68 year old Newbie not good enough of masters team

I am a 68 year old newbie swimmer . Yes I wrote 68 years old that was not a typo.

For the moment I swim about 1,000 meters a workout freestyle but predominantly with stubby fins . I feel I am not qualified to swim with a masters group and might even detract from the workout .

My goal is to swim as a competitor at the age of 70 and not to really suck but I am enjoying the process .

I have no coach and seek some advice on how best to improve and get some guidance . I am now moving to the Hudson Valley in New York but would consider traveling for a "swim camp" anywhere that might help me .

I thank all of you for being kind !

  • Congratulations on becoming a swimmer-- the best exercise and sport you can do for your physical and mental health!  You are never too old too start, and I know plenty of other swimmers who started later than you.  A former teammate, Anne Dunivin, didn't start swimming until she was in her early 80's and set an American record for the 200 meter freestyle at the age of 100!  She lived to be 103.

    Maureen Kornfeld is 101 and is swimming at Nationals this weekend.

    In other words, being a 68-year-old newbie is nothin'.

    As for thinking you are not qualified to swim with a masters group, you ARE qualified.  The only necessary qualification to do so is to join USMS.  Done.  All you have to do is search for a club at usms.org/clubs to see which club is closest to you and show up to a workout.  Talk to the coach, share your concerns and goals, and the rest will fall into place.

    USMS is inclusive; all ages and abilities are welcome!  You will be accommodated and assigned to a lane with swimmers of similar skill.  You can also ask the coach to look at your stroke and give advice on improving your technique.

    Meanwhile, poke around on the website here; there is all sorts of great articles and videos that will help you improve.  Due to living too far from a masters club, I train on my own and rely on the information I have found here on the website.  It has been a great resource!

    Please check in here periodically and let us know how you are doing!

    Good luck!

  • I started late, too.  Not as late as you, but I had this vision that I would go to a Masters practice and be completely embarrassed.  After a few years, i finally tried one, and discovered that no one cares how fast or slow you are.  Most peopel there are tri-athletes, which means they tend to be slower than most regular swimmers.  They are super relaxed, and in my case, swimmers have their own lane 90% of the time, and when they don't, folks with similar speeds and rest requirements usually pair up.  When you go, tell the coach you want feedback (a lot of folks do not, surprisingly).  I had a coach once ask me permission to give me feedback and I was like "that's why I'm here!  I can just swim by myself any time, but I can't get feedback at the gym!"

    Seriously, just go.  After you do, you'll wonder what was holding you back.  Best of luck!

  • Congratulations for suiting up and showing up! The hardest part is over, you got into the pool and joined a team practice. The great thing about Masters swimming is that EVERYONE is welcome, all levels and all people. The only requirement is a desire to swim and the ability to swim at least one of the 4 strokes- 2 lenghts of the pool ( 50 yards or meters). If you need lessons than may I suggest you go to your local YMCA or find a local learn to swim program that will also help you reach your goals. If you have any questions please reach out to me and I will be more than happy to answer any questions and point you in the right direction.

    Leann Rossi

    USMS Diversity & Inclusion Commitee 

    USMS Coach



  • We are so excited to have you as a part of our community. As others have said, if there is a USMS club in your area then talk to the coach. If there isn't, you can always use this digital community as a place to post questions or videos and get some feedback. Can't wait to see your progress over the next couple of years to your first meet. 

  • I just did a masters swim meet this year and won the slowest heat at the Tucson Polar beae in 100 yard breaststroke in 1:51.9. I finished 50th out of 90 swimmers. I use to swim mainly under 1:20 as a high school swimmer in the 1970's.  I swam a 50.75 50 yard breaststroke at the polar beat as well and was about 81 out of 150 swimmers in breaststroke in the 65 to 69 age group. Almost in the middle of the age group. So, yes I bet that teams would allow you on particularity the New Yorkers. Not as competive in the other three strokes. So I picked breaststroke to swim in the meet.

  • Good Point I prefer to train along since the nearest masters team is 10 miles away and the other one that has more seniors is 22 miles away. Tucson has a great lap swim program that has several hour slots most the time.