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Masters Swimming

So, you thought swimming was just for your children. Think again. A recent Masters World Championship meet at Stanford drew over 7,000 participants. It was the largest swimming meet ever held in North America.

Anyone 18 or over can join Masters swimming. U. S. Masters Swimming has over 50,000 members, a few of whom are in their 90's and even 100's. Here in The Bahamas we have fewer Masters swimmers. However, they are a hardy group – participating in meets year-round. In fact, The Bahamas will be represented at the 14th FINA World Masters Championships in Riccione, Italy during the first two weeks of June, 2012 by the Knowles family.

Study after study has proven that regular exercise can significantly contribute to your health. Swimming has continually been identified as the best way to exercise. Stress reduction, weight control, cardiovascular fitness, reduced cholesterol, muscle tone and endurance are all positively influenced by exercise. Masters swimmers swear by it. While health and physical fitness are the biggest rewards, proficient competitions can garner a host of awards and recognition.

Competitions are organized by age groups of five-year increments (18-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, etc. to 95 and over). Events include 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 1650 freestyle (400, 800 and 1500 in meters) 50, 100 and 200 backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly and 100, 200 and 400 individual medleys. There are also freestyle and medley relays for men, women and/or mixed teams. Open water swims are held in most locales during the summer and can range in distance from one to ten miles.

About 30% of Masters swimmers compete in swimming meets on a regular basis. For those who are serious competitors, there are an incredible number of opportunities to test your skill and conditioning. Short Course (25 yard and 25 meter) and Long Course (50 meter) pool meets, lake and ocean open water swims, postal meets, special events and international championships are all part of an ambitious program of Masters swimming.

Everyone has his or her own reason for belonging - health, fitness, camaraderie, fun, the thrill of competition, travel and coaching are but a few.

If you are 18 or older and you are interested in swimming as a lifetime activity, check out your local swim clubs. Even if your club does not currently offer this, get a group together and approach your coach. You may be surprised to know that most of them are happy to offer regular swim sessions for Masters swimmers.


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