What is Masters Swimming ?
Masters Swimming is an organized programme promoting fitness for adults through the sport of swimming. Swimmers around the world participate at all levels of ability, from swimming for general health and enjoyment, to competition at local, national and international levels.
Who are Masters Swimmers ?
In Canada, any person 18 years of age or older, with no upper age limit, can participate in Masters Swimming. There are more than 6,000 Masters Swimmers in Canada with more than 2,700 in Ontario.
Why Masters Swimming ?
Masters Swimming provides an important motivational framework for promoting a lifelong exercise regimen that exerts tangible benefits on its participants in the form of physical and mental well-being. Regular exercise contributes to good health 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 reduction and endurance. It also possibly helps to offset the decrease in bone mass that is progressive with the aging process.
Unlike many other sports, swimming does not involve the purchase of costly equipment or clothing.
Membership in a Masters swim club provides an opportunity not only to get fit, but also to meet new people, make new friends, compete in meets and to travel. Masters Swimming adds fun and friendship to fitness.
How Much Does It Cost ?
There are three cost components: club fees; MSO registration fees; meet entry fees for those who wish to compete.
The cost to join a Masters swim club varies widely depending upon the cost to rent pool time, the number of workouts per week, the number of coaches and the activities and services offered.
For MSO fees, see Registration and Fees. Meet entry fees vary; local meets can range from $10 to $30; international meets can cost over $100.
Do I Have to Compete ?
To compete or not is up to each individual. Swimmers have their own reasons for joining a Masters swim club. Many belong purely for the joy of improving their overall physical fitness, at the same time taking advantage of an opportunity to interact socially with other people.
For others, there is the challenge of proving themselves by competing against themselves and the clock or 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.
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 against other swimmers of the same speed. Results are 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. Distances normally swum include 1, 3, 5, and 10 kilometres. (For the more adventurous long-distance swimmer, the Ontario Government mandated organization, Solo Swims of Ontario, organizes and conducts an individual’s attempt at swimming across Lake Ontario.)
For those who 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 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.
The Benefits of a Masters Swim Club
A Masters swim club provides individuals with an opportunity to improve their physical fitness, to receive regular coaching and stroke improvement, to attend swim meets and swim clinics and to participate in social activities.
The Activities of a Masters Swim Club
The provision of specific activities is up to each individual club and members can choose to participate in any or all as each sees fit: