by Alana Aubin, NELMSC Communications Chair
How did you get started with Masters Swimming? This month, we hear from two athletes who recently returned to the pool. Melody Miller, age 24, joined Great Bay Masters in September 2018 after taking 5 years off from competitive swimming. Sarah Weeman, 38, also joined Great Bay Masters this fall. "When I found the Durham group, I went for a practice to see what it was like. Coach Todd Whitford was very welcoming and the work out was fun. I had to sign up." Read on to learn more about their journeys back to the pool and competition.
What brought you back to swimming and competing?
Melody: After 5 years, I really missed working out with a group and was craving time in the water. Since I was involved with a club team growing up I knew Masters Swimming was an option, so I reached out to GBM see if I could join a practice. After that first day in the pool I realized how much I missed swimming with a team.
Sarah: My daughter swims with a team at the same facility, and this made my return to swimming very convenient. The dynamic workouts and the tips from my coach keep me focused and interested. I decided to go back to competitions because that was always the fun part for me as a kid. I also like the idea of keeping track of my improvement.
Were you nervous about anything on your return? How is that going?
Melody: I was very nervous to return; at the time I could only compare my skills to when I was heavily active on a club/high school team. I knew I wouldn't be able to start off swimming again with the same skill level, but I surprised myself with how easy it was getting back into the pool. Everyone on the team is so supportive and despite the tough practices, we still have fun. The environment GBM creates really helped calm my nerves.
Sarah: I was definitely nervous to go back. I’ve always been comfortable in the pool, but I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to keep up or that the workouts would be too hard. I still get a little nervous before each practice - what if I can’t do it? Or fall behind? But every practice has been the right amount of challenge and fun. Everyone has been welcoming and as we all suck wind together, it is great camaraderie.
What is your favorite thing about Masters Swimming?
Melody: My favorite thing about Masters Swimming is how we all support each other no matter what. If you have a big win, people are there to cheer you on; if you have a bad race, they are there to pick you up. The fact we all just love swimming is emphasized, where growing up on competitive teams that can be lost. It's really refreshing to be excited to go to practice.
Sarah: My favorite things about Masters Swimming are being part of a team again, having a coach again, and having organized workouts. I haven’t been on a swim team in 20 years, and while I have kept up swimming occasional laps (boring), or across the lake in the summer, it is far more engaging to be coached through a challenging workout with your team.
Do you have any advice for someone who's interested but apprehensive to compete?
Melody: My advice is to remember in the end it's about having fun and improving your times for yourself. You don't need to compare your performance to anyone else. Masters Swimming invites people with such different backgrounds that you can't compare yourself to everyone else.
Sarah: I would assure a newcomer that competing isn’t mandatory, but is a really fun way to keep track of your progress and get to know your teammates. It is a great time to hang out on deck and cheer for everyone. It has been invigorating to meet people from all over the world with a shared love of swimming.
Thank you to Todd Whitford for your help coordinating communication for this piece.