Nothing is easy

Nowadays I often define myself by well-known song-titles as they define emotional milestones in my life. Jethro Tull had been one of my all-time favourite bands.

This song has probably one of the cleanest lyrics of the time, so it’s save to show it here.

Things constantly change in the life of a young swimmer; with the publication of Madison’s latest end-of-year results I definitely want to concentrate more on school work next year, the year when pupils enter their GCSE paths.

But it is not just so easy as to say, well my swimmer is not too good in school so we concentrate on swimming. I think it’s best to try out a lot of different sports to find a ‘suits us best’ style. Swimming always assisted Madison’s learning rather than hindering it.

I am constantly pondering over how much time we spend travelling, how much time we have for homework and other hobbies. How happy my swimmer is in the club they are in and how much money it all costs me.

It is much harder than I thought it possible to come to conclusions because Madison is smart and good at a lot of things, it is really hard concentrate on one sport. Because even in swimming things never stay the same. Favourite strokes also change constantly.

If I look at those swimmers currently at the top, I always wonder how they made their decisions to concentrate on their swimming careers. Perhaps I start reading biographies of swimmers next.

I am going to want to watch some life streams of competitions online to get some inspiration.

British Summer champs start in 3 days.

FINA world championships in Budapest are in full swing.

Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas, 1 more day to go.

Counting the waves

It seems that Madison mathematically processes swimming impressions she has in the pool because her Maths grades are well ahead of everything else she learns in school. New grading ranges from  1 – 8 and that is for all years including A-levels. Madison is now in year 8 and has already a 7b in Maths.

I think her best development for Maths was made whilst Madison was in her small Primary School, St. John’s in Bethnal Green, a school that was officially a failure and then of course also on the extra Maths lessons Madison received at Raine’s Foundation School in Bethnal Green, also in need of improvement, according to Ofsted.

Madison shall continue her education in a local school, Raine’s Foundation where she learned the basics for her Mathematical brilliance in after-school sessions.

The life of a swimmer doesn’t just centre around the swimming, it is very important for swimmers to get good grades, so they can build a future career whilst sporting brilliance prevails.

The Romford meet

How great that Luke Greenbank  came to the meet to sign autographs for swimmers, he is most famous for his backstroke. Incidentally Madison met Luke for the first 50 time at the Melanie Marshall Easter Camp. Madison even went to get the autograph.

Just as Melanie promised swimmers will loose a lot of races before they eventually get to the top; Madison did not win any medals at the Romford meet. Madison’s best placing was fourth twice, in the 50 and 100 back.

Madison had some great Personal Best times in her 200 IM and 50 free.

Just as another one of Madison’s favourite swimmers, Tim Shuttleworth won a bronze in the 5km swim. I can’t see Madison doing any long-distance though. Madison also met Timothy for the first time at the Melanie Marshall Easter Camp.

It was our last meet of the season and we look forward to a great new season to come. Just wonder whether Adam Peaty (whom Madison also met at the camp) had some good influence on Madison’s breaststroke because that seems to be picking up now.


Swimmers swim

Just had a very recent conversation with an ‘educator’ who asked Madison whether she hasn’t heard certain information as it is all over the TV.

Unfortunately many people do not understand that there are no TV’s at the bottom of a pool and that swimmers do not read the papers whilst they swim either. They do not understand that swimmers spend extensive hours either swimming, land-training or even travelling to and from swimming training. Swimmers often train even before school starts. Often there are competitions when other people go away for the weekend, e.g. Easter and Halloween for example.

Swimmers literally spend all their time either in school or at the pool. What little time is in between is used for home-work. Sometimes swimmers even need to eat on the go, whilst on the way to a training session. Often it is straight to bed to be ready for the next day’s morning session. There is little time to watch TV at home.

There is no time to do get involved in a lot of other things, have sleep-overs, spend the evening with peers from school.

In Madison’s case we manage to spend time with the Girl Guides 2-3 times per month and go camping a few times per year to break up the monotony.

Definitely I would say that swimming kids are less street-wise than their peers who spend more time freely mixing with other children. Therefore I think swimmers are more susceptible to social dangers. Especially in larger schools, where there is less personal knowledge of individuals, teachers and parents are less connected and kids are more likely to be less monitored.

I always thought that swimming keeps kids out of trouble but it can have an undesired effect in that swimming children have less time to choose social contacts and can get approached by others in schools who are not exactly the best friends to have. Swimming children often do not want confrontation and just want to get on with their routines.

It is therefore very important that swimmers’ parents carefully choose the school their swimmer attends and put it to the school to they need to be aware that their swimmer is not street-wise and not used to the usual street knowledge.

Youth Games swimming

I spend the Saturday officiating at Crystal Palace because the brilliant Balfour Beatty organisation, that kindly sponsors the London Youth Games relies on volunteers to help at those games.

It was a brilliant day and everybody enjoyed their swims. Madison swam for Tower Hamlets.

Expect a new FINA rule

To stop confusion on how long a swimmer has gotten to turn onto their front after using a flip-turn, FINA committee ponders over a rule-change that may be in place prior to the world championships in Budapest. This is about the so-called Lochte rule.

The suggested new ruling sounds like this: ”

“For freestyle in the medley, the swimmer must be on the breast except when executing a turn. The swimmer must return to the breast before any kick or stroke.”

Of course, in the Medley, freestyle can be any style except Breast, back or fly. So after a turn, the swimmer must return to swim on the breast because otherwise it would be a backstroke and no swimmer is allowed more backstroke than the distance allows. In a 400 IM, the backstroke can only be 100 meters.

Meaning after a turn a swimmer cannot, after kicking off the wall, do any movement unless they are in the correct position towards the stroke they swim. That means in all strokes, except for the backstroke, the swimmer has to be on the breast prior to kicking or moving arms?

The FINA rules on

  • Backstroke turns are very strict, it says: “The swimmer must have returned to the position on the back upon leaving the wall. “
  • Breaststroke turns it says: “After the start and after each turn, the body shall be on the breast.”
  • Butterfly turns it says: “From the beginning of the first arm stroke and after the start and each turn, the body shall be kept on the breast. Under water kicking on the side is allowed. It is not permitted to roll onto the back at any time, except at the turn after the touch of the wall where it is permissible to turn in any manner as long as the body is on the breast when leaving the wall. “
  • Freestyle rules say: “Freestyle means that in an event so designated the swimmer may swim any style, except that in individual medley or medley relay events, freestyle means any style other than backstroke, breaststroke or butterfly.


Source: Swimming World.

Fresh swimming

The recent listings for the British Summer Championships, as mentioned in my previous post, have strengthened my case for the LAC to become the third British Swim Centre.

Looking through the listings I noticed that a fellow swimmer, also of German origin (and I hope they do not mind me mentioning them), by the name of von Opel, listed with a freestyle qualifying time of 27:95 and that is a cracking time for somebody born in 2004, that girl is 12/13 years of age. Ciara swims for Chelsea & Westminster, who have a long history of producing national swimmers.

Chelsea & Westminster are a London club, but generally train in a 25 meter pool. There are other excellent London clubs who also mainly train in 25 meter pools. But to develop those swimmers to world record standards I think they need to train in a 50m pool permanently.

The 50m freestyle record, also held by a German lady, Britta Steffen, since 2009; the fastest listing time for the British Summer Champs is 25:42 by Lucy Hope from Edinburgh University, Lucy is born in 1997.

So we have gotten a 12? year old listing as 27:95 and the fastest older swimmer is 20? with 25:42. Edinburgh and Scotland in general has an excellent pool of superb swimmers also. They should also have a national swim centre in Scotland by the way, so that we get a total of four swim centres in Britain. The amount of people who take up swimming is thankfully on the rise.

But my point is that if a 12? year old can produce a 27 in 50 free than such an achievement needs careful nurturing in a great 50m pool.

So the case of the UEL to close down the Senior Program should be thoroughly rejected by Swim England and Sport England and the Senior Program should be advanced and incorporated into a National Swim Centre based at the LAC.



British Summer Champs 2017

Just browsing through the names of qualified athletes and can see that for the birth-year 2003/04 the qualifying time for 50 free is around 27 scs., the fastest listed time is 26 scs. The girls born 2002 are not faster listing than the 2003/04 ones. That is very interesting that those younger swimmers are getting faster. Just the 2000/01 girls have more 26scs. entries than the younger swimmers. The older girls as far back as 1995 do 25 scs. entry time.

I am always fascinated to compare progression of speed gained with age.

All entries can be made here.

Madison has lots to do to get those times.

Not sure what to do?

Whenever I am in doubt about anything to do with swimming I only seek advise from registered swimming or club officials. Trying to talk to various other parents only helps to deepen the mystery and increases the amount of rumours that are in circulation about things.

Be rational, take a factual approach, use measured results, calculate outcomes on proven criteria and make a decision on that basis rather than on emotional grounds or on information you heard somewhere.

If you talk a lot to moaners you’ll get mainly negative feedback, if you talk to officials they usually are supportive and positive.

One problem that often can exacerbate a situation is the fact that parents can sit and watch all swimming training and sometimes feel bad about something. The biggest mistake a parent can make is to go on those emotions and have a word with the coach, who is just trying to conduct the lesson.

In schools, parents are not in the classroom and cannot watch the lessons, parents act on what they heard from children and need to talk to teachers after the lessons or to head-teachers upon appointments.

Try to use a distant approach with swimming coaches; just because you can see them all the time doesn’t mean you can approach them all the time whenever you feel like it. This is counter-productive.

The only time I approached coaches is when I could proof my point.

For example in swimming clubs kids get promoted to squads and usually their time is the trigger factor for promotion. I noticed that a coach promoted other swimmers despite my swimmer having had faster times in competitions. I complained about this and made a good impression and gotten the result I wanted.

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