5 Reasons to Just Keep Swimming into Adulthood

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Photo Courtesy: Glenn Gruber

By Abby Bergman, Swimming World College Intern

As with athletes in many sports, swimmers who begin a new phase of life face challenges as they try to reconcile the demands of a novel school, job, or family with their commitment to swimming. With these challenges also come new motivations to show up at the pool everyday.

The following is a list of reasons why swimmers should keep swimming, even as adults! 

1. Sanctuary

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Rebecca Nevitt completes the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. Photo Courtesy: Rebecca Nevitt.

Going to the pool is a break from real life, whether that is school, or a job, or family obligations. When you enter the deck, you are apart from your everyday life and able to focus in the goals you share with the swimmers around you. Sarah Crocker, who graduated this May from Mount Holyoke College where she was a captain, describes this phenomenon when she says, “the pool is another home to me – it’s secure and peaceful, even if the outside world is a bit crazy.”

In this way, swimmers seek out the pool as a sanctuary but also as a place that helps them to reconnect to themselves in a world that pulls in so many different directions. Marathon swimmer Rebecca Nevitt says, “Swimming is like a meditation for me, especially the long training swims. There’s enough time on a long swim to both let go and let your mind wander, and focus on the task at hand when necessary.”

2. Love for the Sport

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Photo Courtesy: Mission Viejo Masters

This reason should be sort of obvious– some swimmers swim simply because they love it. Regardless of whether you started swimming as a child, an adult, or somewhere in between, you have come to define yourself as a swimmer because it is a part of who you are. Many swimmers keep swimming as adults because they cannot imagine their lives without some aspect of the sport.

Arlette Godges, who swims Masters and holds records in her age group explains, “Swimmers train like no other sport, at times when other people sleep, we are ruled by the swimming schedule, but, we don’t care BECAUSE; we love training hard, getting pushed to our edge and doing it again.  We are a competitive breed and getting beat just makes us go work harder for next time.  Most important, we keep doing it every crack of dawn because we love the swimming family.  At 52 years old – a wife, a mother and a professional – I swim because it is a part of me. ”

3. Fitness

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Sarah Crocker at the NEWMAC Swimming Championships. Photo Courtesy: Sarah Crocker

A combination of busy work lives and family commitments can make finding ways to be active in adult life challenging, but swimming is one good way to stay in shape throughout all stages of life. Just as swimming helps small children burn off excess energy, it can also help adults meet their fitness goals.

“I love being in shape and being healthy; not only do I keep up with my kids, I can challenge them with energy,” Godges describes. In some ways swimmers have an advantage over other athletes because swimming can be a lifelong sport. Crocker explains this phenomenon when she says, “I also know swimming is an excellent way to stay fit for all ages, since it works the whole body and is low impact…I know swimmers are so lucky in that way!”

4. Competition

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Arlette Godges celebrates her success at the 2014 Masters Swimming World Championships in Montreal. Photo courtesy: Arlette Godges.

In many ways overt competition is discouraged in daily adult life, but involvement in a sport can help vent the natural competitive impulses most people harbor. While maintaining a mature demeanor in her professional life, Godges explains how she uses swimming as an outlet when she says, “I can be as competitive as I want to be once I step onto the block and dive in the water.”

5. Community

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Arlette Godges and friends celebrate the swimming community. Photo Courtesy: Arlette Godges

One of the best things about being a swimmer is the community formed around mutual goals and shared experience. Many college swimmers feel the loss of this community when they leave their college teams for the real world but seek out Masters swimming as a way to reconnect to the sport.

Nevitt defines the need for a team when she says, “Many people think that swimming is an independent sport, but the camaraderie I’ve experienced with teammates past and present is something that keeps me coming back to the pool.”

No matter the venue, swimmers are attracted to each other. “We meet in the most bizarre places because a swimmer spots a swimmer (we all know the signs; a t-shirt, a backpack, the wet hair and professional clothes look, the special odor that comes with the pool, the sticker on the car, etc) and a new friendship is made,” Godges says.

5 comments

  1. avatar
    Martin

    Very nice..Fore me I love more the competition aspect. Get into the meet and be a worrior and make the best swim I can at the moment..Is not about winning or losing against others is about beat yourself everytime you get older…

  2. avatar

    It’s time to get serious about the Wisconsin road, bridge and highway crisis, and it’s time for conservatives to lead the way toward resolving it.

  3. avatar
    Ksradiogirl

    YES!!! I sooooo want to be apart of this but I am 85 miles from the closest Masters group. Is it possible to still compete and do things on my own? How does it work??

    • avatar
      George Foree

      My work schedule, and the fact I don’t like to wake up that early doesn’t allow me to work out with the local masters group. I am always WELCOMED AT THE COMPETITIONS I enter. Are you in Kansas? Come to a Movy meet introduce yourself and you will be welcomed.

  4. avatar

    Many masters swimmers train on our own and meet up for competition. USMS.org even posts a variety of workouts for ideas to train on your own. Great article showing all aspects of masters swimming. Love this sport. And Arlette’s a champ.