What is Masters Swimming ?
Masters Swimming is an organized programme promoting fitness for adults through the sport of swimming. Swimmers around the world participate at all levels of ability, from swimming for general health and enjoyment, to competition at local, national and international levels.
Why Masters Swimming ?
Masters Swimming provides an important motivational framework for promoting a lifelong exercise regimen that exerts tangible benefits on its participants in the form of physical and mental well-being. Regular exercise contributes to good health and swimming is considered by health professionals to be one of the best and safest ways to exercise. It benefits the cardiovascular system, reduces cholesterol and has a positive effect on weight control, muscle tone, stress reduction and endurance. It also possibly helps to offset the decrease in bone mass that is progressive with the aging process.
Unlike many other sports, swimming does not involve the purchase of costly equipment or clothing.
Membership in a Masters swim club provides an opportunity not only to get fit, but also to meet new people, make new friends, compete in meets and to travel. Masters Swimming adds fun and friendship to fitness.
How Much Does It Cost ?
There are three cost components: club fees; MSO registration fees; meet entry fees for those who wish to compete.
The cost to join a Masters swim club varies widely depending upon the cost to rent pool time, the number of workouts per week, the number of coaches and the activities and services offered.
For MSO fees, see Registration and Fees. Meet entry fees vary; local meets can range from $10 to $30; international meets can cost over $100.
Do I Have to Compete ?
To compete or not is up to each individual. Swimmers have their own reasons for joining a Masters swim club. Many belong purely for the joy of improving their overall physical fitness, at the same time taking advantage of an opportunity to interact socially with other people.
For others, there is the challenge of proving themselves by competing against themselves and the clock or against others in their own age category. For them, it is the thrill of competition. At the same time, attending any of the various swim meets affords an opportunity to socialize with swimmers from other clubs.
Competitions are held in “short course” (25 metre or 25 yard) and “long course” (50 metre) pools and feature races in freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and individual medley (a combination of all four strokes). Competitors race against other swimmers of the same speed. Results are organized in five-year increments (18-24, 25-29, 30-34, etc. up to the maximum age of the participants).
There are also opportunities to participate in open water competitions. Canada is world famous for its numerous elite marathon swimmers, both at the professional and amateur level. For Masters, some of the clubs in the provinces of New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia conduct open water events. Distances normally swum include 1, 3, 5, and 10 kilometres. (For the more adventurous long-distance swimmer, the Ontario Government mandated organization, Solo Swims of Ontario, organizes and conducts an individual’s attempt at swimming across Lake Ontario.)
For those who think competition is only for the elite athletes, swim meets feature all calibres of swimmers racing against each other or against themselves to better their previous best times. Fellow competitors often warmly applaud a less proficient participant who completes, at least for him or her, an arduous event. Athletes always appreciate another athlete’s gutsy performance. The competitor, in turn, reflects not only on the placing in the event, but also on the self-satisfaction of sheer accomplishment.
The Benefits of a Masters Swim Club
A Masters swim club provides individuals with an opportunity to improve their physical fitness, to receive regular coaching and stroke improvement, to attend swim meets and swim clinics and to participate in social activities.
The Activities of a Masters Swim Club
The provision of specific activities is up to each individual club and members can choose to participate in any or all as each sees fit:
- Access to a pool by being part of a group
- General fitness through a regular swimming regimen
- Concentrated training to become faster/fitter
- Opportunities to increase swimming distance and stamina
- Regular work-outs
- Coaching and stroke improvement
- Weight training
- Flexibility exercising
- Swim meets
- Swim clinics
- Team spirit
- Club newsletter
- Club socials
- Triathlon support
Masters Swimming Ontario provides an insurance program that covers the following participants at organized events:
- Swimmers who are registered with MSO,
- Occasional non-registered swimmers who are trying out for the club
- coaches, managers, trainers,
- elected club officials, volunteers, administrators,
- registered referees, judges and other meet officials,
All activities governed under the Constitution and by-Laws of Masters Swimming Ontario are covered, such as organized practices, swim meets and organized post-meet activities.
Note: The above is a brief non-binding description of the policy. For specific details, refer to the actual policy.
How to Start a Masters Swim Club
- Visit nearby pools, particularly when there is adult or lap swimming, to discern any interest in forming a Masters club.
- Post notices of the intention to form a Masters swim club in pools, shopping malls, sports facilities, community halls, apartment buildings or anywhere that is appropriate. The MSO poster “Masters Swimming” and the MSO promotional brochure can both be obtained from the MSO Registrar.
- Contact various organizations such as Parks and Recreation, YM/YWCA, YM/YWHA, university and community colleges, high schools, community pools and apartment buildings to ascertain pool availability and cost.
- Contact triathlon organizations for prospective members.
- Advertise in community newspapers.
- Extol the benefits of Masters Swimming: fitness, fun and friendship.
- Enquire of other Masters swim clubs how they got started. Invite one of its members to a meeting. Lists of local clubs can be obtained from the MSO Registrar. An MSO Board member would be pleased to address a group and explain the benefits of Masters Swimming and how to get started.
- Form an organizing committee from the interested people contacted and choose a name for the swim club. Decide on membership fees, coach’s remuneration, number of weekly workouts and starting time and length of each workout. Decide on goals such as whether to host a swim meet or publish a club newsletter or hold social activities. Decide on what equipment is necessary, such as pace clocks, kick boards, pull-buoys, hand paddles, stopwatches, lap counters and a club banner.
- Register your club. For a Masters swim club to avail itself of and be protected by the blanket Masters insurance policy, the Masters swim club MUST be registered and EVERY swimmer in that swim club MUST be registered with MSO.
- To become registered with MSO, contact the Registrar: 416 944 9226 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Registration and Fees
Every swimmer, whether or not a member of a Masters swim club, who wishes to participate in the Masters swimming programme in Ontario, must be registered with the provincial organization, Masters Swimming Ontario. No swimmer will be allowed to participate in any MSO-sanctioned event unless the swimmer’s registration status is current. All Masters swim clubs must also register with MSO. Registration forms are available at the website at http://www.mastersswimmingontario.ca/registration/
Registration involves the payment of a modest annual fee for both the individual and the swim clubs. Fees are as follows:
1. For the Masters Swim Club – $ 45.00
2. For a swimmer who is a member of a registered club - $ 35 .00
3. For an unattached swimmer – $ 40.00
These fees are due and payable in September each year.
In cooperation with Master Swimming Canada, there is an online registration system designed for Club Registrars to send in fees for their club and swimmers. Forms and registration is found at
The distribution of fees are as follows:
Of the $35.00 registration fee paid by each swimmer, $2 goes to Swim Ontario and
$23 will be going to MSC for the 2013-14 year. $10.00 is used by MSO to administer and promote Masters Swimming in Ontario, to arrange for adequate insurance for all registered participants. Here is the distribution of your fee:
Masters Swimming Ontaro:$10
Masters Swimming Canada: $21
Swim Ontario $2
The additional $15.00 paid by an Unattached Swimmer (a swimmer not registered with a Member Club) covers the additional required administration, including the mailing of all correspondence and Board minutes. A swimmer registered with a Member Club may also receive all correspondence and Board minutes by paying the additional $15.00.
Information concerning registration and annual fees can be obtained from the Registrar.