June 23, 2004

New York Metro Seniors Dip into Fitness, Fun with United States Masters Swimming

Swimming in New York in the summer isn’t unusual.  What may be unusual is the number of seniors in the New York metropolitan area having some serious fun hitting the water as part of a swim team.

These are their own swim teams, not their grandchildren’s.  More than 1,300 New Yorkers in the metro area swim on one of the 64 United States Masters Swimming (USMS) teams in the area, and nearly 350 of them are at least age 60.  USMS is a national organization that provides organized work­outs, competitions, clinics and workshops for adults age 18 and over.  Programs are open to all adult swimmers (fitness, triathlete, competitive, non-competitive) who are dedicated to improving their fitness through swimming.  Founded in 1970, USMS’s membership now numbers more than 43,000 nationwide.  All levels of swimmers, from former Olympians to those who have barely stuck their toes in the water, are involved.

Numbers crunch
1,332 Masters swimmers in the New York metro area – That’s 3.1 percent of the 43,000 USMS swimmers nationwide.
18 Minimum age for swimming in Masters
10 percent of USMS swimmers nationwide are age 60 and over
9.2 percent of USMS swimmers in metro New York are age 60 and over 
4 percent of USMS swimmers nationwide are age 70 and over
3.2 percent of USMS swimmers in metro New York are age 70 or over 
1 percent of USMS swimmers nationwide are age 80 or over
1 percent of USMS swimmers in metro New York are age 80 or over
30 percent of Masters swimmers in America participate in competitive meets
103 Age of oldest-ever competitor
96  Age of New York’s most senior Masters swimmer: Kathleen Eschmann, participant in the 1928 Olympic Trials

Where to get wet
Metro New York has 64 USMS swim groups throughout the area, from midtown Manhattan to suburban neighborhoods. More information is available at www.usms.org/lmsc/lmscinfoform.php?LMSCID=6. Or call 800-550-SWIM.

How much, how often
For best results for most adults, swim at a good pace for 45 minutes, three times a week. Serious swimmers may swim an hour or more per day.  As always, individuals interested in starting a new fitness program should check with their physicians.   

• Bring a swim suit (racing suit not required), goggles and a towel.
• You don't have to be an accomplished swimmer to join the program, as long as you enjoy lap swimming.
• Be willing to commit two or three days a week to practice.
• Make the priority fun and fitness. About 70 percent of all Masters swimmers don't compete in meets.