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by Rob Butcher

December 31, 2008

So many reasons!

Is it worth it?  What’s in it for me?  What do I get if I join?

The other day I was on deck preparing for a swim. It was around 7:00 p.m.; I'd just left the office and wanted to get in an easy "stress relieving" swim before heading home. The pool was practically empty except for one man. I was stretching as I watched him swim. I'd not seen him at the pool before but he had a somewhat natural looking stroke. "Perhaps he swam in high school," I thought to myself. When he stopped at the wall, I said, "Hey, you're making it look easy."

"Thanks," he replied. "I'm Ben. I'm trying to get back in shape, and hoping to do a triathlon one day."

"Awesome," I responded. "How's it going so far?"

"I've got my good and bad days," he shot back. "It's not easy when you've never really swam before and not sure what you are doing."

"Well, give yourself credit for showing up," I offered. "Do you swim with a Masters team?"

"No," he said. "I've heard of Masters but don't think I'd be good enough to swim with them."

"You'd do great, and you'd have fun," I told him. We kept the conversation going about 10 minutes or so with Ben asking me questions about local Masters teams and USMS.

"There are several adult Masters programs in the area that you'd really enjoy swimming with and would fit your work schedule," I said. I offered him my email address and told him that I would send him more information on Masters.

"Thanks," he replied, and went back to swimming.

I've heard your stories and know that my encounter with Ben is common; you've run into your own Bens along the way and have had to describe USMS and the benefits that it offers. You've convinced friends, family, neighbors and community members that your local Masters program and USMS is for them -- that it is for everyone. So, over the next couple of months we'll remind you why you joined and possibly share programs and benefits that you have not yet taken advantage of and we will provide you with support as you promote your Masters program and USMS in your local communities.

In an eight-part series titled "Why Join a Masters Program, and Why Join USMS?", USMS Features will highlight stories like Ben's and others who just want to "better themselves." We'll introduce you to terrific coaches, such as Susan Ingraham, who was deservedly recognized as USMS Coach of the Year, and what makes their programs so successful. We'll show you how programs such as Walnut Creek Masters, Indy SwimFit, and the Woodlands, all USMS Club of the recipients, and many others, started as just a dream and have weaved themselves into the culture of their local communities and the USMS community. We'll introduce you to USMS volunteer Mary Sweat, who created a USMS fitness program two years ago called "Go the Distance," and how it's turned into a wildly popular program with close to 1,000 participants each month. We'll take you behind the scenes of the member magazine USMS Swimmer, and the LMSC newsletters that so many members rely on for valued information. And yes, we'll even pull back the curtain on competition, how it works, why it motivates us and how to participate.


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