Don’t let the Glacier Swim Club Masters name intimidate you, because according to the club’s swim coach Kristin Jones, the name ‘Masters’ doesn’t mean you have to be a pro, it just means you have to be over 18.
“I think the word ‘masters’ really intimidates some people because when you hear the word you automatically think that someone must be a ‘master’ swimmer and they must know everything there is to know about swimming, but that’s not the case, that’s just what it’s called as a national swimming organization,” Jones said. “It’s just for older swimmers, that’s all.”
The 2023 Masters Swim State Championship was held on Saturday and Sunday at the Dimond Park Aquatic Center, marking the first time the event has ever been held in Juneau and hosted by the Glacier Swim Club. Jones said there were roughly 40 swimmers in total, with half of the competitors being from Juneau and the other half of swimmers coming from all over the state.
Though the competition was somewhat lopsided, Jones said, Glacier Swim Club did manage to win the overall meet by earning the most points within each event category. Additionally, GSC earned a few state records for the following events:
50 Fly: Womens 34-39, Rachelle Smith, 27.36
200 Back: Mens 44-49, Scott Jones, 2:08.77
100 Fly: Womens 34-39, Rachelle Smith, 1:02.70
Jones said what she hopes to bring to Juneau through GCS is a firm understanding of how the overall wellness of swimming can offer a lot to the community in terms of personal health and social aspects in addition to it being something people can do year-round, which Jones said is especially important for a place like Juneau.
“I grew up swimming in the Glacier Swim Club since I was 8 and I even swam in college,” Jones said. “Even now I’m 33 and I continue to swim, so I love the club. There are lots of lower level swimmers and even people who started swimming as adults who are a part of the club. My goal is to really promote it as a fun group that isn’t just about competing or working out, it’s kind of a combination of all of that with a social aspect thrown into it, too.”
Aaron Morrison has been a member with the club for about 10 years now and his wife, Tracy, serves as the GSC masters board representative. Morrison said the meet was a success for him personally because he managed to shave five seconds off of the 500 freestyle for a seven minutes and 11 second finish time, beating his previous record.
While attendance from other teams may have been limited due to weather, ultimately, Morrison said he was pleased to see this year’s event held in Juneau because the lack of travel required allowed for many new people to get involved on a local level.
“If you’re not as fast of a swimmer, your incentive to travel to another city and say, ‘I’m going to swim slowly in front of a bunch of people,’ that’s hard,” Morrison said. “So, having it local really did open it up to a lot more adults who may remember the competitive side of things from when they were younger or they’re just trying it out for the first time now at this time in their lives.”
Glacier Swim Club Swimmer and Alaska Masters Registrar Cathy Tide has been involved with the Glacier Swimming Club for the last 23 years. Though Tide placed in a number of events over the weekend, she said more importantly than placing was the enjoyment of spending time with the club members themselves.
“The group is a lot more vibrant than it’s been in the past, so it’s really fun right now because there’s so many swimmers and such a wide range of abilities but mostly just a fun group of people,” Tide said. “It was really fun to have such a large representation from Juneau swimmers at the meet this weekend and to see people compete who have never competed before or see people compete like Rachelle and Scott who can compete as adults and can still be fast, it was fun to watch Rachelle and Scott because they’re both still really fast and it’s fun to see them set state records.”
Additionally, Tide said that at 49-years-old, more than anything, she was just pleased to see her swimming times haven’t gotten too far away from her over the years.
“We have a saying on our shirts that says, ‘The older we get, the faster we were,’” Tide said. “So, all of my times were slower than previous times and I’m not surprised that I’m slower now than I was five or ten years ago but I wasn’t that much slower. So, yeah, I was proud of my times because they weren’t that much slower than I used to be.”
For anyone interested in finding out more information about masters swimming, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit them online at teamunify.com/team/azgsc/page/home.
• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at email@example.com.