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by Linda Shoenberger

September 1, 2008



Just like the gourmet cook experiments with new recipes to entice the palate, a fitness swimmer can navigate unfamiliar waters to spice up the swimming experience. 


Over the years I have heard people complain about “following the little black line” and how boring it is.  But fitness swimming offers so much more than that if one is willing to step out of their comfort zone.  Appearing at the gym and doing the same swim over and over again just isn’t necessary.


One of the best ways to spice up a fitness program is to match up with a swimming friend who shares your swim fitness goals.  This past year has been particularly fun for me because I did just that.  I found a friend to swim with.  I have had a personal coach for 10 years and it’s been wonderful.  But adding my friend Martine to the mix has made it much more challenging and interesting.  Together we make suggestions to Coach Scott on what we would like to improve, i.e. kicking, sprinting, butterfly for example.  Then together we muddle through.  It’s fun, rewarding and interesting.


Of course, the best way to enjoy fitness swimming is to join a Masters swim group.  The camaraderie alone makes it all worthwhile.  Along with going to practices and working out there is a lot (and since I’m a coach I know from experience there is A LOT) of chatting going on before, during and after practice.  Friendships develop, events are planned and for many people fitness is just the by-product.


Speaking of events being planned, our swim group has for years met every Sunday morning in the summer at nearby Lake Tahoe or Donner Lake for a morning swim.  Just imagine a sunny day, a beautiful lake in a beautiful setting and chatting swimmers donning their caps and goggles for the adventure.  We all stick together as we swim from point to point and in the meantime get in our fitness workout.


Travel presents another opportunity to do your fitness swimming while enjoying meeting new people and sometimes making new lifelong friends.  One of the most rewarding experiences I have enjoyed is joining the South End Rowing Club in San Francisco.  When I travel there I always have a place to go swim and friends I have made over the years.  But you don’t have to join a club in another town.  Whenever you travel you can visit the USMS website and click on places to swim.  There you will find workouts and names and phone numbers of people to contact for a new experience in fitness swimming.  Swim groups always welcome drop-in Masters swimmers.


Swim clinics are another way to add spice to your fitness swimming.  There are many famous Masters swimmers who give swim clinics around the country and they really provide good ideas for swimmers to use in their fitness swimming life.  Anytime you run across a swim clinic in your area or in an area you are visiting, it is fun and rewarding to take a class and learn so many new ways to improve the quality of your fitness swimming.


Many fitness swimmers like to enter swim competitions for their workouts!  It never occurred to me years ago that a weekend swim meet or a lake race could substitute for a workout.  What a great way to enjoy a day or two, see people who enjoy your fitness activity and get in a workout.  It isn’t necessary to be a top-level swimmer to participate in the many swim competitions – lake, ocean and pool events.  We’re all out there to have fun.  Come join us!