General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Joining U.S. Masters Swim Rss Feed  
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2017-04-24 6:23 AM

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Subject: Joining U.S. Masters Swim

One of the local swim team coaches is trying to start a Masters Swim program. I am not sure this is necessary at this point in my life. I say not necessary because I don't race triathlon much. I did one sprint all of last year, the swim is my strongest event. I swim for fitness and I don't always think it is fun to kill myself trying to get faster. I believe the Masters Swim program will be an extra charge obviously as we have to pay the coach to provide workouts and the flyer says he will provide stroke help. But the only reason I join the gym is to use the pool so I'm not so sure I want to pay MORE to use the pool. I don't think it will be very crowded as there were only 5 other people signed up on the flyer. 

What are your experiences? Are you in a Masters Swim program and how do you like it? 

 

 



2017-04-24 6:36 AM
in reply to: trigal38

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Master
8122
500020001000100
Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: Joining U.S. Masters Swim
Depends on the group, really, and what you prefer. I have done some of both in both the US and here in Vietnam and while most of my swim training is solo for logistical reasons, they both have their perks. The basic plus and minus in my book:

Plus:
*People to train with, commiserate with, etc. Many people push themselves harder in a group.
*More chances for individual help with stroke, swim training questions, etc. (in many programs, you may need to pay extra for one-on-one of small group focused feedback/lessons, but coaches are usually happy to provide quick feedback if you ask, demonstrate how to do drills properly, etc.
*Making contacts with people you can then join for OWS practice
*Chances to compete (if you like that) in swim meets
*Variety of well-structured workouts
*Consistent time to meet; can help some people train more regularly

Minus
*Workouts not always geared towards' triathletes' needs; may be more work on other strokes than you want/need/can handle
*Since it's a group workout, the coach isn't taking into account what other training you may have done that day/week. The workout may be too demanding given your level of fatigue that day. You will have to make needed changes yourself.
*May not be the right level for you in terms of speed/distance/strokes/swim proficiency, at least initially
*Bigger programs can get crowded. Often masters is sharing the pool with youth clubs or rec swimmers; I have ended up with over ten in a lane. It can sometimes be hard to get a quality workout like that.
*Limited flexibility for workout times (though some bigger programs have workouts at different times)
*Probably higher fees (USMS and club membership fees or drop-in fees for coaching, plus pool fee)

In general for my training, solo swimming with a program from an online coach (what I'm doing now) or, in the past, an online tri training program, is my "meat and potatoes"; master's is an occasional treat to spice things up. Not sure if that would be different if I had routine access to a quality program.
2017-04-24 4:39 PM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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Master
1323
1000100100100
Rochester, NY
Subject: RE: Joining U.S. Masters Swim

Hot Runner summed things up well.

My personal experience from both swimming on my own and with Masters is that I get in much more work at Masters.  I will do maybe 1500 on my own and get bored.  With Masters, the distance varies by workout, but we'll frequently do 4000 yards.  Having a group of people to push one another makes a HUGE difference.

2017-04-25 10:32 PM
in reply to: trigal38

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Veteran
2297
2000100100252525
Great White North
Subject: RE: Joining U.S. Masters Swim
Might provide access to insurance?? Besides racing swim meets is fun...
2017-04-26 4:43 AM
in reply to: simpsonbo

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Master
8122
500020001000100
Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: Joining U.S. Masters Swim
I think where regular Master's workouts would be really nice for me personally is if doing a swim focus during the off-season or if injured, or in the early part of a build where I'm just trying to get in volume with a mix of intensity and don't really care specifically what I'm doing, just swim time in the pool. Once I hit peak volume and am doing a lot of race-specific training, not so much. In the latter situation (which is where I tend to be when I'm home in the summer), I usually just drop in for the Saturday morning workouts. It's usually a longer workout, about 4000m total, in a 50m pool, so I'm getting in a variety of sets with plenty of volume. During the week, I'd be doing shorter workouts (usually 2800-3500m) with more race-specific sets on my own, and possibly an OWS. Some clubs (mine included) have a punch card or drop-in system for people who wish to do that. I think it does require you to join USMS though, for insurance and liability purposes.

2017-04-26 7:27 AM
in reply to: trigal38

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36
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Subject: RE: Joining U.S. Masters Swim
I don't think the workouts are geared for a triathletes specific needs. Like Hot runner said there are pros and cons.

If I wanted to compete at 100-200 yard swimming events they would definitely be the way to go. And I found masters to be an excellent standalone workout. But I need to compete in 750, 1500 + open water swimming - and use my swimming day as an "active recovery day" for my legs.

Long story short - I hurt my bicep tendon doing other strokes than freestyle (and too much intensity) and it took a year to get it sorted out. For me the risk of injury is just too high for a marginal gain on the swim. Doing anything other than Z2 with a few Z4 sprints and freestyle drills is above what I need to be a good triathlete swimmer. I usually only swim a mile every week - but that's all I need.

However, if I wasn't a "good" swimmer I think learning the fundamentals could really help a triathlete who needs work on the swim. YMMV


2017-04-26 7:57 AM
in reply to: rugerviking

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Master
8122
500020001000100
Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: Joining U.S. Masters Swim
Depends on what you like and are used to. I do have a swim background (youth clubs and HS) and can swim all four strokes. I actually really like doing workouts that incorporate them (my coach uses them as "treats" when I've been doing a lot of big freestyle sets) and I don't see any problem with doing them if you can manage them with good technique (and not risk injury) and your goal is just to get in a good workout and build general cardio and swim fitness, as opposed to race-specific training. In the end it is all swimming. I have had strong tri swims (at least at sprint and Oly distance) even when training with a kids' club where no one else did races longer than 400m (and that only occasionally).. I would guess that most of the workouts I do with my online coach now are NOT Z2. Aside from warmups, cool downs, and drills, most is probably Z3 (tempo type effort) or Z4 (hard). Then again, YMMV. I am no ex-collegiate fish, but generally in the top 1-2 in my age group on a tri swim, and was about a third of the way through my AG field at 70.3 Worlds. FMOP, I guess, at that level.

Master's might be less suitable for someone just struggling to get a handle on the basics, or who can't/doesn't want to do other strokes (for whatever reason--injury concerns, interest, swim proficiency). Beginners might be better served by a combination of lessons to establish solid technique, and workouts geared towards building up to triathlon-distance swims.
2017-04-26 8:27 AM
in reply to: rugerviking

Master
10208
50005000100100
Northern IL
Subject: RE: Joining U.S. Masters Swim

The race specific needs of a triathlete pale in comparison to the gains they can make by getting into a decent swim program as their overall swimming ability can improve substantially. After not swimming at all for 30+ years, a former sprinter in ours quickly learned to do 18:xx in the mile and mid 50's in an open water 2.4 mile. He might have taken off some more spare change with some race specificity, but it's not like times would drop to 15:xx or 45:xx with that.

2017-04-26 8:38 AM
in reply to: trigal38

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1502
1000500
Katy, Texas
Subject: RE: Joining U.S. Masters Swim
I jump in with masters teams now and again. Mostly when I travel. I think there is a definite benefit to swimming with others. If you don't want to do other strokes, you don't have to. I only swim freestyle, I've never had an issue with swimming freestyle when others are doing various strokes.

Just don't become addicted to flippers. Masters swimmers tend to use flippers a lot.
2017-04-26 5:20 PM
in reply to: trigal38

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New user
1351
10001001001002525
Austin, Texas
Subject: RE: Joining U.S. Masters Swim

I loved my masters group when I swam with them for 3 or 4 years. You sound like you have more swim experience now than I did when I first joined them, so I got a lot out of the instruction, but I appreciated it more for the social aspect than anything else. I had the option of paying less money to swim at the Y closer to where I worked but turned it down just so that I could keep swimming with my friends rather than being by myself all the time. We occasionally had "just for fun" swim meets with bizarre events like swimming while dragging someone behind you. Good fun.

2017-04-26 6:34 PM
in reply to: trijamie

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Subject: RE: Joining U.S. Masters Swim

 

I have participated in a adult swim for fitness classes before but it wasn't U.S. Master's Swim. We were all triathletes so the coach planned appropriate workouts for us. We did push each other and I worked my rear end off. I left those workouts pretty trashed and I just don't seem to have that in me anymore. Something about turning 45 lol. 

I signed up that I was interested in learning more. The coach recorded my stroke one day when I didn't know it. I was at the pool the same time  he was coaching swim team. He gave me some pointers on a few little things he noticed in my stroke. I was forcing my right arm on my recovery instead of keeping it relaxed. I've been working on that lately and now my shoulder isn't sore anymore all the time. Makes me kind of want to give Masters Swim a shot just for stroke improvement. The downside of swimming by yourself all the time, you can't see what your doing wrong. 

I signed up that I was interested in getting more information. A lot will depend on practice times and how much the additional fee is. 

Thanks for the feedback everyone.



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