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SWIMMER Editorials

  1. The M Word (May-June 2013)

    by , May 1st, 2013 at 01:00 AM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    What does the word Masters in Masters Swimming mean to you?

    , in USMS parlance, merely signifies that you are an adult: age 18 or older.

    Over the years, we’ve heard different reactions: “It’s only for fast swimmers.” “It’s for swimmers age 50 and above.” “It’s only for swimmers who want to compete.” “It’s only for those who have mastered the sport.” “It’s only for pool swimmers.” And my personal favorite, from a young age-grouper at our pool, “It’s for old Sharks.” As perpetually young-at-heart athletes, many of us believe age is relative, but the reactions from new, would-be, and nonmembers runs the gamut.

    In the 1960s, when Dr. Ransom Arthur was promoting organized adult swimming for fitness, the word Masters was borrowed from Masters Track and Field and it stuck. Some of the age misconceptions about Masters swimming may stem from this—USA Masters Track and Field does have lower age limits of 30 and 40, depending on the type of event.

    Even Masters Swimming, which started as a committee of the American Swimming Coaches Association, migrated to a committee of the Amateur Athletic Union, and later morphed into the USMS we know today, had an initial lower age limit of 25. This was dropped to 19 in 1986, and then to 18 in 2002.

    Age limits aside, the M word has been a topic of discussion at USMS annual meetings. In 2007, a branding task force considered the idea of dropping it in favor of something perhaps more inviting. But with so much equity and tradition invested into U.S. Masters Swimming, it was decided after careful thought that we would maintain our heritage while repositioning our identity and promoting education and services that would encourage more adults to swim.

    Masters Swimming is open to anyone age 18 and older, regardless of age and ability. Some Masters programs even have adult learn-to-swim programs for those who have never set foot in the water. Our charitable arm, the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation (, provides grants to clubs who create such opportunities for adults in their communities.

    Our Facebook page (, is packed with links to mainstream media stories about Masters swimmers. This is an exciting development, and we urge you to pitch stories to your local media outlets—they’re always looking for good content and are usually happy to do a piece on your local program, your coach, or a teammate who has an interesting story. Be sure to send us the link when it’s published. Sharing these stories helps dispel misconceptions about the M word and helps us to encourage more adults to swim.

    Updated July 1st, 2014 at 11:39 AM by Editor

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  2. Swimming in Social Media (September-October 2012)

    by , September 1st, 2012 at 01:00 AM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    Love it or hate it, social media has become a part of everyday life. Understanding its impact means more than deciphering those little symbols above the number keys that we never used very much before. #whatisahashtaganyway @MastersSwimming?!

    For anyone born before 1990, the rapidity with which information flies around can be stunning. We now rely on smartphone apps for things we used to have to wait hours or days for: weather forecasts, news, sports scores, all available at the touch of a button. With apps such as Active’s Meet Mobile, how many of us get irritated when the splits of our last race aren’t posted by the time we get out of the warm-down pool? #behonest

    As with any newfangled thing, many people who’ve been around longer than the technology will grumble. Others will try it and find creative ways to use it, discarding what they don’t like. The young’uns will just wonder what all the fuss is about. Some of them will never realize that in the old days, during a dining experience, people faced each other and exchanged information—often referred to as conversation—with those actually seated at the table. y r u lookn at ur napkin?

    Did you follow the Olympics via Twitter and Facebook? Or did you wait until prime time, with the hope that none of your social media–crazy friends would let slip what they saw on their Twitter feeds or post spoilers on their Facebook timelines? NBC didn’t need social media to spoil results when it aired promos of interviews with gold-medalist Missy Franklin when it hadn’t yet aired the actual gold-medal race. #epicfail

    As a 42-year-old organization that hopes to attract members of all ages, USMS is using these tools to encourage conversation and sharing. Ben Christoffel of Liquid Media manages USMS social media platforms: “Social media is not replacing traditional means of communication, but rather enhancing the way we communicate as a whole.”

    USMS clubs are using social media to keep their swimmers engaged. Some coaches tweet pool closures or other last-minute practice changes. Having a Facebook page is nothing new, but using Facebook instead of a club website has become an attractive option for clubs that don’t have the funds or in-house expertise to build and maintain a traditional website.

    With social media tools, says Christoffel, “Masters programs can communicate, encourage and inform by posting real-time updates and media-rich content to keep their members involved outside the pool." Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay.

    Updated September 3rd, 2014 at 12:20 PM by Editor

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  3. What's Your Word? (November-December 2011)

    by , November 1st, 2011 at 01:00 AM (SWIMMER Editorials)
    Recently we posted a question on Facebook: “What adjective best describes swimming?” We received nearly 100 responses. Not all were adjectives and some posters couldn’t limit themselves to just one word.

    Single words have a long history of summarizing our physical and emotional behavior. Stop. Love. Yield. Yes. No. Fire. (Insert your favorite curse word here.). We use single words to simplify—to reduce a complex series of events or a complicated emotional response into one neat and tidy package that gives us direction, inspires us, triggers action, or simply lets anyone within earshot know just how painful smashing our shin into that coffee table was.

    When describing something meaningful, our language offers a cornucopia of words—and there is no right or wrong. Some of the words our members use to describe swimming easily convey why they might get up before the chickens to get to the pool. Others clearly have a special meaning just for that person. “Exhilarating” was the most-used word.

    This tag cloud (thank you, shows the responses we received. The larger the word, the more times it was found among the responses.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Updated December 30th, 2016 at 01:11 PM by Editor

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