, my times are no where near as fast as the really elite women, most of whom swam high school and/or college. My point is, those of us who are late bloomers can enjoy much success, but probably will never beat those who have been competing their whole lives. But, success is not just making top ten- it's swimming faster this year than last year or attempting new strokes or distances.( or still being able to fit into last year's suit).

I am not sure about this part, but I think there are probably more women with stories like mine. Most of the men I know who are really fast have been at it their whole lives.

February 10th, 2006, 12:56 PM
BillS (who started the thread) and I are in the 45-49 age group, which I believe is the largest and arguably among the most competitive. Again, I do not believe it is possible to make the top ten in our age group without a strong college swimming background.

February 10th, 2006, 02:24 PM
Since no one can seem to stop themselves from chiming in, I might as well join the party.

I do not believe swimming is any different from any other sport in regards to this whole late blooming point of view. Any sport you take up as a kid and practice for years on end you will probably, almost certainly, be better at as an adult. By the time I graduated college I had been in and around the pool for my whole life. But, I had also been playing basketball, baseball, skiing, etc. So, if I get hustled into one of those games now, while rusty, the basic sports skills and mindset are still there.

Here's where I might dovetail. If you are good enough to swim in college, at any level, you obviously have the drive and skills beyond non athletes and know what it takes to excel. Whereas I may think I'm working my tail off in the pool, someone who did it in college probably has a whole different mindset and training knowledge for pushing to get to the elite level/Top 10. For example, the other day we did 8 X 200 @ 2:45. I thought I was Capt Shark by leading my lane of 5. We have a swimmer who swam at a top 5 college program but is well into his 30s now. He did those 200s all breast on the same interval. So much for me being Capt. Shark, more like PFC Guppy.

For those who potentially lurk on this forum, please note that I do not, nor will I ever, agree that because you started late it is somehow unfair to judge you against other swimmers of the same age group, bloomin' or not.

Peter Cruise
February 10th, 2006, 03:02 PM
Good shot, Geekmeister

Frank Thompson
February 10th, 2006, 03:28 PM
I somewhat agree with Geek and Gull but it purely depends on the age group. In the Women, I find a big drop in times in the 45-49 age group and for sure in the 40-44 age groups. My take on this is that if you were to survey the women in those age groups you would find that more of them competed in collegiate swimming than the older groups above them. Say you did a study with the 4 age groups (55-59, 50-54, 45-49, and 40-44) I would bet that you would see more active participation in swimming in college and even at the club level when they were younger as you go down in the age groups. Title 9 changed a lot of this.

I am not sure if this would be true for the men but maybe a bigger % of men that swam in college swim in the younger age groups. Gull might be in the most populated age group competiting and thus his statement could be true.

For both Men and Women, I believe there is a trend in the younger age groups of swimming activity that has always taken place in more of there lifes. Another words, the older you go in Masters age groups the more there was a time break from swimming competition in your younger years. It could be as much as 30 years and for some it could be 0 years. More people in the younger age groups never became inactive because they could go right from High School/College/Club to competiting in USMS.

When masters swimming started it was for people 25 and up. Plus it didn't start to take off until 1972 so all of the people that could have swam in the 1950's and 1960's could not. I believe that if you were to do a survey, you would find more years of inactivity in competitve swimming as you moved up to the older age groups.

The result of all of this is to say that aging up has no real significance any more for the age groups of 25-29 and 30-34. Has you go up in age groups, aging up becomes more important. One only needs to study the Top Ten to see that this is an accurate statement.