At the conclusion of my first 100 yards during my first Masters Swimming workout, the coach told me I needed to smooth out my freestyle stroke and that I was cutting off my reach too early. Just the kind of feedback I was looking for.
I’ve been hitting the pool consistently for the last five months in an attempt to develop my technique, strength, and endurance enough to be able to swim 500 yards in the Gold Nugget Triathlon in May. I started from scratch back in October (the last time I attempted to swim something other than the doggy paddle was in 6th grade) and it took me three months just to get to the point where I could swim ten laps continuously without gasping for air at the end of each pool length. Then I’d hit a plateau. Though I’d taken a couple of private swim lessons in the fall, most of my instruction was coming from YouTube. My technique needed work.
It was most auspicious, then, when I received an email from Carl Young who works for the Valdez Parks and Recreation Department announcing the formation of a community Masters Swimming program. The plan was that the group would meet for an hour on Saturday afternoons and would follow structured work outs based on skill level. It’s important to understand that “masters” refers to age not ability.
I showed up for the first session uncertain of what to expect. My friend, Karen, met me there and we joined one other woman in the two lanes designated for beginners. Several other folks filtered in over the next few minutes and filled up the intermediate and advanced lanes. Carl instructed us to get fins and kickboards and then to get to work on our 300 yards of warm up. Karen and I practiced circle swimming, and, after a couple of initial collisions, we got in synch with each other’s paces.
Carl, our coach, met us periodically at the end of our laps and gave us each specific instructions to improve weak points in our kicks or strokes. I got assigned finger-drag-drill and 6-by-6 drill to improve my arm extension and form. We kept moving for most of the 60 minute session by following a set of drills that was written on the pool’s white board.
As 1pm approached, Carl directed us to line up and get ready for sprints.
“Swimmers on your mark,” he yelled. Then, blowing his whistle, he piped “Go”. And, off we went splashing, pulling, kicking towards the other end of the pool. Breathing hard, we looked to the coach for a reprieve, but he just hollered out for us to get ready for the next one, blew the whistle, and sent us all hurdling down the pool for another set of sprints.
Keep an eye out for announcements about upcoming Valdez Masters Swimming clinics (last half of April) and meets. Dues may be forthcoming as the group completes its formation and as it becomes part of the U.S. Masters Swimming program.