Why I Swim

This year marks the completion of 20 years of swimming with TAM for me. It hasn’t seemed that long. But in some ways, it feels more like a new beginning.

I don’t come from a swimming background. I began as the proverbial “back and forth” lap swimmer in my 40’s, attempting to increase my yardage and hopefully, endurance, each time I swam. What I discovered was that I just learned to swim farther with no increase in pace, all while reinforcing the same bad stroke techniques that I had developed over several years in the pool.

In 1987, a couple of work friends coerced me into going over to the San Ramon HS pool to swim laps at lunch time. As it turned out, there was a masters team working out there. Once the coach saw my stroke, he harassed me into joining the team, thinking there was a lot of improvement opportunity there. I am not sure that ever materialized but I did discover that I loved doing workouts under the watchful eyes of a coach instead of just going back and forth swimming laps. My time in San Ramon only lasted a few years but I was hooked on Masters Swimming.

From 1987 to 2002, I belonged to a number of small Masters teams in Marin. I also was receivng the Pacific Masters newsletter that showed up in my mail every few months. That was how I first learned about TAM. However, reading about TAM left me with the sense that it was a team of super fast, competitive racers and that I just wouldn’t be able to keep up or fit in.

Finally, when my last masters team folded in 2002, I decided to give TAM a try, although with much apprehension. I have to say that my fears were unfounded. Not only did everyone welcome me with open arms, but no one (openly) critiqued my horrific technique. I also discovered that everyone had interesting stories and personalities beyond their love of swimming. I felt welcomed and comfortable from day one and have really enjoyed the unique backgrounds and personalities of all members.

I remember how I felt joining the team and have tried to make a point to welcome and get to know new members as much as possible to help make them feel like they’re part of the team. The last few months have felt a bit like drinking from a fire hose. We have added quite a few new members. At one of the recent Saturday workouts, I looked around the lanes and noticed that perhaps a third or more were swimmers who weren’t on the team earlier this year!

I have slowly gotten to know a little bit about several of the members and again have marveled at the unique backgrounds and personalities of everyone. So, a new pool, fresh faces….I almost feel like our team has gotten an infusion of new energy and personalities. I hope everyone feels this way as we work our way to another Twelve Days of Christmas workout and the Hour Swim!



Jim and Karen were part of TAM's Swimming Saves Lives program several years ago, helping adults in the community learn how to swim.