Do I need swim team experience to join? 

All levels of swimmers are encouraged and welcomed to attend and no prior experience is required; however, a new swimmer should be able to complete at least 25 yards (one pool length) of freestyle (crawl stroke) without stopping before attempting to join a practice.  Swimmers need a low drag swim suit, a pair of competitive swim goggles, a towel, and a water bottle to replenish fluids.  Pull buoys and kickboards are available at the pool. Some swimmers bring flippers to use during kick sets and hand paddles for pull sets, but these are not required. 

What if I can’t swim well enough to join a practice?

Private swim lessons for adults are provided at an additional cost.  These lessons may be conducted by a certified Adult Learn to Swim instructor or a member of the IWU swim team.  Please contact us through this site for details. 

How does a usual practice proceed?

Practices are written on a white board by the coach.  There are usually 2 – 3 practices going at the same time which are fitted to levels of ability.  If there are 3 or more swimmers in a lane, they swim in a circle. The most experienced swimmers (lanes 1-4) swim about 3300 yards per hour practice.  The middle group (lanes 5&6) completes around 3000 yards each practice, and beginners (lanes 7&8) do about 2500 yards. (Of course, it takes time before a new swimmer can complete an entire practice, which is perfectly acceptable!)   

Practices consist of a warm up swim and warm up set.  During the warm up phase, swimmers do various drills designed to improve technique.  A main set focused on conditioning follows.  Main sets are broken into different repeated distances and time intervals.  Following the main set, we often do a kicking or pulling set.  A cool down swim is encouraged at the end of each practice.   

How much does it cost to join?

In order to swim with the team, you must have a current membership with the USMS organization available through their website:  Cost for 2022 is $60, which also registers the swimmer as a member of Illinois Masters Swimming.  When completing the registration, be sure to indicate the work out group as “CENT.”   

In addition to the USMS fee, team dues are $100 every 6 months payable in January and July.  If paid annually, a $10 discount is applied.  Dues may be paid by credit card, cash, or check made payable to CIMST.  We ask that you set up an account in our team’s management program at this site: Team Management Account to establish billing preferences.

New team members joining in the last 3 months of a payment period (April – June or October – December) are charged $65 for that period.  Also, if you are 70 or older, or a full-time college student, the six month charge is $65.

Other than dues and USMS membership, are there requirements or expectations?

To keep costs low, team members are expected to help with IWU home swim meets.  This is primarily through backup timing and some meet prep and cleanup.  Team members should plan on helping with at least one home meet per year.  The season runs from October through February and the meet schedule is published before the season starts.  

Can I just come by and observe or try a practice before joining?

You are welcome to sit in the IWU pool’s balcony, the 4 Seasons alcove or even on deck (no street shoes, please) to observe a practice.  A new swimmer who has never been registered with USMS may use a trial membership to participate in a practice before committing to full membership.  To take advantage of this trial, a release must be completed before joining a practice.  Review the section entitled 30 Day Free Trial on this website for more info

What should I expect at my first practice?  

For your first practice, plan on getting to the pool about 15 minutes before the start.  The coach will talk to you about your experience with organized swim practices, circle swimming, and your current fitness level.  The coach will then assign you to a lane with swimmers of similar ability. 

You will not be expected to complete the entire practice at first.  In Masters swimming you do what you can and take whatever rest is needed.  Eventually, if you swim regularly, you will be able to complete an entire practice as written.    

Lockers and showers are available at the pools.  Please either lock your valuables (locks not provided) or bring them to the pool deck for safe keeping. 

I am a current USMS swimmer from out of town.  How much does it cost to swim a practice?

Guests with a current USMS registration may swim with the team free of charge up to 10 practices per calendar year.  After 10 practices, a charge of $5 per practice is assessed 

Do I have to compete in swim meets to be a member of the team?

Team members are encouraged to compete in swim meets and open water events, but it is not required.  The majority of members swim to improve fitness and for the camaraderie that comes from swimming with a team. 

Masters swim meets are held throughout the state and across the country.  Our team hosts a Spring Classic Swim Meet on the first weekend of March at the Illinois Wesleyan University Shirk Center pool.     

Open water events are held in the summer months.  We host the annual Central Illinois Open Water Swim in June at Evergreen Lake in Comlara Park.  Swimmers complete either one or two laps around a 1.2 mile course. The other major open water swim in Illinois is Big Shoulders held in Chicago’s Lake Michigan in October.

Are there other special events?   

  • 100 x 100 – Each year on the first weekend in January, the team holds a long swim over a 3-hour period.  Swimmers swim 100 x 100 yard swims on a time interval of 1:30 or 1:40.  Some swimmers will complete 100 x 75 or 100 x 50 swims, and some will do part of each distance.  It is a fun and challenging way to kick off the New Year.
  • Annual Turkey Swim – on Thanksgiving morning, the team holds a practice from 6:00 – 7:00 a.m.   This is a great way for those team members who are not traveling to get ready for turkey and other festivities of the day.
  • Postal Swim Events – USMS sponsors “postal” swims each year.  These are usually long straight pool swims of 3000 or 6000 yards, or for 1 hour.  Times are recorded and mailed to the team hosting the national event.  Results are tabulated by age group and published.  Our team has hosted in the past and encourages participation in these events.