Getting Started

Why Us?
We're great value for money. We offer more than just regular practices. We host two swim meets per year, and our members attend others. Our membership is for recreational swimmers, competitive swimmers, open water swimmers and triathletes.

How can you say it's "great value for money"?
We've done the math: our memberships work out to about $6.00 per hour for coached fitness. You'd pay about that much for a family swim. That's a lot cheaper than any other form of fitness.

What are the differences between groups?
Only their swim times. See our current schedule is available on our Schedules and Fees page. All groups have swimmers with a wide range of swimming abilities and ages.

How often do you swim?
A full schedule is available on our Schedules and Fees page. Our winter season runs the nine months from 1 September to 31 May. Practices are 75 minutes (90 minutes on Saturday morning).

Where do you swim?
We swim at the Walter Baker Sport Centre (25 m pool) for eleven months of the year. It's on Malvern Drive in Barrhaven. It's just a bit south of Fallowfield and Greenbank (See map on our Contact Form page). In June, we swim at the Nepean Sportsplex (Merivale and Hunt Club). Through the year, we often hire the 50-meter pool at the SportsPlex for stat holiday swims.

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 but not mandatory; the chlorine in the pool will be hard on your eyes otherwise. Some people also like ear plugs and/or nose plugs. Swim caps are high recommended but not mandatory; an ounce of cap is worth a pound of cleaner water (because there's less hair interfering with the filters). 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

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.

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 swim session, it is common to swim 2000 to 5000 meters. While this may sound like a lot, swimmers starting the year that are barely able to swim a few laps have progressed to routinely swimming 1500-2000 meters at each practice by the end of the swim season.

What strokes do you use? Do I need to know them all?
All four strokes (freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly) are used. Many people coming into the club know only freestyle, backstroke, or breaststroke. 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.

Do you offer stroke clinics?
Yes. We offer 6 clinics a year. One for each swimming stoke (free, breast, back, and fly); one for starts and turns; and one for open water techniques. They're $20 per session.

Do your coaches help with stroke correction?
Our coaches ROCK. Tell them your fitness and stroke goals, and they'll help you exceed them. With a bit of coordination, you can bring your cell phones and they'll video your strokes, with audio commentary, from the deck.

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 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. This is designed to be a maintenance level of swimming only.


What's a FlexPass?
It allows members 10 swims for sessions other than the ones they've registered. If you've registered for any of our groups, and you buy a flex pass, you can attend up to ten practices at with any of our other groups.

Why should I get one?
Flexibility. If you have to miss your scheduled day, you can pick up another one with no hassle, even if you're not registered in that group.

What is the cost of one?
$80 per 10 swim sessions.

How do I get one?
Two methods:

  1. 1. Go to your registration account on nmsc.org. Select the Flexpass option from the list of swims. Pay your outstanding fees. The Treasurer will leave your pass (printed on business card stock) in an envelope in the on-deck box for you.
  2. 2. Email [email protected], cc [email protected] to request it. Send a PayPal payment for $80 to [email protected] The Treasurer will leave your pass (printed on business card stock) in an envelope in the on-deck box for you.

How do I use it?
Introduce yourself to the coach, and have them mark off one of the ten passes.

Does it expire?
They're officially valid only for the Winter session, and expire at 31 May.


Do I have to compete?
No but it’s strongly encouraged; competitions are a lot of fun. 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 the swimmers do not compete. The primary objective of most of the swimmers is fitness. Swimmers from around the region sign up for our annual Red vs Blue fun meet in December. Never mind what club you're from, you're randomly assigned to Team Red or Team Blue for the day; so you can compete just for the halibut. More serious meets include our Winterlude meet, invitationals across Ontario and into Quebec, and Provincial and National championships. Even if you don't want to swim, our Meet Managers can always use volunteers (Bring your kids - they get their community service hours.).

What are the requirements for competition?
There are no qualifying times required to enter a Masters competition. You will be eligible to enter sanctioned meets virtually anywhere in the world through your registration with Masters Swim Ontario and/or 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 two meets a year; a Red vs Blue fun meet in December and a Winterlude meet in February. The Red vs Blue fun meet is a “short course” meet (i.e., using a 25-meter pool) and the Winterlude usually is a "long course" meet (i.e., using a 50-meter pool). Typical attendance is about 200 swimmers, from clubs across Ontario and Quebec.

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 executives 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.

Who are MSO, MSC, SO, and SNC?
MSO is Masters Swimming Ontario. The governing body for Masters Swimming in the province. MSO sanctions meets, officially records provincial records, and provides liability insurance. MSC is Masters Swimming Canada. A national organization intended to promote Masters swimming in Canada. MSC publishes the rulebook for competitions and a newsletter for all Masters swimmers in Canada. SO is Swim Ontario. The governing body for all levels of swimming in the province (Age groups & Masters). SNC is Swimming Natation Canada. The governing body for all levels of swimming in Canada (Age groups & Masters).

What's this $35 MSO fee?
Nepean Masters Swim Club is a member of Masters Swim Ontario. The clubs charge an annual fee to their members on MSO's behalf. These fees go towards their operating costs, which includes our liability insurance and coordinating inter-club meets. Their fee to us is $10 per season. As confirmed at our AGM in 2017 and 2018, the club retains the additional $25 and uses it for general operations.

Can guests from another club 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 (Fees may apply).