Dive in! It’s easier than you think and lots of fun
Let’s be honest: Masters Swimming is the best activity around. However, there are a lot of swimmers out there who don't take advantage of everything the sport has to offer. If you’ve never swum in a meet before, you’re missing out on a huge part of the sport.
Whether you’re nervous about swimming in front of people or are worried that you’ll finish last in your race, you could be misinformed about what Masters meets are all about. Meets are surprisingly friendly and laid back, full of people just like you. Chances are many of them are about your speed, too, but if you never go, you’ll never know. Here are a few reasons why you should consider checking out a Masters meet.
Competition doesn’t have to be intense
If you’re nervous about competing, don’t think you’ll be good enough, or are just simply embarrassed to swim in front of people, go to the next meet and just watch what unfolds. You’ll see swimmers cheering for teammates, friends congratulating friends, and swimmers celebrating the accomplishments of people they don’t know. Watch the meet, and see how accepting the environment is. You’ll find it incredibly uplifting.
When I went to my first Masters meet, I was blown away by how people I’d never met before were coming up and talking to me and high-fiving me when I finished my races. If you go to a meet for any reason, go for the confidence boost. Most of the swimmers on my team who choose not to compete are people who think they aren’t good enough. And it’s thanks to that thought process that people from other teams are winning their events. They’re taking advantage of the fact that others don’t think they are good enough. Here is the big secret: You are good enough to swim in a meet, because it doesn’t matter how good you are. Fast or slow, you’ll enjoy yourself and people will be friendly to you.
Use competition to test yourself
A lot of people are not aware that Masters meets are scored by age groups, so chances are, your smaller local meets won’t have more than 10 people in your individual age group. This gives you a pretty good chance of doing well in at least one of your races. Last year I had an enthusiastic new swimmer who was afraid of swimming in a meet, so she came and cheered on her teammates. This not only lifted the atmosphere of our team, but she saw how Masters meets are not threatening at all. She ended up competing in the next meet and actually won one of her events.
Use meets to help you set goals
We all need goals or else we run the risk of the activity getting old and stale. Someone who only goes to swim practices isn’t getting everything she can out of the sport. Going to meets and seeing what other people your age are doing can help give you direction on how you want to swim. Have you ever experienced not being hungry and having someone walk into the room with a burger and fries? Hunger hits you right away. Going to a meet and competing with other Masters swimmers can have the same effect on your swimming. It has a way of inspiring and invigorating you.
Benefit from the social aspect
I have to brag about my swimmers here. They’re so good about cheering on their teammates. If any of my swimmers has just finished a race and is out of breath, invariably I will find that swimmer standing on the side of the pool with the rest of our team cheering on our next swimmer. To me, that’s what Masters Swimming is all about. Meets are such a good place for you to get to know your teammates and build lifelong friendships. This helps when you’re having a hard time finding the motivation to go to practice. It’s a lot easier to go if you know your friends will be there. I tell my swimmers, “Competition is a group of people striving together toward a common goal.” If you keep that in mind, swimming in a meet isn’t such a scary idea anymore. Be bold; give it a go! You won’t regret it.
- Technique and Training