Master swimmers strive for personal goals

Carolyn Drummond

Rec center program provides adults with a chance to compete

Members of the Masters Swim team take a break from their laps during practice Feb. 9. Rachel Kilroy | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

At the Dive-In movies, many students enter the water at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center for the first time. For Kent State Masters Swim team members, that pool is a second home.

“The Masters program focuses on fitness through swimming, and it’s a social activity,” aquatics supervisor Kristal Funk said.

Masters Swim is a national program that provides competitive opportunities for people 18 years old and older. Kent State participates as part of Ohio Masters, and members compete throughout the state. Swimmers can also qualify for national tournaments.

As coach of the team, Funk distributes goal sheets for members to decide what they want to accomplish. Together they work on reaching that goal.

Ed Schellschmidt, 59, used to compete in triathlons. Now, he swims because it’s the only thing he can do with bad knees.

“I’ve been amazed at the quality of coaching,” Schellschmidt said. “They’re involved and interested. They’re here.”

The team meets 7:30-9 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and 8:30-10 a.m. Saturdays.

“It’s an organized team,” Funk said. “There’s someone pushing you. It helps workouts be true, but most of all we just have a lot of fun.”

Self-proclaimed team captain Josh King, senior Russian translation major, agrees that practice makes him work harder.

“If I come in by myself, I don’t finish my workout,” King said. “But when you come in here you have no choice. You feel better when it’s done.”

King also acts as team entertainer and has been known to bust out Lil’ Wayne renditions on occasion.

That kind of fun environment makes people feel welcome, which is a team objective. Funk wants the team to grow and encourages all levels of swimmers to join the team.

Since becoming coach in the summer, she has seen participation increase from about five people each practice to an average of 15, and she coaches each of them to have better swimming skills.

“I would never give them something they can’t do, but I will challenge them,” Funk said.

At practice, lanes are designated for different ability levels.

Maria Tsakalis, a graduate student studying nutrition and dietetics, joined the team to swim better during triathlons, and she was able to work at her own speed.

“Wherever you’re at, you can hop in,” Tsakalis said.

Larry Terkel, 61, and a grandfather of three, hopped into the water and was able to train himself back to the times he recorded in high school in under six months. As a yoga instructor in Hudson, he had a bit of an advantage.

“Swimming is yoga in the water,” Terkel said. “It’s about alignment, technique and knowing what all the parts of your body are doing at all times.”

Although Masters Swim operates in a team environment, swimmers do not have to compete or come to every practice. People can swim with the group three days a week, twice a month or even just once to try it out.

The single entry fee for students is $3, while a year-long practice pass is $80. A year of Masters Swim membership, which includes subscription to a swimming magazine, costs $25. Swimmers are welcome to join at any time.

Contact Student Recreation and Wellness Center reporter Carolyn Drummond at [email protected].