Getting Started

What are the differences between groups?
Only their swim times. Groups A and B swim on alternate evenings and groups C and D swim in the mornings, with additional optional swims available. See the current schedule for details. All groups have swimmers with a wide range of swimming abilities and ages.

Do I need a medical certificate?
We strongly advise everyone to see their doctor prior to starting a swim program, but cannot require a medical certificate. We will require you to sign a waiver as part of the registration process.

What about pregnancy?
Again, you should see your doctor. We have had several members continue to swim right through their pregnancies and they all report that swimming did help them.

What happens at the first workout?
We ask you to arrive fifteen minutes early to meet the coaches and club executive. The coaches will have new members swim a few laps of each stroke to judge the appropriate lane to put you in. We organize the lanes such that people are swimming with others of similar swimming ability. As you progress during the year, your coach will adjust your lane placement depending on whether you are finding it too difficult or would like more of a challenge.

The Walter Baker pool is 25 meters long, 8 lanes wide.

We start new swimmers at specific times during the year and you will likely be starting out with a number of other new people.

What equipment do I need to bring?
A swim suit of course. We recommend regular "Speedo type" suits for men and women. The boxer style shorts for men and bikinis for women may look good on the beach, but aren't suitable for swimming.

Goggles are also a must - the chlorine in the pool will be hard on your eyes otherwise. Some people also like ear plugs and/or nose plugs.

Later in the season, you may optionally buy fins, hand paddles, pull buoys, kick board, etc. We have many of these at the pool and you should try them out first before deciding to buy. We occasionally organize group buys of swim suits and T-shirts during the year. Club members also receive discounts at some sporting goods stores in Ottawa.

The Swim Program

What is a typical workout?
There are two coaches for each core group, who design workouts to meet the needs of their swimmers.

Most people arrive about ten minutes early to do on-deck stretching. All workouts then start with 10-15 minutes of easy swimming as a warm-up. They are followed by sets of increasing difficulty, which will raise your heartrate into the exercise zone of 60%-80% of maximum. About 10 minutes at the end is reserved for warm-down.

The coaches vary sets depending on lane, time of year, swimmer goals, and interest. There are literally hundreds of different sets and, although this is not a learn-to-swim program, the coaches will spend a lot of time on stroke technique.

How far do I have to swim?
This varies considerably depending on the type of workout, time of year, and lane.

In a one hour swim, it is common to swim 2000 to 3000 meters. While this may sound like a lot, I've seen swimmers start the year barely able to swim a few laps and end it routinely swimming 1500-2000 meters each practice.

What strokes do you use? Do I need to know them all?
All four strokes (freestyle, backstroke, breastroke, and butterfly) are used. Many people coming into the club know only freestyle and backstroke or breastroke. As long as you're comfortable in the water, you can pick up the other strokes - the coaches do spend a lot of time teaching proper technique.

I'm not a very good swimmer. How can I find out if this is for me?
Come out to one of our practices, see what we do, and talk to some of the members. Also, we offer a free two week trial period to all new swimmers.

How is a typical year structured?
Early season work is usually focussed on stroke technique. There will be a lot of demonstrations, drills, and feedback from the coaches designed to improve your strokes.

As the year progresses, the swimming distances will be increased to build aerobic conditioning. This serves as a base to build upon. Later in the season, more anaerobic or sprint work is added. This increases the intensity of the sets while lowering the total distances swum and is designed to increase speed.

For the competitive swimmers, we will usually "taper" for one or two of the big meets. A taper lasts two or three weeks and drastically cuts back on distance swum, allowing the body to fully recover and gain extra energy and speed for top performance at a meet. (This isn't a very scientific explanation but, trust me, a taper does give you a surge of strength for a meet - really neat!)

Do you have a summer program?
Most years, we run a ten week summer program, swimming twice per week. This is designed to be a maintenance level of swimming only.


Do I have to compete?
No. We are a large club and do have a strong competitive team. About 30-60 people in the club compete and about half of those compete quite seriously. However, the majority of people do not compete. The primary objective of most of the swimmers is fitness.

What are the requirements for competition?
There are no qualifying times required to enter a Masters competition. You will be elegible to enter sanctioned meets virtually anywhere in the world through your registration with Masters Swim Ontario, which is included with your registration fee.

How are meets judged?
Participants enter one or more events and estimate their finish times for each. The races are organized so that swimmers of approximately equal speed in each event are grouped together. Final placings are done according to age categories (25-29, 30-34, etc.), so that in effect you are only competing against people in the same age group.

Does NMSC host any meets?
We host a Winterlude meet in February and usually run it as a "long course" meet (ie using a 50 meter pool). Typical attendance is about 200 swimmers, from clubs across Ontario and Quebec.

We also hold one or two fun meets during the year, restricting attendance to our own club. This gives news swimmers a chance to try out their strokes.

Club Operation

How is the club organized and run?
NMSC is a non-profit organization. Most of our revenue comes from membership fees. All the executive are volunteers and we pay only for pool rental, coaches and lifeguards.

An annual general meeting is held once per year to elect the new executive. Our constitution and bylaws provide the overall structure for the club.

How does NMSC relate to MSO, MSC, and SNC?
MSO is Masters Swimming Ontario. This is the governing body for Masters Swimming in the province. MSO sanctions meets, officially records provincial records, and provides some liability insurance. We pay MSO $25 per swimmer.

MSC is Masters Swimming Canada, a relatively new organization intended to promote Masters swimming in Canada. MSC publishes the rulebook for competitions and a newsletter for all Masters swimmers in Canada. A portion of our fee paid to MSO is sent to MSC.

SNC is Swimming Natation Canada, the governing body for amateur swimming in Canada. A portion of the fee paid to MSC goes to SNC.

Can guests from other clubs swim at NMSC?
Yes. Registered members from other clubs may join us for a week or two without charge. Please call ahead (see Contact Us) to let us know you're coming and confirm swim times. Likewise, NMSC members are welcome as guests at most other clubs.