Enjoy swimming but not convinced that competing is the route for you? Our ASA Masters Officer, Sharon Lock, explains why there’s no greater mark of progress than competitive Masters swimming…
So you’ve been training regularly for a while and you’re feeling good. You’re working hard in the pool and feel like you’re improving. It’s enjoyable, even if some days are tough, and now you’re thinking “what’s next?”
The simple answer is to test yourself!
We all need to measure our progress to keep us motivated and there are different ways to do this. You could measure how many lengths you can do before stopping, how many times you lap someone else, how fast you can complete your training set, how far you can swim without breathing. The list is endless but none of them are as accurate as swimming in a competition.
Competitions are a great way to see if you are getting faster (or slower) because you will always swim a race under exactly the same conditions. There will be someone taking your time – no looking at the pace clock and trying to figure out how fast you swam – it will be the same distance and there won’t be anyone getting in the way.
There are not a lot of things more pleasurable for a swimmer than seeing your time come up on the electronic score board and it’s faster than you’ve ever swam before.
Often the best part of a race is dissecting it afterwards with your fellow competitors; finding out how they swam, what they do differently, how good or bad their times were, commiserating with each other or celebrating those fast swims.
Masters competitions aren’t all about the racing. They are also an opportunity to make friends, have some banter with others your own age and take pleasure in the company of people who enjoy swimming.
You don’t have to be the fastest to take part, after all you are only racing yourself. There are lots of different races and distances you can enter from local club events to the Nationals each year.
If you’ve never tried it why not get some of your team mates to enter? You can swim just one length if you’re worried about tumble turns or all the way up to 1500m or even enter relays if there are four of you.
Take a look at the Masters Calendar of events, be brave and enter something!
For those of you who compete regularly, how about challenging yourself to something different and enter an event or stroke you’d never normally swim.
Remember all of these will go towards the British Masters Decathlon and you could even start training for the next T30 which opens again in November 2015. Whatever you choose, good luck and enjoy yourself.