What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet! You’re probably thinking ‘what the heck does Shakespeare have to do with swimming?’ Well, I’ll tell you! But first I would just like to say that I can only speak for myself, and that my opinion does not reflect that of anyone else.
Something that has become apparent to me, whether it’s intentional or not, is that some people put a lot less stock in Master’s swimming. Time and time again, I’ve heard variations of ‘that’s okay, it’s just Master’s.’ It is just Master’s? Sounds like a qualification to me. While it very well may be true that most of us swam as age groupers, on club teams, in high school, and college even, I don’t think that should lessen our current athletic aspirations one bit. I don’t see this as us trying to relive our glory days, especially if you’re like me and don’t have any.
In my humble opinion, Master’s can be anything and everything you want it to be. It can be a way to get back into shape, a way to quell that competitive urge we all seem to have, a way to make new friends, or a way to reconnect to something you love in a low pressure environment. For me, it’s something new and exciting. I’m not your typical Master’s swimmer. I didn’t swim as an age grouper, on a club team, in high school, and most certainly not in college; if I had, who knows what would have come of me. The discipline and drive I’ve awakened in myself through this sport could have been a force to be reckoned with – you might’ve already known my name.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that even though my goals don’t include Olympic Trials, doesn’t mean my swimming should be undervalued. To me, it’s not just Master’s… it’s a way for me to be more active, to meet new people and learn from them, to accomplish things I never thought I could, and to compete in a sport I have come to love both on the National and International level. I’m really lucky in that I’ve met a lot of people who are incredibly supportive of what I’m trying to accomplish, and that’s all I can ask for.
So what’s in a name? Nothing. A swimmer is a swimmer is a swimmer. Whether you’re a Master’s swimmer, an age group swimmer, a collegiate swimmer, or a National Team member, we all share a mutual love for the sport and I think it’s important that we recognize that.