After competing in Triathlon for almost six years I have come to realize that there are two distinct types of Triathletes, those who grew up as swimmers and those who did not. It is usually very easy to differentiate between the two groups. One group has a sense of confidence on the start line and in the case of a mass start they can usually be found at the front of the pack, the other lines up towards the back and might be overheard saying something along the lines of, “If I can just make it through the swim I’ll be fine”. As someone who falls into the second group I am here to tell you that this doesn’t have to be the case, you can learn be confident and even love the water.
Just prior to the start of my triathlon journey my daughter starting club swimming, it just so happened her coach also coached the group’s masters program. He knew I was a runner and occasionally would get in the pool to swim as a form of cross training so he suggested I try a swim practice with his masters group. After some convincing I finally agreed to give it a shot and am I ever glad I did. What I found was a great community of people much like triathletes they are welcoming, encouraging and so positive. I find swimming so much different then running or riding a bike, when running or riding that is my alone time, my time to get lost in my thoughts and just disconnect. Swimming however can be hard and monotonous, just staring at that black line. So to have a group of people to share that suffering with and encourage you makes all the difference in the world.
Overtime I went from someone who would swim 1500 to 2000 yards here and there to someone swims 4000 to 5000 yards three times a week. I have gotten faster, I have learned other strokes, I have learned to flip turn (yes triathletes you need to learn to flip turn) and I have even competed in sanctioned swim meets. But most of all I have gained a confidence and a love for the water that when I am on the start line I never think to myself, “If I can just make it through the swim I’ll be fine”.
If you have any questions about masters swimming or if you want to join a masters group I would suggest going to the United States Masters Swimming website usms.org.
Written by Race Team Member: Mickey Buono