Every triathlete has heard about it, and every triathlete has been told do it. Some do and some don't and until last Tuesday I was apart of the latter. This past week I finally mustered up the courage and decided to join the local Masters group here in La Crosse. I had no idea what to expect but have been told by many people (triathletes or not) that masters is simply the way to go, and one of, if not, the best option to improve your swimming.
Masters is a great community of swimmers from around the nation, whom all meet at pools all around the country everyday. All sessions are led by coaches who may be the local swim team coach, to a former olympic swimmer, to even a college coach. The swimmers themselves may be new swimmers, triathletes, former college swimmers, or even olympians. I have heard that all of these prospects have been in these masters classes, and that the diversity of one class to the other can be completely different, and that is one of the reasons why masters swimming is so unique. The resources in these classes are plenty and the knowledge that can be shared around from everyone is endless.
My class is led by a former high school swimmer adn now local swim team coach who still swims actively. She leads our group which is a bit on the smaller side with about 6-8 swimmers. We have triathletes, former swimmers, and a couple that are new to the water. Everyone is really friendly in the class, and we all have our personal goals of what we want to obtain from the class, of which, Katie has figured out from each one of us. Our class if Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays all meeting and finising before the sun even rises. Swimming that early in the morning is never fun, and one reason why I quit at an early age, but it's a great start to the day when you jump out of the water.
The great thing about masters classes is that there is always someone right next to you to help push you through the set. Last week while doing a tough set of sprints I was starting to fade a bit in the water, but Megan who swam in the lane next to me and of just about equal speed was able to help me grind it out and finish the set. This is one of the many reasons why I have joined masters, as if I was doing that on my own I most likely would have vut the set short. Another great reason, at least for me, is to learn my pacing speeds in the pool. Before when I set would say easy or moderate I would always seem to swim a few seconds too fast, or put in too hard an effort. But when you are sharing the lane with 3-4 other swimmers all of the same ability it teachs yourself to pace better and not blow yourself out halfway through a distance set.
Katie watches us all swim from the deck and critiques our stroke and offers advice, and ideas on how to improve our imperfections. She can also right up some great sets that I could never think of on my own on the spot. Variety in swimming is key, not just to improve but also to keep away from the boredom of doing 100+ with no one else around of variety. Our coach seems to be good at pushes us in the pool, but heck I have only been their for 2 classes so who knows what she has in store. Every Tuesday is a distance set, and every Thursday rotates between distance and sprints. Friday's have low attendence so I am hoping to use a few of those for some one on one coaching.
Class runs through April which not only gives me plenty of time to improve my swim to the ability that I believe I am capable of, but also a chance to make some great triathlete friends in the area. Can't wait to become a fish!