Everyone has probably heard the old acronym adage about having SMART goals. As your Coaches Co-Chair, I’d like to encourage you to think about what your swimming SMART goals are for 2018.
The “T” (time-related) could be as of the end of 2018, or you could break 2018 up into any partial time segments, say from now until the OMS Championship Meet in April, for example.
As for “S” (specific), there are a number of specific goals one could have for the 2018 swim season. A few quick examples are:
- Participate in my first Masters swim meet
- Finish an open water swim
- Participate in an ePostal swim
- Swim 500 miles (cumulative)
- Earn a national top 10 time in my best event
One reason I deeply love the sport of swimming is the fact that there are a seemingly endless number of “M” measurable goals in the sport, whether it is maintaining a faster send-off interval in a set you regularly swim or trying to improve your time in the 50 LCM free (just one of 53 events in Masters swimming). It’s helpful to choose goals that are easily measurable, for example by time or by completion (“finishing”).
Selecting goals that are “A” attainable and “R” realistic might be aided with input from coaches or teammates. I’ve found that people tend to doubt themselves and their abilities and often benefit from a little encouragement and confidence-building from coaches and friends. Some people are very good at understanding their bodies and abilities and have a good internal compass for choosing attainable and realistic goals. But everyone can potentially benefit from others’ input when selecting goals. So when in doubt, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask someone!
Oregon Masters Swimming does a great job of enhancing our motivation to set goals for ourselves, by offering recognition and awards for participation. In particular, long-distance swimming has many opportunities for goal-setting. For example, swimmers can earn an “Oregon Postal Challenge” award patch for completing at least 3 of the ePostal National Championship swims that USMS holds each year. Long-distance chair, Bob Bruce, sends out a nice patch along with a patch “chevron” or “segment” indicating the year the 3 ePostals were completed. Each additional annual completion of this accomplishment earns another year patch segment to add to the patch. A swimmer who does all 5 of the USMS ePostal National Championship swims in the same year earns a special participation patch to honor their achievement. And don’t forget about the Oregon Long Distance Top 12 Lists that are maintained for each of the 5 ePostal events. Maybe a goal to consider is to try to get your name on one or more of those lists en route to earning an OMS Postal Challenge Patch or USMS Long Distance ePostal Series Challenge patch!
Another fun goal is with the Oregon Open Water Series, where individual results from each Oregon open water swim are tabulated to create a composite score for each swimmer and results are tabulated based on those composite scores. If you can commit to doing all of the Oregon open water swims, you’ll have a very good chance of winning your age group or possibly even earning the title of “Oregon Open Water Series Champion.”
For those who are primarily pool swimmers, there are the Oregon Swimming All-Time Top 12 Lists for each gender, age-group, event and course (all 53). And the Oregon Pool Records might provide some goal ideas for those very high-level swimmers. There are also awards offered by OMS that are both participation-based and performance-based and could be a good goal fit for pool swimmers.
Our parent organization, U.S. Masters Swimming (USMS), has done a very, very good job creating all sorts of opportunities for recognition or achievement to motivate people to participate and set goals. Listed here are some of these high-level achievements offered by USMS, in order of perceived difficulty of achievement. Competition for USMS events is divided into 5 year age groups, with the exception of the youngest age group, 18-24, which is a 7 year age group. Age groups start with 18-24 and then go up by 5-year increments thereafter: 18-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, etc. Each of the below-listed points of recognition is awarded to each age group, for both men and women.
USMS Open Water & Long Distance All-American: A swimmer earns the honor of a USMS Long-Distance National Champion by winning their age group (either individual or relay) in any Long Distance National Championship event, including open water and ePostal events. The award for this honor is a Long Distance National Champion patch (for individuals and relays) and a Long Distance All-American patch (for individuals only) and a certificate of honor (for individuals only) stating the swimmer’s name, year, All-American status, and a signature of the USMS president. USMS holds eleven Long Distance National Championships. The championships are open water as well as postal events and placing in the top 10 at each event accumulates points toward USMS All-Star The list of yearly USMS National Long Distance Championships is as follows:
- Sprint-Distance Open Water (1 mile)
- Middle-Distance Open Water (greater than 1 and less than or equal to 3 miles)
- 2-Mile Cable Open Water (quarter-mile straightaway)
- Long-Distance Open Water (greater than 3 and less than 6 miles)
- Marathon-Distance Open Water (greater than or equal to 6 miles and less than 9 miles)
- Ultramarathon-Distance Open water (greater than or equal to 9 miles)
- ePostal 1 hour
- ePostals 5 and 10 kilometer (in 50-meter pool)
- ePostals 3000 and 6000 yard (in a 25-yard pool)
- U.S. Masters Swimming Top Ten (pool): Each year, U.S. Masters Swimming publishes a list of the Top 10 times that have been swum in every individual and relay event for each of the three pool courses (Top 10 publication schedule). Recognition of all Top 10 times, both individual and relay, is posted on each swimmer’s USMS Swimmer Info Page on USMS.org with a link to all of those swims and published in the Printed Top 10 listings booklets. Additionally, swimmers are eligible to purchase Top 10 Patches to commemorate their achievement.
- USMS National Champion (pool): A swimmer earns the honor of a USMS National Champion by winning their age group in any event at either the USMS Spring National Championships (SCY) or the USMS Summer National Championships (LCM). In recognition of National Champions status, a swimmer receives a USMS National Champion patch and a certificate of recognition.
- USMS All-American (pool): A swimmer earns the honor of USMS All-American by posting the fastest time in an event/age group in at least one course of the three official courses (SCY, SCM, LCM) as listed in the USMS Top 10 Tabulation. For pool events, swimmers may achieve Individual All-American status for the fastest time in individual events or Relay All-American status for the fastest time in relay events. In recognition of National Champions status, a swimmer receives a USMS All-American patch and a 1st place national championship medal.
USMS All-Star: USMS has been naming Pool All-Stars since 1987 and starting in 1995 USMS began naming Long Distance All-Stars as a separate category. Pool All-Stars are those who have achieved the most first-place finishes in their age group during the year in Top 10 competition. Long Distance All-Stars are named on a total point basis from the results of all Long Distance National Championships. To be considered for the Long Distance All-Star Team, a swimmer must compete in at least three National Championship Long Distance Events, of which one must be an open water event and one must be a postal event. Points are awarded for 1st through 10th place as follows:
1st place = 11 points
2nd place = 9 points
3rd place = 8 points
4th place = 7 points
5th place = 6 points
6th place = 5 points
7th place = 4 points
8th place = 3 points
9th place = 2 points
10th place = 1 points
In recognition of earning USMS All-Star status, the swimmer receives a USMS All-Star certificate of honor and a small gift from USMS. In recent years, the gift for All-Star status was a TYR Micro Pique Polo embroidered with the year and USMS Long Distance or Pool All-Star.
So what are your goals for this swimming season?! There are it seems a nearly infinite number of SMART goals to choose from within the sport of swimming. I hope that some of these ideas resonate with a few of you and you choose something to pursue. It’s really all about finding some motivation to keep yourself in the water, active and healthy. Pick something and go for it! And feel free to reach out if you want personalized ideas for you.