“After 30+ years in business, I was a little more than overdue addressing my lifestyle if I was ever going to make it another 30 years! Moving south from Appleton, WI, in 2018, I was looking forward to reversing my priorities-more time spent engaging in outdoor activities and less working behind a desk. After spending the last few winters in Florida, I knew I wanted to relocate to Fort Lauderdale and focus on swimming with the Swim Fort Lauderdale (SFTL) US Masters team. My short history with them had already led me to some impressive changes, and I wanted more!

There is something about struggling through a tough set, or pushing each other to go faster that builds connections with people. As time passes, SFTL teammates, who are so inclusive and welcoming, become your friends, as other common interests are uncovered. Through it all, swimming is the thread that stitches these friendships together.

Swimming has strengthened my body and enabled my active lifestyle. Swimming is my “fountain of youth.” I look around at my SFTL teammates and no matter what cards they have been dealt with respect to “good” genes, acquired illness or disability, they will tell you they are better off because they swim. We are aging gracefully as swimming stresses our bodies and stimulates it to adapt, repair and grow. US Masters swimming enables me to stay active, retain youthful attributes and sustain a positive outlook. Living through these post-COVID days, I realize swimming is also a privilege. Access to adequate facilities and coaching over the last year is not prevalent. Fortunately, my swimming hiatus was short only because of the SFTL coaching staff’s ingenuity, and its credibility with City managers. The pandemic has been very stressful. Without swimming, coping through it would have approached unbearable.

I admire my SFTL teammates because each one is unique and has an incredible personal story with swimming typically playing a big part. My SFTL teammates make me a better person. They give me perspective. Some teammates have been swimming their entire life and achieved incredible successes while others like me, came to it later in life. Regardless, we all enjoy the spirit, camaraderie, and thrill of being part of a competitive swim team. These diverse stories enrich my life. They expose me to perspectives I probably wouldn’t have ever seen had it not been for being part of SFTL.” Mark R.

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"Being part of the SFTL Masters Swim Team has not only kept me physically fit, but also mentally healthy. It takes effort and discipline to wake up early, make time during our busy work and family lives, and hit the pool consistently. The coaches and lane mates are awesome, there are levels for every serious swimmer, and my body and mind seriously miss it when I’m not there - I’ve become addicted. Thank you coach Marty for your energetic leadership, to all coaches and swim mates for making swimming such a healthy and positive environment for all of us." Rainer S.

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"After graduating college, I was set to hang up my cap and goggles and say goodbye to a sport that had all but defined me for over half of my life. I was once told, by a member of the swimming community who I trusted, to never do masters swimming. They said it was full of people trying to re-live glory days and prove something they couldn’t in their careers. I promised myself I would give it up when college ended. But after a 10 year hiatus from the pool, I felt an urge to get back in. Part of me just wanted to see if I could even swim still, and another part just missed the way swimming made me feel.

Two years after joining Swim Fort Lauderdale - SFTL Masters, I have rediscovered all the wonderful things that made me fall in love with swimming in the first place. I have found a community that believes deeply in fun and hard work, a team that supports one another both in and out of the pool, teammates that make you laugh so hard in practice you can barely catch your breath at the walls and challenge you to be the best version of yourself every day. While so many of my teammates are inanely fast, breaking national and world records, I don’t think any of them are out to relive or recreate anything. I know this team is simply trying to enjoy a sport and community that they love, and have as much fun as possible along the way. This is what I love about swimming, and what SFTL has brought back into my life. This team has made me a better and stronger person and I am so thankful I ignored the advice, and got back into the pool."  Mallory W. 


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"In my late fifties I came down with a serious illness which suddenly ended my career and made me homebound for almost two years.  During my process of recovery I decided to not focus upon all of the “take aways” but rather to take my life back.  Luckily my health improved and I set an outrageous goal of swimming around Key West for my 60th birthday.   When I announced this to my husband he was sipping water, and choked so hard that he coughed for a week.  He however said the only way he would support me was if I got a coach.  So I did.   It was December 2017.  I hobbled onto the deck at the Ft. Lauderdale Aquatic Complex with a cast on my foot. Coach Marty was there, and I asked him if he could coach me around Key West.  He flashed me his famous smile and said “sure”!

It had been nearly 4 decades since I had swum my last meet in college.  Swimming was a figment of my memory. I was intending to be a one and done.  I wanted a coach to get me through the swim around Key West, collect the awesome medal, and then hang it up forever.  I completed Key West, then became hooked beyond belief.  There were subtle comments on the part of the coach and others that led me back to pool competition.   The competitor in me has been reignited in a healthy way.  What I enjoy most is my teammates.  I have met the healthiest, kindest, most supportive people.   I swim with world ranked swimmers, and newcomers and I love to see each and every person attain their goals.    For example, one teammate new to competition entered a grueling race at nationals. I watched her, and was thrilled by her performance.  I also was able to witness several world records fall at the hands of another teammate, which was equally thrilling.  So now I am where I am supposed to be in life, surrounded by the most amazing people who I can’t wait to see every day.  And then, yes, there is SWIMMING."  Carla A.


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