Follow your kids' example and end up on the big kids' swim team
You can get into Masters swimming for many reasons, whether it's because a friend who swims says how great it is or a doctor recommends it because of its incredible range of health benefits. But swimming can also be a fun family activity.
When he was a kid, Joel Kincart worked as a lifeguard. He knew how to swim, but he never really trained as a swimmer or competed. It wasn’t until his own kids started swimming years later that he found himself taking steps forward in the sport.
Ten years ago, when his two kids joined the local club program, a handful of other parents invited him to swim some mornings with a local Masters program. It was a stressful time at work, and he says running was just making him feel more stressed and angrier. “It felt like all I did was pound my frustration,” he says.
Swimming was different, though. “Swimming was rhythmic and peaceful,” says Kincart, 46. “You have to focus and think about it. I’m not a good enough swimmer to not focus.”
Getting in the water was a peaceful break each day for him to regroup, but pretty soon it was more than just a break. Swimming quickly became a big part of his life.
First, he got his coaching certificate so he could help out with one workout each week, because he was there and wanted to contribute. He also made friends and started to understand everything his kids went through in their training.
“I developed a whole new appreciation for competitive swimming,” he says, adding the experience gave him another way to connect with children, now 18 and 17. “I’m just grateful for swimming."
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Lori Anthony spent her childhood splashing around at lakes with her friends and family, but she never took formal swimming lessons. She kept telling herself as she got older that she would learn how to swim—someday.
“It was something I really always kind of wanted to do,” says Anthony, 52.
But it wasn’t until her daughter, Mikaela, started swim lessons and joined a club team in Cincinnati that Anthony decided it was time. After watching her daughter and other children learn how to swim, she decided that if they could do it, she could, too.
At first, Anthony just signed up for adult swim lessons. Then, she kept going to the pool in the mornings on her own. Eventually, her daughter’s swim team added a Masters club to its offerings. “I became an inaugural member of the Masters program with all these experienced swimmers,” Anthony says.
The experience has helped her be there for her daughter.
"Although Mikaela and I aren't at the same swimming level, when she comes home from practice and talks about the sets they did or how she's feeling during a meet, I've got a better understanding of her swim world," Anthony says. "That helps me connect with her and support her goals in the pool. And based on her experience, Mikaela knows how to support and encourage others, including me."
For Anthony, the hardest part of learning how to swim—after taking the first plunge—was getting the coordination and breathing down. “If I thought about it too much, it wouldn’t happen,” Anthony says.
But the Masters program was welcoming and fun. She learned how to do strokes other than freestyle and accomplished her goal of competing in the 50 butterfly at the 2019 YMCA Masters National Swimming Championships, coming in sixth place.
“It still makes me smile,” says Anthony, who wants to swim the 100 individual medley now. “I’m not a fast swimmer and wasn’t sure I could hold the mechanics together past the first 25. Therefore, my lofty goals were 1) finish and 2) not get DQ’d.
“My teammates and Meredith Griffin, our coach at the time, were awesome. They are all experienced, fast swimmers who knew this was a big deal for me, and they were there, behind the block, at the turn [cheering for me]. I needed that challenge, and with their support, I did it, and it felt great!”
Not ready to dive in? Find a local club to try.
- Human Interest