I am gobsmacked with HAC

Wow and wow again, I am almost speechless. I watched Hackney Aquatics training in the LAC on Tuesday mornings last year and the coach Richard Hall (Rick) always came across as a confidence booster. He radiates positivity and seems very in tune with his swimmers.

Many people invited us over the last year to join Hackney Aquatics and I always preferred the mainly 50 meter training at the LAC but the more I thought about the successes of other clubs who mainly train in 25 meter pools, the more I tended to follow those who wanted Madison to join Hackney Aquatics.

We did it, we are firmly now members of Hackney Aquatics and have been included in the coaching processes and without giving any details of it away, I must say that this is the best ever experience we’ve had.

Apparently Rick is a First Class BA Hons Sports Coaching, Level 3 Swimming Coach.

The atmosphere in this club is so wholesome.

People work together well, everybody is positive, competitions are planned well, training is superb and the whole package is just sublime. I am saying this after 10 years of swimming club experience.

From this perspective, Hackney Aquatics is run better than the LACPP was. What was missing in the LACPP and the LAC ACS is the club atmosphere. I think being in a club is very important for swimmers and parents alike.

Madison already seems happier than she ever was in the last 12 months.

Madison’s times have however steadily improved whilst at the LACPP and also in her most recent swim, she had some significant PBs. But, those swimmers with significant swimming successes whilst in LACPP last year were already superb swimmers with regional and national times when they had joined the LACPP.

Madison says she could be faster, she does still not have any Regional Times after 1 year of LAC only training and I am hoping that the superb coaching package of HAC and the excellent club will bring performance where it is needed.

Bright future

I am very happily excited today, when we get into the competition at the London Aquatic Centre. Things just couldn’t have worked out better.

New school, new club, better prospects. Now I’m not trying to look like a gold digger, saying this but with prospects I mean the prospects of a happy, fulfilled life are always important for a young person.

It’s great to go into a competition with all around good feelings about yourself, others you work and play with.

Apparently the Duke of Edinburgh Award is ideal for active sporting kids and positively embraces them. I have had such a positive phone call from the coordinator that all my fears went away just by listening to the totally positive approach the DofE has for children.

Madison can volunteer to help others, learn new life-skills and develop her sport, among other things.

Also Madison has been invited to an award evening with the Jack Petchey Foundation to receive her award medal there.

The new swimming club, Hackney Aquatics is top of the range with the latest equipment, gadgets and a head coach who is in charge of the Middlesex talent development program. Their training program is superb too.

I post later how the competition went today.

2018 selection policies

for a young swimmer the world is an oyster. All option and chances are available to be exploited and the release today of the 2018 British Swimming Selection policies for

  • 2018 Junior Champs in Helsinki 4. – 8. July
  • 2018 European Champs Glasgow 3. – 9. August

help us focus on the future of our sport, rather than dwell on sad spots in the past.

Though it is important to learn the skill of dealing with emotions, the focus on the season ahead always helps to take a deep breath and swim.

Getting ready for the meet

On Sunday, Madison will swim for her first and last meet with Newham & UEL club.

Preparations centre around

  • how to get the home work done over that weekend
  • how many hours are needed for the meet
  • which foods are needed and how to nourish
  • travel time and arrangements
  • packing the bag for the meet
  • mental preparation
  • which races are swam
  • promoter’s conditions
  • study the accepted entries list

Luckily the BWF early county qualifier level 3 meet is in the London Aquatic Centre, which is one of our local pools. We can just take a local bus there and arrive within 20 minutes, we do not need to worry about parking either.

We see that entry in the LAC is now security screened, visitors are not allowed to bring drink or food in but swimmers are.

Swimmers always have their favourite snacks to use as pick-me-ups and preps before or between races. Most of the time in swimming meets, there is also not enough time between sessions to have a proper lunch. There are delays and if a meet goes on from 8AM till 5pm, swimmers need to find time to get useful nourishment.

This Sunday we’ll only have half a day, usually we stay the whole day. But if Madison swims longer distances we do less races altogether.

This Sunday it’s going to be 100 fly and 200 back.

The social aspect is also important beyond the just racing. Swimmers get to know each other over time and meet up at race meets. Swimmers who change clubs still see their friends at meets too. That is very enjoyable for the swimmers.

With the arrival of the LAC, local swimmers’ lives were quite affected. Before we had our local pool and suddenly that opportunity with the LAC arose.

New swimming arrangements were introduced and swimmers often commuted between their old club and the LAC Beacon schemes.

Luckily most local clubs are very sympathetic to swimmers and often allow seemless transitions between clubs, so that swimmers do not lose out on training times. Rules were changed that swimmers could be members in more than one club and have dual registrations, which is all very helpful.

From next week Madison will become a member at Hackney Aquatics. We already preparing for the week after this Sunday’s meet to train fully with the new club.

Swim England have this brilliant online system whereby swimmers best times get recorded on the data regardless of which club they swim for and that is very good. These days people move more often because of job or housing needs and also because the swimming club scene can change and have an impact on training needs too.

More award schemes

Madison came home with a letter stating that she has to take part, COMPULSORY, in a Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.

For a performance swimmer life centres around the pool and there is little time to do something else.

Of course 8 hours per day are already dedicated to school work, Madison managed to participate in Girl Guides also and takes piano lessons; but now to be told, she HAS TO take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award scheme, just about takes my senses to new heights.

I am just thinking, children are to take part in volunteering for the space of six months, must go on camping trips and meet weekly after school to plan those trips; that is on top of any GCSE course meetings of course.

I think this Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme is a brilliant activity for people who are not already otherwise engaged in focused sports but for people like Madison who trains daily, it is not suitable. I am negotiating with the school about this.

 

No Sharks for us now

As I discussed my plans for Madison to re-join Bethnal Green Sharks with the Swim England development coach I was made aware that the London Aquatics Advanced Coaching Program has an especially developed coaching plan, that is most scientifically selected and takes all matters like growth and heart rates, lactic acid production and other things into serious consideration.

LAC-Advanced-Coaching-Scheme-Presentation2-3-September-2017

Some swimmers train full-time at the LAC ACS and they are always fully able to take advantage of the latest training regime and some swimmers join the program on a part-time basis from other clubs.

However, I have been advised that a number of local clubs have subscribed to take part in the advanced coaching scheme, so that swimmers can seamlessly train with their own club and then part-time in the LAC. But if a club is not part of this advanced coaching scheme then the swimmer risks loosing a lot of progress by not training to the latest methods and for that reason Madison cannot join or swim for Bethnal Green Sharks at the moment.

Bethnal Green Sharks were offered by Swim England to participate in the Advanced Coaching Scheme but refused at this time. That means, Madison is unable for this reason to swim for this club. Sorry Bethnal Green.

Now even learner swimmers can take advantage of this scheme, if they train at the London Aquatics Centre. Swimming Lessons are run by Better, but they select talented swimmers and invite them to a Talent Lane program and then there is also the option to join the LAC ACS training program in the swimming club.

Currently learner swimmers have a better chance to develop properly if they start learning at the London Aquatics Centre or at any London Club that is part of the Advanced Coaching Scheme or has similar methods that succeed with national swimming programs.

dedication is what you need

Madison is taking herself training during this summer holiday period because the LACPP club stopped training at the end of July, the club has been abandoned and the new club is not going to start till September.

Madison trained incredibly hard last season. The excellent quality training that LACPP provided led to an 800% increase in performance but now, a 6-week break would undo all of that hard work she put in last season.

Now there is no other choice but to train alone or with others if somebody else happen to be at the pool whilst Madison is there. Thanks to @gllsf funding, Madison met up with some Olympic swimmers the other day who happened to train in the same lane as her.

It is incredibly important to become self-sufficient in the training routines because whatever happens, it is the swimmer’s effort that leads to success. If a club does not provide training then a swimmer needs to decide whether they like swimming so much that they want to continue training or, if they are not that bothered, just let it go.

We all know, that swimming requires constant training, it is most important to keep the momentum going and not let all that great conditioning go to waste.

Just thinking that it would be an incredible waste to have gotten up twice a week at 4:30 for a year and then not to bother for 6 weeks in the summer break.

For us it is a matter of location. We left the Bethnal Green Sharks, as all serious competitive swimmers did, and joined a better club but as the LACPP was a new club with not as many swimmers as other established clubs, the training has been stopped during the month of August.

Of course we could join another established club like the Chelsea and Westminster, Hackney or even Redbridge but that would mean incredibly long travel times to swimming practice each day during term time and that is what we do not want to do. So we just make up those 6 weeks summer break and patiently await the forming of the new LAC based swimming club in autumn.

We don’t even know what the new club is going to be called. But that is dedication, hang in there, keep training and hope for the best.

keeping up the momentum

Those 6 weeks holidays are the first year ever that we have had no club training for the whole of August. Kids are just used to being told what to do. But this year we are taking the initiative and get in some much-needed fitness.

All the progress we’ve made last season is going to be lost if Madison just spends the whole month out of the pool.

For younger swimmers it is harder to just go training by themselves. But just 1 hour each day is manageable at the moment and it keeps the momentum going.

I am not sure whether the coach was joking when he said: “Enjoy the time away from the pool”[sic]. Since when do coaches like to see their swimmers away from the pool?

Beware of jokes from coaches swimmers, they sure don’t mean it sometimes.

 

Is tall really the best asset in swimmng

I am writing all those who are not the tallest to stick to swimming.

looking at boxing as a sport and we see different classes of boxers, according to their weight, they can fight an equal partner. But then in boxing, each fight accumulates significant revenues and it is therefore profitable.

Swimming is not such a money raker, though lately, the increasingly impressive bodies and nice personalities of top swimmers, especially Adam Peaty, attract more viewers, now that the healthy body image is on the top of the agenda for many

I think it is because of financial considerations that swimming is merely portioned into age-groups. A big breakthrough lately has been a further distinction into able and various ability groups. Though if swimming was further portioned into height, then the swimming competitors would take considerably longer to process and already there are shortages of officials as it is in the average level 3 age-group competitions.

Though, when looking at swimming results I now straightaway, go to the swimmer’s Wikipedia page and see how high they are. I am always very relieved when I see that the tallest didn’t win.

The latest victory of Pellegrini in the 200 free for example, see Swimmingworld article, shows her not to be the tallest out of Katie Ledecky and McKeon, she is however only very marginally shorter than both.

Interestingly the Wikipedia profile of Katie Ledecky makes her 180cm whilst the Google search brings her up to 183cm.

In the Google search Emma McKeon is also 180cm and also 180cm on Wikipedia.

Frederica Pellegrini is 177cm on Google search and on Wikipedia.

The most significant height difference could be seen in the German Frankziska Hentke who won the prelims heat and gotten the silver in the finals of the World Championships in Budapest 2017. See FINA review.

Franziska Hentke is 169cm according to Google and also 169cm on Wikipedia. Franziska won the prelims before Yilin Zhou (175cm) and Mireia Belmonte (168cm). All these ladies are very muscular.

I would say that it often depends on the kind of stroke, whether shorter physical height can achieve.

Katinka Hosszu who currently holds the most world records for women is a mere 175cm.

I’ve also come across Katie Matts who was considerably shorter than her fellow competitors but won the British Champs 2 times in a row. Picture here on a podium in a different race where she won bronze, just to show the relative height. I am unable to find an article with her body height in it.

Layla Black won an impressive victory in the 200 breast at the LEN in Netanya Israel. Pics from British Swimming.

Last year, using the typical height charts I calculated Madison’s ultimate body height to become 175-78 but now I am not so sure. I think that height might play a big factor in how much one invests into the sport because the more time you invest the less time you have to do anything else.

I feel that endurance and bodybuilding can out-swim height and sprint ability in especially the 200m races in Butterfly and Breaststroke.

There is no need to be obsessive about height because the ultimate power of decision-making is with the swimmer and if the swimmer thinks they can win, they will want to try their hardest. Especially if swimming as sport increases the happiness factor of a swimmer and aids with learning there is no question that every length spent in the pool is time well spent.

Especially when Madison was younger and she was put into a fast heat, despite being so young, she always complaint, that everybody else was much taller than her. I think a swimmer learns to overcome certain fears and deal with it in a positive way.

But Hannah Miley must be an inspiration to anybody who is not very tall, she is a very fierce swimmer and full of winning energy.

 

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.