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  #1  
Old 02-21-2017
ScoopUK
 
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Default Club culture killing participation in swimming

I was never a competitive swimmer as a kid so didn't grow up in that club environment, or as I perceive it, reliant on that club environment. Like many TI practitioners I took up swimming more as an adult although I did basic swimming lessons at school. In fact I was never really into sport at all.

However as an adult I've run everything from park runs, road races to ultra marathons. In the multisport world I've raced low key aquathlons to Ironman 70.3 Middle East Champs. You do the work, you train in your own environment, you pay your money, you turn up and race. Yet this isn't the case in the swimming world, at least not here in the UK.

Motivated by my increased standard of swimming and falling in love with swimming as a sport in it's own right I joined a masters club. Mainly so I could train with people better than me and learn what happens in that club environment but also, in the back of my mind was the possibility of entering a few pool races. Unfortunately I work a shift pattern so can only get to the odd club training session and when I do it's often after an early shift but swim practice starts at 8pm when I should be going to bed or I've worked late shifts night before and practice starts at 8am when I should still be in bed! As I'm paid up with the ASA I assumed that's me done, I'm a registered swimmer so I enquired with the club about not attending training but potentially still doing a race and was told that they don't allow this. You have to not only have your ASA membership but also pay the club monthly subs. I guess you can't enter direct, but have to go through your club? So ultimately I've had to quit the club and will not to get to do any pool races unless I can find another club that will let me join them on paper only.

What on earth is this all about? Now I understand why when I have found regional competition results I can count the masters participants on one hand and why the club records are almost all blank on the masters page.

On top of all this I don't necessarily think the coaching systems that exist in organisations such as UK Athletics, British Swimming, British Triathlon etc produce good coaches. Anyone can attend a course, regurgitate whatever nonsense the text books say and become a certified coach. Doesn't mean you are a good one or that you even know what you are doing.

I suppose this is a bit of a moan but I cannot understand why governing bodies (and clubs) operate like this then wonder why swimming participation is down 25% (as it is here in the UK currently). Forcing people to be in club environments doesn't make sense, especially for adults who have other commitments in life and don't need, or maybe don't want, to be surrounded by other people all the time. Endurance athletes tend to be solitary creatures, happy with their own thoughts for hours. They don't need someone shouting at them or giving them workouts they don't necessarily agree or believe in.
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  #2  
Old 02-22-2017
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Rome, Italy
Posts: 479
s.sciame
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So true Scoop, I'm definitely with you, especially the last 2 sentences :)

At least my local master club allows me to join on paper (they train only on evening and I can train only on early morning). Actually I'm mostly interested on open water events, and last year I affiliated on paper and entered a couple of ow races. This year I didn't join because my club now requires pool racing participation as well, and pool master events are almost always about sprint distances (there's only one 1500 and one 800 in the schedule throughout the year in my area).
Anyway, for the next year I think I'll accept this compromise and will enter some pool event as well, in the end I may find I like it.

Salvo
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  #3  
Old 02-22-2017
ScoopUK
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s.sciame View Post
So true Scoop, I'm definitely with you, especially the last 2 sentences :)

At least my local master club allows me to join on paper...
That's cool. Maybe I can find a club that will allow me to do similar. Seems even crazier for those who concentrate on open water swimming who don't want to do the club thing and not interested in the pool races.

Any aspiration I had of conquering any other stroke and racing seems a bit pointless at the moment. I may as well just swim freestyle only now except for a mental break.
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  #4  
Old 02-23-2017
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 647
CoachBobM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScoopUK View Post
I was never a competitive swimmer as a kid so didn't grow up in that club environment, or as I perceive it, reliant on that club environment. Like many TI practitioners I took up swimming more as an adult although I did basic swimming lessons at school. In fact I was never really into sport at all.

However as an adult I've run everything from park runs, road races to ultra marathons. In the multisport world I've raced low key aquathlons to Ironman 70.3 Middle East Champs. You do the work, you train in your own environment, you pay your money, you turn up and race. Yet this isn't the case in the swimming world, at least not here in the UK.
In masters swimming here in the USA, it is perfectly okay to compete "unattached" (i.e., not being a member of any club). I've been doing it for years. The only limitation it places on you is that you can't participate in relays (except at a few meets where they're willing to put together relay teams on the fly).


Bob
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