Aug 17, 2016 - Things to Do

Inside Charlotte’s swim team for adults who aren’t Olympians


Jonathan Piscatelli swimmers-at-mecklenburg-aquatic-center cover

Editor’s note: The author of this article is a coach in the Charlotte Swim Masters program

“Nothing fits the body so well as water,” the novelist Don DeLillo said. And there is no exercise like swimming.

It engages every muscle group, is an insane cardio workout and because it is low impact, swimming is more than just a sport, it’s a way of life.

There’s no reason to stop just because you’re an adult with a job and responsibilities.

You were probably on a swim team as a kid. And you probably know that Charlotte has been home to some of the world’s top swimmers through the SwimMAC elite program (Ryan Lochte, Cullen Jones, Kathleen Baker, etc).

The Charlotte Swim Masters program is a swim team for adults — regular ones.

What is Charlotte Swim Masters?

The Charlotte Swim Masters program is open to all adult swimmers (18+) who are dedicated to improving their health through swimming, including triathletes, competitive swimmers and athletes who swim simply to improve their fitness. All skill levels are welcome, but participants do need to know how to swim before beginning.

No world records necessary, just a reasonable competency in the water.


Be prepared to get up early

I coach the Charlotte Swim Masters morning group and our practice starts early. Monday through Friday we are in the water from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. and Saturday we swim from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. All of our practices are at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center, a prime location for a quick morning workout before heading in to the office or starting your weekend.


“As hard as it is when my alarm goes off at 5:20 and my bed is so warm and the water is so cold… being around such a great group of people makes it all worth while,” says Masters swimmer Alex Merritt, 29, and a fifth grade teacher at Trinity Episcopal School.

If mornings are too tough for you, there’s also a lunch group from noon to 1 p.m. coached by the incomparable Heather Hageman, a champion swimmer and triathlete whose physique is a testament to the calorie burning power of pushing yourself through the pool.

Don’t let the name intimidate you. The Charlotte Swim Masters Program has swimmers of all ages and skill levels, from former NCAA athletes, to swimmers who are brand new to the sport. And our swimmers range in age from 19-72 years old.


Here’s how practice works

On an average morning we usually have between 15-23 swimmers, representing all ages and skill levels.

Typically we have two to four athletes per lane and tend to go between 3,000 and 4,500 yards. But if you need to leave early, it’s all good. In fact a solid group of swimmers leaves every morning around 7 a.m. They say its to get to work on time…but I have my suspicions.

“Swimming allows me to do all the unhealthy things I like to do outside of the pool and still be in decent shape,” says Ben Holland, 39, a father of two and lawyer at Ogletree Deakins.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are all short course days, which means the pool is set-up width wise with 25-yard lanes, and Tuesday and Thursday are long course, with the pool set-up long ways for the 50-meter Olympic experience.


But Charlotte Swim Masters is more than just a work out group. Our swimmers are part of the national USMS organization and compete in local, national and globally sanctioned competitions.

Cheryl Murray, 64, is planning to attend the 2017 World Championships in Budapest and medal in the 200 meter fly.

“I’ve enjoyed being in the water all my life, it keeps me healthy, keeps me fit, and it’s a great way to start my morning,” says Montana Hudgens, 19, and a nursing student.


Connect with Charlotte Swim Masters



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