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Thread: Choosing your first meet.

  1. #1
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    Choosing your first meet.

    Any thoughts? From my perspective, former swimmer, back for about a month, I'd REALLY like to swim a few meets. How did you choose? When were you ready? How did you choose events? How did it go?

    Also, maybe some commentary on those who have no competitive swimming background. How did you prepare?

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    Age Grouper in Training jaadams1's Avatar
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    Re: Choosing your first meet.

    Quote Originally Posted by jsc View Post
    Any thoughts? From my perspective, former swimmer, back for about a month, I'd REALLY like to swim a few meets. How did you choose? When were you ready? How did you choose events? How did it go?

    Also, maybe some commentary on those who have no competitive swimming background. How did you prepare?
    Just pick any meet, preferably a local one (local for me is 3 hours or less away) Depending on your age and how long you've been away from swimming can also dictate what you choose to swim. Pick 3 events, or maybe a full series of 5. Start out easy, like all the 50s, or challenge yourself with 200s. It's really up to you. No one will laugh at you for "doing poorly". Masters swimming is different to everyone. We all have our own top speeds, and as long as we're happy, we keep doing it. No big deal.
    I remember my first days back in the water after years out of the pool. Fly was a new concept to me all over again. It's amazing how you lose those swimmer muscles, but they come back quickly. It's trying to lose the & on the couch stuff that sets you back.
    Good luck.
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    Very Active Member __steve__'s Avatar
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    Re: Choosing your first meet.

    My first meet was also a first swimming competition. It was with almost 2 yrs experience knowing how to swim, but I was swimming almost continuous leading up to the meet. I just did the events I knew how to do and was able to accomplish with dignity (50, 100, and 200 frees). I registered them as NT (no time) which seeded me in early heats with swimmers of a wide variety of times and age. For now on with new events however, I just conservatively guess the time if allowed to do so.

    Building up to my first event of this meet I developed severe anxiety. My heart was pounding and I started getting dizzy. While on the block I thought I was about to fall off, then the starting horn beeped, and I was still standing there for a moment looking at the official before I blasted off (for a personal best time of course). My wife and kids were watching and filmed it for a laugh. I realized the anxiety was all for nothing but for some reason I always get butterflys leading up to the first heat. I just deal with them visually to keep them controlled.

    Just go out and do the swims you know you can and you will keep coming back for more.

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    Re: Choosing your first meet.

    After many years away I rained for a month prior to my first meet free and back events. Did well in 50's but lacked endurance and speed in 100's. Still, it was great to meet so many nice folks and my enthusiasm and commitment grew. Three months later I swam in the National Spring Chamiopnships and won 6 medals making top ten in 4.

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    aka Elaine-iaK & Aqua Dog ElaineK's Avatar
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    Re: Choosing your first meet.

    Do you have "developmental" meets in your area? Georgia Masters has these meets that do not count for rankings, but they are a great way to get the bugs out (or butterflies!) in a low-key environment.

    To be honest, though, this is not the way I started. My first meet back after 31 years (I only swam in high school) was a large meet in Atlanta with a lot of great swimmers tuning up for Nationals, the following month.

    My second meet was 2010 Spring Nationals, at Georgia Tech, with nearly 2,000 swimmers. I was seeded near the bottom of my group in my events and I was a bundle of nerves. But, it was an awesome experience!

    At both meets, everybody I met was so supportive and encouraging! Just let people know it's your first meet and they will kill you with kindness. That would be my one bit of advice. Go into it with the primary goal of having fun and meeting people. Be friendly and it will come back twofold, because Masters swimmers are a terrific bunch of people!

    Good luck!
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    Very Active Member mlabresh's Avatar
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    Re: Choosing your first meet.

    I have no competitive swimming background experience. I'm a self-taught swimmer and joined Masters about a year ago. My kids' coach was also kind enough to let me swim with the age group team in the intermediates practice over the summer.

    I decided last spring to do summer Nationals in Omaha. It was such a cool opportunity to be able to swim in the Olympic Trials pool and I didn't want to pass it up! It was my first meet ever. I went into it knowing that I would be last in my races and was in it more for the experience than anything else. I would have loved to have a couple 'warm up meets' before hand, but there just aren't many (if any...) local meets for me to go to.

    As far as how I swam in Omaha, it was a terrible meet. But it was awesome to be allowed to come and swim there anyway and I'm glad I took advantage of the opportunity.

    A couple weeks after Nationals, I had my second meet. It was a local (the only that I know of) meet and was WAY fun. I'm SO glad I did it! I entered 4 events but ended up swimming 7 (was asked to join 3 relay teams) and had a blast meeting swimmers from all over our state (though none of the swimmers from my Masters group were there).

    I do hope to find more meets to participate in this year. As far as how to prepare for that first meet - just do what you can. Work out with your Masters group, ask your coach to help you fine tune your stroke. Get out there and do your best, but make sure your goals are reasonable! And, most importantly, HAVE FUN!
    ~Megan

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    Re: Choosing your first meet.

    Quote Originally Posted by jsc View Post
    Also, maybe some commentary on those who have no competitive swimming background. How did you prepare?
    I'm sort of in between having a "competitive" background and not having one. I learned all the strokes swimming summers at a local pool in a city league. I was pretty bad at it and was out of swimming long before High School. I swam some in college to train for some small triathlons. My first meet was at least 25 years after I had last dove off of any blocks and about 20 since I had trained for anything swimming related.

    I never really meant to train for a swim meet. I had been getting back into cycling to help alleviate arthritis in my back. When the carbon fiber on my bike began to delaminate, I was stuck finding something else to do while waiting for a new bike. My wife got me a jammer and off I went to the pool. I figured I'd work up to swimming a mile a day and maybe enter some triathlons again when I got the bike situation fixed. So, training was hop in, 72 lenghts (1 mile), hop out. Eventually, that became 2 miles. Hop in, 144 lenghts, hop out. I'm not sure how I kept track of the lengths or how I coped with the daily repetitive routine. Lots of people do it and enjoy it... I was slowly getting bored and longed for the spring when I could get back on my bike. After a few months, I was forced to share a lane with a "masters" swimmer. One masters workout turned into two that turned into a week... and a month... and somewhere along the way, I was absorbed into a masters team. The team only does one meet a year (Auburn SCY Invitational) and they had just finished that meet before I started swimming with them. I had a year to get ready which was good because I had some serious things to work out like dives, flip turns, backstroke, fly and a lifetime of bad swimming habits.

    We did 3500-4000 yards a day of various interval training. I substituted a lot of stroke with free so I could keep up. I skipped a 25 or 50 here or there but kept pushing myself. We upped the yardage as the meet got closer and tapered about 12 days out. I had no clue what a taper was. I simply did what everyone else did and trusted that it would work out.

    So, the meet was coming up. Since the team only did one meet, there wasn't a real problem choosing which one. The biggest problem was choosing which events. Everyone on the team was swimming 10 events. So, I chose 10 events. I started with 50 Free, 50 Back, 50 Breast, 50 Fly because I was knew I could at least finish. I was pretty sure I could do the 100 Free, 200 Free and 100 IM. Breaststroke was my strongest stroke so I picked up the 100 and 200 for that. Finally, I nervously checked off the 500 free. Roger helped me pick my seed times. They all turned out to be a little too aggressive so I ended up finishing near the back of my heats. No big deal really because I knew I wasn't competing directly against the swimmers in my heat.

    Race day finally comes and I'm pretty nervous. I also managed to contract a nasty cold. When I get there, everyone is (well... lots of people are) squeezing into full body rubberized suits. I'm putting on Speedo briefs and feeling pretty under-dressed. My first event is 100 IM. I'm in heat 16, lane 3 or heat 13, lane 6... or something like that. I keep checking the back of my hand where I wrote in sharpie where I'm supposed to be. Then, I bug the guy in line in front of me to make sure he is in the lane I'm supposed to be in and his heat is before mine. Next, I worry about whether or not my goggles will fall off and if I'll false start and if I'll mess up my back to breast turn and if I'll be able to beat my seed time and if I'm following the correct procedure for getting on the blocks. That carries on all the way through the start signal. Instantly, the nerves vanish, the adrenaline rushes and instincts take over. 70 seconds later, I touch the wall and I'm hooked.

    Whichever meet you pick, hope you have a lot of fun!

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    Very Active Member __steve__'s Avatar
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    Re: Choosing your first meet.

    :Just read one of your blogs, You are already very speedy so perhaps my advice above isn't as relevant. Just take it in response to the "no competitive background" question.

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    aka Elaine-iaK & Aqua Dog ElaineK's Avatar
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    Re: Choosing your first meet.

    Peter, I loved reading your story! Having met you at the Auburn meet and knowing part of the story, it fun to hear the rest!

    You turned out to be an awesome swimmer! And, seeing you and your teammates at the Auburn meet is part of what makes that meet so enjoyable for me. (By the way, I did all of the same things you did at my first meet and worried about all of the same stuff!)

    So, I have one question for you: Why only one meet each year?
    Last edited by ElaineK; September 2nd, 2012 at 01:06 PM.
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    Very Active Member __steve__'s Avatar
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    Re: Choosing your first meet.

    Quote Originally Posted by pmccoy View Post
    When the carbon fiber on my bike began to delaminate,
    What type of bike was this? I had a Kestrel that did this. I bought it in 1990 and used it for little over a year then some bubba at a bike shop clamped it on a maintenance stand, down hill from there. I loved that bike
    sorry for high-jacking your thread doc.

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    Re: Choosing your first meet.

    No worries! Thanks for all the thoughts. I think I just need to decide when and if I feel like racing. We have several local meets, so I'm a little spoiled in that regard. Choosing events will be the interesting bit- I'm a middle distance free gal by trade but the 50s and 100 IM sound more fun...

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    Re: Choosing your first meet.

    Quote Originally Posted by ElaineK View Post
    So, I have one question for you: Why only one meet each year?
    Hey Elaine! Lots more backstory where that came from but I'll save it for a later day... maybe in Feb at the Auburn meet.

    As for more meets, we probably would if there were more local ones. I think Murfreesboro is the closest yearly meet to us (about an hour away) and I've though about going to that one. I've got kids from age 1 to 14 so heading out for an entire weekend is going to be tough. I also coach U16 and U8 soccer which consumes half my weekends each year. We did go to Nationals when it was in Auburn last year and had a great time. Last week a visitor from Florida mentioned something about Pan Am Championships being in Sarasota next year. Roger perked up at that so... maybe.

    Quote Originally Posted by __steve__ View Post
    What type of bike was this?
    It was a 1991 Specialized Epic Allez. I put a lot of miles on that bike. Specialized was surprised that the problem existed and asked for the bike back. In return, they gave me a really good deal on a brand new aluminum frame which was actually lighter than the carbon fiber. I wish I could ride more. It used to be my lunchtime ritual but I don't work near the mountain I used to climb anymore. Weekends just aren't practical for riding much due to reasons cited in my reply to Elaine.

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    Re: Choosing your first meet.

    I had the benefit of a Coach making suggestions but it ultimately came down to what I was interested in. I chose the freestyle 100 and 400 because I like freestyle and there are less rules about turns and all. I didn't want to get dq'ed. Also, look into joining a couple of relays. I enjoyed those more than just the race by myself. I didn't do the 400 because it was the past event and I was ready to go.
    I "tapered" about 2 weeks before the meet by just cutting back the yardage by about half. I cut back the intensity some as well.

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    Very Active Member orca1946's Avatar
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    Re: Choosing your first meet.

    Are you with a team?? If not join one--- if so then go when they go. Any local meet will be a great place to start I think you will find most of us a good group to be in the pool & deck with, Just have fun!

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    Re: Choosing your first meet.

    Quote Originally Posted by jsc View Post
    Any thoughts? From my perspective, former swimmer, back for about a month, I'd REALLY like to swim a few meets. How did you choose? When were you ready? How did you choose events? How did it go?

    Also, maybe some commentary on those who have no competitive swimming background. How did you prepare?
    I did my first USMS meet back in Aug 1998. I started swimming with a masters group in I believe April 1998, so I had been swimming with the team for about 3 months.

    Other than a couple of triathlons and playing water polo in college (a club team), I had never even been on a swim team before. I was living in Tucson, hated my job, joined the masters team as stress relief, and it worked very well. I was coming to Phoenix that weekend anyway, so since the meet was going on, I just went and did 2 events, 200 LCM free and 100 LCM breast.

    Our coach tapered the whole team for all of the meets, and the taper included working on block starts.
    I just remember diving into the pool and swimming...didn't see anyone at all near me. I turned at the 50 and could see others coming. Then I turned at the 100...and that last 100 was a real struggle. I knew nothing about pacing and took that first 100 way too fast.
    My 100 breast was much better.
    Since my team had to travel to the meet (it is about a 2 hour drive), there were just a handful of people there and they were all encouraging. I'll never forget how my coach came over after my 200 and said, "that would have been a great 100."

    I've had a love/hate relationship with meets over the years. For a while I was doing 3-4 a year, then had a bad experience when I swam at USMS nationals, I think in 2003, and took several years off from meets (but not from swimming). I dabbled in some open water events, and added in running and lifting weights.

    I now try to do a couple of meets a year (2-3), a few open water events, as well as events in other sports that I do (running and cycling). I treat the meets more as a guide on how I'm improving--or not--over time. Unless there's some fluke and only 9 other guys in my age group end up doing an event, I'll never get a Top 10. But perhaps some day, I'll get a National Qualifying Time in something.

    Generally I've found that meets are a great experience and masters swimmers are very welcoming and encouraging.
    Check out my blog here
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    Re: Choosing your first meet.

    These are great thoughts!

    I've found 2 SCM meets this fall, may do one or both. Planning to do nationals next spring, but still trying to sort out which events & when I'll feel comfortable racing.

    When did you get your racing feel/desire back? 6 weeks in? 6 months? Never, it is masters, don't worry?

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    Re: Choosing your first meet.

    it is masters, which you (not your mommy and daddy) are now paying for, so you can swim whatever you want! you can certainly ask for your coach's input on events, but it's masters, so you get to decide what you want to swim! some former swimmers stick with their tried and true events, and others try new/off events and you may feel like switching around during your masters swim career and it's all good!

    that said, are you eyeing certain events for spring nationals? then you probably want to get a few races of those events under your belt before then. local masters meets are way more casual than age group/high school (my former level)/ college; everyone is encouraging and supportive. just remember you're doing this for yourself, for fun/fitness/the challenge, so there's no reason to pressure yourself.

    at nationals, there's so many heats of each event, that recovery time between events is less of an issue. but at local meets, depending on attendance, there could be very little time between your events, so look at the order of events and plan accordingly--which events are you really targeting to do well in, and which are you considering "bonus" swims?

    many local masters meets are seeded by time only, so your heat may be mixed men and women and ages. our local masters meets also tend to have single meet entry fee, in which case you can still decide to scratch events at the meet, without feeling guilty!

    you say that you have a lot of choices for meets, so: which meet dates work for your family/work schedule? would you have to travel for the meet? are you familiar with the pool? is it known as a fast pool? are there meets that are "traditional" that other members of your team go to? what is the expected level of competiton for the meet? what level of competition are you looking for, for your "first meet back"? what is the order of events for the meet, and how well does it fit your training/racing plan?

    finally, your team/coach may or may not run a quasi organized warmup and start practice at the meet. i suggest that you be prepared to do your own warmup and practice starts. good luck!

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    Re: Choosing your first meet.

    So helpful. Thanks.

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    Re: Choosing your first meet.

    Quote Originally Posted by jsc View Post
    These are great thoughts!


    When did you get your racing feel/desire back? 6 weeks in? 6 months? Never, it is masters, don't worry?
    I took off a little longer than you (25 years) but it took close to a year before I felt like I had a good feel for the water.

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    Green Mountain Boy rxleakem's Avatar
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    Re: Choosing your first meet.

    That feeling may come back after your first meet.

    My first racing experience as a Master (after 15 dry years) was great. A small meet at Simons Rock College in the Berkshires, January 2011, where I introduced myself to the meet director before warming up. Bill pointed me in the direction of Jim, a Cape Codder who had started competing at the same meet the previous year. Jim has been my swimming buddy ever since, as we always run into each other at the meets in New England. My times were not great, but the swims motivated me to keep plugging away. Even the 50 fly will seem endless the first time you do it!

    Have fun, don't worry too much about the times: they are always changing.
    Make sure you report back about your experience
    ..<))><

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