Community Connections - Kalamazoo Masters0
For more than two decades, Kalamazoo has been a haven for masters swimming. For those who are unfamiliar, U.S. Masters Swimming (USMS) is a membership-operated nonprofit that supports and connects adult swimmers across the country.
A subgroup of Michigan Masters Swimming, Kalamazoo Masters Swimming (Kalamazoo Masters) is a workout group that consists of swimmers of all skill levels. Practice sessions last anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes and are located at the Kik Pool or Kalamazoo College (K College) depending on the season.
“Our current group started with five or six of us, swimming at 5:30 in the morning,” Kalamazoo Masters member Karl Kowalske said of the group’s origins. “Every season we have added more people which has allowed us to expand our practice times. We are now able to offer several options in the morning and the evening which has been great for flexibility.”
Kowalske believes that this growth is possible in large part to the group’s organic relationships, accountability, and desire to share the joy of the sport with others. To help maintain this positive trend, Kalamazoo Masters has enlisted some top-tier talent to coach its swimmers.
“Brie Powers started coaching us about five years ago,” he shared. “She was an All-American at the University of Texas and an Olympic Trials qualifier. Eventually, she moved home to Kalamazoo where she is currently the assistant men’s and women’s swimming coach at Kalamazoo College.”
“We really wanted to provide coaching, so there was something else to offer other than swimming laps,” Kowalske continued. “We have world-class athletes that compete in triathlons, new swimmers, and everything in between.”
In essence, Kalamazoo Masters is a varied community of like-minded individuals that are united in the belief that overall wellness, healthy living, strength, and focus rely on a regular exercise routine. This common interest has helped established an inclusive environment.
“We want to support adult swimming in Kalamazoo,” Kowalske explained. “Yes, there is competitive swimming, but we also want to support adults at all skill levels. We are always trying to be an inclusive organization.”
It must be noted that partnerships play a huge role in keeping Kalamazoo Masters afloat, no pun intended. Milliken Aquatic Development provides valuable coaching and analysis, while K College lends the group its swim facilities during the colder months.
We would like to thank Karl Kowalske for sharing his passion for swimming with the KzooConnect audience. For more information regarding Kalamazoo Masters, contact the group via its website.