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Frostburg State University Swim Coaches Train Non-students, Too

Frostburg State University Swim Coaches Train Non-students, Too
MaryJo Price swimming across Conneaut Lake

Most people are happily asleep at 5:30 a.m. But that’s not the case for some local adult swimmers, who are in the water at the Frostburg State University pool on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at that early hour of the morning.

FSU librarian MaryJo Price found the resolve to start her day that way more than a year ago, when she realized she needed help fulfilling a lifelong dream to swim across Conneaut Lake in Pennsylvania. She grew up in that area, and though her older sisters swam across when they were children, she never did. She wanted to fix that, more than 50 years later.

Those crazy early swims at “dang-dark:30 in the morning” are the brainchild of the head coach of the FSU swim team, Justin Anderson, who took over the team in the fall of 2013. Besides having the longest season of any sport at FSU, the University swimmers have to devote time to raising money for a mid-winter Florida training camp, expensive “tech” swim suits and some supplemental equipment. In the past, they have held car washes and sold hoagies and doughnuts, among other things. Anderson, thinking outside the box, wondered if the team could serve the area and raise money at the same time. And so the U.S. Masters swimming team at FSU was born.

U.S. Masters is a national nonprofit organization for adults (age 18-plus) who want to swim for fitness or competition. Price falls into the fitness category, as do most who have swum with FSU Masters (FSUM). Anderson and his assistant coaches helped Price with her swimming strokes and provided encouragement and workouts geared to her fitness level. Last September she fulfilled her dream of swimming that open-water half mile, with a fellow FSUM swimmer watching from a kayak beside her.

“I never gave up on my wish to swim the lake. When I least expected it, everything fell into place,” Price said. “I could not have accomplished my swim without the teamwork of my coaches, teammates, friends and family. Thanks to Amy Nazelrod, Activities for Life coordinator, who gave me the biggest push to get back to swimming.”

During the college swimming season, the Masters and FSU swimmers see each other in the locker room, on deck and sometimes briefly across the pool. It has fostered camaraderie that goes both ways: Many Masters swimmers attend FSU home meets to cheer on the collegiate swimmers and FSU swimmers staff the Masters meets twice a year at the Cordts PE Center pool. Those Masters swim meets draw adult swimmers from outside the area and are another fundraiser for the University swim team.

The first two years of FSUM have seen 30-plus people pass through the ranks, though many practices have fewer than five attendees. Most are there for a specific purpose, as was Price initially. A few are former college swimmers, but a majority just want to increase their fitness or improve their stroke efficiency for triathlons or open-water swims.

Frostburg resident Janice Burton has been an FSUM member since the start.

“Justin’s advice and workouts have definitely improved my swimming speed and stamina,” Burton said. “But really, I’ve stuck with it because of the people! Three of us, Coach Anderson, (Dr.) Melody Kentrus and I had unforgettable experiences swimming the 4.4-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge open-water swim in June. I think about that sometimes on mornings when I’m tempted to sleep in!”

The Masters swimming program is administered through Activities for Life at FSU in five-week blocks. Membership in U.S. Masters is not required to attend practices. Anderson and his assistants donate their time freely, so all proceeds benefit the FSU swim team. Practices are 5:30 to 6:45 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Cordts PE Center pool. It’s a low-key event, with some people arriving late, others leaving early, depending on their personal schedules and goals. But it’s always a good workout finished dang early.

For more information, contact Nazelrod at 301-687-7934 or

FSU is committed to making all of its programs, services and activities accessible to persons with disabilities. To request accommodations through the ADA Compliance Office, call 301-687-4102 or use a Voice Relay Operator at 1-800-735-2258.


For further information on this release, contact:

Office of News and Media Services
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-3171
Fax: 301-687-7589