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An introduction to Masters Swimming in Great Britain

Think you’re too old to be involved in swimming or consider competitions as being out of the question? Think again! There are swimmers over 100-years-old taking part in Masters Swimming.

Masters swimming began in the USA in the 1970s when some formerly 'elite' swimmers organised a competition for adult swimmers. The sport has now spread all over the world.

Masters swimming is basically swimming for adults. It encompasses the whole range of ability from casual fitness swimming to highly organised competitive swimmingTo qualify as a 'Masters' swimmer you only need to be over 25 years of age. Masters’ competitions are organised in five-year age bands, from 25-29 and upwards as required. The oldest age group result so far is from the 100-104 group! Many competitions also include an 18-24 age group.

Masters swimming welcomes everyone, no matter what your reason is for swimming. How far you go with the Masters Swimming system is up to you. The broad objectives of better health, better fitness, and friendship between swimmers are paramount.

There is no compulsion on swimmers to compete - a major survey of British Masters swimmers showed that the majority of them rarely do!

Masters Competitions

If Masters swimmers do want to take part in competitions they are well catered for. The sport remains one in which all who want to compete can do so because almost all Masters competitions don’t have qualifying standards to meet or squads onto which you have to be selected.

There are World Championships at the top end of the sport with a range of competitive opportunities for Masters cascading down to local events. There are also Masters competing in diving, synchronised swimming and water polo.

The ASA and Masters

The ASA is naturally keen to encourage swimming as a fitness-improving activity and as a sport.  It has a standing Masters Committee, which is active in the promotion of Masters swimming and in encouraging new Masters-based activities.

There are currently some 5,000 swimmers of Masters age (25 and upward) registered with the ASA. There are also about 400 clubs that either have Masters’ sections or are dedicated to Masters Swimming. Click here to find a swim club in your region

British Swimming and Masters

The Vivenne and Leonard Cherriman Award is awarded annually by the British Swimming Board to 'the person or organisation who or which has done the most to promote and foster the cause of Masters Swimming in Great Britain.'

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