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From non-competitive swimmer to masters athlete: how, when and why

Training & Technique
Written by: arena coaches at 8 March '17 0
You are reading: From non-competitive swimmer to masters athlete: how, when and why

The main reasons we go to the pool in our leisure time are: to enjoy the water, to feel good (to improve our cardiorespiratory functions, muscles and bone structure and also to lose weight) for health reasons (to recover and rehabilitate after an injury).

The fact is that after just swimming around for a while we all start checking our times, counting how many laps we have done or how far we have swum, and monitoring our performances.

That is when the temptation to join a masters swimming class becomes much greater, together with our curiosity to find out just how good we are in water and how much progress we have made so far.

The first question we ask ourselves is always the same: “Will I be good enough?”

It is worth pointing out that the aim of a masters swimming class is to compete with other athletes and follow a specific, methodical training plan that involves regular swimming (3-4 sessions a week).

Only when we are sure we have the time, determination and energy required can we then decide what goals we need to achieve, in order to be certain we can compete at this level. Here are the goals in question:

1. Pass a sports physical examination (compulsory for all classes for competitive swimmers)

2. Be able to stay in the water for at least an hour without getting out.

3. Be able to swim at an easy pace for at least 400 m (16 laps of a 25 m pool) without stopping.

4. Be able to swim at least three different strokes (freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke), not necessarily with great technique but without struggling to breathe.

5. Be able to swim 50 m easy freestyle performing a forward somersault every 5-6 strokes.

6. Be able to dive in off a starting block without being scared of how you hit the water.

7. Be able to hold your breath underwater for approximately 25”-30”(holding onto the ladder at the side of the pool if required).

To make sure you can perform all these drills, try swimming this workout (fs=freestyle; bs=breaststroke; bk=backstroke)

  • Warm-up: 300 metres all strokes very easy (diving in off a starting block) except butterfly (e.g.: 50 fs + 25bs + 50 fs + 25 bk)
  • Technique: 8 x 25 with 15” recovery (1 fs right arm only – 1 bs with fs legs – 1 fs left arm only – 1 bk with bs legs – 1 fs with summersault every 5 strokes – 1 bs with 2 kicks + 1 arm stroke – 1 fs with ½ lap only legs underwater and  ½ lap swimming normally – 1 bk with clenched fists)
  • Legs: 200 easy (50 fs + 50 bs + 50 bk + 50 bs)
  • Core: 18 x 50 steady-easy with 20” recovery (2 fs + 1 bs + 2 fs + 1 bk)
  • Arms: 4 x 75 easy fs with pullbuoy with 15” recovery
  • Cooldown: 200 ( 25 double-arm bk + 25 any stroke)
  • Total: 2.1 km

If you cannot complete this workout but you are still determined to compete, you can take an adult class for non-competitive swimmers for a while until you feel more comfortable with it.

If, on the other hand, you can do it easily…. what are you waiting for? The masters swim team is in the pool waiting for you.

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