The Kilpatrick Athletic Center is located on the lower part of the Bard College at Simon’s Rock campus, a mile from downtown Great Barrington.
Mon. – Fri. 6am – 8:30pm (May 26–August 21)

Weekends 8 a.m.–6 p.m.

Masters Swimmers Take the Plunge

Bill MeierMasters Swimming! The name is certainly intimidating if you consider yourself an average recreational swimmer. But in this case, Master refers to age, not ability.

“If you are an adult 19 years or older and can do a few laps of competent freestyle, you’ve probably been invited at least once to join the facility’s Pacemakers Masters Team,” said Bill Meier, aquatics director and head coach at the Kilpatrick pool. “And most likely, your response was something like, ‘Sure, but I’m going to have to practice and get into much better shape before’.”

The Pacemakers Masters Swim Team is made up of men and women of different abilities, ages, and backgrounds. But everyone on the team would describe themselves as a swimming enthusiast. And they share some other things in common:

  • A love of swimming
  • The desire to meet other like-minded adults
  • The need to adjust to a low-impact fitness routine
  • Interest in open water swimming
  • A willingness to consider competition!

“If you can relate to one or all of these categories, consider trying a Pacemaker’s workout,” encouraged Coach Meier. “For many swimmers, joining the team is an excuse to enjoy each other’s company.”

Masters swimming has been an important part of Bruce Bernstein’s life for over 40 years. Swimming is central to his physical health. It’s also a source of friendship and shared experiences, like the lake swims every Wednesday night in the warmer months. “The advent of the Kilpatrick pool made a huge difference in my life, and Bill has provided a needed sense of energy to the aquatic program in general and Masters in particular,” said Bernstein. “As I age and can't engage in as many athletic activities as I used to, the Pacemakers team is central to my physical and mental well-being.”

Covering water

Snappers at KilpatrickDuring the month of January, United States Masters Swimming sponsors a national ‘One Hour Swim’. The event challenges every member of the organization--some 50,000 strong--to see how much water they can cover in one hour. After many workouts the Kilpatrick Pacemakers covered more than 51,655 yards or 2186 laps. When they were done, they shared an impressive pot luck dinner before going home for a well-deserved nap!

On March 3rd, the Pacemakers will host a swim meet in their home pool. Adult swimmers from throughout New England and New York will converge on the Kilpatrick Athletic Center in friendly competition to see who goes home with the blue ribbons. Each week, Masters swimmers have the chance to race in meets scheduled from Maine to the coast of Rhode Island. At the end of March, The New England Short Course Championships will be held in Boston at Harvard’s Blodgett Pool.


A sense of community

“As adults, there is always an element of wanting to give back to any activity that gives you joy,” explained Meier. “The Pacemakers are going to put this into practice in April during out Free Community Swim Lesson Week.”

Last year, the staff of the Kilpatrick Athletic Center provided free lessons to children in the community. This year, they will be expanding this offering to adults and the instructors will be the experienced swimmers from the Pacemaker Swim Team. This pilot program is being developed with the support of United States Masters Swimming. Coach Meier, who is also Chairman of New England Masters, is creating a lesson manual that will be made available for national distribution once it is tested in the water.

So consider yourself invited! The Pacemakers will welcome you into their lanes and you will end up being a better swimmer with a whole bunch of new friends.