Masters Swimmers Come Full Circle
by Zing Allsopp
Much of what I do today can be traced back to the first day I joined a Masters swimming program. The beauty of it is that now, more than ten years later I share the deck with the same coach who first introduced me to Masters swimming.
My foray into Masters swimming began with a simple pit stop. I was a pre-dawn runner, and one morning I was on the road and needed a break. The nearest restroom was at the community recreation center. On my way out, I paused to read the notice board. I don't remember the exact wording on the flyer, but I do remember seeing 5 a.m. recreational workout, swimmers welcome, all levels.
Predawn running was getting rather monotonous, a little dark and even lonely. I was also somewhat disconcerted because of the occasional reports of crime in the area. Swimming sounded like a good change. Although I had very little swimming experience – I was 14 when I told my mother I was done with swimming lessons – I took to the pool and the people, and they took to me. As for the coach, everything I know about swimming today I learned from Jane Harper. There’s been some development and continuing education over the years, but the core of what I learned and know today, I owe to Harper, my first Masters coach.
Today, I coach a Masters club at the same pool where I was initiated. The club, Fort Bend Masters, though bearing the same name, no longer has the same crew, but its personality and objectives haven't changed. In addition to coaching Masters, I also direct a homeschool swim program with practices patterned along similar lines as a Masters practice. Just like a Masters practice, the program welcomes swimmers of different ages and proficiency levels. The only two requirements are a minimum age of eight, and an ability to get across a 25-yard pool without assistance.
Coach Harper no longer coaches our Masters club. Instead, she coaches the homeschoolers with me. In a way things have come full circle. We look at our young swimmers as an upcoming generation of prospective Masters swimmers.
Now, I not only swim, I teach, I coach, and I write – about swimming, mostly. And all of it started with Masters swimming.