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SWIMMER Editorials

Planet Swim (May-June 2015)

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The other day, some friends and I were talking about how different our lives were since wed started swimming. Everyone had a different story about how theyd come to join our local Masters group. I started because I wanted to do a triathlon but I hadnt swum competitively since childhood. Someone else said his wife, an accomplished swimmer, had introduced him to it. Several joined because they saw adults in the pool when they took their kids to swim practice and thought, Hey, that looks like fun.

Regardless of how we came to be part of our local club, everyone agreed: Even if they couldnt remember the exact moment or reason they decided to join, it was one of the best decisions theyd ever made. And they werent referring to winning medals or being in the best shape of their livesthey were referring to the people theyd met along the way.

In U.S. Masters Swimmings annual push to have April recognized as Adult Learn-to-Swim Month, much is made about the physical health benefits of swimming. Not only because learning to swim can literally save your life, but also because once you learn, you can use it as a lifelong form of healthy exercise. With more adults jumping in the pool for the first time, its important for this information to get out.

But its really exciting to think about what these new swimmers will be talking about a few years down the road. Sure, if they stick with it, theyll get healthier that parts inevitable. But if theyre fortunate enough to have a fun group of likeminded adults in their community, theyll find out soon how the social benefits of swimming come into play.

For many, joining a Masters club is like a reunionas if all the people from your planet have been waiting for you to arrive, but your ship was delayed, and then it took you a while to find them on Earth. I still havent figured out why this phenomenon persists, despite thinking, reading, and writing about it a lot.

The camaraderie thing is understandable for the lifelong swimmersshared memories of green hair, predawn workouts, and wearing pajama pants to schoolbut what is it about discussions during the morning kick set on topics such as the welcome-to-50 colonoscopy that makes people open their homes and their hearts to people theyve just met?

At the risk of too much navel-gazing, I continue to believe that theres something special about the people who are attracted to this sport. Or maybe chlorine creates some sort of covalent bond, in which swimmers with completely different backgrounds share the awesomeness and generosity-of-spirit electrons. Who knows?

Regardless, I continue to enjoy meeting people from Planet Swim, even by just reading about them in the pages of SWIMMER and at usms.org. In this issue, we meet two swimmers, Mark Grashow (page 9) and Taylor Krauss (page 18), who both, for different reasons, felt pulled to the African continent. There theyve made significant differences in the lives of those affected by extreme poverty or violence.

We also meet swimmer Nancy Prouty (page 30), a scientist studying deep-sea corals to unlock the mysteries of Earths oceansa world farther away, in terms of understanding, than the moon.

At usms.org, youll meet swimmer Tselane Gardner, whose learn-to-swim journey led her from personal trauma to teaching others.

If youre new to Masters Swimming, welcome; were glad youre here.

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Updated September 21st, 2015 at 08:32 AM by Editor

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