I was at our local U.S. Masters swim meet this weekend. Since I cannot swim with my torn ACL, I volunteered to time for a short bit with my friend visiting from Seattle. When I walked on deck I immediately saw two grown kids, who were former swimmers with my children on the club team. They were happy to see me, and I was excited to see them and sat with their parents. It was almost as if we were at an age group meet together again to watch our kids swim. I worked my way over to my Piranha teammates, who were warming up, talked with our coach and my other swim friends. I loved seeing all my friends on deck. I truly miss being a part of the team and swimming. Although meets make me so nervous when I’m competing, I was more than okay not to dive off the blocks. Then again, I’ve been nervous at every meet where I watched my kids swim, too, but more so when I’m the competitor.
While I was at the Masters meet, I noticed how different it was from age group meets. The main thing I noticed was that everyone is happy. Yes, there are a few nervous swimmers. I know I am fraught with anxiety at meets before I swim. But, generally, the atmosphere is very laid back and upbeat. A friend explained it like this: “It’s more of a party atmosphere of a community of swimmers rather than the nervous energy found on deck at age group meets.”
Here are 12 ways Masters meets are different than age group meets:
Everyone at the meet, whether it’s swimmers, coaches, or family, really want to be there. Or, they wouldn’t be there.
There are no parents yelling at swimmers who miss an event or add time.
The only person who will argue with an official after a DQ is a swimmer.
There doesn’t seem to be that hectic feeling trying to find heats and lanes.
Everybody is friendly and although some swimmers may be a little nervous, mostly they’re chatting with other swimmers, laughing and joking.
Swimmers feel like they’ve won if they make it off the blocks and complete their event close to the time they swam the year before.
Getting out of the deep end without a ladder can feel like a major accomplishment in itself.
You will not see a single crazy parent—anywhere.
There’s no pressure for junior national cuts or college scholarships.
Nobody is getting nervous watching you swim.
Every swimmer gets out of the water with a smile on their face. You won’t see any tears.
Masters swimmers are happy when they age up, because they feel it’s an advantage to be the youngest in their age group.
If you’re a swimmer or compete in another sport as an adult, how do you find it different from youth sports?