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After a long rest

The life of a traveling swimmer

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I don't know if it is my age or my circumstances but I have been having some deep thoughts recently and today I had one of these after a simple question at the end of practice. Today I am in Alexandria, Virginia and after practice I got talking to one of the members of Alexandria Masters who asked me where I swim. It got me thinking! Where do I swim? I am (for sure)by no means the most traveled Masters swimmer but I do travel a lot and I do take advantage of two member benefits that not many realize are out there; places to swim on the USMS website and the visitor drop in policy.

When I first got back into swimming 3 years ago I would only swim at my home pool in Rockwall, but as both my confidence in my swimming ability and my work related travel grew I started dropping in on teams around the country. For those who don't know, USMS has a drop in policy that most if not all teams will honor in which any USMS member can contact any USMS coach and ask to drop in for a swim practice. Some teams charge a drop in fee while others will let you join there practices for free.

I accidentally came across the places to swim on the front page of the USMS website after reading someone else's blog(pwb's I think). Initially I was skeptical as to how often I would take advantage of this benefit but later places to swim became one of my most active links. Initially I would use the tool to see the closest pool to my hotel and email the coach 24hrs or so before I would drop by. After a few months of doing this in places like Omaha Nebraska, Chicago, Illinois, Tacoma, Washington and Birmingham, Alabama I started to realize that this benefit was really cool and extremely useful.

Once again, as my confidence grew, instead of finding any pool near my hotel I instead looked for the programs and pools I wanted to drop in on and booked my hotel and travel around these programs. In a number of circumstances I would stay a long way away from my business location so that I could swim with a specific program. I vividly recall booking a hotel in Shannandoah, TX while visiting Houston so that I could swim with the Woodlands Masters Swim team only to realize that my meeting was almost 75 miles from the pool. If my boss is reading this, I made both the workout and the meeting As time went by instead of finding a pool near the hotel I started choosing facilities and programs that I wanted to swim at or with. So for example I went out my way to swim at the University of San Diego, Stanford Masters, Longhorn Aquatics at the University of Texas, SwimMAC, Swim Fort Lauderdale at the Hall of Fame pool, Alamo Area Masters at the Northside ISD pool, Nitro, and the list goes on.

I am a naturally introverted person despite professionally having to spend a lot of time with people I meet once or meet very infrequently. As I have gotten older I have become more comfortable in doing this but I am always a little nervous walking into a room or place full of strangers. One of my hesitations initially with the drop in policy was overcoming my own introverted tendencies. However, by going out of my comfort zone I have met some awesome people and I have found teams who are so warm, friendly and inviting that I go back time and again when I visit teams like Alexandria Masters, Georgia Masters, Detroit Masters, Stanford Masters, etc.

To date I have not met any team who has refused me entry and in all circumstances I have had a blast. Another benefit has been that I have become friends with many people who are equally passionate about swimming as me. In fact at world masters in Montreal last year I met one of the US coaches who I had swum several times while visiting Washington DC and swimming with Alexandria Masters. At Spring Nationals I hung out with a couple of swimmers from Tulsa Masters who I met while swimming in Jenks and again this Summer in Cleveland the first person I bumped into I had trained with in Dearborn Michigan and the Detroit Masters.

Traveling can get old and at times I think it's going to drive me crazy but I have grown to love swimming in different places. So back to the simple question I was asked this morning, "Where do you swim?". After reflection I guess the answer is anywhere and everywhere and I love it!

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Updated September 26th, 2015 at 08:04 AM by StewartACarroll

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