A swimmer’s challenge

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kali L. Gradishar and Tech. Sgt. Larry W. Carpenter Jr.
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Are you looking to burn a lot of calories, gain some strength or build your cardio-respiratory fitness? How about learning an activity easy on the joints that you can enjoy in later in life with the whole family?

The Master's Swim Team would be the perfect group to join if you answered yes to any of the above questions. The team, which meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 6:30 p.m., is open to people 18 years of age or older and of all physical abilities.

"There are members in the class who are rehabbing from surgeries that need the low impact exercise, some that are beginners that want to learn how to swim and then there are some competitive swimmers," said Cherese McCoy, 92nd Services Squadron sports specialist. "There are quite a few tri-athletes on the team that are signed up for the 2008 Coeur d'Alene Iron Man."

Mrs. McCoy, who began teaching the free class when it began in October, swam competitively for 14 years and competed in her first triathalon when she was 15 years old. Since then, she competed finished the 2007 Coeur d'Alene Iron Man competition, her ultimate athletic dream, she said.

The class focuses on the four basic competitive swim strokes - the butterfly, back stroke, breast stroke and freestyle. In the beginning, the swimmer will focus on specific strokes and eventually progress into the learning the flip turns and pull downs, though the coaches allow participants to work out at their desired level and pace.

The hardest part is getting started, which is actually rather easy. Those wishing to participate don't have to sign up, they can just show up and start swimming.

People shouldn't be afraid of giving the class a shot, said Mrs. McCoy. "I would tell people, 'When you first start, the first night will be the hardest and it will get easier after that...You will use muscles that you didn't even know you had.'"

One of the most important factors of the swimming class is it provides a fun, very low-impact workout and is available for any level swimmer over 18 years of age.

"I like that swimming is a total body aerobic exercise," said Katherine Gandolf, a participant in the class. "I find it hard to get motivated to go to the gym some days, but I always look forward to swimming; it's really fun."

"There are swimmers at all levels in the program; Cherise sets a pace and plan depending on your ability level," she added.

Though some of the Masters Swim Team members compete against other swim teams every few months, not all members have to compete.

It doesn't matter if you're a beginner or advance, "we welcome anybody" who enjoys swimming, said Mrs. McCoy. "It's also good for fitness... The class is mentally and physically rewarding [and is] extremely reviving and refreshing."

Anyone interested in attending the class or in need of more information can contact Cherese at 247-2991 or just show up to practice and start swimming. It is recommended that participants bring swimming goggles.

"Just give it a shot," Mrs. McCoy said.