13 responses

  1. Dana
    June 11, 2012

    I was in the same boat as Sarah 3 years ago and I just joined a masters swim team this year.
    I wouldn’t recommend joining a team until you have some lessons under your belt. I’m still a little overwhelmed sometimes at team practices and everyone is faster than me, so the coach tweaks the plan a bit for me. If I had joined with no lessons I’d be in WAY over my head.
    I didn’t do any one-on-one lessons, but I did to adult group lessons. In masters (in my experience) they expect that you can do all four strokes, can do them for at least 100 yrds nonstop, and need minimal help with technique – more about getting faster and more efficient, not about learning the stroke.
    If you’re not confident with your stroke technique I’d suggest a group swim class before masters. Good luck either way – swimming really is fun once you get the hang of it! 🙂

  2. Xiomara@Parkesdale
    June 11, 2012

    Sign up! For my first triathlon I joined a Masters Swim club and it helped so much. I’m like you, I wouldn’t drown but I was never part of a swim team. I felt very welcomed with that swim team and the coach knew my triathlon goal so she helped me achieve it.
    Xiomara@Parkesdale recently posted..Cilantro Salsa Verde twice in one week

  3. Victoria (District Chocoholic)
    June 11, 2012

    Having coached for two Masters programs and swum with 5, I’ll say that Masters programs can be quite variable and it is worth looking into a program in more detail before signing up. A few key items to look into:
    -What level of swimming competency do you expect out of your members? Some teams I have worked with are short on space, and require a minimum average pace to ensure that there is room for an organized workout to take place.
    -What paces do the swimmers train at? You want to know that there will be a good place for you to swim, and that you won’t be stuck swimming on your own, either faster or slower than everybody else.
    -What is the training focus of the group? Some groups are open water/triathlon training focused, others are sprint/swim meet focused. Be sure that you know that the group will be doing workouts that support your goals.
    -How much of the workout is technique instruction, and how much of it is dedicated to swimming sets? Some groups offer nearly nonstop technique instruction, which can be irritating if you want to get a chance to swim fast with other fast people pushing you. Others have no technique instruction and leave the athletes to run through the sets on their own. Make sure that what you want matches what they are offering.

    Masters swimming is great, the people are welcoming and I love training with people who push me, but it’s important to find the right program for you.
    Victoria (District Chocoholic) recently posted..Vegan, Gluten-Free Brownie Bottom Peanut Butter Pie

    • kate
      June 11, 2012

      I second all of Victorias points especially technique versus sets. Once your stroke has been refined Masters will be a great way to concentrate on speed and confidence.

  4. Katie @ Peace Love & Oats
    June 11, 2012

    I hope your reader enrolls! I know how intimidating it can be, I joined a running group and had to show up alone for the first run. I considered skipping out but I went for it and was so glad that I did!
    Katie @ Peace Love & Oats recently posted..Sing You Home

  5. Carolyn
    June 11, 2012

    Master Swim Programs are TOTALLY worth it. Think of a swim team as a running club – you learn from those faster than you while having fun and having a coach!

    Hands down, join a swim team if you want to see major improvements in the water!
    Carolyn recently posted..Swimming for Two

  6. Courtney W
    June 11, 2012

    As Meghann’s encouraging friend, I suggest giving it a few practices. Or stop by to talk to the coach. They will let you know the intensity/variety of the group. Victoria gave fabulous questions to ask. It’s all about finding something that works for you.

    Another thing to consider, Meghann has gained considerable speed in the pool since she started training with us a few months ago. I try to remind her of this on a semi-regular basis because sometimes it’s discouraging to swim with faster people. Keep track of your paces and intervals to see improvement from month to month. If the coach doesn’t freely give out technique advice make sure to ask…it is really important to develop good habits.

    Basically, if you give it a shot and it’s not for you then you are right back where you started swimming on your own. I’m willing to bet you’ll like several aspects of swimming with a group and that’s a steal of a deal.
    Courtney W recently posted..Race Report: Crystal River Sprint Triathlon

  7. Maura @ my healthy ‘ohana
    June 11, 2012

    I was a swimmer in highschool, and have been thinking about doing a masters class! It sounds like a lot of fun, and I think as long as the coach is willing to tailor the workouts to different skill levels, it should be accessible to everyone!
    Maura @ my healthy ‘ohana recently posted..Scrambled eggs in the microwave?

  8. Diva@ The Swim Diva
    June 11, 2012

    Masters groups are the best money you can spend on your overall fitness. I am a coach (and team member!) in Boulder, CO for Boulder Aquatic Masters (BAM). BAM offers up to 5 practices a day and each one is tailored to a different ability level. The coaches are 100% willing to help you reach your goals and we all know how it feels to be the new guy and new to swimming.

    Nobody would expect a new runner to go out and run a marathon without training, so no coach would expect a new swimmer to get in and swim an entire practice. You cannot go from zero to 4500 meter practices without building endurance.

    What I would tell a new swimmer is to meet with someone who knows what they are talking about and create a realistic training plan that will promote endurance building, not disappointment.

    Stick with it, and good luck!

  9. Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes
    June 12, 2012

    Thanks for writing this post, Meghann–I’m in the same boat as Sarah (a runner who is training for her first tri), and I’ve been worrying about the swim portion as well. I took swimming lessons as a kid and know all four strokes (I was even on track to become a lifeguard), but I’ve never swam competitively. I will definitely look into master classes!
    Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes recently posted..Surviving a Food Desert

  10. Emily N
    June 12, 2012

    Great bunch of info. Thanks!
    Emily N recently posted..#VoteTigers

  11. Patty
    June 12, 2012

    I am so glad you did this post! Before I read this post I was debating about email you and asking you about your swim team because I have been debating about joining a Masters team. I swam competitively from the time I was 7-18 but have only done random lap swim classes since then. My gym doesn’t have a pool and I recently found a lap swim pool that also has a Masters team that I have been thinking about. I know I won’t be fast (until I lose some weight and get my endurance back) so I am thinking about doing just the lap swim a few times to check out the workouts and how the team is before I join.
    Thanks again!

  12. Sara
    June 14, 2012

    Thanks everyone for these comments, and thanks Meghann for posting my question. I ended up meeting with the master’s coach, and after doing so felt that my ability (or lack there of) wasn’t quite ready for master’s. The coach has offered to give me a few private lessons for very cheap to help me with my form and suggest some things to help me build up my endurance so that hopefully I’ll be ready for master’s for the next session in the fall.

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