Masters Swimming


going to your first Workout

So you’ve decide to join Masters Swimming. Welcome!

Be patient with yourself performance-wise and enjoy the “journey” , especially if you are in the process of getting back in shape.  Whether you plan to compete or not, masters swimming is not about the next month or even the upcoming season, it is above all a fun way to get into shape, make new friends and enjoy life. – Pablo Conde, 2020 Swimming Canada Excellence Award Recipient

I remember my first few weeks of complete exhaustion at workouts at age 45 until my first real hero set me straight. It was world champion and world breaststroke record-holder Sylvia Eisele. She told me not to go too hard, pace myself through the workout, and not worry about others swimming much faster, like Sylvia herself of course. It must be intimidating for new members to just jump in and join the fray, but don’t be shy, talk to your lane mates, especially the positive ones. 

Within a few months you will just be one of the gang, complaining about the kick sets over Sunday brunch with people from every lane and looking forward to the next meet. That’s what Masters is all about. – Charlie Lane, Swimming Canada 2020 Long Term Contribution Award Recipient

You’ve found a club, figured out their training hours and decided to go to your first workout. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete, a retired ‘age-group’ swimmer or new to swimming as a sport, most have the same curiosities of what to expect.

Communicate with the coach before showing up is always advisable, this lets you know who to touch base with when you get there. The coach may ask some questions concerning your abilities and expectations. You can find out from them if you need equipment other than the basics of cap, goggles and suit. A water bottle is a good addition to your basic equipment.

When attending your first workout give yourself some extra time before the scheduled start. Masters are a sociable group and there is always time for chatting before and after. You will need to figure out which lane you will be swimming in as swimmers of equal strengths will share a lane. Some pools require mandatory showers and other procedures before getting in the water. Bathing caps may also be mandatory.

Ask questions, swimming has its own language and set of terms that you may not be familiar with. Find out what the coach wants you to do, ask them or your lane mates to explain.

Listen to your body, if you’re unable to continue don’t hesitate to stop. There are more workouts to come.

Like going to the gym there is basic etiquette to follow at the swimming pool;

  • Enter the pool feet first, be conscious of other swimmers already in the water. Don’t dive in the pool, from the side or the starting blocks unless it is part of the workout and authorized by the coach.
  • Introduce yourself to your lane mates. Make certain you are with swimmers with the same abilities as you.
  • Swimmers will all swim clockwise or counter-clockwise in the lane. Don’t swim in the middle of the lane, you may move towards the center when nearing the wall to turn.
  • If you need to stop to rest, clear your goggles, have some water, don’t stop unless you are at the wall, then stay to the side to be out of the way of your lane mates. If you can’t continue the workout, leave the pool after telling coach why you’re leaving. If suffering from a malaise it is important to inform someone.
  • Touching the toes gently of a swimmer ahead of you to let them know you’ve come up behind them and want to pass them is acceptable protocol. Let a swimmer pass you who has tapped your feet at the next turn. Don’t grab another swimmer.
  • Respect the departure interval between swimmers as put forth by the coach, often 5 seconds. Don’t push off the wall directly before or after another swimmer. Always look before you leave the wall to avoid accidents. Be courteous.
  • Don’t do your own thing in a lane where everyone else is doing a prescribed set or workout.
  • When stopping at the end of the prescribed distance, be conscious of the swimmers behind you, staying out of their way allowing them to swim to the wall and see their time or interval.
  • Don’t borrow your lane mate’s equipment; fins, kickboard, pull buoy, paddles etc. without asking.
  • You may have to contribute to the pool set up prior to workout. Always pick up after yourself after workout.