Adult-onset Swimmers of the MSF, Unite!

IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
edited June 2014 in General Discussion
There are those of us who did not have the benefit of twice daily team workouts as youth. I say benefit because, while I heard my best-friend complain about those workouts, I know that now as a 40-something year old, he gets in the pool after a couple-decades off period, and within a few weeks he's at 1:10 per 100m free. Meanwhile, I started serious swimming 12 years ago at age 35 and was terribly excited a few months ago when I did a 1:16 SCY 100 free!

So, I thought I'd start this thread for the other adult-onset swimmers out there in the MSF so we can commiserate with each other. Share ideas. Complain about these fast(er) swimmers next to us to (seem to) use little effort to go fast. Point out how much we hate these kids who swim through the water like fish. ;)

Adult-onset swimmers of the MSF: UNITE!

We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams



  • SydneDSydneD Senior Member
    I Love this! I took beginning swimming when i was in graduate school, when I was 26 years old. Who knew it would change my life completely?? I remember my first 500 yard timed swim, which took me 12 minutes and I felt like I would die!

    The idea that I now swim 15 miles would have been incomprehensible to this girl who used to lie to get out of swimming lessons.

    Now, in addition to my OW training, I swim on a Masters team that is almost all women--except for my lane where it's all men who are former college swimmers, many of them still in their mid-20s. I spend a lot of time playing catch-up and reminding them "Hey! I'm old enough to be your mother! Be nice!"

    Can't wait to hear from and commiserate with all other Adult-onset swimmers!
  • Yeah, I'm not gonna take it anymore! I started swimming 5 years ago so I could be a triathlete. In the last 2 years I stopped tri and began swimming exclusively. My times are pathetic but my technique has improved a bit. I spent a few minutes this past weekend trying to learn flip turns. That's gonna take a while but it will be worth it when I am stuck in the pool next winter. My swim buddy has been swimming for 30+ years and we go on 2-3 hours forays in the river. I barely keep up with him and he is kind enough to stay near me. What really erks me is when he does backstroke for an hour so he can get a workout. That said, I am glad and blessed that he will hang out with me.
  • I,too, despise the kid-fish. I did the Swim Across the Potomac and realized that these kid-fish beat me handily. It is very humbling to know that a 13 year old could beat me by almost 10 minutes. My excuse is that I have never been on swim team, I have only been swimming for about a year and I still don't know what I'm doing. That being said, I'm working my butt off, meeting for my first coaching session tonight and trying to get a clue.


    Excellence is born of preparation, dedication, focus and tenacity; compromise on any of these and you become average.

  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member
    I will say though one of the great joys of being an adult onset swimmer is that I am as fast as I ever have been in a pool, and getting faster.

    While aging will likely* one day slow me down, after 5 years of swimming I still have a lot of room for improvement, and being able to see that progress is a great motivator.

    So there is definitely an upside to being an adult onset swimmer - our glory days are right now :D

    *given I was beaten at the Rottnest Swim last year by Dieter Loeliger who turned 80 on the day, clearly there is scope to continue to swim faster than I do now quite late in life :-)
    dpm50IronMikeJaimieMLambyPasquale - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    Here here!!
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    @dc_in_sf, I feel like I've already told this tale somewhere here in these forums, but it is germane to this particular thread, so:

    My first ever swim meet in 2005, I managed a 1:27.40-something in the SCM 100 free. I was so excited. I went home, checked the mail, and there was that month's issue of the USMS Swimmer. In that issue they were reviewing the spring (summer?) nationals, and there was a picture of the guy who won the 80-over (or some such age group) SCM 100 free in 1:40 and some change.

    I remember thinking: Damn, if I can just hold my speed for the next 40-odd years, I'll dominate the old guys!

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • I started swimming just four years ago. About 6 mo. into my learning I had a back injury that helped me "see the light" and embrace swimming as my sport. No more trying to convince myself that running was fun. :)

    I've been incredibly fortunate to have been carefully coached by coaches that identified with my passion and wanted to work with me.

    I struggle a bit with envying the fast kids. But what we bring to the table is enjoyment of the process of training. We aren't burnt out by the years of non-voluntary(often) swim team and 2x/day training. Heck, I am tickled pink to swim 2x/day! I love the daily training, and I love seeing the honest incremental improvement in my times and technique.

    The fast kids envy my joy.;p
  • gregorywannabegregorywannabe Senior Member
    dc_in_sf wrote:
    I will say though one of the great joys of being an adult onset swimmer is that I am as fast as I ever have been in a pool, and getting faster.

    While aging will likely* one day slow me down, after 5 years of swimming I still have a lot of room for improvement, and being able to see that progress is a great motivator.

    So there is definitely an upside to being an adult onset swimmer - our glory days are right now :D

    *given I was beaten at the Rottnest Swim last year by Dieter Loeliger who turned 80 on the day, clearly there is scope to continue to swim faster than I do now quite late in life :-)

    I'm with you dc_in_sf, I started at 46 and have been improving each year (7) since and will be giving the Rotto solo swim a bash Feb 2015 at 53.

    And IronMike, the Masters motto is "outlive your competition"! :)

  • tortugatortuga Senior Member
    I started swimming for Triathlon about 5 years ago. Got addicted to the "let's see how far we can push this body" mentality. 2 yrs ago I did an Iron distance tri, last year I ran a 50 mile ultra, swam 3.5 OWS and did another IM. This year I decided to run 100 miles and swim 10. 100 miler is done. I'm freaking a little over the swim in Oct (Swim the Suck). Like Ricky Ricardo says; "Lucy!! you got some trainin to do!!".
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    @tortuga, StS is incredible. Don't sweat it. You'll get a bit of a push from the dam (in 2012 we got about 10% push), just stroke and relax. Let your kayaker navigate and just enjoy swimming w/o having to lift your head to look where you're going.

    The area is beautiful and Karah is wonderful. You'll enjoy and before you know it, you'll have met your year's goal.

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • sharkbaitzasharkbaitza LondonMember
    Love this... We should have a AOS week... where anyone that swum in their teens has to tow a sea anchor behind them...
  • I started swimming at 6 years ago 44. I've never been part of a club and used to swim on my own. I built it up from 500m to 4k a day. In 2 weeks I have a 10k open water swim and hope to go longer from there. A late starter and churn only out 20 minute/k's but I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction from swimming and know the fitness and toning is an investment in my health going forward.
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    20 minute/k is the standard (IMHO) for us adult-onset swimmers! Good luck on the 10K @WarmWater and welcome to the addiction.

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • Thanks Mike, I reckon the only way to win my age group is to keep upping the distance til thers no one left!
  • @WarmWater, That was my plan!

    Excellence is born of preparation, dedication, focus and tenacity; compromise on any of these and you become average.

  • SalishSeaSalishSea Nanaimo, BC CanadaMember
    I started swimming in 2012 while recovering from a metatarsal injury. After trying water running and feeling like a fool I switched to swimming and since I do most things to excess...

    Thanks for starting this thread.
  • MichaelGMichaelG Member
    edited August 2014
    Self-Taught Adult Onset Swimmer as of 4 years ago, I swam my first 2-mile swim (I finished the swim in 1 Hour, 5 Minutes) after only a month of getting in the pool for the first time since I was 5.

    Despite my (obvious to others) natural ability, I didn't do anything in excess of 2 miles (a week!) until I really began training as a "Marathon Swimmer" in January of this year. In the (almost) 9 months since I began training, I've completed multiple 5k and 10k events, both in current and non-current assisted water.

    My training has peaked at a 22.5k Ocean Swim (7 Hours, 30 Minutes), followed the next day by a 11.5k Pool Swim (3 Hours, 30 Minutes). That was two days ago.

    Now all that's left in this calender year is an attempt to swim across Lake Tahoe. With Pilot and Nutritionist already along for the ride, I just need the appropriate permits, an observer to oversee the swim, and a boat to guide me! September 15th (3 weeks out already? Yikes!) will hopefully be a glorious day.
  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member
    edited August 2014
    Adult-onset Swimmer, love it, but it does sound like a condition one has to apologise for. I had improver lessons at 39, to take me from head up, screw kick breaststroke to 54 seconds per length of painful front crawl. Worked on it, joined Masters at 40, tried a mile in open water in 2008, got in the sea in 2009 and then built it little by little. Slightly out of control, now. ;-)
  • edited August 2014
    Miss Bun, congrats on your 'slightly out of control' EC swim last week. I assume you'll be doing a double shortly? :-h
  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member
    When hell freezes over, Mr Water! :O
  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasSenior Member
    WarmWater wrote:
    Thanks Mike, I reckon the only way to win my age group is to keep upping the distance til thers no one left!
    Nothing wrong with that, brother. My dad is 85 and still runs 10k races about every other weekend. Then he comes over to my house wearing all of his new bling, bragging about winning his age group, "again." He's patiently and unwaveringly waited for this phase of his life for 60+ years. He's not particularly (remotely?) talented or physically gifted (a perennial MOP'er), but he by god stuck with it as the competition faded, one by one. So even though we all know no one else showed up in the "80+" group, we celebrate every medal as if it was an Olympic podium.

    "Lights go out and I can't be saved
    Tides that I tried to swim against
    Have brought be down upon my knees
    Oh I beg, I beg and plead..."

  • Kevin_in_MDKevin_in_MD Senior Member
    I occasionally wonder how good I could have been if I had been exposed to competitive swimming as a youth. But on the other hand, much more often I talk to someone who swam in high school or college and has no desire to swim again or occasionally has bad feelings toward the sport.

    I don't envy them, the folks who at some point in their life really enjoyed swimming but somehow had it drummed out of them.

    There are also the people who try to come back but can't get past the fact that they will never come close to their previous performances and end up leaving the sport quickly because they can't get past that mental aspect.

    So all in all, I definitely like my current position. As someone else mentioned, within reach of my fastest times ever and still enjoying it.
  • RanieRanie Orinda, CAMember
    Love this thread! I was exposed to age group swimming as a child, but the minute it went from 25yrds to 50 meters (read nine years old), I became a sometimes diver. I was the lazy kid in my family. Jump forward 25 years and I am swimming sporadically for exercise. Ten more years and I have kids doing rec swimming and they can swim faster than their mom by the time they are six. I am not kidding. They are fast fish. This sparks my interest, I find open water swimming and within five short years I have become a Triple Crown Swimmer(EC, Catalina and MIMS plus Gibraltar, SCAR and Cork Distance Week) (and a member of the half-century club).
    I am now a channel/marathon swimmer who travels internationally to enjoy my sport. I swim six days a week religiously. I dare anyone to call me lazy! But man do I wish I had really learned to swim as a kid. I would kill for that natural technique and grace. I am excited for a 1:25 100 SCY I am sorry to say... but I can swim for over eighteen hours...
  • heartheart San Francisco, CACharter Member
    Another adult-onset MSFer reporting for duty. I always loved lurking in the water, but did not grow up in a country that fostered age-group swimming or in an environment that encouraged competitive sports. While I'll never be as fast as my friends who swam as kids, I'm so happy to have the experience of swimming marathon races at an age and stage in life that I can afford them!

    I'm also really happy that I can encourage my students to be fit and athletic. I routinely auction out Alcatraz swims at our public interest law auction, so every year a couple of students swim a race with me. Invariably, they are faster than me, but the really nice thing is that for many of them it's a way to get back into the sport after years of being jaded and burnt out from high school/college team practice. More converts to open water swimming ---> a victory for all of us.
  • I'll weigh in as well. I was a long time distance runner that injured my knee in a pretty bad fall - not much meniscus left in my right knee. After the repair, I started having more difficulty. As I am attached to what is left of my joint, I decided to do something else. Biking didn't do it for me. My son was an age group and high school swimmer so I decided to give it a try. I started swimming 10 years ago at age 48. At 58, by working on technique and strength, I am still getting a little faster. Started moving into longer swims a few years ago. Did the Boston Light this year as part of a two person relay. Going to try to get a solo spot in the lottery, I have a few other long events in mind.

    It has been an interesting and fun journey. I am envious of the life time swimmers for whom technique seems so easy. It is always a treat when I can pick a few of them off at our local races.
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member


    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member

    Yeah, I suppose I am. I was on a swim team before I was 8 but left because I thought the coach was a meanie-pants. (He wasn't. Just demanding. I was lazy. One of the team went on to win an Olympic gold)

    I got into lap swimming as a fitness swimmer as a way keep from joint pain, and rehabbing a torn ACL brought on my excessive ego in a Tang Soo Do class. Then much later I realized i lost interest and slacked too often for it to be a fitness thing, and wound up signing up for events I had to train for to keep myself from getting my fool self hurt or something from being unprepared. (I do better at things with deadlines than open-ended stuff)

    I fell in love with being out in the open water. There's something amazing about it that a pool can't touch. I'm chomping at the bit to get back out on the lake and see how I've improved over the winter and it's only January. I wanna work on sighting and trusting my kayaker better to navigate (when I have one) and I'm faster than I was before I got serious about training. But I'm still a total turtle, albeit a pretty damned persistent one.

  • More adult onset here! I swam as a kid to a very modest level. Rugby and beer put paid to swimming while I was in Upper (High) School.

    Fast forward 25 years or so, cue a bout of pneumonia, 15 kg of excess body fat and a minor mid-life crisis.

    Swimming was the only thing I could consider doing to rescue my fitness and drop some weight, while carrying 2 dodgy knees (see rugby and beer above).

    Once @DanSimonelli took me out in OW properly for the first time, I already had an EC booked, and adult-onset OWS had me beat!

    Now I evangelise to folks about the benefits of swimming, and I am sure I am tedious in the process, but hey - that's just too bad!

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member
    edited January 2016

    I learned to swim as a kid, but my only competition was in an annual Labor Day meet at my family vacation site on Fire Island, where I was fiercely competitive (ha ha) with a friend for second to last place in the 25 yard freestyle. After growing out of the summer kids' day camp program, I still enjoyed swimming, sometimes getting into lap swimming depending on schedule/circumstances, but no racing. In my 30s, I started running to get in shape for doing an Outward Bound course, and pretty much stayed with that (plus some canoeing, hiking, and swimming, although running became my go-to sport). It got so I swam only when I had running injuries, of which there were quite a few, I admit.

    During one of those injuries, in 2002, I missed competing (and the t-shirts, ha!). I'd been swimming while rehabbing and saw an announcement of a mile open water swim. By that point, I got to where I could swim a half mile in the pool, so why not? ;) So I worked my way up to a mile, then realized that I should probably finish before they took down the finish line, so I looked up the last place time, and my pool swims were all undertaken with the goal of beating that time (45 minutes--yes, slow, but have to have some kind of goal). Finally, I managed a mile in less than 45 minutes, just a few days from the swim. Then, although I finished in about 47 minutes, I wasn't last--much to my surprise. One more person came in after me. This was going to be the start of masters' swimming, but it wasn't. The masters' swim person I called didn't seem too encouraging, and my running injury had pretty much healed, so swimming was on the back burner again.

    A few years later, I saw a notice at my Y saying that a masters swim group was forming. As I looked at the sign, the aquatic director walked by and said, "you know you want to do it. Call the coach!" So I did--and was torn between hoping he'd say "Oh this is for faster swimmers. You need to be able to swim 8000 yards at a stretch, yada yada." But when I told him my background and mentioned the open water swim, he encouraged me to join. (Yikes! what did I get myself into?)

    He was the perfect coach to get me into masters competition--he pushed, yet encouraged. "Come on, one more set--you finished the hardest part!" And he somehow talked me into a mile ocean swim ("but I don't do ocean swims! Big waves scare me!" "Don't worry--when you get past the breakers, it's calm." Uh huh.) After I did that ocean swim, though, and finished without drowning or being eaten by a shark (well meaning friends said, "you know there've been a lot of shark attacks on the New Jersey shore lately." Yeah, thanks for telling me. I think...), I was hooked on swimming and wanted more. This wonderful coach had to drop masters coaching due to going back to school; however, by then, I knew I wanted to keep swimming.

    During a visit to Fire Island, I mentioned enjoying my ocean swim, and someone said, “Oh, then you should do the Cross-Bay Swim.” “How long is that?” “Well, like about 5 miles.” “Maybe someday.” (No way, was what I really thought—too long!) Then I thought “why not?” And then trained for it. Swam it. Got seasick. Vowed never again (during the swim). Reached land. Vowed to do it again. Of course. Did it three more times. In the process, found a masters group and coach who encouraged me in setting ambitious goals--this coach set up a training plan for the last two Cross-Bay swims I did--and he didn't accept "can't"--when I expressed doubt about being able to do something, he'd give me that long look that said without words, "I'm waiting for you to come to your senses." And once I expressed confidence, "that's more like it."

    Heard about Boston Light. How cool would that be! I was born there. Entered the lottery in 2015. Didn’t get in, but joined some friends on a relay team.

    Now I want to do the solo in 2016. If I don’t get in the lottery, I’ll volunteer so I can swim in 2017. I’m 65 this year. Sometimes I think, “Are you nuts? You don’t start stuff like this at 65!” But during Labor Day weekend, after having reached a personal best time in the Cross-Bay Swim, I swam my longest distance, 7 miles. It was a DNF—left arm simply stopped working… it was supposed to be 8 miles. However, knowing I can swim that long gives me hope that I can do Boston Light. I’m slow. I won’t lie. I hear mention of 1:30 /100 being slow. I was happy to get a 100 free SCY under 2 minutes at a meet in December. Also, I just relearned how to do flip turns. I know there’s more training to do. Fortunately, I enjoy it. Sometimes I’ll think along the way, “what am I getting myself into?” But if you don’t ask that question sometimes, maybe you need to dream bigger.

  • swimrn62swimrn62 Stowe, VTSenior Member

    I jumped in a lake on Labor Day 2014 at the age of 62, took a few strokes and was transformed. I knew how to swim before then, I was raised with a pool in the yard, but never did much besides have pool parties. I never learned how to swim efficiently. I'm working on that now, while trying to learn more about personal endurance.

  • sharkbaitzasharkbaitza LondonMember
    edited January 2016

    It’s not the experienced older swimmer that bothers me so much as the 10 year old that swims past in the next lane and makes me look like I’m dragging a sea anchor… lol

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    sharkbaitza said:
    It’s not the experienced older swimmer that bothers me so much as the 10 year old that swims past in the next lane and makes me look like I’m dragging a sea anchor… lol

    I also see those 10-year-olds in road races, including one annoying child who would zip past me, get about 100-200 yards ahead, then walk until I passed him again, when he'd play the same game. I was very motivated to beat him, which I did. :D

  • My 14 year old son was tapping my 52 year old toes as we went for a swim off the beach yesterday. Bad enough he's my speed but to be drafting me and tickling my toes... no justice in this world.

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member

    Bump...because @Leslie mentioned us Adult Onset Swimmers recently. ;)


    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WASenior Member

    Hey, this is a fun thread. Great stories. I'll share. I'm not really adult onset because I learned how to swim when I was 9. I then did the team thing and of course in high school I was always sad that I had learned how to swim so late in my life... Anyway, I burned out in college and my final year I swam for the workout, but not the competition. It was no fun any more. After college, I didn't swim for quite a few years.

    I don't remember how it happened, but I had a conversation with a friend of mine and swimming came up. I don't know what I said, but it must have resonated with her. For my birthday or Christmas, I can't remember which, she gave me as a present a towel and a pair of goggles and signed me up for a masters swim group. I joined her and on the first day I showed up with a pair of beach trunks and my new goggles and towel. I started in the slowest lane and did what I could, which wasn't much. But you gotta start somewhere and I did.

    As time has moved on I have rediscovered what I enjoyed so much as a kid. I've done a few masters swim meets which were ok, but mainly I love the working out aspect. I'm now independent because the masters group here starts at dark thirty and I'm too old to do things I don't want to do. And I really like going outside and swimming in the lake. It makes me feel like I'm a dumb kid again.

    I have told my friend over and over that the gift she gave me all those years ago is the best gift that anyone has ever given me.

  • miklcctmiklcct London, United KingdomMem​ber
    edited February 2019

    Bumping this thread.

    I had never done any competitive swimming, not even any competitive physical sports in my youth (I did competitive programming then), but I love the sea. I like to do sailing when it's windy, but if there is relatively no wind, I would like to be in the water, floating and sinking. It is a very meditating experience, especially in cool water. I participated in a 2.6 km open water swimming race in 2010 (the longest popular local race).

    In late 2014, I discovered that there was a open water swimming group who are swimming every weekend. I got a safety buoy and tried to join the group, but I couldn't catch up completely. I had completely no coaching beforehand apart from a learn-to-swim programme in early childhood. My 100 m pace was probably around 2'55" at that moment. I was left behind and feel humiliated, and didn't show up again afterwards. The group leader suggested me to get some coaching.

    I then started to find options and found that there was an improver squad at my uni's triathlon club, but at that moment it was suspended in winter while only the fast (< 2'20" / 100 m) squads were still operating, and in next year (2015) the improver squad was gone and moved away from the university!!!!!

    In 2016 I joined a technique course, which brought my 100 m time from more than 5 minutes to around 4 minutes, and CSS pace down to 2'20" (the squad standard back in 2014) so I asked if I was ready to enter the squad again. However, the club was facing difficulty booking lanes in the university pool and raised the squad standard to around 2'0". I felt heartbroken at that moment and completely gave up, and in the year afterwards, with little to no physical exercise, combined with the long stressful commute, my health seriously deteriorated to the extent that I even refused to renew my job contract.

    I moved away from the city which made me impossible to return to the university for training early morning inside the city, and I couldn't find any training opportunity outside the city. Finally in 2018, due to a job change, I decided to moved back to the city, and even work in the university as a staff member (giving me free access to the university pool and discount in the squad training), and by that moment, I had brought by CSS down to around 2'07", marginally making the squad requirement, and started training afterwards. I also returned to the open water swimming group mentioned before, where I could catch up with the slower group, in the middle of the pack (but as winter came, everyone in the group put on the wetsuit except me, and I can now only barely catch up by drafting).

    The clubs and groups mention they welcome swimmers of all levels, but that was not the reality. The triathlon club did not offer beginner classes all year round, while the open water swimming group had speed requirement to join. (I discovered just now that the triathlon club and the OW swimming group are run by a common group of expatriates) Everyone was so fast and it was so difficult for me, as an adult-onset swimmer without any competitive swim training, to join those training and group swims. 2'10" / 100 m is considered entry level for those people. I wouldn't make it through the struggle on my own for 3 - 4 years if I didn't love the sea so much!!!!! That's why OW swimming remains unpopular in the adult community, even beginner-friendly 600 m and 1.5 km races do not get many entrants in the senior classes (but extremely competitive in the youth classes entered en-masse by swim clubs), and marathon swimming races get only around 10 solo entrants in total including foreign competitors, non-assisted (skin) and assisted (wetsuit) classes combined, and most of the "local" competitors are expatriates with swim background back home. Looking at the list of the participants, it seems that there are, at best, around 3 ethnically local swimmers, and at worst, 0, participating each year. (Jack Yim is one of the very few truly local marathon swimmers in my place)

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member

    Thanks @miklcct for bumping this thread. I was slightly reminded of it a day or so ago when reading about the Cliff Backyard swim. Reading back through this thread has reminded me how much I love swimming and the community. Gotta get back in the pool!

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member

    I've decided that there's nothing wrong with "only" doing marathons in the 10K-12 mile range. I'm an adult onset swimmer. I'm embracing the moniker and no longer worrying about all those attractive longer-distance swims I see out there!


    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • Tory1340Tory1340 Metrowest MANew Member

    You all have some fun stories. Mine started about 10 years ago with triathlon , I think I was 40-45 AG then. The local Park & Rec had a triathlon swim clinic at the pool and I could swim, but not efficiently. Fast Forward two years to Masters s swimming at a different pool and lo and behold I learned more. Triathon became aquabike and then no more competing. That was the switch that flipped to OWS and USMS Go the Distance challenge. I have only raced a handful of one-mile events for fun, but have a blast doing them. The long stuff is coming soon though. My times will never be at the pointy end of the field. The kids and long time swimmers beat me by 10 minutes on the one-mile. It's fun and it validates all the pool time. After a recent 4400 SCY workout: 1:24/100. Oh, and all the exercise means I can enjoy the cheeseburgers and ice cream!

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member

    bump based on recent comments in another thread.

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • akswimakswim United StatesMember

    Thank you for pointing me to this thread! I started swimming about 5 years ago when I decided to do my first triathlon, in my mid-50's. My only competitive swimming background is being on the pool deck as an official at my daughter's swim meets for about 10 years (age 8 through high school). Since then, I've done 4 triathlons, all sprint distance, a half-marathon run, and a few 10k runs. Running has never been something I like doing, just something to stay fit. The half marathon was one of those, "let's see if I can do this" things that I am SO OVER.

    Last fall, I wanted to prove something to myself and decided to sign up for the Alligator Lighthouse 8-mile swim this coming September. I've never done any kind of distance swimming in my life, only limited OW for the triathlons. My swim coach is my daughter, so my stroke technique is good (e.g. I shouldn't injure my shoulders or hips). I'm really slow but am building my endurance. In a few months she's going to work with me on speed, which will never be superfast. I have good kayak support and will practice with him before the race.

    As I'm doing endless laps in the pool, I go back and forth between, "I'm feeling really strong, I can do this" and "What the heck was I thinking? I must be out of my mind!". I'm stubborn enough and committed to doing the September swim and my goal is to finish...just finish. But I'm not sure about after that.

    Love reading everyone's story and hope there are others out there like me. Appreciate any advice, feedback, lessons learned, or any other words of wisdom.

  • MLambyMLamby Senior Member


    Best of luck to you. Your story sounds awfully similar to mine. I was a triathlete as well. Top 1/3 finish in my age group at New York City twice was the pinnacle of my efforts. A complete breakdown of my right knee (full replacement) and ankle (have to wear gauntlet braces) made running a complete "forget about it" 4 years ago (I am now 54).
    I switched over to swimming exclusively after that and fell in love with it. I set my sights on Key West immediately and was told I may be biting off more than I could chew for a first race. I swam a ridiculous amount of miles in the pool, and did several 6-10 mile open water swims, and found a ridiculously kind and generous mentor to help me along.
    I finished the 12.5 miles in 6:16:00 and haven't looked back. Although I haven't done another official race yet, I do find 6-10 mile "challenge" swims that I can do locally.
    I applaud your efforts and wish you an amazing race in September. The great thing is that it sounds like you have awesome support which is a massive benefit. All the best, and AOS's unite! Ugly strokes can be effective! :)

  • Nick_PNick_P PAMember

    Only two years stagnant. 🤣
    I grew up surfing and used “swimming” to surf longer.
    It was the COVID summer where another member told me about his OWS and how he did it to get back in shape.
    I started back in the pool and continued through the summer and got my first taste of OWS in the ocean.
    I never swam on a team growing up and at this point when I see the tri-guys I realized that I start before them and end after them.
    To their credit they do bike or run after their swim while I am still just swimming along
    Singin’ my song…

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