Health Matters - "Athletes dive into NCH Master's Swim Program"

Of all the many facilities at NCH, here’s one you might not be aware of— the swimming pool.  In a courtyard just outside the Briggs Health Center adjacent to the NCH downtown campus, a 25-meter lap-pool with four lanes is used in the center’s fitness programs.

The Master’s Swim program can teach you to swim—or how to swim better— but swimming coach Joni Henderson cautioned the program’s title could be misleading.

“You don’t have to be a competitive swimmer or a senior citizen to be part of the Master’s Swim group,” she said. “We get everyone from triathletes to folks trying to lose weight to those who just want to be a better swimmer.”

A session runs from 6-7 a.m. three times a week, bringing out those who are too busy to exercise later and too committed to skip the chance for a workout. “This is my hardcore group,” Henderson said. Participants include NCH President & CEO Dr. Allen Weiss, who also runs three mornings a week and bicycles on Sunday, presumably for a rest.

“This is a great endorphin builder and a nice balance with running,” he said. “Joni is great. We developed a camaraderie, and we end up pushing each other more. It’s just fun. I have a better day when I do this—and I can eat whatever I want.”

“Carbs are not a problem when you swim,” Joni Henderson added. The sessions are a combination of instruction, and of course swimming, with the athletes going the 25 meters of the pool under Henderson’s direction.

She works with each swimmer individually, keying in on breathing, motion and alignment. “I’ll get in the water to see how the head is aligned with the spine, where the hand is entering the water, or when the swimmer’s kick is not coordinated,” she said.

Wendy McDonald is training for a half Ironman competition. “I had heard so many good things, I had to come and see,” she said, referring to the Master’s Swim program. “Joni looks at what you’re doing and simplifies it, so you understand how to do it better.”

Judge Janeice Martin is another early riser swimming in the Master’s. “This is an opportunity to stay in shape while doing something fun,” she said. “No other exercise has ever done for me what swimming does. Joni makes it fun.”

Henderson, who is also the girls’ swimming coach at Seacrest Country Day School, holds a ASCA Level 3 certificate, as well as the Masters, Lifeguard, Water Safety Instructor, CPR, First Aid and Safety Training certificates.

For more information visit or call
the NCH Whitaker Wellness Center
at (239) 596.9200 or the
Briggs Wellness Center
at (239) 436.6770.

To keep the pool comfortable winter and summer, NCH recently installed a temperature regulator to supplement the three gas heaters. The new system allows the pool to remain within a range of 81 to 83 degrees, keeping it from becoming too cold or too warm. Clearly, the group of swimmers in the NCH Master Swim program is comfortable with Coach Joni Henderson.

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