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Old 02-21-2017
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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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