For those new to swimming, you may find that self-instruction is only getting you so far. If you're an adult, is it too late to join a swimming team, especially if you didn't establish any speed or technique in your younger years?
Not at all. In fact, more than 55,000 adults are members of U.S. Masters Swimming, an organization that oversees hundreds of Masters swim programs around the country. And no, don't be intimidated by the "Masters" label—it only means that you're over the age of 18.
Joining a Masters group will benefit you about as much as you let it, depending on the amount of commitment you give. Many triathletes and open water swimmers who compete in events join Masters programs, while others join to compete in Masters swim meets. Many more, however, join but don't compete at all.
If you're on the fence about whether to join a Masters program or continue training on your own, consider the benefits:
A Structured Program
Many of the Masters swim clubs/workout groups have a specific, structured program in place for each practice. The programs are written by knowledgeable swim coaches and they will help you build endurance and speed. They will also be intensive enough to push you outside of your comfort zone.
So really, whatever your motivation to swim—triathlon training, open water swim races, or just staying healthy and fit—it pays to add some structure to your training sessions. Masters swim programs could be precisely the boost you need.
Swimming is extremely hard to perfect without an outsider looking at your stroke. It's difficult to know where the flaws in your technique are without some coaching—in some cases, a lot of coaching.
Going from zero to good swimmer takes time, and oftentimes correcting a stroke is an ongoing process. Some swimmers have multiple flaws in their stroke, errors that need to be addressed one at a time.
For that reason, having a coach watching over you on a consistent basis will do wonders in cleaning up your flaws and getting you faster. Many Masters programs have a coach on deck, a definite plus for those looking to improve in the water.