What is U.S. Masters Swimming?
The 4-1-1 on the best organized sport for adults
Check out our “Masters Swimming 101” article series for tips on what to bring to practice; learn how to circle swim, read the clock, and more; and get definitions for common swimming jargon. If you want to learn more, check out our frequently asked questions below.
Frequently Asked Questions about U.S. Masters Swimming
What is U.S. Masters Swimming?
U.S. Masters Swimming is a national membership-operated nonprofit that provides membership benefits to nearly 65,000 Masters swimmers across the country. These benefits include insurance, SWIMMER magazine, sanctioned events, and more. USMS and its 52 Local Masters Swimming Committees (LMSCs) provide direct support to more than 1,500 Masters Swimming clubs and workout groups. Structure and organization of USMS programs vary and are driven by factors such as pool availability, instructor or coach availability, community support, and finances. The majority of locations offering Masters Swimming programs have coaches on deck. Coaches write workouts and provide feedback and instruction.
The word "Masters" sounds intimidating. Do I have to be an expert?
The word Masters was first applied to adults who participated in track and field and was later adopted in organized adult swimming. In swimming, Masters simply means 18 and older.
Does USMS offer learn-to-swim classes or swim lessons?
Many Masters Swimming clubs and workout groups offer introductory programs for beginning adult swimmers. Our Club Finder tool will help you find programs near you, and you can inquire about learn-to-swim programs at those locations. You can also search for a USMS-certified Adult Learn-to-Swim instructor. Certified ALTS instructors have been specially trained in the techniques and methods that work best with adults who are starting to swim. Many certified instructors work with programs supported by the USA Swimming Foundation, which works in conjunction with USMS to support Adult Learn-to-Swim programs. These programs often offer lessons at a low or reduced cost. Check here to find a location near you.
What if I don't think I'm fast enough to be a Masters swimmer?
This is something a lot of Masters coaches hear. However, most Masters coaches and swimmers don’t care how fast you are. In nearly every program, there are others of similar ability or those who started where you are and have improved. Don’t let your perceived ability, or lack thereof, hold you back. Although it’s important to have a physical examination before starting any exercise routine, you don’t need to be in shape to start Masters swimming—Masters swimming will help you get there.
I swim on my own. Why should I join USMS?
If you live in an area that doesn’t have a USMS program or if you just prefer to swim on your own, you’ll still receive many valuable, exclusive benefits of membership. Technique tips and articles are included in all our member publications: SWIMMER magazine, STREAMLINESnewsletters, and at usms.org. You’ll also have access to online workouts designed for specific groups, such as beginners, sprinters, triathletes, pregnant women, and more. Take advantage of the online Fitness Logs (FLOGs), where you can track your swimming and other fitness activities and participate in virtual events. You can even start a blog at usms.org, where you’ll connect with thousands of swimmers of all ages and abilities, many of whom also swim on their own.
I'm a triathlete. Why should I join USMS?
Many triathletes, including world-class triathletes Sara McLarty and Ben Hoffman, join USMS programs because training with swimmers is the best way to improve the swim portion of the tri. Masters coaches provide technique instruction and interval training with a group. USMS membership also grants access to the triathlete-specific workouts posted regularly in the members-only Forums at usms.org. In addition, SWIMMER magazine and STREAMLINES newsletters have technique and training tips in each issue.
What can I expect when I attend a USMS practice?
Check out our “Masters Swimming 101” article series for tips on what to bring to practice; learn how to circle swim, read the clock, and more; and get definitions for common swimming jargon. Try to swim in a lane that fits your ability and don’t get discouraged! Swimming is different than running, cycling, and other endurance activities. Regardless of your fitness level, it can take months to get into good swimming shape. And don’t be shy—ask for help; most Masters swimmers and coaches are happy to welcome new members. Camaraderie and new friends are two of the best benefits of swimming regularly with a group.
Do I have to join USMS to swim in a Masters practice?
USMS provides insurance coverage for all individual USMS members and liability insurance for clubs and workout groups. For the insurance to be in effect, all participants within the activity, such as an organized practice or competition, must be registered with USMS. Thus, most USMS clubs and workout groups require that all swimmers in their programs be registered with USMS. Check with your local program.
I'm convinced! What do I do now?
Find a program
If you're looking for a group to swim with, use our Club Finder tool to find a program. You can search by zip code and view listings near you. Most programs will let you try them out before you join.
Once you've found a program, or if you swim on your own, dive right in through our online registration system—it only takes a few minutes. The USMS National Office can answer any questions you may have.