View Full Version : New to the Team & Confused

September 29th, 2007, 10:13 PM
Hello! I'm hoping to get some advice about how to navigate the culture of my Masters team. I joined my local masters in February and I swim with them 2X/ week. I am a very new swimmer with limited understanding of swim culture, terminology and etiquette. Although the website of my team implies that swimmers of all abilities are welcome to join, it seems to me that most members are advanced. Judging from their conversations, it appears that many of them competed in college. That presents the first problem - I am unable to share a lane because I am very slow compared to the other people who swim on the same days that I do (I can't switch days due to my work schedule). Being in my own lane also means that I am not keeping up with the workout. I feel very isolated. The coaches on deck usually rotate. One coach is supportive and tries to give me feedback whenever possible. The other coaches completely ignore me. I actually think that one coach is not aware that I'm with the team (even though I have introduced myself to him twice now). I have begun bringing my own workouts because I can't keep up with the workout, but I think this makes it worse (is that kind of a faux pas?)

When I first joined, everyone was incredibly welcoming. They are good people and I would really like to get to know them better. When they get together socially - I try to participate whenever possible. I LOVE to swim and I am not a terrible swimmer. My form is good. I learning the terms and my performance is improving - I can swim 50m in 45 secs (if that gives any indication). However, because I do not compete and I can't keep up with the workout, I feel like an outsider. If I'm not interacting with the coach or the other swimmers during the workout, am I really a member of the team?

So, bottom line...Any advice for this newbie who's trying to fit in?

September 30th, 2007, 09:04 AM
Have you tried to share your feelings with the coach who is supportive of your swimming? Perhaps he/she could talk with the other coach on your behalf.

If you are getting the coaching and stroke correction you need from the one coach take advange of those days and use the the days to other coach is working to just work on what you have learned. I find a coach is great for keeping me accountable and working with me to correct the flaws in my stroke.

Perhaps if there is a local masters meet you might sign up for an event or two. This will help you socialize with your teammates in a different way. Don't use the I'm too slow excuses, the only person you are competing with is yourself on that day. That way the next time you do a meet you can see how much you have improved. Believe me I have had my share of coming in last, especially when I swim with the kids (I train with a local kids team) and I don't worry about them, only me and what I am doing that day. I have found they are very supportive of this old person swimming with them in the outside lane.

Good luck and I hope things work out for you.

September 30th, 2007, 10:20 AM
Thanks Donna. That makes alot of sense. I've never been to a meet before, so it seems like that would be the best way to get closer to my team. I will make that my next step!

September 30th, 2007, 12:52 PM
Since you are in North Carolina, if it is convenient for you(since I don't know where in NC you live), you might consider doing the November 3-4 meet in Columbia, SC. I will be doing that one. It is a fun meet.

September 30th, 2007, 01:29 PM
... I have begun bringing my own workouts because I can't keep up with the workout, but I think this makes it worse (is that kind of a faux pas?)... If I'm not interacting with the coach or the other swimmers during the workout, am I really a member of the team?... So, bottom line...Any advice for this newbie who's trying to fit in?

well, you did indeed come to the right place for free advice. :-o :-D

i can understand your confusion. but my $ is on the bet that if you give it some time, things will work out.

faux pas or not, if you're paying for the coach's services (and to swim with this group) then i'd stand up and make some noise. softly at first, but if you feel ignored by the coach, somebody (with power) needs to know. otherwise it sounds like you are wasting your money.

(i agree) focus your energy on the coach who's giving you the most attention, but i'd also try to confront the ignoring coach (privately, and tactfully) to get a better understanding of their lack of attention to you. though it seems unlikely, they may have a good explanation, you'll never know till you ask.

you could try another team/club, but if that's the only game in town for you then... i reckon that's it. a really good coach will adjust the workout to all levels of swimmers, and i've seen plenty of good coaches do this.

in my book: if you pay your dues (if any are required), and you show up at practice, you are on the team. and (i agree) if you go to a meet you will experience a whole different level of the swimming experience. meets tend to be a love/hate thing, but if you get hooked, you'll love it.

forget about thinking you are slow, it doesn't (or should not) matter. if you focus on technique and put the time in, your best speed will follow naturally. and in the end (i agree) you are really only competing against yourself. and i don't really see competition and keeping up in the workout as being related myself.

all the masters swimming folks i've been around are a very nice bunch (as you've already experienced). give it some more time, you'll probably feel like a member of the team soon enough.

i am habitually the slowest person in my age bracket. in fact, at meets i am usually in the heat with guys 10-20yrs my senior, and they frequently beat me too. in the beginning i picked events to swim just to collect times to see how i was improving. i soon wised up however and realized that if i swam the least popular events i could get more points (so i do a lot of long back & breast events, and learned butterfly). so even though i usually finish DFL (dead ... last), i could earn more points for my team (frequently being one of the top scorers, thus a huge asset, plus i was available for relays, which is where teams really rack up points at meets). in fact i have even won two individual high point awards for my age bracket simply because i showed up, swam a full slate (of mostly unpopular events), and did not get DQ'd (disqualified). just showing up is a very huge part of the whole process (for me anyway).

of course i'm mostly talking LMSC meets here (so medium fish in small pond). i've never bothered with nationals (don't want to slow down an already cumbersome process). the one big invitational meet i attended (it was SCY, short course yard, a 25yd pool) i got throughly skunked, but i did turn in some of my best times ever. partly because the facility was billed as "one of the fastest pools in the USA", but i think mostly because of how the heats were seeded. as i got ready to mail in my entry form i noticed "heats will be seeded by time... without regard to gender". !!!???!!! uh-oh. :-( bad enough that i get beat by guys 10-20yrs older than me, now it is going to be GIRLS too! crikey! gimmie a break! :-(( i almost did not go. :-o but that is the only meet i've ever been to where in most of my events i had someone next to me who was nearly my match. lesson learned: if everyone turns in accurate seed times, everyone can do better.

one event in particular from that SCY invitational is etched in my mind, it was a 200 free, a woman on either side, my worst nightmare (which i can't believe i'm saying, i usually like being surrounded by women). the one on my right (slightly older) was gone in no time (a FAF sista' fer sure). but the one on my left (my age or younger) i traded places with throughout the event. definitely the closest match i've ever had, and i swam way harder than i thought i could. i don't know who touched first (didn't matter anyway), but we both came up and looked at each other at the same time. i smiled sheepishly and muttered "thanks". she had a somewhat stunned look on her face that i'll never forget. i never found out what that look was about as we exited quickly in different directions (it was a very fast paced meet). but it is a great memory.

another memorable moment was at a LMSC meet where i had a guy on either side of me that was in my age bracket, the only time this has ever happened to me. it was a 50 fly, SCM (25m pool). they were both past me when they hit the turn, so i thought "no point in killing myself, i'm gonna be last anyway", and i just relaxed into it. coming out of the turn the guy who started on my left was long gone, and the other guy was at least a full body length ahead of me (it seemed hopeless). but on my breakout stroke i noticed the other guy starting to flounder. a switch got flipped and i turned on the jets. i touched the guy out by a few 100ths, but it got me 6th (instead of 7th). he was positively stunned, and i was absolutely elated (and i thanked him too). they gave out ribbons that far down, and it is one of the few meet awards i keep on display. lesson (almost?) learned: no matter how hard you try, you can always try harder.

welcome to masters swimming. hope it is as productive as it is fun for you.


September 30th, 2007, 08:05 PM
Wow, what a thoughtful and very helpful reply. Thank you!

September 30th, 2007, 08:13 PM
Bud a great all inclusive post.