Regardless of your level of experience, you can’t really go wrong with joining a US Masters Swim Team.
The first thing you should know if you’re new to Masters Swimming is this is a pretty relaxed atmosphere, at least from my coaching experience. You’re all adults here and that’s how you’ll be treated. It’s not like when you were a kid and the coaches tended to be more like dictators.
There’s actually a phrase I heard from another coach at a conference that sums up Masters Swimming pretty well, “You do what I tell you to only if you want to.” What that means is it’s all on you. If you’re late, I won’t be yelling at you; we’ve all have obligations. If you don’t want to do a set or feel like doing something else, that’s perfectly fine too; you’re the one paying for the time you can do with it as you please.
For the more experienced swimmers it’s pretty easy to come in and do your thing. For those who are less experienced swimmers…this is the spot for you. Depending on the way coaches have structured their practices, you can really reap the benefits. When I coached the Rainbow Trout for over three years, I already had written workouts for everyone and spent a lot more time working with the less experienced swimmers. I actually loved it because with an inexperience swimmer it’s like molding clay over several weeks. It’s fun to look back on how much they have progressed since they walked through the natatorium doors.
I know what you’re thinking…”How do you know what club is right for you?” I’ll use Atlanta as an example because we have several Masters Teams in the area. I came to find the biggest factor in what club swimmers picked was, “What time is practice?”
I know it may sound weird that’s what was most important to people, but it’s all about what fits your schedule. I had a married guy who swam for me because he loved the 7:30 PM practices, but his wife couldn’t do that and swam for another club that practiced at 5:30 PM. You also have to factor in two other sports into your weekly schedule if you’re a triathlete.
It’s also a great way to socialize (I’m looking at to you, Lane 6). Everywhere I’ve been in my life I’ve always made new friends through swimming. It was some of those swimmers who got me back into triathlons and I’ll usually do a race or two with some of them each year. So give Masters Swimming a try, it won’t hurt you and most places will let you try them out before you need to commit to a membership.