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After a long rest

Why compete in masters meets?

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I am arranging a 2 day meet in Rockwall the week after summer Nationals and it has made me think a lot about why did I signup to try to put this meet on? Other team members are helping and the meet is by no means a solo effort but I asked myself why do I care one way or the other whether other masters swimmers compete at our meet or not; and even more broadly why am I as passionate about the sport of swimming as I am.

As I have written previously I am a former national level swimmer and quit the sport after the 1992 Olympic trials, burnt out and frustrated. At the time swimming had become something I needed to do rather than something I wanted to do. 20+ years and a lot of weight later I was roped into swimming in a corporate challenge event at work. After competing(I did not win) and having so much fun I decided I was going to give swimming another go. My initial intent was to get back into some semblance of physical shape. Initially swimming was tough but after about 6 months I ventured to Bryan, Texas and competed in a very small local meet. Again my times were not stellar and I was nervous but once again I had so much fun. Unlike the last year or so of my college swimming career where I was not enjoying myself and despite having success Swimming had lost the fun element, masters swimming was a lot of fun.

Again as I have written numerous times on my blog I travel a fair bit with work and no matter where I am I go out of my way to swim. Traveling for work is highly overrated, boring, tiring and most of the time the complete opposite of fun. Despite my job requiring me to meet and interact with large groups of people I am naturally a quiet and fairly introverted person. When I first started dropping in on masters teams both domestically and internationally I was quite nervous but again soon realized that no matter where I went I had something in common with those I choose to join at 0-dark something; a passion for swimming. I was not the only crazy guy who had fun following the black line at the bottom of the pool.

I realized that win or loose I liked the feeling of swimming fast, racing and pushing myself to my physical limit. After a while I even stopped comparing my times to what I did when I was younger and compared my times to my last swims. I still get upset and disappointed with not so great swims but it's no longer a love hate relationship with swimming, its purely a love relationship.

Despite my weight loss and body transition over the last three years I still don't have a 20 year olds body and obviously I never will. When I first started masters swimming I was embarrassed by my body shape and this initially caused me hesitation to compete. Somewhere along the way I realized it did not matter. Everyone in masters swimming has aged from our memories view of our physical glory days and our body shapes and sizes are what they are and are not important. Someone said to me one time that we all have two things in common, we are all born and we all die. He followed this with, what makes a great life is what you do with the time in between these two events. I can't control when my time is up but having the ability to have the highest quality of life while I am here is within my control and swimming has provided me some wonderful experiences. I truly believe, that swimming has given me a stronger relationship with my wife, most of the stress I used to bring home from work I leave at work and I believe I have become less flustered and frustrated as a result. I am still able to keep up with my kids, and my daughter specifically and I have a shared passion and spend time together as a result of swimming. I believe I bring more value to my business because I am more alert and mentally strong at work because of swimming. I have made friends I would not have made and in nearly every case feel like I have friends for life.

So why compete? I believe that meets add even more value to the masters swimming experience. Swimming is to a large extent, a fairly solitary sport. Somehow we get to know each other without really spending much total time talking. After all how much conversation can be conducted in the 10-15 seconds between swims and the 5-10 minutes at the beginning and end of practice? Meets allow us to share more time with our team mates. Meets allow us to support each other in a way we are unable to in practice. I realized in several cases that not only do I share a passion for swimming with my team mates but life experiences ranging from kid stories, work stories, college experiences, etc. My team mates are cool interesting people and traveling to and from meets, hanging out in deck and supporting each other is so much fun. There goes that word again!

Personally I had a very successful Spring Nationals but none of my own swims rank as the highlight of my meet. Seeing our entire team supporting one of our team mates who entered her first meet and completed the 200fly and 400IM was really awesome. Somehow we all shared every stroke Martha made and everyone got something from Martha's achievement. USMS is a big supporter of inclusion and I really do believe that competing enables swimmers to compete as a team and masters meets should not just be enjoyed by the few but rather every masters swimmer deserves to share in the experience and fun associated with a meet.

I hope we have a great turn out at our meet but above all I hope everyone has fun.

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Updated September 26th, 2015 at 07:06 AM by StewartACarroll

Categories
Masters Swim Meets / Events , Ramblings

Comments

  1. pwb's Avatar
    One of your best blog posts ever! I wholeheartedly agree.
  2. scyfreestyler's Avatar
    I had a feeling this might be a good entry when I read the title. It didn't disappoint.

    Hope your meet is well attended and goes smoothly.
  3. jroddin's Avatar
    Awesome post! Thanks for taking the time to capture your thoughts like this. I hope to meet you in Ohio next month.
  4. StewartACarroll's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by pwb
    One of your best blog posts ever! I wholeheartedly agree.
    Thanks Patrick. I find writing a blog quite therapeutic and as you know being on flights provides a lot of think time.
  5. StewartACarroll's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by scyfreestyler
    I had a feeling this might be a good entry when I read the title. It didn't disappoint.

    Hope your meet is well attended and goes smoothly.
    Thank you so much.
  6. StewartACarroll's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jroddin
    Awesome post! Thanks for taking the time to capture your thoughts like this. I hope to meet you in Ohio next month.
    Thanks.

    Yes it would be great to meet. I suspect we maybe competing against each other in a few events. See you in Geneva.