I will humbly admit that even though I am a 40-year-old native Floridian with a backyard pool and the ocean at my fingertips, I am not a very strong swimmer. I can doggy-paddle pretty well, but usually feel like a sinking ship. I love to bike and run so I mentioned to Aquatics Director, Raphael Lima, that I would like to take some swimming lessons to prepare for a Triathlon with my 62-year-old father.
Raphael was eager to help me by suggesting Midtown’s Masters Swim Program.
The word “Master” alone was enough to make me steer clear from this offer. Raphael is from Brazil and Portuguese is his native language, so I thought perhaps he had misunderstood my current swimming skill level.
I said, “Raphael, I am a horrible swimmer and need to get a basic freestyle down so I don’t feel like I am drinking more water than I am swimming in.”
Again, he said, “Masters Swim is perfect for you.”
Masters Swim is perfect for anyone over 18 years old who wants to improve his/her swimming skills. We currently offer the program Monday through Friday with a variety of times to accommodate different schedules and levels. It’s only $60 for the month and feels like small group lessons.
Here’s what I learned about Masters Swim:
1. Choose Your Outfit Wisely
I purchased an appropriate swimsuit that would actually stay on and would not end up in the lane next to me. I bought goggles, waterproof sunscreen, and a swimmers cap to keep my long hair from strangling me during my lesson. With as few distractions as possible, I arrived for the 12:00 pm Masters Swim session ready to sink, I mean swim.
2. Bubble-Blowing Isn’t Just for Babies
The instructor asked me to swim a few laps so he could evaluate my form, or lack thereof. I was asked to bob up and down and blow bubbles, which I assume was because it was terribly painful for him to watch me swim.
This part was actually a lot of fun and somewhat relaxing. I later found out it was to help regulate my breathing, a very important skill when you are swimming. As a Pilates Trainer, I thought I had great breathing technique. The Pilates has helped, but I still had a lot to learn.
3. Kicking It
Following breathing exercises, he gave me a kick board and webegan working on my feet and my kicking. He helped me improve my freestyle stroke. I learned you are not supposed to actually slap the water and swimming should not be painful in any way. That was a great tip! I was ready to do some laps.
You know when you are young and a room in your house seems gigantic until you grow older, and then you see it as the small room it really is?
This did not happen with the pool lane.
As I have aged, the lanes seem to get longer and longer instead of shorter. After laps, I was exhausted from completely changing my usual fitness routine. One hour of Masters Swim worked all of my muscles and I was breathing heavily, yet I was surprisingly refreshed and relaxed. The water felt great, and my coach taught me so much in just one session, it was worth my time.
Surprisingly, I already feel more confident in the pool and I am proud to tell my father I am now a Masters Swimmer. It might not be like the Masters in golf, but some of the swimmers are at an elite level. I never felt intimidated. The coach focuses on helping you improve your own skills, and they are not concerned with comparing you to anyone else.
Finally I realized this was the first one-hour workout during which my mind did not have achance to wander. I did not think about the dog, the kids, or what we were having for dinner that night. The coach kept me focused and busy. Add the need for “survival skills” to your workout like I did and you will quickly be focused too.
Have you tried Masters Swim or any of our swim programs?