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by Ali Hall

April 5, 2011

All the strokes and all the events

Jeff Strahota of Terrapin Masters has been a USMS member since 1998; he’s entering his first season in the 30-34 age group and he’s got some fitness goals: to do well at Nationals, keep in shape and make new friends. What could possibly be missing from such a well rounded resume? Well, nothing now that he’s joined 200 plus USMS members this year and accomplished the 2011 Check-off Challenge!

The Check-off Challenge is a postal event designed to motivate swimmers to complete 18 pool events and an open water swim during the 2011 calendar year. It challenges all levels of swimmers. Novice swimmers can swim new events. Experienced swimmers can try for their personal best times in as many events as practical. Simply check off each swim on your t-shirt when you complete the event.

The events may be swum in practice or in meets, in yards or in meters, any time during 2011. The challenge is to complete all events or try new events. Coaches—sign up your entire team and use the event as a team challenge. Spread the events out over a period of time during practice sessions, progressively building up to the tougher events. The entire team can work together, completing all of the events. The event is open to all registered USMS swimmers. It is easy to enter online. You must have your 2011 registration number before you can enter.

“Scoring” is simple—this year, just mark the event on the Chesapeake Bay crabs on the back of the t-shirt (Each year a different team hosts the event and gets to design the T-shirt). Swimmers whose entries are received by the end of each month will receive their shirt and cap in the following month. Entries will be accepted until September 30, 2011.

Each entry is just $23, which includes a custom-designed Check-off Challenge t-shirt, cap, and shipping. If 10 or more shirts and caps are to be mailed to the same address, the cost is just $20 for each shirt and cap order. The coach of a team with 10 or more entries receives a complimentary shirt and cap.

I asked Strahota about his inspiration, what got him going for the Check-off Challenge this year? For one thing, he likes the design of the Challenge—and his teammates are talking about it and planning it out, training for how and when and where to do this or that particular event. An interesting thing he notices in practices is that swimmers who typically swim one (or maybe two) strokes are all of a sudden really working on their 3rd and 4th strokes. Long time fitness swimmers are noticing that they really CAN do all the strokes, maybe they’re not as bad or slow as they imagined they might be and that their swimming overall is starting to get better as a result of trying new things and working at it a bit.

Strahota’s advice to a swimmer who hasn’t previously attempted the Check-off Challenge, or to a swimmer who’s done it in the past but hasn’t entered yet this year? Here’s his perspective:

“The Check-off Challenge is a great way to hold yourself accountable for trying to swim every event, to try new events, and to try events that will push you to and past your comfort zone. It is also a great way to incorporate more variety into your training.”




  • Check Off Challenge