Promoting the Joy of Swimming
By Lynn Canning
Photos by Kimberlee Miller
The Downtown YMCA opened its’ doors more than a half century ago and today remains a beloved landmark and valued part of life for many in Boise. Jeff Erwin grew up swimming in that pool (Boise High ’82) and continues to devote countless hours both as a coach to Boise High’s swim team and as a nationally ranked swimmer with decades of honors and victories in the pool.
Jeff is a member of Boise’s adult swim program, Sawtooth Masters (SAWS), and his participation in the club motivates him and the team’s nearly 100 swimmers to keep on swimming and enjoying the benefits of the sport. Under the umbrella of the national organization, United States Masters Swimming (USMS), the local club offers community members an organized program that provides daily swim workouts with a certified swim coach on-deck. The coach customizes workouts, provides stroke instruction, feedback and most importantly, motivation to consistently get in the water to swim hard and achieve goals.
Led by head YMCA coach, Rick McQuet, there is a stable of talented coaches who welcome swimmers of all ages and abilities. The swim lanes are organized by ability/speed and the coach assists members in finding a compatible lane. Each swimmer brings his/her own objectives to the pool, and coaches help build a strategy to accomplish those goals. There are many reasons swimmers join the team: health/fitness, rehabbing an injury, or social benefits. Others are interested in competing in triathlons, open-water or local/national swim meets.
The team composition ranges from recreational swimmers to “fast lane” swimmers who are national or world champions. The team has many triathletes who join up to improve their skills in that leg of the race. Triathlete driven training can be lonely and jumping into a Masters’ swim practice can improve stroke efficiency and strength via drills and coaching. The group dynamics found in the lanes never fails to invigorate and challenge swimmers of all abilities, and Triathletes often see great improvement in their swimming.
Members also benefit from sharing the pool with the elite of the swimming world. Coach McQuet is an accomplished swimmer/triathlete and a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic water polo team. Other SAWS swimmers like Jeff Erwin continue to compete and win on the national stage. Members find it inspiring to train and compete alongside the team’s All-Stars, and benefit from their experience and words of wisdom.
The overarching mission of SAWS is “Promoting the Joy of Swimming.” Swimmers come to the pool and join the team because of their love of the sport and the benefits derived from belonging to a team. Inevitably swimmers find their “lane-mates” and a strong camaraderie develops which propels members to make practice even in the midst of busy daily life. As one swimmer put it, “Even if I am dead tired, I try to go because I never regret a good swim and I very much enjoy the company of the other swimmers.” A very common sentiment among members.
SAWS welcomes swimmers in the community to show up on-deck, meet the coach, and try a practice. Whether you are new to the sport, a lapsed swimmer wanting to reconnect with the water, or currently train by yourself, there is a place on the team for you. Contact email@example.com if you are interested in learning more and joining SAWS for some free swims to try out the team.
Check out sawtoothmasters.org or ymcatvidaho.org/program/us-masters-swimming-program for more information