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Thread: As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

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    As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

    I swim a lot and really enjoy it. It's something I've done all of my life, growing up in Southern California, and it's my main form of exercise. I'm good at it, but I do it primarily for health and enjoyment.

    I've noticed from lurking around this board for several years that there seems to be a very self-congratulatory, cliquish tone to many threads and posts. It seems like it's often a small group of people who post relentlessly, as if they are engaged in some sort of private conversation where they're trying to outdo each other.

    Maybe I'm the only one who feels that way. Maybe that's part and parcel of the world of "hardcore" competitive swimmers. Or maybe it's because there wouldn't be anything else to talk about, unless there weren't a constant focus on who's the "best" at this or that.

    A race is something that happens once in a while, whereas a lifetime of swimming lasts, well, a lifetime. Yes, it's great to break a certain time in a certain race, but it's also great to have the self-discpline to keep at a daily swimming program and work on improving one's technique and endurance. Both are valid, and, to my mind, neither is more worthy of praise than the other.

    Jim Thornton, if I recall correctly, noted a while ago that there were a lot of people lurking around the board and not really participating. If that is the case, I would propose that may be due to the general off-putting tone of things on here. (I won't give examples at this point, although I could.)

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    Re: As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

    I can kind of see what you mean, but it's not as bad as it looks. I would say there's two parts: the clique and the competition.

    The clique is not really a bad thing at all. If you post regularly, people will get used to your personality and you'll just be part of it. Most online forums are like that. It's also good to go to meets so you can actually see people in person.

    The competition is not as fun sometimes, even for a competitive person like myself. I think this forum is generally way too obsessed with records and rankings. There's quite a bit of hero worship, too. Some people get status just from being fast. I've seen plenty of cases of "The Amazing X" where X is the name of an ordinary person who happens to swim fast. I called out Jonathan Miller for this once, but he's not the only one.

    Really it's a minor issue compared to the very friendly attitude that's the norm. There's also a focus on individual improvement. Plenty of praise for anyone who makes an improvement or a commitment. The comparison thing that bugs me is limited in that it tends to only happen in a positive way ("You're so fast!"). Of course this leads to false modesty ("Nooo you're so much faster!") which makes me want to puke.

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    Very Active Member islandsox's Avatar
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    Re: As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

    Anyone who SWIMS, is not an outsider even though others may write things that make you feel that way. What it is is more familiarity. Trust me, I know. I had been on this board for a long time and got criticized because my background could not be "verified" by some. But for the most part, everyone here, I mean everyone, loves to hear from people just starting out, needing help, offering suggestions, and contributing to content of threads. Everyone who swims has something to offer and most do listen intently. I know this because I was where you were awhile back.

    I have been a swimmer my entire life and have found that I actually enjoy the newcomers' comments as much as the oldtimers' comments. Swimmers do have heart and my suggestion is to jump in whenever you can to the subjects. Even with questions. Questions bring thought, thought brings insight, and those with experience will share. Thus, everyone benefits.

    I am 61 and have been competing since age 9. I have never known a swimmer yet in my life to be a snob, maybe because we are all so pooped from the workouts. Please don't stop contributing nor stop with any questions. Many with swim experience feel good in their hearts to give advice to others.

    Stay with the people here, they have a lot to offer.

    Donna
    Insanity is hereditary--you get it from your kids

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    Re: As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

    Quote Originally Posted by sftom View Post
    It seems like it's often a small group of people...

    Jim Thornton, if I recall correctly, noted a while ago that there were a lot of people lurking around the board and not really participating....
    For the record, 205 different users have posted on these forums since December 7th (one week ago). That's quite a few.

    I'm not one of the "hardcore" swimmers by any stretch of the imagination. I usually finish last in my age group (as well as most of the other age groups, too, ha, ha). But I don't feel like an outsider.

    As far as the "clique" thing goes, there are a lot of inside jokes but I think that's partly because a lot of these people go back 5 years or more on these forums. And if you don't "get" what's going on, just send a PM to one of the posters and they'll generally fill you in.

    Anna Lea

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    Very Active Member jim thornton's Avatar
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    Re: As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

    Hi, Tom, I agree with what the others have posted here, i.e., that there can be an appearance of cliquishness, which is really just an artifact of people who have corresponded so regularly becoming an internet peer group of sorts. About 7 years ago, I was a very active poster here, and then for whatever reason, I drifted away for a reasonably long time, then came back a year or two ago. Many of the regulars had changed in the interlude, and I definitely felt that sense of being sort of--not excluded, exactly--but just kind of out of the mainstream and ignorant of who everybody was and what the various relationships were.

    I have found that if you just bull your way through with an absolute indifference to what anyone else thinks, you can affix yourself like a barnacle on the bosom of the USMS discussion forums. Pretty soon, even the most sensitive of readers will give up trying to brush you off.

    For what it's worth, I posted a poll not too long ago about peoples' backgrounds in swimming, and it seemed that a very sizable chunk had little competitive experience before masters.

    I also think most would agree with you that the benefits of swimming probably do outweigh the glory of competition. I mean, let's face it: Making the top 10 in the 400 SCM freestyle in the 55-59 age group, something I am personally hoping to do, is nonetheless an accomplishment on a par, if perhaps a bit lower, than having a schnauzer that wins "Best in Breed" in a small regional dog pageant. Sure, I would love to be able to brag about my Best in Breed schnauzer medal, should I be lucky enough to win this, but I think most of us realize that sic gloria fugit, which loosely translated means "glory is sick, f... it".

    Perhaps it would make an interesting thread to include a Dramatis Personnae of some of the regulars. Let me see:

    Jim Thornton--spiritual leader of USMS

    Paul Smith--a member of Posse Comitatus living in Arizona and being chased by federal marshals who are afraid to pursue him into the pool

    The Fortress--she who must be obeyed

    SwimStud--a breaststroker from the UK, where bathing is an annual ritual and thus his swimming really only took off once he arrived on our shores

    CreamPuff--the one acolyte whom the spiritual leader would most like to take under his be-hassocked wing

    Chris Stevenson--one of the few very fast and very smart swimmers on this forum

    Pwolf66, aka, The Hulk--Paladin in a B70

    Ian Smith--the Canadian wonder who honed his sprinting skills on the squash courts of Manitoba

    Geek and Gull--nice seeming fellows who may or may not harbor fugitives like Paul Smith but also helped establish the so-called NSF or non-swimming forum (correct me if i am wrong)

    BlackBeards Peg--an Aztec descendant who would be appalled, I am certain, by his ancestors' religious practices

    Leonard Jansen and Peter Cruise--unusually witty fellows

    Ande--the swimming coach we all wish we had on deck at our pools

    Frank Thompson--the unofficial historian of the league who can tell you, with an idiot savant's fluency, the splits guys swam during high school meets in the late 60s

    GeoChuck--ditto, only in this case, it's the late 1860s.

    Okay, I realize I have left out the most interesting people, and I may have gotten many of the above mixed up. Is Paul Smith really the Posse Comitatus member, or is that me? I can't always remember that well after we do an "all hypoxic sets" workout.

    Ah, it doesn't matter. They can't get rid of me. This barnacle has his purchase on the bosom, and it won't be budged.

    I urge you, Tom, to affix yourself thusly on these forums, too.

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    Active Member Mookie's Avatar
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    Re: As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

    It is frustrating at times. Over 90% of USMS swimmers swim for fitness and don't compete, but the magazine and forums tend to obsess over competition. It's crazy, and that disconnect can be maddening. I've been meaning to complain about it, but I'm usually too whipped from swim practice and a beer after.

    The great thing is that you are among swimmers, and swimmers will bend over backwards to help other swimmers, no matter who you are or are not. If you're not getting what you want, just ask.

    How to fix the magazine to reflect the needs and interests of the vast majority of USMS, I don't know.

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    Very Active Member Chicken of the Sea's Avatar
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    Re: As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

    Hi Stfom!

    I've been lurking around for quite a while without contributing.

    It enhances my air of mystery.

    (there's no Australian emoticon. This was the closest I could find)

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    Very Active Member Chicken of the Sea's Avatar
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    Re: As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

    Jim, you forgot me!

    Chicken of the Sea = lukewarm water

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    Re: As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken of the Sea View Post
    (there's no Australian emoticon. This was the closest I could find)
    Shouldn't the flag be upside down and with corks hanging from it?



    .

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    Very Active Member Chicken of the Sea's Avatar
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    Re: As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

    Good idea!

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    Re: As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

    Quote Originally Posted by sftom View Post
    I swim a lot and really enjoy it. It's something I've done all of my life, growing up in Southern California, and it's my main form of exercise. I'm good at it, but I do it primarily for health and enjoyment.

    I've noticed from lurking around this board for several years that there seems to be a very self-congratulatory, cliquish tone to many threads and posts. It seems like it's often a small group of people who post relentlessly, as if they are engaged in some sort of private conversation where they're trying to outdo each other.

    Maybe I'm the only one who feels that way. Maybe that's part and parcel of the world of "hardcore" competitive swimmers. Or maybe it's because there wouldn't be anything else to talk about, unless there weren't a constant focus on who's the "best" at this or that.

    A race is something that happens once in a while, whereas a lifetime of swimming lasts, well, a lifetime. Yes, it's great to break a certain time in a certain race, but it's also great to have the self-discpline to keep at a daily swimming program and work on improving one's technique and endurance. Both are valid, and, to my mind, neither is more worthy of praise than the other.

    Jim Thornton, if I recall correctly, noted a while ago that there were a lot of people lurking around the board and not really participating. If that is the case, I would propose that may be due to the general off-putting tone of things on here. (I won't give examples at this point, although I could.)
    Wow. I don't like your writing style. I didn't fully grasp the point you were trying to make until the last sentence. I was making you out to be a sophomoric tight wad who likes to tell the uppity competitive types to F off.

    However, as a big time forum user I know that, it's not uncommon to have lurkers. It's not that they feel discouraged. They just don't feel like posting. A lot of times people just google swimming and forums like this pop up with a convenient answer to their question, or not.

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    Re: As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mookie View Post
    It is frustrating at times. Over 90% of USMS swimmers swim for fitness and don't compete, but the magazine and forums tend to obsess over competition. It's crazy, and that disconnect can be maddening. I've been meaning to complain about it, but I'm usually too whipped from swim practice and a beer after.

    The great thing is that you are among swimmers, and swimmers will bend over backwards to help other swimmers, no matter who you are or are not. If you're not getting what you want, just ask.

    How to fix the magazine to reflect the needs and interests of the vast majority of USMS, I don't know.
    You could always write a magazine yourself. However, I doubt people will actually buy it. That's usually the problem. Then again, find some hot models and it could work.

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    Very Active Member pwb's Avatar
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    Re: As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

    Quote Originally Posted by sftom View Post
    A race is something that happens once in a while, whereas a lifetime of swimming lasts, well, a lifetime. Yes, it's great to break a certain time in a certain race, but it's also great to have the self-discpline to keep at a daily swimming program and work on improving one's technique and endurance. Both are valid, and, to my mind, neither is more worthy of praise than the other.
    Sftom,

    While I know there's a lot of discussion around racing and times, I think, at the core, most people are on the forums and in USMS for a variety of relatively similar reasons -- staying healthy, camaraderie, setting fitness goals (whether time / ranking related or not) and then figuring out how to achieve them. Times and rankings are an easy shorthand and ONE way to measure "success," but I think most people are digging deeper than that.

    I agree there are a number of very prolific posters ... but you'll also find great advice (& not just racing advice) from these folks (as well as others). Hang out, check out the threads and topics that are of interest to your particular path right now and then jump in ... the water's fine and there are (little to no) sharks biting.

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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

    People here like to talk about successes in training and competitions because they know they'll have a receptive ear. This is something as swimmers we might not get at home or among non-swimming friends.

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    Very Active Member ViveBene's Avatar
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    Re: As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

    Quote Originally Posted by knelson View Post
    People here like to talk about successes in training and competitions because they know they'll have a receptive ear. This is something as swimmers we might not get at home or among non-swimming friends.
    This is certainly true! It took my loving family 18 months to resume talking to me once I acquired a swim coach ("What is she doing THAT for?!")

    "sftom," a lot of the conversations on these forums are continuations of conversations happening off the forums, at meets and elsewhere, as people get to know each other in person (I don't swim at that level, but I think it's kind of fun to drop in on long-running movies that don't star me, LOL!). And the amount of work to shave maybe a second off a time -- which generally indicates an overall increase in fitness, and improved technique -- is extraordinary.

    Posters have been very generous with me, giving me lots of tips and plaudits for trifling achievements, such as a first dive after 40 years.

    Any bb develops its own personality, and a few posters will lead the convos for a time. Bring your goggles, pull up a chair, and join in!


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    Very Active Member ViveBene's Avatar
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    Re: As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

    Quote Originally Posted by sftom View Post
    A race is something that happens once in a while, whereas a lifetime of swimming lasts, well, a lifetime. Yes, it's great to break a certain time in a certain race, but it's also great to have the self-discpline to keep at a daily swimming program and work on improving one's technique and endurance. Both are valid, and, to my mind, neither is more worthy of praise than the other.
    I would recommend JMiller's "Fun, and Fast" thread for a lifetime of swimming.

    In the summer especially there are many threads on open water swimming for the fun and pleasure of it - no medals, races, or timers. (The thread "Where we swim OW" has more pictures of nonracing venues than of racing venues.) Regular work on technique in a daily, disciplined swimming program makes the fun possible; a decision to compete in meets helps one fine-tune the daily discipline. It's all good.

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    Re: As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

    Flawed thread title - this is not hardcore swimming, this is Masters swimming. Attend any Masters meet and you'll see that the oldest competitors get the biggest cheers. As it should be.

    And now, by popular demand, a dancing banana...

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    Active Member Mookie's Avatar
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    Re: As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

    Quote Originally Posted by CoachML View Post
    You could always write a magazine yourself. However, I doubt people will actually buy it. That's usually the problem. Then again, find some hot models and it could work.
    Why would you say something like that?

    Anyway, my hope is that our magazine will more accurately reflect the 90% of the people who are already 'buying' it.

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    Very Active Member gobears's Avatar
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    Re: As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

    Quote Originally Posted by sftom View Post
    I swim a lot and really enjoy it. It's something I've done all of my life, growing up in Southern California, and it's my main form of exercise. I'm good at it, but I do it primarily for health and enjoyment.

    I've noticed from lurking around this board for several years that there seems to be a very self-congratulatory, cliquish tone to many threads and posts. It seems like it's often a small group of people who post relentlessly, as if they are engaged in some sort of private conversation where they're trying to outdo each other.
    I may be wrong, but aren't most forums somewhat this way? I participate in a few and have always noticed being a "newbie" on a board is intimidating. If you check out any of the Scout college sports boards they are a good example. Many forums are a whole lot harsher--complete with expletives, name calling and trolling. This one seems pretty tame to me. As for people being "self-congratulatory," I see it more as people being excited about their accomplishments. I think most on this board are excited about others' accomplishments as well (whether they be World Records or completing first practices). To me, that's a good thing.

    That said, I think you just have to jump in and post. Eventually you will become part of the discussion (even if it's just being the cranky devil's advocate ).

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    Very Active Member dorothyrde's Avatar
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    Re: As an "outsider" to the world of "hardcore" swimming ...

    Most forums are this way. The trick is to start posting and soon, you are "one of them". I have posted on and off for about the same time I have been swimming, 9 years, and found that everyone but one has been good hearted.

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