11 Ways Masters And Age Group Meets Are Different

by SwimSwam 25

February 06th, 2018 Masters

Courtesy of Elizabeth Wickham

I was at our teams Masters meet this weekend and I noticed how the energy was different than at an age group meet. In addition to fewer swimmers and spectators, everyone looked relaxed. Yes, there were a few anxious swimmers but, generally, the atmosphere was very laid back and upbeat. A friend explained it like this: Masters has more of a party atmosphere of a community of swimmers rather than the nervous energy found at age group meets.”

Here are 11 ways Masters meets are different than age group meets:


Everyone at a Masters meetthe swimmers, coaches, officials and familyreally want to be there. Or, they wouldnt be there.


Young kids drop time as they improve and get older. Masters may not.


Masters swimmers are happy when they age up because they feel its an advantage to be the youngest in their age group.


Although some Masters swimmers may be focused and serious, mostly theyre laughing and joking. Theres not much at stake for them.


Masters swimmers feel like they’ve won if they make it off the blocks and complete their event close to the time they swam the year before.


Getting out of the deep end without a ladder can feel like a major accomplishment in itself.


You will not see a single crazy parent anywhere at a Masters meet.


Nobody is trying for junior national cuts or college scholarships.


Every Masters swimmer is self-motivated and has their own reason to compete whether its strictly fitness, getting a national time or getting out of their comfort zones.


Nobody is nervous watching you swim.


Every swimmer gets out of the water with a smile on their face. You wont see any tears.

In what other ways are Masters meets different than age group meets?

Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.

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3 years ago

There is alcohol (jk–maybe)

Reply to  Jeff
3 years ago

Or at the very least, there is afterwards!

Reply to  DragonSwim
3 years ago

Or sometimes before. Getting up on the starting block with a hangover can be a real hazard.

Reply to  Rob
3 years ago

Been there.

Steve Nolan
3 years ago

“You will not see a single crazy parent anywhere at a Masters meet.”

EDIT: “You will find the crazy parents in the water at Masters meets.”

Reply to  Steve Nolan
3 years ago

Last year at master’s nationals I saw a guy berate the officials for a dq, similar to what you would see for a parent arguing after their kid got dq’d. The guy was very slow and would not have been anywhere near the top of his age group.

In general though, I thought it felt a lot like being at an age group meet (as opposed to college or senior level meets). It was very fun and relaxed. Go out and race without much pressure. I was surprised that literally everyone was in a new tech suit. And people seemed a little more prepared than I would have guessed (not a bunch of 9-5ers who only swim a couple times… Read more »

Reply to  Dan
3 years ago

Or people bought the tech suits because they only swam a couple of times a week and they needed a suit to help make them fast!

Reply to  dmswim
3 years ago

That doesn’t work, despite what some ill-informed parents and LSC board members think.

Reply to  Ferb
3 years ago

It works reasonably well for Masters (I know from experience).

The Merry Mermaid
Reply to  dmswim
3 years ago

Masters swimmers have disposable income. Tech suits also help the masters more than the kids — it’s like buying extra andominal muscles.

Reply to  Steve Nolan
3 years ago

or grandparents.

Years of Plain Suck
3 years ago

My favorite definition of a Masters swimmer:

“A 10 & Under with a charge card.”

Reply to  Years of Plain Suck
3 years ago

“A 10 & Under with a valid 21+ ID”

2 Cents
3 years ago

No one with a series of undecipherable (to a non swimmer) numbers written on their arm or leg.

Everyone’s tongue is its natural color and not dyed blue or green from a fun dip or other assorted sugary confection.

Everyone wearing a cap knows has their ears tucked in and is not doing their best Dumbo impression.

Everyone’s suit fits them without wrinkles…I know we have all seen that 8 year old wearing a size 24 jammer that looks like one of MC Hammer’s backup dancers.

You can tell if someone is “shaved and tapered”.

Beer Bellies.

Old faded college tattoos.

People listening to music that you’ve actually heard of and not sung by someone whose name is spelled… Read more »

2 Cents
Reply to  2 Cents
3 years ago

I meant, “People listening to music that you’ve actually heard of and not sung by someone whose name is NOT spelled correctly or with an apostrophe in their name like “Lil’”

Reply to  2 Cents
3 years ago

I’m a Masters swimmer, but I do love some Lil’ Wayne behind the blocks.

3 years ago

Many years ago, about 20, my father and I were on the same relay at Master’s Nationals in FTL. He passed away a while ago, but I still display the photos of the two of us in our speed / paper suits. He was a recreational swimmer, having swum his first mile at age 40. He was afraid to dive from the blocks because of their height, so he dove off of the deck. Everyone was very accommodating. My masters teammates told me repeatedly how much they enjoyed the fact that my father and I swam in the swam meet, on the same relay.

My kids are younger. Maybe one day history will repeat itself.

Siphiwe Baleka
3 years ago

“Nobody is nervous watching you swim.” – Umm, My wife is! LOL

Tall Paul
3 years ago

If more Age Group Parents swam it would be less stress on the young ones.

Reply to  Tall Paul
3 years ago

This is true. I’m surprised that since the 1970’s when I swam there should be a lot more parents out there with swimming backgrounds but there is not.

3 years ago

You can be on a relay with someone twice (or half) your age!