"No Limits"

In writing this series I have endeavoured to both organise my thoughts to a point where I believe they are meaningful but also to entertain Masters swimmers – whoever they are, wherever they may be. Enjoy.

                                                          by Tony Pearce

                                                           WHY I WRITE THIS SERIES

Around the age of five or six, I saw the cartoon strip Flook and Rufus by cartoonist Trog (Wally Fawkes) in the Daily Mail. I copied it. This was my first real experience of art but what I have learned since then is that a cartoonist is both an image maker and a storyteller.    

       At about 12 years old I was making my way home from swim practice when I saw an American publication called Boxing Illustrated on a magazine stand. The bus fare money was soon spent on a sticky bun and the magazine; on the long walk home, I read the works of such writers as Bob Waters. This was my first real lesson in the written word. What I have learned since then is that writing needs an understanding of character development and dialogue.

     It was about this time in my life that I began to create my own private world where I made up stories and held conversations with imaginary people. I, of course, was the hero of many thrilling adventures. What I learned was an understanding of plot structure.

     By the age of 16, a degree of reality had set in. ‘Captain America’ gave way to a description of what I was doing compared with the things that I was actually seeing. But I must admit that I have never completely escaped from fantasy for it might have killed any impulse to do the things that I really love: coaching Masters swimmers, as a masters swimmer competing to be the best that I can be.  Oh yes, and journalism, drawing cartoons and writing articles on masters swimming. My series, ’Masters Swimming and How to Survive it!’, has been popular both in England and around the world. But what drives the desire to create this series?                                                  

                                                              What is Masters Swimming?  

      It would seem that masters swimming in this country has schism. There is British swimming and there is masters swimming. This is an inevitably. The rest of the world has opted to two separate organisations. Not necessarily the way to go. Only time will tell. Although it is for the swimmers to decide with their vote the political structure of modern sport needs change:

  1. Governance. Democracy. Any person entrusted with the responsibility of carrying out the wishes of the stakeholders (the masters swimmers themselves) must have their democratic mandate.
  2. Always follow the money. Explanatory in itself. Open swimming leagues has set an entirely different tone in swimming as a whole.
  3. Freedom of Speech.  Grass roots upwards. Not control downwards through political correctness.

       But here, one must pose the question: What really is Masters swimming.   In my view, Masters swimming itself has split into two parts: purist and conventional on the one hand – health, fitness and fun for the mature; and the heretically hybrid or progressive – swim to win and continue to get better – on the other.

     Is this polarisation been mainly due to a cosy environment collapsing in on itself.

                                                 2.  THE TIDE IS TURNING

     But what does the future of Masters swimming hold for the faithful adherents who demand that it remains cerebrally locked into the past where it has remained the same?

      Like a beautiful wave, has it finally broken, with the watermark on the pool wall a tide mark of all that is left? Age group swimming for children, driven by their parents with officialdom at the helm is now seemingly dying. This is now the new age of ‘Of the swimmers, by the swimmers and for the swimmers’. Along with Open Water and Triathlon the energy of masters swimming has prevailed.

        But, at the same time, we need to open our minds to the fact that sport, like art and music, influences society. Through our own perception of reality we can share experiences which can enable us to then perhaps see things as they really are.

        So, as a Masters swimming coach, what do I actually do?  I encourage people. It is as simple as that. Yes, the relationship between the coach and swimmer is not that of leader and follower. It is that of a partnership.

        This is because I believe most fervently is that a swimming career is an ongoing process from infancy to old age, from the very young age group swimmer to Masters swimmers. In the real LTADP (Long Term Athlete Development Plan), one particular swim or a specific period of time doesn’t define one’s swimming career. It is, in fact, a lifetime of similar results that is the real key to one’s swimming career. We have adjusted over time to new experiences that have reminded us not only of what we have so far achieved in swimming, but also how much further we can grow in the sport as we get older. Arguably, life is imitating swimming.

         Masters swimming, I feel at this particular period of time, is a very special sport to be a part of. Masters swimmers are people who live life with intention. That is, they try to live life to the full.

         In writing this series I have endeavoured to both organise my thoughts to a point where I believe they are meaningful but also to entertain Masters swimmers – whoever they are, wherever they may be. 


Exercise Physiologist David Costill

Cited the lack of a positive transfer between dry-land strength gains and swimming propulsive force may be due to the specificity of training.

Ultra Short Race Pace Training. USRPT

Specificity Breathing Patterns Race Pace

Endurance: Train the body to sustain the output necessary for YOUR event.

The ability to swim fast often.

Tony Pearce           

© 2023                 

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