Name: Joel M.
City and State: Los Angeles, CA
Age Group: 35-39
Team Affiliation: WH2O
How long have you been swimming in Masters & why did you decide to join?
I started swimming in Masters on July 5th, 2004. I quit swimming back in the Fall of 1987 and to be honest didn’t do a lick of swimming or any sort of working out till the winter of 2004. After over a decade of smoking a pack a day and other unhealthy lifestyle choices I was looking like a Buddha. For my birthday that year I was given and I returned a gift of a gym membership. A few months later on Easter morning as I was getting ready to head to a work event the water was shut off in the middle of my shower. As I put on the towel and headed to ask the DWP guys when they would be done I noticed a huge blob of fat folding itself over the towel. A few hours later I joined the gym. I used my one free training session and I was off. Okay so I puked my first time by myself. I then attempted a spin class in which I fell off the bike and have the scar to this day. So I headed down to the swimming pool at my gym. An overheated cloudy pool. After my first swim workout I puked again. This was all in my first week! After a few weeks I felt more comfortable and started to look up Masters Swimming. I looked a few teams but the information on various websites was lacking. Except for one, West Hollywood Aquatics. After reading the website including reading about two years of archived newsletters I decided to join. I waited to the beginning of the following month and swam on Wednesday, July 5th, 2004.
What kind of swimming background do you have? None at all, Age group, High School, College, International Competition, the Olympics?
I started swimming very young as my mother sent my sister and I to swim lessons at the local YWCA. We also belonged to a country club in the summer but the club didn’t have a swim team or any instructional swims it was more for kids to horse around. A few years later we joined a local Boys Club. After a year or so it was clear that my big sister had taken to the sport. Our parents then enrolled us in a private club at Brown University which would eventually become “Little Rhody Aquatics Club”. My sister continued to excel at swimming while I just swam. I actually didn’t enjoy it that much and would fake stomach cramps almost daily to get out of workout. During Junior High our city didn’t have an official swim team but did have an annual competition which we joined in besides our age group swimming. Finally I actually did well at a meet. Of course it wasn’t much fair that I had proper instruction swimming against inner city kids who didn’t have much more than lap swim at the Boys Club. In high school we moved to the suberbs and I swam for three years at Cumberland High School. I quit before my Senior year season started. I hated swimming all those years and to be honest still wasn’t very good. I hung up my speedo in 1987.
Where do you swim and how often? Do you compete? If you do compete what are your favorite events to swim?
I swim with West Hollywood Aquatics WH2O somewhere between 4 and 6 times a week. Our team offers workouts at various times so I jump between night and morning swims. I’ll compete from time to time at about 3 or 4 swim meets a year at most. I pick the ones that are close by like at UCLA that way I can grab some cookies at Dee Dee Reese after the meet. I also head down to Long Beach for Regionals and have gone to IGLA (International Gay Lesbian Aquatics) Championships and US Masters Championships. I still hate competing and get so nervous I get sick to my stomach. Another great thing about smaller local meets is that they end pretty early and go really fast so you don’t have time to get sick to the stomach.
My favorite events are the distance events such as the 800 and 1500 freestyle and the 200 butterfly. I will be the first to admit that I’m not that fast but I can keep going and going. I’ve been described as a squirrel on crack and as the energizer bunny. I’ll never place in the 100 freestyle or the 100 butterfly but I know I can in the longer events. Not only am I able to continue on when most others just give up the fact that the longer the event the less competition means I’m able to actually place. The perfect example of that was at the 2007 USMS SCY Championships. In the 100 fly I finished I 13th but in the 200 fly I finished 7th. Then in the 1650 I finished 5th.
How does Swimming help you with your lifestyle (health, relationships, etc.)?
Swimming is what keeps me healthy. I eat horribly and will devour a box of Oreo cookies in one sitting. Also swimming in a Masters swim team and going to various meets I’ve meet people who’d I never have met otherwise and have made some life long friends.
What do you do for a living out of the pool?
Right now I’m job searching. I took some time off earlier in the year and have started the fun task of searching for a job.
What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a masters swimmer?
My previous employers were behind me 100% and chatted me up about swimming all the time. Then again it was a very sports oriented office so along with talks about the Dodgers and Redsox we talked about Michael Phelps.
How about swimming advocacy? Have you helped run or start a team? Are you involved with your LMSC? Do you have a blog or swimming website you’d like to share?
I consider myself a swimming advocate chatting it up with my friends who bike, run and do tri’s. My blog of course is my biggest outlet for my advocacy. My blog started just to be a record of my workouts and training but has evolved to cover anything that is related to swimming and fitness in general. Over the last two years I served on my swim teams board and before that a subcommittee. That was an experience that I recommend to anyone who participates in any sport. Run for your teams Board of Governance Group. You’ll never complain about anything related to the team ever again. Adults whine more than 10 year old kids!
Anything else that you want to share? Have a great swimming story? Are you a record holder in your age group? Swimming tips?
I can’t think of any great swimming story but I am really inspired by so many of my team mates. We have one swimmer in the 60+ age group who swims the most beautiful 200 butterfly. We have people who never had any proper instruction growing up who give 100% at every workout. It’s odd that I look at the guys and gals in the fast lane and although I respect them for who they are the swimmers that inspire me are those in the slow and medium lanes. They are the ones who show up to workout after workout, week after week and are the first one’s in the pool and the last one’s out. Those swimmers are the one’s who keep me coming back and keep me inspired to swim.
Swimming Tips from me? I take it you’ve never seen me swim. Remember I swim like a squirrel on crack.
**A big thank you to Joel from the 17th man swim blog, which is excellent by the way, I encourage you to check it out.
If you want to have a swimmer profile on the blog check out the details here.