Achievements and results will sometimes dominate discussions about masters swimming. Swimmers who compete regularly will describe the meets and open water races they’ve traveled to and the fun times they’ve had. Fair enough, but the fact is that in 2011 only about 30% of USMS participated in a competitive pool meet of some sort; if you include open water races, the number would creep a little higher.
But while not all USMS members compete, ALL of them benefit from what is sometimes termed “fitness swimming,” sometimes in a dismissive tone. But fitness swimming is an important goal in its own right, not just a side benefit of the quest for more gold. Linda Shoenberger wrote a nice article, “Why Fitness Swimming Matters,” that argues the point strongly. She tells the story of 74-year-old USMS member Nancy Brown and her quick recovery from surgery for cancer:
“The doctors and nurses have said that her improvement is directly related to her level of health and fitness from swimming. She tells them, ‘Everyone should swim.’ The respiratory nurse was especially impressed with her strong lungs and their capacity.” (Jill Springer, daughter of Nancy Brown)