Name: Marcia Anziano
City and State: Denver, CO
Age Group: 60 – 64
Team Affiliation: Colorado Masters Swimming

You got into swimming later in life than a lot of other masters swimmers, when did you get started in the pool and what drew you to swimming?

I was living in Malta at the time, 1994. We had moved there for my husband’s work. I had a daughter in 8th grade and she started swimming with one of the local Maltese teams. I would take her to and from workouts, and in the process I met a woman that did triathlons and asked if I would train with her. She assumed that I knew how to swim because my daughter swam. So when I told her that I did not swim, she said that her coach would teach me. That was the beginning. I was 49 years old at the time. I grew up with two fears, water and bugs. I still don’t like bugs, but I love the water. I think I loved water as a child too, as there are many old photos of me in a galvanized tub, but that was not swimming. At the beach I was always required to wear a large orange life vest.

How long have you been swimming in Masters & why did you decide to join?

While in Malta, my friend and I started the first Masters team in that country, the Manta Rays in 1994. For one of my very first meets, we went to England, swam at the Crystal Palace, the former National pool. It was quite an experience. We went on to host meets on the island, and had attendance from other countries in Europe. When I returned to the States, mid 1995, I did some lap swimming for about a year, but then joined a local masters workout group. I realized then that to improve you need both coaching and motivation from other swimmers.

Where do you swim and how often?

I currently train with two workout groups. I train on Monday (distance) and Friday (sprint) with the Highlands Ranch Masters. On Tuesday and Thursday, I train with the Inverness Masters where I also coach several workouts each week. On occasion I train a fifth day on the weekend either on my own or with a group of friends.

When you get the chance to compete what are your favorite events to swim? Tell us about your first openwater swim race, Linda told me that you have a good story for this one!

I love the distance events. The 1650 and the 1500 have always been my best events. Linda is referring to my first open water race. While I was in Malta, having started swimming in February, I competed in a 5000 meter swim from the island of Gozo to the island of Malta. While it may seem like I would have swam in the sea often, we really trained primarily in the pool. There were 5 of us competing that day, 2 men and 3 women. I was allowed to compete as I was American, my friend (that got me into swimming) was competing as she was British, and the third women was Maltese. She wanted to be the first Maltese woman to swim the Gozo Channel, so therefore we were allowed to join in.

We went to Gozo on a boat, and when I jumped in the water, I started to get sea sick and so I got back out. I always will remember my daughter, a teenager at the time, and on board the boat that was to accompany me, telling me that I better get back in and start swimming as she did not get up at 4:30 a.m. for nothing. I got back in and swam to Malta. The race was actually broadcast on the radio, so friends were at home listening to my progress. We were swimming in the same channel with the ferry boats that connect the islands. They had been notified of our race. We were each accompanied by a local fisherman. I will always remember that race. And there were people there at the end waiting for us to finish. And finish I did. It was that race that taught me the effects of swallowing salt water!!

How does Swimming help you with your lifestyle (health, relationships, etc.)?

Swimming has truly changed my life. I grew up in a small town and girls did not do athletics. I was a tap dancer. I was always a bit over weight. As an adult I dabbled in running, step aerobics, all the usual things. But nothing has the appeal of swimming. I always say that you make your best friends in the pool, there are no false pretenses. We are what we are, and we all love the same thing.

What do you do for a living out of the pool?

I am retired from almost 40 years of software development. I got involved with computers right after college and continued to work with the mainframe platform for all those years. As retirement neared, I decided to get involved with coaching. I want to be able to share my sport with others. I have attained my ASCA Level II and Masters Certifications and coach Masters on a regular basis. I also work with adults that are learning to swim, as I think that I have a better understanding of what they are going through.

Marcia Swimming in the Maui Channel Relay

What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a masters swimmer?

They were always very amazed. But they loved hearing about all the things that I participated in.

You currently serve as the Chair of the USMS Fitness Committee. Can you tell us about what it is the committee does and what it has planned for the future?

The focus of the committee is to provide information on the benefits of swimming for adults and programs of interest to all swimmers, as many of the members of USMS never compete in pool or open water events. The committee publishes monthly articles on the USMS web site on the benefits of swimming. In addition, we have two ongoing programs. One, known as Go the Distance, is a distance tracking program. You simply submit the distance that you swim each month. There are milestones along the way, and when you reach those milestones, you can get caps and patches that reflect the distance that you have swum. The second program is the Check Off Challenge. Each year this event has a t-shirt that you purchase. It has all of the pool events that are contested listed on the shirt. As you complete each event, you simply make a check mark on that box. You do not have to do these in competition, but can do them in a workout, a non threatening environment. The shirt is just a way to get one to think about these events and challenge themselves to give them a try. We plan to continue these programs and are looking into ways to enhance the Go The Distance program to attract more swimmers.

How would somebody go about getting involved with a committee like yours within USMS?

Normally what happens is that a person will attend the USMS Convention, held in September, as a delegate for their local LMSC. At that convention they can attend any of the committee meetings that they have interest in. At the end of the convention, delegates are asked to fill out a form with the committees in which they are interested. Then the executive committee uses these forms to fill out open committee slots.

Anything else that you want to share? Have a great swimming story? Are you a top 10 swimmer or a record holder in your age group ? Swimming tips?

I have achieved 48 individual and 17 relay USMS Top Ten times. I was the National Champion in the 1650 in 2006, and placed first in both the 10K Postal and the 10K Open Water swims in 2006, achieving All American Status.

I would say that the best thing about swimming is that you can always find something to work on and improve. At every practice, I try to focus on one aspect of my swimming. The past couple of weeks, the focus has been on keeping my head down, and now (after attending a clinic over the weekend) I am focusing on my kick (or lack thereof). Many people think that it must get boring just swimming back and forth, but that is not what we are doing. When training, you always have a focus and a goal, that is what keeps you coming back, that and the fun you have with all your other crazy wet friends.

** A big thank you to Marcia for sharing with us! I think she’s a great example for anyone that thinks you can’t learn to swim as an adult. This just in… you can and you can be very successful at it! I shared her story with my girlfriend to help motivate her to keep coming to the pool with me.

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