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Introduction and FAQ (frequently asked questions)
Can I keep up with the swimmers in Great Bay Masters?
Do I need to swim all the competitive strokes and do flip turns?
I'd like to try Great Bay Masters but I feel intimidated, what should I do?
I was a college varsity swimmer, is Great Bay Masters for me?
What lane should I get into at my first practice?
What else should I think about for my first practice?
I'd like to get in better shape before swimming with Great Bay, what can I do?
Can I get private swim instruction if I'd like to improve my swimming?
Am I expected to attend all the practices?
What else is expected of me if I swim with Great Bay?
What is a typical workout like?
What about workout 'lingo'?
What if the Sunday two-hour workout is too long for me?
What about competing with Great Bay Masters?
Do I need to swim at one of the primary Great Bay Pools to compete with the team?

Can I keep up with the swimmers in Great Bay Masters?
Great Bay Masters (GBM) swimmers include everyone from adults who are learning the competitive strokes to those who were competitive swimmers in their youth. We are supportive of new swimmers and want to help you improve your strokes, fitness and conditioning.

Do I need to swim all the competitive strokes and do flip turns?
No. We ask that you are able to swim freestyle for four lengths of a 25-yard pool continuously when you start swimming with GBM. We also ask that you have the willingness to learn the remaining three competitive strokes: backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. Our coaches are ready to help you learn the strokes and turns. If you are unable to swim a certain stroke due to a physical limitation, that's not a problem.

I'd like to try Great Bay Masters but I feel intimidated, what should I do?
You are not alone. Many swimmers have said that they thought about trying a masters swim workout for a long time before they got up the courage to give it a try. There are a few things to keep in mind. Great Bay Masters is a wonderful group of people. We have swimmers as young as 18, some who are over 80, and everyone in between. We are a polite and friendly group who welcome new swimmers. Some swimmers have come to meet the coach and watch a workout to see what it's like before swimming their first workout. Chances are very good that if you get over that initial fear and swim a workout with us, you'll be happy you did. Swimming is a great lifelong fitness activity, and it's both fun and motivating to do your workout with a group of like-minded adults.

I was a college varsity swimmer, is Great Bay Masters for me?
Yes, we have all levels of swimmers including former college varsity swimmers. Our workouts are designed to be challenging to swimmers at every level.

What lane should I get into at my first practice?
Facing the pool at the end where swimmers start the workout, the far left lane is the fastest lane and the far right lane is the slower lane. Generally swimmers in the far left lane could swim freestyle at a pace of one minute and fifteen seconds, or faster, per 100 yards. Swimmers in the far right lane could swim at a pace of two minutes and thirty seconds per 100 yards free.

What else should I think about for my first practice?
We recommend that you take it easy during your first practice. Pick a lane that you think is beneath your ability. Take some time to meet the coach and people in the workout. Get used to the flow of the practice. Give yourself a chance to gain fitness if you haven't been swimming that much. In Masters swimming there is no rush. We're looking forward toward years of swimming health and fitness.

If I'd like to get in better shape before swimming with Great Bay, what should I do?
If you haven't been swimming and you'd like to improve your swimming fitness a little before starting GBM workouts, you can consider doing some lap swimming at any pool accessible to you. A simple workout to start with might be:

Warm up, then:
1 x 400 yards free @ 60 seconds rest
2 x 200 yards free @ 45 seconds rest
4 x 100 yards free @ 30 seconds rest
warm down

Keep in mind that it's a lot more fun to swim with other people in an organized workout.

Can I get private swim instruction if I'd like to improve my swimming?
Yes. Send an Email to ~ed at greatbaymasters.org~ to get contact information for people who are doing masters swim instruction.

Am I expected to attend all the practices?
No. Our programs and practices are there for you to use as you wish. We have some swimmers who can only make a few practices a month because they are busy with work and family. Other swimmers might swim almost every workout. Whatever works for you is fine, we're happy to have you swimming with us.

What else is expected of me if I swim with Great Bay?
There are no requirements, you are welcome to just drop in and swim some workouts. However there is a lot more to Great Bay Masters than that. We hope that you will join Great Bay Masters Swimming, a United States Masters Swimming registered club. GBM does a lot of work to organize and promote masters swimming. By joining GBM you will:
- support your local masters swimming club and be a member of our organization
- receive USMS SWIMMER magazine every two months
- be able to participate in USMS sanctioned events
- support masters swimming in the United States
To join Great Bay Masters Swimming, click here
We also hope that you will support us in all our team efforts (more on that below). There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer to help us with various tasks too, if you're interested. Mostly we hope that you will improve your fitness, health, and swimming, and have a lot of fun with us.

What is a typical workout like?
Here are two typical, somewhat challenging, workouts:
Click here a freestyle workout
Click here for a stroke workout
Each of these workouts is an Adobe PDF file. Each workout has six pages, one page for each group of the workout. Group 1 is the fastest and does the most distance. Group 2 is a little slower than Group 1, then Group 3, 4, 5 and 6. Group 6 is the slower lane, doing the least distance. Usually Group 6 does not follow the intervals closely. The workout is similar for each lane, but lower groups have longer time intervals and do progressively less distance. If you see some abbreviations or notations on the workouts that are unfamiliar, don't worry, there is a coach to explain everything in detail.

What about workout 'lingo'?
Swimming has it's own jargon. Below a few terms and abbreviations are presented to get you started. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of terms, or a fully detailed explanation. That's what the coaches are for! I you are unfamiliar with some of the terms, have patience, they'll become second nature after a while.
Drill: a special way of swimming to work on an element of stroke technique
Descend: in a series of swims of the same distance, do the first one slow and each subsequent swim faster than the one before.
Build: start this swim slow and get faster throughout the swim
Negative split: The first half of the swim is slow, the second half of the swim is faster.
IM: individual medley; the stroke order is fly, back, breast, free
FT: fingertip drag drill (freestyle)
c/u: catch up drill (freestyle)
Combo: a freestyle drill where you swim both the fingertip drill and the catch-up drill at the same time.
Biondi: a freestyle drill, sometimes also called the '3, 6, 3' drill

The terms above are just a few that are commonly used, ask your coach if you have questions.

What if the Sunday two-hour workout is too long for me?
We offer a two-hour workout Sunday mornings at Dover. That's more swimming than some of us would like to do. If you'd like to swim on Sunday morning at Dover, but don't want to swim the full two hours, that's fine. We have lots of swimmers who just do the first hour, or the middle hour, or the second hour. All we ask is that you join in and pick up the workout at the point that the rest of the lane has reached.

What about competing with Great Bay Masters?
Great Bay Masters focuses on a number of competitions during the year. There are pool swim meets, pool based postal swims, and open water swims. GBM typically hosts three meets per year, two at the City of Portsmouth Indoor Pool (November and March) and one at the Jenny Thompson outdoor pool in Dover (July). To look at the results of some half-day meets hosted by GBM, click here. There are two New England championship meets, a 25-meter championship in early December (see some results here), and a 25-yard Championship in late March or early April (2003 results; 2004 results). Great Bay Masters puts a big emphasis on the team effort. The New England championship meets are scored to the sixteenth place in both individual events and relays, for every age group. Age groups in individual events are 19-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, etc., etc. This means that everyone scores pointsm - if not in an individual event, then on relays. The team contest is usually determined by the number of swimmers and number of swims by each team. Relays score double points, so they have a big impact on the team contest. Swimming team relays at these events is a lot of fun. By 'pooling' our efforts we experience camaraderie and friendship while working toward a common goal. We hope everyone will support us by swimming our focus team contests.

Do I need to swim at one of the primary Great Bay Pools to compete with the team?
No. We welcome swimmers from other pools who are friends, relatives, or otherwise connected with Great Bay Masters Swimming. If you have been swimming the workouts on the GBM web page, you are also welcome to compete with us.