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Thread: What's your practice like?

  1. #1
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    What's your practice like?

    So, with my regular pool downed for maintenance, I've been swimming at the other gyms in this chain. I was swimming at the next-closest the other day and noticed a sign saying T/Th the pool is closed at 7pm for a Masters' workout, and on the gym schedule there's a "Competitive Swim Training" listed. So after spending much of the day nervous over it, waffling heavily (what if it's too tough, what if people are mean, people at this gym are widely regarded for being less than chill after all, what if, what if) I finally convince myself I'll go and at least give it a try.

    It turned out to be, essentially, very much a DIY workout. There was a very small whiteboard attached to a "wet floor" sign with the workout written on it, tucked next to the kickboards and not visible from anywhere in the pool. No "teacher", no coach (someone who might have been in the coach had a printout of something at the lane they were swimming in?), no direction whatsoever. People came, no one seemed to follow any particular routine, other than that they knew each other. I kept checking to see if I was somehow missing something, but no. I did my own little workout, of course, because why waste the time, but ...

    Is this what a practice is supposed to be like? Because this felt like basically just an adults-only lap swim hour. I would've been just as well off printing out a workout from the forum and following that. It was kind of disappointing to go expecting something resembling a class ("competitive swim training" is an actual category of class that the gym chain offers, because I've seen it elsewhere, and seen it run at other gyms, usually with kids/teens) just to do the same thing that I could've done first thing in the morning by myself.

  2. #2
    Very Active Member JPEnge's Avatar
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    Re: What's your practice like?

    No, that is not what an organized practice should be like, and honestly if they are advertising it as a "Masters workout" they are doing it wrong - there is always supposed to be a coach on deck, not in the water.
    400 IMer/200 backstroker in another life, now sprinter/breaststroker... Yeah, I don't know how that happened either!

  3. #3
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    Re: What's your practice like?

    I'm worried about that too if I go to different practices. I want to try one out close to where I work, but I don't know what it will be like.

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    Re: What's your practice like?

    We have a coach on deck, giving out the sets. Occasionally he joins us in the water. But he is always watching, he is always telling people what to change or what to work on. After summer, he usually asks us to tell him his goals. For those that are interested in swim meets or marathon swims, he tends to give different sets. When it gets closer to swim meets, he will tell us to taper, practice diving from the blocks. For drills, he would explain how to do them and why. It's not written down, so it gets confusing for complicated sets, but I just look at the other lanes and see what they are up to.

    I've visited another masters team while travelling for work. It was all typed out on paper, there was a paper in each lane. Most people try to do it, but since there wasn't really a coach, they tend to skip sets or do their own thing.

    There is also a masters program I tried at my other gym. That was definitely not a "masters" class. It was just me, a coach that sometimes didn't show up. But when she did, she typed out the sets for me. It has always been freestyle sets.

  5. #5
    Very Active Member Sumorunner's Avatar
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    Re: What's your practice like?

    We have a choice of morning, noon or evening sessions, Tu & Thu. There is always a coach on deck. They put the workout on a whiteboard and explain it if asked, however one can do any part or all of it as he pleases and still get advice. I and another 70 yr old are seldom able to complete the entire workout, he more than I, but we do adjust it to our own level. Just yesterday the coach gave me advice on breast stroke after one set even though I was by then way out of synch with the others.

  6. #6
    Very Active Member Redbird Alum's Avatar
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    Re: What's your practice like?

    I swim solo. There is a team about 30 minutes from me, but they have traditionally not had a coach on deck. The coach is in the workout, so effectively it is just a group swim of a series of sets.

    Look for a team that uses a deck coach. The deck coach can provide technique advice, encouragement, and help adjust the practice send-offs and ardage in each set to help keep you and the rest of the team balanced given often limited pool space.

    Good luck to you!
    Last edited by Redbird Alum; November 28th, 2018 at 01:18 PM. Reason: spelling


  7. #7
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    Re: What's your practice like?

    I'm glad to hear that my experience is not typical. There are lots of workout groups near me (we are fortunate to have many pools in the area; public, YMCA, gym, college/university), I was only excited by the possibility of one hosted by the gym chain. I work for this particular chain, which allows me free access to all the clubs, and it would have been convenient and cost-effective (not having to pay for an additional pool membership on top of the club dues) to have a group there, or at least a class (I am slowly re-learning most of what I knew twenty years ago, but wouldn't mind some guidance). So while I'm a bit disappointed, I'm glad it's not typical, which means that when I can, there's plenty of other groups to try.

    Back to chugging away on my own, and perhaps finding an adult stroke development class elsewhere before attempting a workout group.

  8. #8
    Active Member Zwemmer's Avatar
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    Re: What's your practice like?

    I'm fortunate (as are many others) that our local club is not only fairly big (workouts in four different pools most days, several at the same time) and all workouts are coached by some really good coaches all of whom are USMS Certified. It makes a huge difference to me to have some kind of team spirit or group workout and a coach on deck.

    I chugged along on my own for a few weeks before i found the local club. Though it was wonderful to be back in the water I found that for me I need others around me doing more or less the same workout. I think you'd be fine going to any coached Masters workout since most are quite welcoming and friendly and you are free to work at your own pace.

  9. #9
    Very Active Member Mark Usher's Avatar
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    Re: What's your practice like?

    Each Masters team is going to be a bit different and have its own culture.
    Teams can vary from being extremely structured, focused on competition, to those that are relatively unstructured fitness groups.
    Most are somewhere in the middle. Remember that most USMS members do not regularly complete.

    Our team always has a certified coach on deck with a structured workout on white boards. Most folks will follow the coach's workout, but some (triathletes & competitive swimmers) will deviate depending on their competition schedule. Others just prefer to swim laps on their own. The coach tries to organize the lanes to group folks together appropriately.

    I'm more of competitive swimmer and enjoy workouts based on challenging sendoffs. I'll also tweak my workouts if I have a meet coming up or if I want to work on a specific weakness. Out of courtesy, I try to let the coach know how and why I'm deviating from the posted workout.

    As mentioned, each Masters team is going to have its own culture or personality. Probably a good idea to drop in and swim with a group a few times before committing to formally join.

  10. #10
    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: What's your practice like?

    Quote Originally Posted by swim_badger View Post
    I'm glad to hear that my experience is not typical.
    I think it's atypical for anything calling itself a "masters team," but probably not so much for something like a Y or municipal pool advertising a "masters workout." In my experience this latter category can be anything from someone writing a workout on a white board and absolutely no interaction beyond that, to a full coached workout.

  11. #11
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    Re: What's your practice like?

    Quote Originally Posted by knelson View Post
    I think it's atypical for anything calling itself a "masters team," but probably not so much for something like a Y or municipal pool advertising a "masters workout." In my experience this latter category can be anything from someone writing a workout on a white board and absolutely no interaction beyond that, to a full coached workout.
    I would say it's somewhat disingenuous to say "closed for masters workout" and "competitive swim training" on the schedule when it's essentially an adults-only lap swim hour (which is, aside from kid-specific classes or aquacize, largely what the pool is by default, since kids under 16 can't work out without supervision).

    Both of those phrases imply something more organized, and if you (as I did) walked in expecting something quasi-organized, or something similar to what I remember from age-group practice, it's a little disappointing. But if "masters workout" is "loosely affiliated folks following roughly the same workout" then it is what it is, and I'm not objecting to it being on the spectrum of swimming. *shrug*

  12. #12
    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: What's your practice like?

    Yes, unfortunately that's been my experience. If you're really looking for an organized workout look for a masters team.

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