Jul 162012

You don’t have to compete in swim meets and officially sanctioned open water swims to call yourself a masters swimmer. While I love competition, not everyone does. Did you know that it is fitness swimmers that make up the bulk of the near 60,000 members of U.S. Masters Swimming? Well Fitness Swimmers, stand up and take a bow!

With that in mind, this post is dedicated to the fitness swimmer. Give a big round of applause for those who come out to the pool (or open body of water) and swim on a regular basis to stay fit. It is one of the best forms of exercise and these fitness swimmers are impressive with their dedication.

If you don’t like competition, or just simply can’t fit it into your schedule, there are abundant opportunities to challenge yourself in a wide variety of ways. U.S. Masters Swimming has steadily grown their web segment on Fitness  Swimming throughout the years and they list a few of the postal swims/fitness challenges on their site. You can catch it here.

Many of the fitness challenges allow you to sign up online (generally a very nominal fee) and give you something for attempting or completing the challenge – sometimes a pin, a hat, a t-shirt, etc. Other fitness challenges are sometimes reserved for a club or specific to a region.

It is incredibly fun to try some of these challenges, some of which are zany, and some are more serious. Check some of these challenges out!

The February Fitness Challenge

In this challenge, you are rewarded for swimming at least 5 days each week in the month of February. There are special awards for those who amass 100,000 yards of swimming. Whoa, that is a lotta yards!

The S.W.I.M. Fitness Challenge

This swim “Streamlining Weigh Loss In Masters” was hosted by Illinois Masters. It was a 10-week weight loss challenge that started on Super Bowl Sunday.

The Independence Day Challenge

This was a challenge to swim an 800 I.M., time yourself in each 200, and send your results in on the USMS Discussion Forum.

The Brute Squad Swim

Ah, this is a toughie. Swim a 1650 free (or 1500m if long course), a 400 IM and a 200 Fly. Events can be swum in any order with as much rest between as desired. All three events must be swum in the same 24 hour day.

Davis Brute Squad

Now these guys really put the challenge on the Brute Squad Swim. (And, Davis, after all, was the originators of the Brute Squad.) In their version, you swim the 1650 Free, 400 IM and 200 Fly in any order and back-to-back. You submit your total time to complete the three events (rest time is included). The challenge is to try to keep the rest at minimum. If you are really a brute, you don’t take any rest at all!

The 12,000 Yards of Christmas

Trying to get ride of those holiday calories? Look no further than this 12,000 yard challenge! The goal is to swim 12,000 yards in one week, the week between December 24th and Jan 1st. Sweet! Eat the sweets, do the sets, and perhaps you can meet your quest to burn those calories off.  Of course, better yet, don’t eat the sweets and still do the 12,000 yards and you come out ahead. 🙂

The TAM 1650 Postal Challenge

Swim 1650 yards in the month of January or February, have someone catch your splits each 50, and that’s all ya gotta do for this Fitness Challenge which is hosted each year by the Tamalpais Masters in San Rafael, CA.

The Turducken Workout

A turducken is a turkey that is stuffed with a duck, which in turn has been stuffed with a chicken. Uhm…Yuck? It helps to enjoy IM if you are going to do this set which involves

4 x 350 @ :30-:40 rest interval

1st 350=100 FL/50 BK/50 BR/50 BK/100 FL

2nd 350=100 BK/50 BR/50 FR/50 BR/100 BK

3rd 350=100 BR/50 FR/50 FL/50 FR/100 BR

4th 350=100 FR/50 FL/50 BK/50 FL/100 FR

On each round do the middle 50 at 200 IM pace; the 50 before it as build and the 50 after it as recovery, and the turkey 100s at the front and back at basic aerobic pace.

 The Butternuts

Now, these guys are nuts. This is a club for anyone who can swim 500 yards of butterfly without stopping. Yikes!

The Check Off Challenge

Our Swymnuts will recognize this as we did this one here in our first year. Basically, you swim every event in a short course yards meet + an open water swim. You can do this in practice or by attending meets and “checking off” the events you swim. For the ultimate challenge do it all in one workout. For the ultra challenge, do it straight, with no rest between sets.

July Swim For Distance Month

Hosted by the Dallas Aquatic Masters, this one involves swimming as much yardage as you can in the month of July. Walnut Creek also has a version of this that they do in March and they title theirs, March Madness. I know a few swimmers who have gone over 300,000 yards. O-M-G!

Those are just a few of the challenges I found while poking around the USMS Discussion Forums. If you know of more, let me know! If you’ve got an idea for a challenge we might undertake as Sywmnuts, let’s hear it. After all, we are NUTS, right?

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