What is Masters swimming?
Masters swimming is an organized program of swimming for adults. Members participate in a variety of ways ranging from lap swimming to international competition.
Who are the members?
Anyone 18 or over can join Masters swimming. U. S. Masters Swimming has over 50,000 members, a few of whom are in their 90's and even 100's.
Where is Masters swimming located?
Everywhere! There are over 700 local Masters Swim Clubs throughout the country and more forming every day. There's probably a group accessible to you regardless of where you live.
How is US Masters Swimming organized?
United States Masters Swimming, Inc. provides the administrative structure for Masters swimming. However, Masters swimming is very much a grass roots organization.
The country is divided into smaller groups called Local Masters Swimming Committees (LMSC). LMSC's in turn are composed of smaller groups (clubs or teams and unaffiliated swimmers).
As an individual, you may choose to join a team or club and enjoy the camaraderie and structure of the group or you may choose to remain unattached. Unattached swimmers enjoy all of the benefits of U.S. Masters Swimming membership, except they cannot compete on relays.
What are the benefits of membership?
There are many benefits of membership in U.S. Masters Swimming including access to coached workouts, opportunities to participate in fitness and competitive programs, exclusive member services, content and discounts, volunteer opportunities, insurance coverage for activities, and many more. See a more detailed list here.
Do I have to compete?
Everyone has his or her own reason for belonging - health, fitness, camaraderie, fun, the thrill of competition, travel and coaching are but a few.
About 30% of Masters swimmers compete in swimming meets on a regular basis. For those who are serious competitors, there are an incredible number of opportunities to test your skill and conditioning. Short Course (25 yard and 25 meter) and Long Course (50 meter) pool meets, lake and ocean open water swims, postal meets, special events and international championships are all part of an ambitious program of Masters swimming.
A recent Masters World Championship meet at Stanford drew over 7,000 participants. It was the largest swimming meet ever held in North America. But if competing isn't your style, there's no need to feel pressured. Many Masters swimmers are simply interested in the regular routine of working out with friends.
Are workouts always organized?
One of the greatest benefits of Masters swimming is to be able to practice with an organized group. Each club or team has its own program. Some are highly structured with set workouts and on-deck coaching, while others are very informal.
There's no question that the motivation and instruction a coach provides is a powerful advantage. Research has shown that interval training, an approach favored by most coaches, has innumerable benefits over simple lap swimming so most Masters swimmers prefer structured workouts. The facilities of each group vary greatly, but many of the teams and clubs have access to weight rooms with exercise equipment and make this a part of their training.
It is important to remember that you're in charge of your own program. From the most rudimentary of lap swimming routines to training for competitions or special events, U.S. Masters Swimming is structured to support you.
What does it cost?
An annual membership in USMS is obtained for a modest fee through Local Masters Swimming Committee and includes insurance benefits and SWIMMER magazine. LMSC's have their own minimal membership fees to cover their administrative and organizational expenses.
In addition, clubs or teams can have their own membership fees to pay for pools, coaching, administrative, social and other costs.
Tell me a little more about the competition.
Competitions are organized by age groups of five-year increments (18-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, etc. to 95 and over). Events include 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 1650 freestyle (400, 800 and 1500 in meters) 50, 100 and 200 backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly and 100, 200 and 400 individual medleys. There are also freestyle and medley relays for men, women and/or mixed teams. Open water swims are held in most locales during the summer and can range in distance from one to ten miles. Special events such as seeing how far you can swim in one hour are contested through the mail.
USMS hosts two national championship meets a year. A short course (25 yard pool) championship is held in May and a long course (50 meter pool) championship is held in August. These four-day events rotate to different locations around the country.
International championships are conducted periodically by Masters swim organizations in countries throughout the world.
While health and physical fitness are the biggest rewards, proficient competitions can garner a host of awards and recognition. World and U.S. records, Top Ten and All America rankings, All Star status and national champion are accomplishments recognized by USMS. Medals, ribbons and trophies are a part of many competitions and are awarded to all age groups.
Is it healthy to exercise that hard as you get older?
It's true that the thrill of competition can produce some anxiety in the form of "butterflies," but study after study has proven that regular exercise can significantly contribute to your health. Swimming has continually been identified as the best way to exercise. Stress reduction, weight control, cardiovascular fitness, reduced cholesterol, muscle tone and endurance are all positively influenced by exercise. Masters swimmers swear by it.<
I'm convinced, how do I join?
Joining U.S. Masters Swimming is quick and easy with our online registration system. Start here to dive right in to the world of Masters Swimming.
The National Office can answer any further questions you may have and put you in touch with local Masters swim clubs. You can also determine your LMSC contacts by checking the LMSC Information section of this web site.