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Thread: Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

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    Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

    Not just for fitness, because that would be discouraging.

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    Very Active Member orca1946's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

    Why not?? Join a team after learning to swim and go for it!

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    aka Elaine-iaK & Aqua Dog ElaineK's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

    Quote Originally Posted by Treyseph View Post
    Not just for fitness, because that would be discouraging.
    Please clarify "compete". Compete at the Olympic level? Compete in U.S. Masters?

    Please also clarify "start". Start learning how to swim at 31?

    http://ElaineiaKsTravels.wordpress.com

    ~ Believing in your dreams can be far more rewarding than living by your limitations ~Karla Peterson

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    Very Active Member scyfreestyler's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

    I learned to swim at age 30 and began swimming in Masters meets a few years after that.

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    Very Active Member __steve__'s Avatar
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    Re: Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

    Quote Originally Posted by scyfreestyler View Post
    I learned to swim at age 30 and began swimming in Masters meets a few years after that.

    Me too! I learned to swim at 40 or 41 (I forgot which), my first meet was Feb 5 2010 at 43. Though I don't expect to reach top 10 (or top 20 for that matter) level this next decade or two, I will continue to train as if I was.

    Regarding swimming for fitness vs competition, if competition wasn't an option I would still be swimming, not for fitness, I couldn't endure that, but because I enjoy being in the water.

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    Very Active Member ForceDJ's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

    Quote Originally Posted by ElaineK View Post
    Please clarify "compete". Compete at the Olympic level? Compete in U.S. Masters?

    Please also clarify "start". Start learning how to swim at 31?
    ...or even competing against yourself.

    Dan

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    aka Elaine-iaK & Aqua Dog ElaineK's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

    Quote Originally Posted by ForceDJ View Post
    ...or even competing against yourself.

    Dan

    Exactly! Good point, Dan.
    http://ElaineiaKsTravels.wordpress.com

    ~ Believing in your dreams can be far more rewarding than living by your limitations ~Karla Peterson

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    Re: Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

    Quote Originally Posted by Treyseph View Post
    Not just for fitness, because that would be discouraging.
    If your approach is correct, which means appropriate fitness and technique training, as well as if you have enough motivation and time I'd say: Definitely Yes! Unfortunately what most adults don't have is time, cause we have to work to support our family.


    I am 37 now and I started to swim 2-3 months ago (once or twice a week only, due time restraints and 1 hour per each training) with enough knowledge about the technique, but no practical experience how to apply that knowledge myself. I swam 50 SCM Free in over 1,5 minutes the first time. Now I lost almost 18 lbs (diet and a little fitness) and last Saturday I made 47 sec for the same distance. Of course I will never reach the Olympics, but I am sure that I will improve my time till the next Masters meeting in winter.
    And I know people at the age 41-42 who can swim 50 LCM Free in under 23 sec. Of course they've started to learn swimming while they were kids, but it doesn't matter so much. Cause only thing you need to obtain is appropriate fitness and technique level.

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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

    Quote Originally Posted by Varna01 View Post
    And I know people at the age 41-42 who can swim 50 LCM Free in under 23 sec.
    The world record for 40-44 is 23.31, so this seems slightly dubious...

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    Re: Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

    Quote Originally Posted by knelson View Post
    The world record for 40-44 is 23.31, so this seems slightly dubious...
    Not everyone has the intention to compete or register WRs. Some people just have different goals. There is always someone better than us and even better than any of the current Olympians or record holders, whom we don't know and who had not the chance / opportunity or willingness to show up.

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    Very Active Member arthur's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

    World record holder in the 100-104 and 105-109 category Jaring Timmerman didn't start until he was 80 so you have a 50 year head start on him.

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    Re: Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

    Swimming is timeless. No matter why you do it.

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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

    Quote Originally Posted by Varna01 View Post
    There is always someone better than us and even better than any of the current Olympians or record holders, whom we don't know and who had not the chance / opportunity or willingness to show up.
    Yes, there definitely plenty of people better than me that just aren't competing. I don't think there are people better than Michael Phelps who are not.

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    Re: Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

    Quote Originally Posted by Treyseph View Post
    Not just for fitness, because that would be discouraging.
    One thing is certain, if you don't start you won't be able to compete. DFL is still better than DNS.

    Find a masters team with a good coach, start working out, get some help with technique and see what happens.

    Your potential is based on a multiple factors. Some you have control of, some you don't.

    However, You define what success means to you. Does that mean #1 at Nationals in your AG, World Record in your AG, or maybe just not being last in your heat at a local meet. You won't know what you can achieve unless you give it a shot.

    Have fun and good luck with your goals.

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    Moderator Rob Copeland's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

    Quote Originally Posted by knelson View Post
    Yes, there definitely plenty of people better than me that just aren't competing. I don't think there are people better than Michael Phelps who are not.
    Note, the post said “someone” not some person. I’d wager that Bruce the shark could kill Phelps in the pool. And Flipper in his (her?) prime would crush the world record times in the fly, although Flipper would likely get DQ’ed for not touching with 2 hands.
    The opinions expressed in the above post are mine and not those of U.S. Masters Swimming.

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    Re: Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

    I believe the July/August SWIMMER Magazine in its write-up of Spring Nationals featured a couple of swimmers who came to the pool in their 30s. There's proof of a couple of folks having done that.

    As for competing at local meets, anyone can do that. Great events. And fun setting new PRs as you improve.

    That's one benefit of starting later in life. Most folks are slowing down and getting slower. By starting late, you're regularly breaking new ground. It can be exciting.

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    Very Active Member GGS5T's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

    I trained with John Davis, a swimmer in the UK who didn’t learn to swim until the age of 55, When he was in the 80-84 age group he went to Australia for the world masters championships and won the 400 IM.

    So it can be done. Admittedly, it helps if you can outlive your opponets in the older age groups.

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    Very Active Member FindingMyInnerFish's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

    I'm 64, and although I learned to swim as a kid, I mainly did it for lap swimming, and not competitively until I was in my 50s, when I decided to join a masters' swim group forming at my Y. I seem to have plateaued in terms of times and I was never hugely fast (best ever 50 free was 51 seconds; best ever 100 free was 1:56 I think (scy in both cases). But when I first joined masters' I would never have considered an ocean swim (then did one), never would have considered a 5+ mile swim (did one 4x), never would contemplate signing up for an 8 mile swim (signed up this year for one in Sept.). I swam this year in the Hudson River for the first time ever--and against the current, which was brutal.

    And while I still would like to be faster, I'm grateful for the opportunities for competing in the pool and open water. I have no illusions about breaking world records, even in my age group--I'm looking more for personal goals now... improve on a performance in a particular race... this year, I did my fastest 5 miler ever.

    So my thought: it depends on what your goal is in competing. It should be challenging enough to be interesting, but not so far out of reach as to be frustrating. And you can't define your worth by your swimming times. I've finished last any number of times but have still been pleased w/ my performance b/c I know I gave it my best. If a time isn't what I'd hoped for, I figure there are more races and events to aim for, and I'm grateful I'm healthy enough to enter them.

    I don't know what the future will hold for me in swimming, but I prefer to appreciate the present.

    Good luck w/ your competing!

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    Re: Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

    Quote Originally Posted by Treyseph View Post
    Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?
    Yes. The phenomenon is common enough to have its own scientific-sounding name: "adult onset swimmer."

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    Very Active Member Swimspire's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone start at 31 with the intent to compete?

    The short answer to this question is "absolutely, you can!". But the key to successfully accomplishing this goal is in your approach to swimming.

    You're headed in the right direction by asking the good folks on the USMS forum for advice, and as you can see there are already plenty of encouraging answers and personal stories that will hopefully serve to give you confidence to start the journey.

    The next step will be to decide whether you want to start out on your own or with a coach/team. If you start out on your own, you'll need to arm yourself with as much swimming knowledge as possible and then you will need to know how to apply that knowledge to your own specific needs as a swimmer. This is where things can get tricky - and why it is actually best to work with a coach from the start. You'll find plenty of self-help videos, apps, books telling you that you can go it alone. But since there are so many options, each giving different advice, it can get confusing. It can also be frustrating trying to apply the principles that you are taught in these self-help guides without being able to see yourself in the water.

    This is why it is best to work with a coach, either through private lessons or by joining a team. Here, too, you won't always encounter smooth sailing. You only have to consult the recent thread about a "new masters swim coach" to see that there are differing coaching philosophies which are either embraced or rejected, depending upon the swimmer and his/her goals. You'll have to determine whether the coach you work with is right for you and your needs.

    Avoiding injuries in this process is also key. There is nothing more frustrating than starting out too far and too fast on your swimming venture and winding up with a swimming-induced injury that could hold you back for months. You'll need to focus first and foremost on developing a technical base to your swimming before you work on increasing your yardage and intensity. This might be a good article for you to take a look at: swimswam.com/5-keys-to-finding-the-motivation-to-train/

    The best part about swimming is that anything is possible. I've enjoyed working with triathletes who started out not knowing how to swim and are now completing Olympic or sprint distance triathletes with 1/2 mile or 1 mile swims. One of my favorite experiences was to work with a 29-year-old who initially could not make it past more than two lengths of the pool and see her, over the course of 2-3 years, competing in multiple events at a variety of different levels of meets. She has now even become a coach to age group teams.

    There is definitely hope for competitive swimming at any age, as long as you approach the process slowly, steadily and wisely. Good luck!

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