August 16, 2005

U.S. Masters Swimming Updates Activities Offered to Fitness Swimmers

Although many U.S. Masters swimmers will compete in local and regional swim meets held through the country, a far greater number do not compete and classify themselves as fitness swimmers.  United States Masters Swimming continues to strengthen its efforts on enhancing Masters Swimming for these non-competitive members or fitness swimmers.  The Check-Off Challenge, the 30 Minute Swim Challenge, and the Virtual Swim Series are all offered as national fitness events.  Fitness swimmers appreciate that these events are noncompetitive but still provide personal challenges and opportunities for goal setting.

The objective of the Check-Off Challenge is to complete each of 18 events offered in pool competition.  These events include the butterfly, breaststroke, and backstroke of varying distances, individual medleys, and seven freestyle distances.  After signing up to participate, each swimmer will receive a tee shirt with all the events listed.  As the swimmer completes each event in his own pool, the event is checked off on the tee shirt.  Fast times are not important, but finishing each event is.

The Federal Way Masters in Washington, hosts of this year’s Check-Off Challenge, are raising the bar by including two open water event distances.  A half-mile open water, and one-mile open water swim are each now included as events on the tee shirt.

The 30-Minute Swim Challenge and One Hour Swim requires participants to swim continuously during a set time period and to record the distance.  Like the Check-Off Challenge, a swim is performed in each swimmer’s own pool on his own time.  Swimmers’ results are submitted and posted on the national web site.

The Virtual Geographic Swim Series is USMS’s newest event for fitness swimmers and is designed to reduce the monotony of swimming laps back and forth across a pool.  The concept is to offer fitness swimmers chances to swim the world’s most important bodies of water in their own pools.  Members who live near a particular waterway develop each virtual swim. Facts and photos about the body of water, conditions, local history, and wildlife are assembled along with a personal log, and posted on the web site. Swimmers review the information, swim the distances prescribed, and record the progress.

Some virtual swims are actual open-water courses, while others are waters that experienced swimmers would not dare enter.  The swims range from 12 to 200 miles, and are also designed to educate participants about different places, and perhaps lure them to a future visit.

While its national competitions and record-setters grab the attention, US Masters Swimming quietly provides the challenges and opportunities to satisfy the bulk of its membership - the fitness swimmers.