Plex Swim Program Expands
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013 02:02
The Boston College Masters Swim Program is one of the Flynn Recreational Complex’s best-kept secrets. The team, which is non-competitive, meets several times a week and offers a great cardiovascular workout, focusing on improving swim skills. The program has been active for several years and has had great success, and is now trying to expand and include more of the BC community.
The Masters Swim Program is open to anyone who is interested. Following suit with the national program requirements, swimmers 19 and over are eligible to train with the team and compete in the New England Masters Swim Meet if they choose. There is also no baseline swim experience required. Swimmers at any level can be coached to improve their form and be more comfortable in the water, and make as much of a commitment to the team as they want.
The program has impressive access to the pool, with practice times throughout the day Monday through Thursday, four lanes dedicated to the team exclusively during those times, and eight different workouts during the time slots. Practice times are intended to be convenient for all schedules, and the team meets early in the morning and early in the afternoon to accommodate. Members of the team are also not required to attend every practice, and can choose their level of commitment individually.
Leonardo Torrez, the assistant director of aquatics at the Plex, spearheaded the program. He has been sustaining the program and is the driving force behind its improvement over the last few years. The team went without a coach for a few years and the program began to diminish, but in the last year has grown with a new coach and more members.
Jacki Hirsty, one of the Masters Swim Program coaches, started working with the team in September. Hirsty was a competitive swimmer in her youth, but entered college before Title IX laws were instituted and therefore did not swim for a university team. Hirsty entered the Masters Swim Program herself when she was 28 and won several titles in her 30s. She has set both national and world Masters records, and now uses her talents to help others become better swimmers.
“It’s called Masters because that’s an age range, not a level of ability,” Hirsty said. “Masters swimming starts at 19 nationally, and in official Masters swimming there’s five age groups that go all the way to 90 and over.”
Hirsty explained that the team is very eclectic and each member has a different motivation for being involved.
“There are a few people that are showing up every morning that are students that really inspire me, but it is definitely a varied group of people who want to stay healthy, be fit, and improve their swimming,” Hirsty said. “There are a few triathletes that are not necessarily comfortable swimming, so they’re coming to learn, and the others want to stay healthy and have a love of the water.”
Hirsty also explained her technique and said she believed it was important for people to know that she embraces how swimming is an individual sport and should be coached as such.
“Because of my experience and proficiency, I coach by how it feels to swim properly, as opposed to how it looks,” Hirsty said. “Swimming feels completely different than it looks, and I know what the feeling is to swim, and so it’s up to my creative abilities to express that in a way that each person will understand, which is what my goal is.”
Hirsty mentioned that all different skill levels can benefit from the program because of this individuality. She explained that it is a workshop in addition to a workout and that novice swimmers as well as experienced competitors can acquire special skill sets and stroke techniques. Hirsty also explained that swimming is one of the best cardiovascular workouts people can do because it exercises the entire body with no impact, meaning fewer chances for injury.
Hirsty said that the Masters Swim Program is ideal for people who enjoy swimming but do not want to commit to a college team.
“We’re trying to get more people in here, because a lot of people don’t know about Masters,” Hirsty said. “Students think that with the name Masters it is much more than it is. If students knew that they could come whenever they want it would be easier for them to sign up.”
The team has eight different meeting times throughout the week and is always encouraging new members, as they can accommodate a very large group of swimmers. BC students pay a membership fee of $50.