Why Join USMS - Part III

USMS: Bringing People Together

What do your church, your college alumni association, the dog park and Facebook have in common? Each of these networks offers you a sense of community, a group of people with whom you share a common bond and a place where you feel at home.

This is the third part in our eight-part series, "Why join a local USMS program, and why USMS?" For most of you, the community and friendships that USMS provides are the intangible benefits that you cherish the most. It's your commitment to the lifestyle and your belief in the cause that brought you to your local team and USMS. It's your local community and friendships on your team that keep you connected and motivated in your pursuit of a healthy lifestyle.

All in the Family

USMS members and teammates seem to share more than lanes and swimming equipment; for USMS member Liz Kooy, an Illinois Masters member, USMS has provided a family.

Liz's second child was diagnosed with a rare intestinal illness shortly after birth and underwent surgery at the age of 11 weeks. Liz, her husband and her older son spent weeks at a time in and out of the hospital caring for Liz's the infant. Her local team, the Chicago Smelts, displayed unconditional support for its teammate by organizing a schedule for team members to cook and deliver home-cooked meals to the hospital for Liz and her family. "As an athlete I never wanted to admit when I was in need, but my teammates recognized my struggles and jumped in to help. My husband and I were overwhelmed with the love and support of my teammates." Not only did Liz's teammates care for her and her family while they spent countless hours at the hospital, but once Liz returned home the Chicago Smelts continued to show their commitment to their teammate in need. "They would stop by and say, ‘Come on, let's go for a swim to clear your head,'" Liz remembers. "They were incredible, they are like family. They helped me weather the storm."

The USMS Connection

USMS members continue to come to the pool, continue to practice and continue to compete because "it's fun," says Heather Howland. "We have Masters swimmers of all ages and skill levels on my team," says Heather, who swims with the Wellness Center Sea Dogs. Heather described her practice as "catered to individual goals, but we train as a team. We start together and finish together. Everyone cheers and laughs."

Heather feels a connection to the swimmers and coaches that are part of her local Masters program as well as the friends she has made across the country. "I love to compete," she said, "but sometimes my teammates don't want to travel to all of the meets. So, I call up some of the friends that I have made from other teams and travel with them!"

Participation in meets and fitness programs and attending other USMS events such as the annual convention, as well as participation within online networks, has given Heather and other USMS members the chance to connect with USMS members from across the country.

Face Time

Allen Highnote, a member of Southern Pacific LMSC, says, "I feel more connected to my sport and more connected to other members" through networks such as Facebook. Allen has reconnected with old teammates and grows new relationships with USMS members from various regions through chats, wall posts and friend requests. Allen, an IT specialist, is not currently a member of a local Masters program and uses networks such as Facebook to create a sense of belonging, unity and team. There are various "Facebook Groups" established by USMS members that focus on topics such as "2009 Swimming Masters Nationals, Clovis, California," and "Women Swim Coaches."

USMS brings athletes together from across the country to create networks, relationships and families. If you are currently swimming without a team, go to your LMSC website to find a coach and team in your area. To view a complete list of LMSCs, visit www.usms.org/lmsc/.


Top Swimmer and Top Coach

Ben Swanholm is one of the top swimmers in his age group (M19-25) and has won events at Nationals. He is also a top coach.

Witness the recent rise of Valley Christian High School in Chandler. Ben started coaching last year and the Boys team won the 1A-3A swimming title. This year, the Girls team won the title! Pretty impressive for a new team with few year-round swimmers.

Well-done Ben!


Why Join USMS - Part II

They’re there when we can’t understand why we aren’t getting faster, they’re the voice we hear when we don’t want to jump in the cold water, and they’re the love and support we get when we accomplish our goals. Coaches: like a rock. Coaches are consistent, encouraging, inspirational and stubborn when we need them to be. Coaches serve as the most vital USMS ambassador to USMS athletes.

Each year Speedo and USMS award one coach with the title of Coach of the Year. The award is based on five elements of excellence: club and individual accomplishments, publications, contributions to USMS and the LMSC, letters of support, and long-term contributions to Masters swimming.

On September 27, 2008, in Atlanta, Susan Ingraham was honored as the 2008 Coach of the Year at the United States Aquatic Sports Banquet. To better understand Susan’s thoughts on swimming, swimming philosophies, coaching style and other interesting facts about her, USMS staff member Ashley Gangloff interviewed Susan.

Ashley: First, the basics. How long have you been swimming? How long have you been coaching swimming? Have you always coached Masters?

Susan: I started swimming at age 11 and later swam on scholarship for University of Arizona. I began coaching after my freshman year in college for a local swim program. Like almost all Masters swimmers, I took 21 years off before returning to the pool. My Masters program began seven years ago with absolutely no swimmers for the first two weeks.

Ashley: If you’re coaching, how and when do you find time to train yourself?

Susan: We have four workouts offered each day, so I used to rotate throughout the week the training groups that I could jump in with. Later, I hired two assistant coaches that cover four of the practices, which made it possible for me to swim at those times. I still coach from the water as well.

Ashley: Why coach Masters?

Susan: Coaching Masters has made me a much better swim coach. Adults tend to ask more questions and want explanation behind stroke changes. It has challenged me to be more insightful to each individual’s mental, physical and emotional attitude that they bring to the pool each day.

Ashley: How do you keep athletes of all ages and skill level motivated to keep coming back to the pool?

Susan: I believe that everyone needs a gentle shove (sorry, I meant touch) to be guided towards a goal…whether they want it or not. All athletes, even fitness swimmers, will stay motivated if challenged. It could be to finish a 200 fly, complete the 10K Postal, or simply attempt a faster interval at practice. Goals are varied and personal, and no matter the age or ability of the swimmer, there is always something new to achieve. The pride that each swimmer receives by reaching a tough goal keeps them excited. They gain self-confidence, stay motivated, feel better about themselves and ultimately develop that lifelong love of swimming.

Ashley: Is there a practice or event that is unique to your team?

Susan: It’s our holiday practices that we are known for. On average, we have three special days that we recognize each month. Our special event workouts bring out our biggest attendance, all of which we advertise ahead of time. We go above and beyond the usual Halloween, New Year’s Day and Christmas practices. We have special workouts for Columbus Day, Groundhog Day, Earth Day, etc., as well as celebrate the Triple Crown, Golf’s U.S. Open and Wimbledon. It’s amazing how many things you can do with a tennis ball in the water!

Coach, Susan Ingraham, at Masters World ChampionshipsAshley: What are your coaching goals for next season?

Susan: I like having a team goal each year, something that we can all work towards. Even if not everyone chooses to participate in the actual event, it creates a team atmosphere of excitement at workout, as we all train, motivate each other, and taper with that goal in mind. Next year, I would like for everyone to try an open water event. To that end, we will work on pace sets, site breathing, and offer Saturday lake swims. We will then host our own open water race in August.

Ashley: How do you promote your club? How do you reach potential members?

Susan: I take advantage of bulletin boards at each of our pools, for which posts include weekly update notices, weekend warrior reports, entry forms, team records, etc. I have flyers and business cards at local triathlon and swim shops. Our team website is a good source for people searching for a workout, if coming from out of town or new to the city. When we host our postal swims, I always advertise at area pools what we are doing, and we get two to five new swimmers each year who now wish to train with us after giving a long swim a try. Word of mouth is always the best way to learn about any Masters program because of the personal connection with the athletes.

Ashley: What is your favorite set to give on a Saturday morning?

Susan: Saturdays are great to throw in that last challenge swim for the weekend. If I can just now go into the main portion of a fun/challenging Saturday set, I'd say use: 21 x 100’s. The set is primarily free, with every third 100 an IM and every seventh 100 is 100 fly. (We go 1:40 on the free and 2:00 for IM/fly, if swimming meters.) The set makes you think, watch the clock, challenge your endurance, yet keeps the variety going that you get through the set without realizing how much yardage you're putting in.

Ashley: What is your favorite piece of training equipment?

Susan: Mirrors. We place them on the bottom of the pool for a great self-teaching tool on our technique days. I love watching them swim over them! You can see their strokes change as they watch themselves. They love the instant feedback on corrections made.

Ashley: Any advice for a first time swimmer?

Susan: Be patient. It takes a solid three weeks for your body to adjust to the aerobic demands you're placing on it. Remember, swimming is the best exercise for your body because it involves every muscle from your fingertips to your toenails. The problem is that you're moving every muscle in your body from your fingertips to your toenails…and it takes time for your heart and lungs to catch up to that fact.

Many of us wonder, “What makes a good coach a great coach?” Kerry O’Brien and Kris Houchens, past recipients of the USMS Coach of the Year, weigh in.

Kerry: Time. Good coaches that are passion-driven, have an honest assessment of their strength and weaknesses, are multi-dimensional (good in a variety of areas is better than great in one, will in time be great coaches.

Kris: I have been lucky in my career to see many great coaches up close. All of the great coaches I know have these things in common. They are passionate, they are organized and professional, they all see the need to help the sport outside of their own program, they share what they have learned freely when asked, they are always looking for the next newest thing, they are great at building positive relationships with their athletes, they are great motivators and they are humble. A great coach gives credit to the athlete when they are successful and takes the blame when they fail.

Ashley: What is the best piece of coaching advice you’ve received?

Kerry: I can't remember who [gave this advice] or how it came about, but if you are going to coach for the long haul, have a schedule that you can live with. As your program grows, build in measures that will fend off overwork and burnout, and fit the needs of your family. From the Harrison Ford movie "Blade Runner,” a great line to remember is "The light that burns twice as bright only burns half as long."

Kris: Try and talk to each person and call each person by their name during a practice. Mel Goldstein taught me this and he had learned it from Doc Counsilman. The sweetest sound to a person is the sound of their own name. It can be a challenge with large workouts but I always try to do that when I coach. For Masters swimmers, the workout you see them at may be the only one they make that week. Acknowledging their presence can go a long way in developing a relationship with that swimmer and making them feel like a part of your program.

A USMS membership can provide you with many benefits, but one of its greatest values is access to some of the best swimming coaches in the country. USMS coaches not only design workouts to be physically challenging, but strive to challenge their athletes mentally and emotionally and enrich their lives both in and out of the pool. USMS coaches coach to “bring out the best in a swimmer, not to coach the best swimmer,” according to Kris.


Starting a Swimming Routine

Ever wanted to start swimming but don't know where to start? Here is an article that was posted on the USMS website a while back that addresses some of these issues involved with getting started. If you know of anybody who is thinking about getting back in the water, feel free to forward this posting to them.
By Bill Volckening

Are considering becoming a swimmer? Good choice! Swimming is probably one of the most healthy, fun, challenging and low impact forms of exercise you can do. Regardless of ability level and experience, people of all ages can swim. As we age, it is important to consider adding low impact, aerobic exercise to the physical fitness routine. Swimming is the ideal activity for many who can no longer bear the high impact and joint stress of running or jogging.

People sometimes worry about swimming's influence on weight loss. Skeptics say it's impossible to lose weight swimming, but it is possible. In fact, combined with a healthy balanced diet, swimming regularly can help people lose weight as easily as other physical activities, such as running. For people who are overweight, swimming is perhaps the best way to exercise because it alleviates stress on the leg joints. Swimming has the added benefit of providing a total body cardiovascular workout unlike any other.

When starting a swimming routine, as with any other physical fitness activity, make sure to consult with a physician. Start slowly and build up to increase the limits. Remember, the speed and distance is not as important as the amount of time you swim. According to the American Heart Association, just 30-60 minutes of physical activity 3-4 days per week can help reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. A regular physical activity program can also help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.

It is a good idea to monitor the heart rate while swimming. Start by determining a maximum heart rate. In healthy adults with no previous history of heart disease, the maximum heart rate commonly recommended by physicians is the number "220" minus the age of the individual. Once the maximum heart rate has been determined, check routinely while exercising. Check the pulse and count the number of beats during a ten-second period. Use a clock for better accuracy. After counting the beats for ten seconds, multiply the number by six to get the heart rate.

First Consideration - Equipment

Swimsuit. Most swimming facilities require swimming suits. Make sure to get one that is comfortable and durable. Several of the swimwear manufacturers offer fuller cut suits for swimmers who desire the less youthful styles. Some of the newer suits made of polyester will last longer and resist fading.

Goggles. Protect your eyes and see everything more clearly with goggles. Several manufacturers now make prescription goggles for people who need them. Goggles should be snug, yet comfortable. Sometimes it is necessary to keep trying new goggles until finding the right ones.

Fins. Work your legs and add propulsion to your swimming with fins. There are several kinds of fins to choose from. They should be snug fitting but not too tight. If you can't find the right size, get the slightly larger ones and wear socks with them. Long fins are great for beginners and people who need to develop ankle flexibility. Short fins are an alternative, and they are great for adding speed to your swimming without disproportionately overexerting the leg muscles.

Pull-Buoy. Put some flotation into your swimming by trying a pull buoy. This piece of equipment is usually made of foam and comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. It is placed between your legs above the knees and allows your lower body to float more while isolating your swimming to the upper body. If your legs tend to sink, or if they're just tired, a pull buoy can often help.

Kickboard. If you would like to work your legs exclusively, you can use a kickboard. This piece of equipment is usually made of foam and comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. It allows your upper body to float while you kick with your legs. If you try a kick board and find it makes your shoulders sore, try kicking without it, or try a smaller board with less flotation.

Hand paddles. If you're looking to work your pull a little more, hand paddles can sometimes help. Hand paddles are usually plastic and are held in place on the hands with short lengths of surgical tubing that are attached to the paddle. There are other types of paddles that look more like gloves, made of lycra and rubber. Be careful when considering using hand paddles. They can sometimes put too much stress on the shoulders.

Start Slowly, and Build

Ease into the routine. During the first week try swimming for 30 seconds and resting for 30 seconds. Repeat, nine times for a total of ten.

Now try kicking: Try the same set as above while doing kicking. Just pick up some fins and go. Kick for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds. If you'd like to try a kickboard, most pools will have them available. If your pool doesn't have any, they are inexpensive and last forever.

Add Variety: Try varying the length of swimming/kicking time in relation to the resting time. When trying to increase the amount of time exercising, start by making the 30 second swimming time into 45 seconds while making the 30 second rest period into 15 seconds. Also, try different strokes, such as backstroke, breaststroke and even butterfly!

Watch the clock. Pools where competitive teams swim will usually have pace clocks installed. Most pace clocks have a sweeping second hand that is usually a bright color. If there is no pace clock, or if you can't see it from the pool, consider purchasing a waterproof watch.

Build your routine. Start with two or three days a week, and build your routine to include more days, if you are comfortable. Make sure to take enough rest to catch your breath in between repeats. If 30 seconds rest is not enough between swims, adjust your rest interval.

You can't swim too slowly. Swim comfortably and you will enjoy it for a lifetime. Don't worry about how fast other swimmers are, unless you are preparing to enter a lane with other swimmers. Be honest with yourself about the pace you are able to maintain. If you are not a fast swimmer, do not enter a lane with fast swimmers.

Moving Ahead

Consider the "ten percent rule" that runners often use. Avoid increasing your weekly distance by more than ten percent over the previous week. This may sound overcautious, but it works. If you follow it, you should avoid injuries due to over-training.

Set realistic goals. Aim for the attainable and you won't get discouraged. There are many ways to set goals in swimming. It could be as simple as learning to do the stroke better, or counting your laps. The most important thing is to have fun with it.

Technique. Swimming is far more technical than most other activities. Even the best swimmers continue to improve by refining their technique. It is often beneficial to have an instructor or a coach look at you while you swim. People who teach swimming often have suggestions about how to make your swimming more efficient and more enjoyable.

Lane Etiquette. Make sure you know the pool's rules about how to share a lane with other swimmers. When three or more swimmers are sharing a lane, do "circle-swimming". When you are circle-swimming, you go up on one side of the lane and return on the other. If you are not sure about it, ask the lifeguard, who is there to assist. Watching the traffic patterns is always a good idea before entering a lane with other swimmers.

Swimming with a partner or a group can help you stay motivated. If you're looking for a partner or a group, go to your local pool and ask about Masters swimming groups. Resources are available through United States Masters Swimming, which has a web site (www.usms.org). Joining a local Masters team is a great way to learn and add camaraderie to your fitness routine. You do not have to go to the competitions to enjoy Masters swimming, but swim meets for seniors can be great fun, too! Swimming is the most popular fitness activity for all ages. Remember, the cardiovascular benefits of swimming make you feel great. It is exhausting and energizing all at once, and you can do it your entire life.
NOTE: The following article is a chapter excerpted from the book "It's Never Too Late" by Gail Kislevitz.


ASU Swimming Gala Dinner

On November 22nd ASU Swimming will be hosting a Dinner Gala at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort featuring Jason Lezak, Olympic hero, as the keynote speaker. Frank Busch, Head coach of the Men's and Women's national Championship U of A Swimming teams will speak along with Lacy Nymeyer, Olympic Silver Medalist.

The MC for the evening will be Amy Van Dyken, 6 time Olympic Gold Medalist and local radio personality. It will be a great evening, and proceeds will go to the continuing support of ASU Swimming.

For more information, contact Simon Percy at 602-818-4791.


Relay Recollections

Ever wonder what goes through the mind of an Olympian during a race?

How about what he goes through before an important event?

Click here to find out what was on Jason Lezak's mind...


Dryland Training Article

Check out this article in the Tucson Citizen. It highlights the importance of dryland training for swimmers. Looks like Skyline Masters is already getting some good publicity...


What is the Value of Swimming?

This post comes from the USMS National Office and describes the benefits of swimming. These are just some of the many examples of how swimming positively impacts people's lives.

Some people swim to get and stay physically fit, some people swim to justify tonight’s anticipated dessert consumption, some people swim to prove something to others and themselves, and yet other people swim to get a few quiet minutes away from their hectic lives. Swimming and USMS provide each of us with the opportunity to experience a healthier life, a happier life and a better you.

A Healthy Heart

“I won the lottery,” Ralph remembers thinking on February 10, 2006, when the doctor came into his room and told him that he was going to be receiving a new heart. Less than 24 hours later Ralph’s heart transplant was complete and two weeks later Ralph returned home a “new man.” Ralph was back in the pool a mere six months after his transplant and attributes his successful recovery to his experiences as an athlete. Ralph, the epitome of a fighter, never gave up. He kept faith, relied on his support system and continued to push. To celebrate the one-year anniversary of his transplant, Ralph competed in his local Michigan Masters State Meet.

USMS, and Ralph’s local coaches, teammates and workouts, give him focus and “a reason to work a little bit harder,” Ralph said as he chuckled. Ralph continues to swim and compete in regional and national competitions. He also volunteers with USMS at the national level.

”Swimming keeps me healthy and it keeps me young,” Ralph says. “Swimming makes me a better me.”

Ralph currently works very closely with the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center and was included in the accompanying advertisement for the “Michigan Difference” campaign.

Stress Relief

"As much as I swim for myself, I want to be around a long time for my six-year-old son Ethan and five-year-old daughter Amelia," says Tony Liao. Tony, 39 years old, didn't grow up with a swimming background but was a baseball player. He was first introduced to the pool in physical rehabilitation after a track injury. He rediscovered swimming in his 30's when he was looking for an exercise program to balance his work commitment as a business development manager for Mentor Graphics. He travels considerably for his job and in the last year alone has been to Taiwan eight times. "The stress and demands of my career, and significant travel take its toll," says Tony. "I knew it was catching up with me and I needed to do something for my health. I found swimming because I thought it would be healthy for my body without being too punishing." Today, Tony is a member of the Club Hot Tub in Pleasanton, Calif., and, in his words, "he's hooked."

"Swimming is absolutely the most healthy activity for my body," continues Tony. "I even arrange my hotel stays so I can be near a pool. One of the first things I want to do when I land is swim. It helps with the jet lag, the exercise clears my mind, it allows me time to think, and my body responds well. Hopefully Ethan and Amelia seeing their dad commit to his health will see it as an inspiration to them too," he proudly shares.

Family and Quality of Life

Chris Colburn, a 36-year-old Masters swimmer and coach, credits swimming with changing his life. “I met my wife, Carrie, for the first time when she showed up at a Masters practice looking for a place to get back into swimming,” he shared. Twelve years later, Chris and Carrie are married with a daughter and another child on the way. “We are a swimming family!” Chris said; Chris’s mother-in-law also swims with Chris in Naperville, Ill.

Chris also attributes his good health and quality of life to swimming and to the friends that he has met through his local Masters program. “After years of not addressing chronic high blood pressure, a well-placed second opinion from a fellow Masters swimmer (Dr. Jim Miller) got me on the right track,” recalls Chris. Chris since has also lost 30 pounds thanks to the help offered by his nutritionist, who is also a Masters swimmer. Masters swimming has not only helped improve Chris’s skills in the pool, but has “made huge differences in [my] quality of life, from family and friends, to my day job, to health and wellness.”

“The connections that I have made and the benefits that I have derived from participating in Masters swimming make me the person I am today.”


Though she’d been around the water since she was a little girl, Kari Lawrence joined USMS three years ago. “It’s my therapy,” said Kari, 27, of her early morning swimming workouts. “It clears my head.”

“Honestly, I hate jumping in the water at 5:30 a.m., but once I’m in I am reminded of how much better I feel the rest of the day because of it,” she said. Not only is Kari’s attitude better throughout the day after a morning swim, but “it gives me confidence,” she shared. During practice she pushes herself, races her teammates and refuses to give up on an interval, and she believes that these skills translate into her life out of the pool. Kari started coaching her local Masters workout group a year ago after moving to Charlotte, N.C., from Hawaii and her job as a marine animal trainer. She currently coaches both age-group and Masters swimmers in Charlotte.

“You can ask my roommate,” she joked as she explained the effect swimming has on her daily life. “The other day my roommate asked me why I had been so happy lately, and I replied ‘I’ve been swimming!’”

USMS Support

The USMS Endowment Fund, founded in 1989, assists each of us in our daily quests to be a better version of ourselves. It supports USMS, LMSCs, clubs and coaches through its commitment to seek out and fund projects that focus on medical and health research, development assistance for new Masters programs, outreach to other adult fitness organizations and education that positively impacts Masters swimming and Masters swimmers. The USMS Endowment Fund has funded projects such as the effect of Pilates and dry-land workouts on Masters swimmers and the effect of aging on stroke rate. It is the only national institution addressing the matters of concern to Masters swimmers.

Take Dr. Joel Stager, for example. Dr. Stager, of Indiana University, applied for and received a USMS Endowment Fund grant to study and understand the impact of swimming on our bodies. Dr. Stager began his research on Masters swimmers in 2002. Since then, Dr. Stager, also a Masters swimmer, has been one of the champions of Masters swimming and Masters swimmers research.

The activity level that swimming provides, “helps people maintain their independence and mobility, it helps maintain people’s ability to think and process,” according to Dr. Stager.. Dr. Stager has seen a 15-year offset in the bodies of swimmers, meaning that a 60-year-old swimmer can have the body composition and muscle mass of a 45-year-old person of the general public. “High-activity people live longer,” claims Dr. Stager, and swimming provides that high activity level. Dr. Stager is enthusiastic about continuing his research on Masters swimming and Masters swimmers. “It just makes people better,” he said. The USMS Endowment Fund is one of many USMS programs that continue to support USMS members in their pursuit of fitness, health and wellness.

Together, USMS and the USMS Endowment Fund, Ralph Davis, Tony Liao, Chris Colburn, Kari Lawrence and Dr. Joel Stager answer the question: “Join USMS? What’s in it for me?”

Their answer: a better you.

Feel free to share this with fellow swimmers or people within your social circle that are thinking about adding swimming to their fitness routine.

Swim for life!


Triple Sports Blue Seventy Event

AZ LMSC, Triple Sports and Blue Seventy have teamed up to bring the latest and greatest swim skin to Arizona Masters swimmers. Visit the Triple Sports Open House from 8 am to 10 am Saturday November 1 to get fitted for a Nero Comp swimskin and receive a 15 percent discount on any Nero purchase and 10 percent off any other non-sale item. Triple Sports will supply the suits as well as the bagels and coffee from the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Bring your USMS registration card to receive this discount.


Postal Pentathlon

For years, Minnesota Masters has run a postal pentathlon comprising all four strokes and an individual medley. This is a great event to show your versatility and get in a postal swim. See, most postal events are long distances but this is a (relatively) short and sweet event. Go here and download the form. Coaches, you could make this a Saturday workout for your team and make it a fun event (hint). The pentathlon comes in Sprint, Medium, and Ironman distances so you can choose which distance you want to swim. Give it a shot!


Why Join USMS - Part I

Why Join a Masters Program, and Why Join USMS?

This is the first in an eight-part series on why one should join a masters swimming program and USMS. The article comes from the National Office:
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 accept 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.

Each Feature will connect you with another USMS benefit or program. If you are already a USMS member, each Feature will encourage you to become even more involved, and if you have not yet joined a local Masters program or USMS, each Feature will have you asking yourself, “Why has it taken me this long to join?”


USMS and College Swim Coaches Announce New Program

As many of you know, men's collegiate swimming has been shrinking for years as Athletic Directors cut programs across the country. Even top programs like ASU, UCLA, Iowa State, and Nebraska are not immune to this disturbing trend.

The good news is that USMS is doing something about it

Not long ago, USMS announced a program in partnership with the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Association to strengthen both masters and collegiate swimming. This is encouraging news and should help the sport of swimming on college campuses throughout the US.

For additional information on this issue, read this article by Phil Whitten.


Ron Johnson Invitational

The Sun Devil Masters will host the Ron Johnson Invitation in November at ASU. This meet will be the Short Course Meters State Meet and is expected to draw many swimmers from all over the Southwestern US. You can download the meet flyer here or you can enter online by going here.

This is our last meet of the year so get ready for this event. There will be a social event after the Saturday session as well. See you all there!


Fall Classic

The first of two Short Course Meters (SCM) meets will be held at NAU on Sunday October 19th. The Fall Classic is a great chance to get in a meet at altitude, which will test your overall fitness. Plus, Flagstaff is a nice university town with lots of great places to eat and sights to see. The fall colors should be at or near their peak when this meet takes place. Click here to download the entry form. Good luck to all competitors at this meet!


New Masters Team - Skyline

One of our swimmers has started a new masters team in Tucson. Many of you know June Hussey from her writing and editing the newsletter in years past. Some of you also may have seen her swimming at various open water events. Well now she is starting a new team in the foothills of the Santa Catalinas.

Skyline Masters Swim Club is at the Skyline Country Club on the northern edge of Tucson. It is set in a beautiful area of town with some spectacular scenery. This team will be a welcome addition to the Arizona Masters Swimming family.

They are going to get started with a bang...more news on that later.

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