Strokes of Genius

Long recognized as a low-impact sport that provides cardiovascular conditioning and rehabilitative benefits, swimming also blazes through calories, increases muscle mass, and makes for a stimulating alternative to workouts that have gone dry. But many never bother to learn more than the basics. For those ready to add style to their stroke, masters swimming classes are a must.


Masters swim classes are countless and gaining in popularity due to their their challenging, fun, and motivating workouts. Whether interested in strengthening your basic technique or improving your endurance, masters classes provide expertly designed training programs that vary in focus from speed intervals to stroke technique to distance training. And the classes welcome all adult swimmers—competitive and non-competitive alike—committed to improving their fitness through swimming. 

“Masters classes were initially created for athletes who had already mastered the sport and desired more conditioning as opposed to instruction,” says Ryan Sportel, the swim coach at Goleta Valley Athletic Club. “However, over the years these classes have catered to a more diverse group, ranging from swimmers with little or no experience to triathletes training for an event.”Sportel’s instructional technique varies depending on his participants desires; if you are training for a specific event, the workouts will be centered around preparation; if taken for leisure, the classes will take a more fundamental approach.”Swimming is unique to other forms of fitness because there is a heavy physiological and psychological impact of being in the water,” explains Sportel. “It’s important to understand these impacts and break through reflexive barriers.”Operating out of the Santa Barbara YMCA and Carpinteria City Pool, Channel Island Masters (CIM), a registered United Sates Masters Swimming Club, focuses on constructing challenging swim workouts while maintaining an enjoyable and motivating environment.”These classes are adaptable for any swim level,” assures CIM coach Vic Anderson. “A typical hour-long class starts with a warm-up then ventures into stroke work or building endurance.”


Located in Goleta, Cathedral Oaks Athletic Club maintains its Master Swim Program in the club’s six-lane, 25-yard lap pool heated between 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. “I take the class to stay fit over summer and have fun,’ says Jessica Morelos, a club employee and collegiate athlete. For Morelos, it’s all about the energetic and motivating atmosphere, and she recommends it to anyone looking for something more refreshing than their regular workout routine.Whether preparing to be the next Michael Phelps or tired of just settling for not sinking, why not plunge into a masters swim class and give your regular routine a refreshing splash.

Want to know where to go? The following facilities offer classes throughout the week:

Cathedral Oaks Athletic Club
Location: 5800 Cathedral Oaks Road Goleta, CA 93117
Phone: (805) 964-7762 
Practice Times: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 8:30am-9:30am; Tuesdays and Thursdays 5:30pm-6:30pm

Channel Island Masters
Swim coach Vic Anderson leads an hour of enjoyable, yet challenging, aquatic action.
Location: Santa Barbara YMCA and Carpinteria City Pool
Phone: 805-403-5425 

Practice Times: YMCA; Monday through Friday 7:30pm-8:30pm, Saturday 8am-9am.
Carpinteria City Pool; Monday, Wednesday, Friday 5:30pm-7pm, Tuesday and Thursday 12pm-1pm

Goleta Valley Athletic Club 
Come out to Goleta Valley Athletic Club, and let Ryan Sportel guide you through an endurance building work out.
Location: 170 Los Carneros Way, Goleta, CA 93117
Phone: (805) 968-1023
Practice Times: Tuesdays 6:30pm-7:30pm, May through October

Santa Barbara Swim Club
Location: Los Banos Pool
Practice Times: Monday through Friday 6am-7:15am and 5:45pm-7pm; Saturday 10:30am-11:45am

UCSB Recreation Center
Location: On UCSB campus
Practice Times: Monday through Thursday 5:30pm-6:30pm; Monday, Wednesday. Friday 12pm-1pm

Bottom photograph courtesy of Santa Barbara Swim Club.

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