Chlorine Chronicle (Archive)NMSC Feb/98 Newsletter
Taking the 'Compete' out of 'Competition'
Why Masters Swimming ?
A Masters swim club provides members with an opportunity to improve their physical fitness, receive regular coaching and stroke improvement, attend swim meets and swim clinics, and participate in social activities.
Regular exercise contributes to good health and a sense of general well-being, and swimming is considered by health professionals to be one of the best and safest ways to exercise. It benefits the cardiovascular system, reduces cholesterol, and has a positive effect on weight control, muscle tone, stress levels, and stamina. It also helps to offset the gradual decrease in bone mass that occurs with age. Unlike many other sports, swimming does not involve the purchase of costly equipment or clothing.
Do I Have To Compete ?
Whether to compete is up to the individual. Swimmers have their own reason for joining a Masters club. Meets provide the opportunity to socialize with swimmers from other clubs and to exchange ideas on swimming and everything else under the sun. Competition is an opportunity not only to measure your level of fitness, but to meet new people, make new friends, compete and travel. Masters Swimming adds fun and friendship to fitness !
There are also different ways to compete - you can pit yourself against other swimmers or simply focus on your own satisfaction : improving your "personal best" times! ! Fellow competitors often applaud less proficient participants who complete what is for them an arduous event. For some, there is the challenge of proving themselves by competing against others in their own age category. For them, it is the thrill of competition. At the same time, attending any of the various swim meets affords an opportunity to socialize with swimmers from other clubs and to exchange ideas on swimming and other matters.
Competitions are held in "short course" (25 metre or 25 yard) and "long course" (50 metre) pools and feature races in freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, and individual medley (a combination of all four strokes). Competitors race in their own age categories organized in five-year increments (20-24, 25-29, 30-34, etc. up to the maximum age of the participants).
There are also opportunities to participate in open water competitions. Canada is world famous for its numerous elite marathon swimmers, both at the professional and amateur level. For Masters, some of the clubs in the provinces of New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia conduct open water events, primarily in lakes, but also in rivers and conservation areas. Distances normally swum include 1, 2, 3, 5, or 10 kilometres, with the bulk of the races being 1-3 kilometres. (For the more adventurous long-distance swimmer, the Ontario Government-sponsored organization, Solo Swims of Ontario, organizes and conducts an individual's attempt at swimming across Lake Ontario.)
For those that think competition is only for the elite athletes, swim meets feature all calibres of swimmers racing against each other, or against themselves to better their previous best times. Fellow competitors often warmly applaud a less proficient participant who completes, at least for him or her, an arduous event. Athletes, in general, always appreciate another athlete's gutsy performance. The competitor, in turn, reflects not only on the placing in the event, but also on the self-satisfaction of sheer accomplishment.
Ultimately, it is the individuals choice to participate in meets, but to those who do attend swim meets, they realize that these 'competitions' aren't always focused on 'competition'. There are many other perspectives that the individual Masters Swimmer can benefit from by participating in various events.
Compiled from MSO Website and contributed by Des Beckstead, B Group and Mark Goodwin, A Group