Tips For Sucess



Becca's Tips for Success:

1: Consistency, consistency, consistency. I can't say it enough. There is no substitution for consistency.  Here is how I break down my recommendations:

Swimming 4-6 day per week = performance training

Swimming 3-4 days per week= good training

Swimming 2-3 days per week = maintenance


2:  Everyone starts somewhere.  The important thing is to start!   We all come from different swimming back grounds and experiences. Don't worry about any else and where they are or where you are compared to someone else.  The only thing you need to do is pay attention to you and the clock.  This is the best way to measure your progress.


3.  Know how to swim in a group.  Be sure you know how to be a good lanemate!  It is important that every individual know and understand how to swim with other and also how to maximize their time in the water with out detriment to those they swim with.

4. Challenge your mind and you body!  Be comfortable with being uncomfortable!


5.  "Hi, my name is _____________, what's yours?"  Is the hardest phrase for us, but its the most important.  Get connected, get to know you team mates.  We train together, suffer together and play together, get to know each other!  The more connected you are the more likely you are to succeed!


6.  Set your self up for success.  Get gear if necessary, have a good training suit, ask questions if you need to.



Optional Training Gear:

Biofuse Fins

Agility Paddles


7. Get registered and make sure you get added to Becca's email list.  Weekly emails are sent out with all of the important information, practice changes and need to know information.


8.  Have fun!  The more fun we have the better we swim!


9.  Get outside of your comfort zone.  Be open to trying new things or attempting things you didn't think you could do!  You don't know until you try!


10.  Make this what you want!  The sky's the limit.  Learn something new! Accomplish a goal!  Participate in a big event!  Attend National Championships!  Swim a race that you find challenging or daunting...



Masters Swimming 101

What are the basics of pool etiquette?

Jim Harper | December 3, 2012

This article is part of the Masters Swimming 101 series

Safety always comes first, and swimming's first rule is never to swim alone. Because you will always be swimming with other people, offer them the type of respect you wish to receive. Swim friendly. Also, always follow the directions of lifeguards and pool staff, as they can see and anticipate things that you cannot.

If you know how to drive, then you know how to swim within floating lane lines. Swimmers tend to self-organize into lanes by speed, and you'll want to seek a lane according to your speed and ability. If you need to stop swimming during the workout, “pull over” at the wall. Move out of the way of other swimmers by sliding into a corner. Don't hang onto the lane line—you will get a parking ticket.

Circle swimming is the norm at most organized Masters workouts. Notice in the diagram that it is not a true circle, but you get the point. Outdoor pools are different than indoor pools, and old pools are different than new pools, but they tend to follow a basic design that serves their intended users: black lines on the bottom indicate the center of each lane, and black crosses mark each wall. Use these markings in the pool just as drivers use them on the road.

Here are some of the major no-nos and yes-yeses of swim practice.


  • Dive 
  • Use the starting blocks independently
  • Swim down the middle of a lane
  • Remain stationary in the lane, except at the wall
  • Stand or hold onto the wall in the middle of the lane
  • Grab another swimmer
  • Push off the wall immediately before or after another swimmer—no tailgating!
  • Do your own thing in a lane that is following a prescribed set or workout.


  • Enter the water feet first. This is mandatory for all Masters swimmers
  • Dive only from the starting blocks, when instructed by your coach
  • Circle swim, staying always to the right of the lane, only moving toward the center when ready to turn at the wall
  • Leave the pool if unable to continue swimming
  • Scoot to the corner of the lane while standing or holding onto the wall
  • Tap a swimmer's toes in front of you, indicating that you wish to pass at the next turn
  • Allow 5 seconds between swimmers.

Other cultural norms of swimming are best understood by experience, especially in terms of competition, and each club creates its own microculture.


What equipment do I need?

Jim Harper | December 3, 2012


This article is part of the Masters Swimming 101 series

Not much! The beauty of swimming is that the water provides all the resistance you need to work every part of your body. No machine can match.


Bulky suits weigh you down and make it harder to swim efficiently, so the best choice is a skin-tight material in one piece, designed specifically for swim training. Note: “real” swimmers do wear Speedos, among many other brands, but the women rarely wear bikinis unless they are designed for swim training. Wear a suit that will not move when you dive into the water or push off the wall. For men, surfer-style board shorts make completing a workout difficult. If you’re not ready to don a brief, try jammers, which resemble cycling shorts and extend to the knee.

Goggles and Caps

To protect eyes and hair from chlorine, two other critical equipment items are goggles and caps. Although swimmers with short hair may forego a cap, goggles are a must, or eyes will suffer. For both products, low-cost versions are more than adequate.


Don’t rush out and buy other equipment right away—your new coach and teammates can help you save time and money by letting you try out some of their stuff first. Some clubs have kick boards and pull buoys available for their swimmers. Pull buoys are sturdy flotation devices placed between the legs that allow for concentrated use of the arms only. Your coach may also recommend finspaddles, or a snorkel.

Good swimming equipment can be hard to find. Your local sporting goods store may have the basics. We also encourage you to support our sponsors, who do a lot to support Masters swimming nationwide. Masters swimming geeks will love products with the USMS logo. Other good places to find equipment are at large pools and swim meets, where vendors often set up booths to sell equipment to the attending athletes.


What is a typical workout?

Jim Harper | December 4, 2012


This article is part of the Masters Swimming 101 series

Like a good play, a good workout develops in three main acts: the warm-up, the main action, and the cool-down. A sufficient warm-up is essential for mature athletes, and a relaxing cool-down will help to fight fatigue and sore muscles.

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A typical workout lasts for an hour or more. The main part of most workouts consists of sets of varying distances. Repetitions divide each set into manageable parts, such as “5 x 100,” which means that you swim 100 yards (the length of a football field), stop to rest, and then repeat that distance four more times, for a total of five repetitions.

In addition to sets, you may be asked to complete skill drills that challenge you to think about body position, parts of each stroke, and other essentials of swimming. For example, your coach may ask you to swim with your fists clenched, to draw attention to the importance of high elbow and unbroken wrist line.

As a new swimmer, or someone returning after a long absence, you must be prepared for a challenge—especially to your lungs. Breathe often! Do not try to impress yourself or others by holding your breath, or your workout will be over very soon. Swim smart and build up your endurance over time. It can take six months before you can make the workouts as written—even for skilled athletes who have endurance in other sports—swimming is different. Give yourself plenty of time, enjoy your new friends, and communicate any concerns to your coach.


How do I use the pace clock?

Jim Harper | December 4, 2012


This article is part of the Masters Swimming 101 series

A related question would be: Why are swimmers so obsessed with time? You'll find out, my friend, in due time.​

So, what is your time for a 100? Answer that question, and you are halfway to speaking Swimmerese.

The clock is a true frenemy—a friend and an enemy. It never lies, but sometimes you wish it would. Because the clock never stops, you need to break it into manageable parts. Get your math cap on, because your coach may give you some intense, clock-based instructions for a set, such as:

“5 x 200s descend on the 4:30, negative split #5. Leaving on the top.”

Got it?

Here are some terms to help you translate Swimmerese and Clockspeak:

The top

The beginning of a minute (the 12 on a clock face), shown as either 0 or 60 on a traditional swimming pace clock, also called a sweep clock, as the hands sweep around the face. Seen as :00 on a digital clock. Stated as “leaving on the top” or “on the 60.”

The bottom

Again, on a traditional clock face, the bottom is actually the middle of a minute, where the number 6 is, which is the 30 on a sweep clock and :30 on a digital clock. Stated as “leaving on the bottom” or “on the 30.”

5 (or 10) seconds apart

The time to wait after one swimmer leaves the wall, before you leave. Watch the clock for your cue to push off.


The number of swims within a set. In 5 x 200s, 5 is the repetition—you'll be swimming 200 yards, 5 times, on an interval.


The repetition of a constant, given amount of time, indicating when you should leave the wall. Stated as an amount of time, such as “on the 4:30.” This is the amount of time you have to both swim and rest before leaving for the next repetition in the set. In the 5 x 200s on the 4:30 example, you'll leave on the top, swim 200 yards, then rest for the remainder of time left in that 4 minutes and 30 seconds, at which time you will push off and swim the next repetition. If you “miss your interval,” that means it took you longer than 4 minutes and 30 seconds to swim the 200.

Rest interval

Sometimes coaches will give a rest interval, or RI. This is a little easier to understand—and easier to swim. If your RI is 30 seconds, then you get 30 seconds rest after each repetition—no matter how slow or fast you swam it. Some coaches do not use RIs because it does not encourage increased effort. In other words, if you know you are going to get a set amount of rest and won't miss your interval, you may not swim as fast.


The actual number, in minutes and/or seconds, it took for you to swim the repetition. In the 5 x 200s on the 4:30 example, if you swim one of the 200s (the reps) in 3:57, that is your time for that rep. You now have 33 seconds to rest on the wall before pushing off for the next rep (and you'll leave on the bottom for that rep).


Your swimming speed, based on a time achieved for a given distance. Most commonly expressed per 100 yards, as in “a pace of 1:52.” So if you swim a 200, your pace would be expressed in the approximate amount of time it takes for you to swim 100 yards. If you swim at a pace of 1:52, your time for the 200 would be 3:44.


Accelerating or getting faster within a given rep. So if you were going to build a 200, you would try to start out at a slower or medium pace and increase it each length of the pool, so that you are swimming fast by the end of the rep. Not to be confused with descend.


Obtaining a faster finishing time on subsequent reps. If you descend that set of 5 x 200s, your times might look like this: 4:02, 4:00, 3:59, 3:57, 3:55.

Negative split

The second half of the repetition is swum faster than the first half. In a single rep—just one of those 200s—a negative split example would be swimming the first 100 in 2:02 and the second 100 in 1:58, for a total time of 4:00.

So using all these new terms, let's translate that “5 x 200s descend on the 4:30, negative split #5. Leaving on the top”

  • Start swimming the first 200 when the clock strikes the 60-second mark. Swim at a comfortable pace, knowing that you have four more reps and each has to be faster that the one before it.
  • You come it at a 4:02 for the first one, rest for 28 seconds and leave again on the bottom, since the interval is 4:30, you will have 28 seconds rest.
  • Repeat the reps in this manner.
  • When you get to number 5, you'll need to not only swim faster to maintain your descend, but you'll need to negative split that rep. To negative split, start steady and look at the clock at the halfway point, then go faster for the second half. So if your time for the last rep is 3:55, a good negative split might be 1:59 for the first 100 and 1:56 for the second.

Experienced swimmers tend to follow the clock religiously, whereas less experienced swimmers tend to follow each other. Use the clock to your advantage and learn how to read it independently. When other swimmers don't know what time it is, you will. 


More lingo you're likely to hear at practice

Jim Harper | December 5, 2012


This article is part of the Masters Swimming 101 series


Stroke modification or exercise done in the water to isolate a particular body part or technique. Such as dragging fingertips in the water to promote a high-elbow recovery.


The arm movement, or using only arms for propulsion. A pull set will be one where you'll use a pull buoy designed to keep your legs still so that you can focus on your pull.


Leg movement, which is isolated in kick sets, using a kick board.


The highly desirable ability to keep moving without pulling or kicking. 


What skinny fish have naturally, we have to achieve by squeezing our arms and legs into lines. The opposite of a streamlined position would be a “Superman” with arms spread wide. 


The ability to “grab” and push the water with your hand/arm. The opposite is “slipping.”

Flip turn

Near the wall, spin 180 degrees, feet over head, feet land on the wall and push off.

Open turn

Touch the wall with your hand, turn around and push off.


The movement from the wall until the first stroke.

Alternate or bilateral breathing

In freestyle, breathing on odd numbers of strokes, such as 3, 5, etc., so that you breathe equally on both sides. 


A split is your time for a segment of a prescribed swim. If you swim a 100 (four lengths) and your time at the 50 (two lengths) is 35 seconds, then that is your split.

Swim meet

A swim meet is a competition in a pool. Many USMS members are nervous about competing at first, but swim meets can be fun for any level swimmer. You should never feel pressured to compete in a swim meet, but you should also not feel as though you are not good enough. Most local swim meets, and even some regional and national meets, the same relaxed, all-inclusive attitude that you find at a practice prevails. USMS national championships have qualifying times, but anyone—regardless of speed or ability—can enter up to three events at those meets, without meeting the qualifying times.

Open water swimming

Swimming in lakes, oceans, rivers—pretty much anywhere that is not a pool. There are open water races and clubs throughout the world for swimmers who enjoy open water swimming.

Words to Avoid


Coaches prefer to speak in yardage or in lengths, as in “50 yards” or “4 lengths of the pool.” An outdated meaning of lap is “2 lengths,” but today it can be considered a synonym of “length” (one lap equals one length, not two).  


Use “freestyle” instead. Even though technically you are “free” to perform any style, swimmers choose the fastest stroke, which is the crawl stroke. But just call it freestyle. 



How do I learn the four strokes? Why do I want to?

Jim Harper | December 5, 2012


This article is part of the Masters Swimming 101 series

Some swimmers and many triathletes only want to swim freestyle, the fastest stroke. But for anyone inspired by Michael Phelps and other true masters of the pool, there are four techniques to conquer on the road to becoming an all-around swimmer. And it really is all about technique. There are huge advantages to everyone—triathletes included—in learning all four swimming strokes.​

Butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle. Or for short: fly, back, breast, free. This order comes from the individual medley, also known as the IM. This order also represents the typical order, in reverse, of how people acquire new strokes. If you have to choose a second stroke to learn, start with breaststroke. Then add backstroke, and finally, conquer the “fear factor” of the butterfly.  

Learning a new stroke is like learning a new language. Swimmers who learned other strokes as kids have a huge advantage over adults learning them for the first time (note: send your children to a swimming program!). But just like learning a new language, the acquisition of new strokes will challenge your brain and your body and bring benefits well beyond the techniques themselves.

Instead of expecting an overnight miracle, set your expectations on the long-term framework of months and years to acquire a new stroke. Do not become discouraged after a few weeks if you still struggle with the basics of a new stroke. Even very experienced swimmers continually practice basic drills, and the very best swimmers always, always think about technique. 

Books and videos will only help so much; you need to get in the water and move in new ways. Most learners will benefit hugely from one-on-one or small group instruction. Club coaches with large programs can only provide limited help during a practice, because the club experience takes priority over any one individual’s needs. However most USMS coaches are happy to set aside some time for you—they want you to improve and most get a huge amount of satisfaction from helping swimmers improve—that’s why they coach.