Making a Master Swimmer – The Rome Challenge


While Jia and myself were sitting in the stands of the World Masters in Budapest surrounded by vibrant energy, by swimmers of all ages, and the general party atmosphere we started to wonder. Could someone that was in good shape, but had never trained or competed in swimming, or any sport, take part in one of these international masters events? With the right training plan, could Jia become a competitive masters swimmer?

An idea began to form, we would work to get Jia into one of these competitions. The qualifying times for these events don’t seem to be getting easier as the years go on, so rather than try for the LEN European Masters 2018 gala, the European Masters Games 2019 in Rome was chosen instead. As it’s usually a smaller competition, we reckon the qualifying times will be easier.

Of course, making it to Rome doesn’t just depend on times, as I’ve mentioned before life often gets in the way of swimming when you’re a masters swimmer. There is always the possibility that for some reason or other we might not be able to go to Rome. So, we have a secondary plan, Jia will compete in Irish masters galas and over the next two years she will race the following at least once: 50m Free, 50m Back, 50m Breast and the 100m IM.

Jia only has time to train in the pool 2-3 times a week and once in the gym. While she can swim up to 1500m in a session and has taken part in some open water swims, she has never sprinted, dived, used the clock, done an anaerobic session, done a proper 80% effort aerobic training session. This is a lot to get used to and it will be hard to fit it all in, so to give us a chance we will aim for the 50m Free and 50m Back for Rome. If things go very well, we might try for a 100m event. The advantage of aiming for 50m, is that we can concentrate on developing technique, strength, and speed. She will develop a certain amount of aerobic capacity too of course and depending on how things look after one year we might switch to a longer event if it seems more natural. So, this is one part of her preparation. The other is competing, pending her work schedule, Jia will try to compete as much as possible. We won’t worry about times for the first year, we just want Jia to get used to the feeling of being in a gala so that when we are focusing on times it won’t be a daunting.

We will track the journey here on pull kick swim, in its own page “The Rome Challenge”. I will put up samples of the training sessions, so that if someone else wants to try this challenge they will have a guide. We will also put up updates on progress and from competitions. – Mike

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