Swimming

Munster Masters Swimming Program helps competitors return to the water

2012-07-13T22:00:00Z Munster Masters Swimming Program helps competitors return to the waterBy John Burbridge john.burbridge@nwi.com, (219) 933-3371 nwitimes.com

MUNSTER | If Bryan Buksar had technical suits and 21st Century training at his disposal, then maybe more of the 13 school swim records he set at Highland would still be above water.

Buksar can't go back in time, but he can get back in the pool.

"After being on a 14-year hiatus, I have to say that I missed the competition," said the 38-year-old orthopedic physical therapist, who now lives in Schererville. "It's a great feeling getting back in the water. It clears my mind."

Buksar trains regularly at Munster High School's Olympic-sized pool as part of the Munster Masters Swimming Program.

"I was here one day watching my niece swim for the Munster Swim Club," Buksar said. "That's when I learned from the club's coach (Matt Lee) about the masters program he just started."

Buksar is also part of the program's swim team that competes in various meets, including the recent Masters State Championships, where Buksar placed second in the 35-39 men's 100-yard freestyle.

Though his fastest days are behind him, Buksar still believes he can get faster.

"I'm trying to get under 50 seconds," said Buksar, a former age-group state champion, whose personal-best in the 100 is 45.4 seconds. "If I could get down to 49 or below, I may have a chance for Top 10 in the nation for my age group."

Another Munster Masters swimmer who's regained his streamlined edge is Jon Lowell, 32, of Dyer.

At the Wisconsin Masters State Meet, June 23-24, Lowell won his age-group in the 50 freestyle.

"I drove three-and-a-half hours, checked in, swam the length of the pool, then went home," Lowell said of his weekend.

Like Buksar, who continued his career at Ball State, Lowell -- a Virginia native -- also swam in college with two-year stints at Butler and the University of South Carolina.

But unlike Buksar, Lowell didn't initially return to the pool to whet his competitive juices.

"I hurt my back, and (while rehabilitating) they got me to start taking aqua therapy," Lowell said. "But I got bored with that, so -- when I found out about this -- I started swimming again."

The program, which started in September of 2011, is affiliated with U.S. Masters Swimming.

"I figured this would be another way for the community to take advantage of this (relatively new) pool," said Lee, who is the program's coordinator and head coach. "We normally have eight practices a week ... three in the morning, three in the evening and one on Saturday.

"We've attracted about 80 swimmers so far."

Lee said that many of them are former high school and college swimmers who still love the sport and want to compete again.

"But we have a lot of triathletes who have never swam in high school or college," Lee said. "They're usually already good runners and bikers, but swimming is something they need to improve on ... it's their weakest link."

The program offers practice and instructional sessions.

"Some, like the triathletes, need work with their stroke technique," Lee said. "For the experienced swimmers, we try to offer them guidance and advice, and come up with daily, written work-outs to follow."

The next Masters Swimming National Swim Meet will be held at the IUPUI Natatorium next spring. Buksar seems to be counting the days and hopes the Munster Masters will be well represented at the event.

"We are always looking for former swimmers to join the team," he said.

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