Basingstoke Bluefins’ Michelle Matson explains why team spirit is so important for Masters.
Pink hats, t-shirts, nail polish and all the rest of it are so much more to our team than vanity; they represent fun, friendship and a very strong sense of team spirit.
Although our team name suggests we should perhaps be wearing blue, pink happened by accident to begin with.
Open water swimming became popular in our Masters squad and for safety and visibility in the lakes we had our logo printed on fluorescent pink hats. They proved so popular swimmers were wearing them in the pool too.
Then we started wearing them for relays. With all the different styles and colours of racing suits available we managed to make our team stand out when we all wore pink and the announcer called us the Pinkfins at the Masters Royal Navy Meet! The pink theme carried on to the British Championships at Plymouth and with lots of strong relay teams we achieved fantastic results – so the pink was here to stay.
Being a part of such a strong team is what swimming is all about to me. Masters meets are taken seriously, despite the pinkness, and so many of us not only attend all of our Masters training sessions but also do our own training in public sessions as well as gym sessions.
Of course enjoying each other’s company is such a huge part of our team and more importantly being behind every swimmer and every swim they do is too. We particularly enjoy meets like British and National Championship, where we can all get together over dinner because let’s face it, food is the quickest way to please a swimmer – other than a PB!
Team spirit starts far away from the pool. It’s sharing car journeys to the pool, eating a meal together, staying at the same hotel and most definitely wearing pink! Then there’s being at every session to watch every swimmer, swim every race and that’s before relays are even mentioned.
Some relays are competitive and others are for fun and about giving everyone a chance to feel a part of the pinkness and therefore a part of the team. For me, relays are the most important part of a meet.
They are a chance to actually represent my team and stand as a unit behind the blocks. Relays are my main focus in training because when I’m finding a set particularly tough, I just think about letting my team mates down and it makes it easier to get through.
So putting on the pink nail polish at home is just the start of all the excitement and on Monday mornings, when normality resumes, the flashes of pink left on my nails reminds me of the great meet and fab time I had with all my chlorine buddies. Never underestimate the value of being a part of a great team!