I feel a spring in my step. A lot of performance happens in the mind. All that I need to make sure of is that what I put in my body is good stuff and that my life is without hassle, that I have plenty of supportive people around me and that I feel good.
It doesn matter whether you live in a castle or in a flat, whether you have a car or take the train, whether you are rich or poorish, what matters is that you want to do it and be the best. Regular attendance at training sessions is crucial. You learn all the techniques and speed during training.
The less problems you create in your mind, the more you can focus on the swims.
The competitions then become just a relaxing weekend away with a few enjoyable swims.
Suddenly the national qualifying window becomes meaningful. Whilst we are totally in focus on the goals, it is important to make decisions that are in sync with aims. Today we break up from school at 12:20 and a few of my school mates go to Stratford Westfield window shopping. I decide to pass on this, I know I have got my second training session of the day tonight and have a full weekend of competition ahead of me.
I use this afternoon as a welcome rest period before the storm.
Performance athletes are definitely in the minority. It just helps me a lot to see determined early morning joggers on my way to AM practise, I then know that there are others who are also focussed on fitness and training. Of course when I arrive at the pool, that is the best feeling, being amongst like-minded friends then.
I am feeling more relaxed now by making decisions that fit in with my performance goals rather than with pleasing others who have different lifestyles. It seems rather trivial to find the trip to Spain more exciting than getting national qualifying times. I suppose national athletes who swim for Britain get many great training sessions abroad anyhow.
Our scene is changing, we are moving from the level 3 meets into the level 1 meets as our main focus.
This just shows that the Hackney Aquatics training is working, Madison has settled into her new club and is steaming ahead. If you can steam in a pool.
Probably after a 5k training session, some steam starts to emerge.
It is a big learning process. We need to know how the Nationals work and apparently they only accept times achieved in 50m pools. Of course that puts a major focus on taking part in 50m competitions all year round as a main source of competition times.
This learning curve reminds me of the learning we had to go through from the small pool to the big pool program. It is coupled with excitement and a new focus.
Big expectations with unrealistic dreams. You cannot dream anything realistic, a dream is always something that is in the clouds and gets into reach only by trying and trying again.
Performance swimmers cannot tone down their training to suit the GCSE learning and exam schedule. Performance athletes needs to tailor their GCSE choices around their training requirements.
Apparently age 14 is the time when most girls drop out of performance swimming. That is the time when we have to make up our mind whether to continue in performance swimming or not.
We need to study core subjects like Science, Maths and English and others like religious education in church schools.
Madison has been chosen for triple Science, is top grade in Maths and English but also wants to continue with performance swimming.
The swimming training involves at least 8 sessions per week, each one 2 hours swimming and half hour land. Two days per week there is twice a day training starting at 6AM till school and then continues after school.
On top of the core subjects or GCSE we need to choose 3 other subjects and there we consider how much time and effort each subject takes and whether we can weave in some learning with the sport.
It is best to choose subjects where the grades are high and learning comes easy, so that the whole experience seems effortless and easy.
We participated in high-end performance training since almost 2 years now and this experience comes in very useful as we are already used to calculating our time very efficiently and learned to make use of every minute of the day without sacrificing our sleep.
Aimee Willmott has been a great role model for Madison, Aimee studied sport whilst at University and being a performance swimmer and proves that combining education and performance swimming is possible.
From age 25 onwards Wikipedia lists Masters world records. The oldest age-group is 100 – 104. NO, I just found somebody who holds the world record for the age-group in 50 backstroke for ages 105-109 and that is Jaring Timmerman of Canada. Apparently he also held the world record for the preceding age-group of 100-104.
Aged 100-104 Jaring swam the 50 backstroke in 1:45:59 and aged 105-109 Jaring took 3:09:55 for the same distance.
The women’s world record for age 90-94 in 50m Freestyle is 52:09, for 50 breaststroke for the same age-group its 1:14:04.
Just to update this post on 2. March 2018, the 50 m Freestyle record for 100 – 104 year olds has just been smashed by 99 year old George Corones in Queensland Australia with 56:12.
Ideally every athlete and swimmer should try to maintain their fitness and keep the age group records with rising age.
I would be pleased if I could even make it to the pool aged 100 let alone swim 50 meters. But this is what the sport and keeping fit is all about, perform as long as you can and stay fit, set a good example to others and don’t let yourself go.
For younger swimmers having the Olympic Games in their horizon, stay focussed on the long-term achievements and not only on performing till the Olympic games.
In performance sports constant fitness regimes and a lifestyle that is focused on performance are imperative.
There is no fast way to sporting results for most athletes, not all are fast starters and many reap the results of their training and clean living efforts later on in life. Remember you can establish a swimming record till very late in life, age-groups never stop.
Learning to deal with rejections and throwbacks is almost as important for a young swimmer as being able to win. Most swimmers probably lose more races than winning them.
It is however very important to attend competitions on a monthly basis to stay tuned.
In swimming as a sport, peaking at 18+ is probably more convenient than earlier because it fits in with the schooling regime that we all have to follow here in the UK.
Performance swimming means being constantly on the swim, on a daily basis. You gotta love swimming a lot to be able to do it.
Once you get selected for national teams, you get a whole host of wonderful training opportunities through podium funding. Prior to that all athletes can apply for GLL funding. But as said previously there are also many practical ways to improve fitness.
Days are getting longer again and it’s always refreshing to see the sun rise around morning training. We go three times per week now and getting used to it.
The lifestyle in the city is such that we get used to late evenings, cosy TV watching and later to bed and later to rise.
AM training means getting up at 4:30, having breakfast, then off to the pool before school. Whilst in Primary it was very easy for Madison as the pool was directly next to the school but now there is travel involved.
London’s transport is excellent and it is very easy to get from place to place using very fast and reliable public transport. It is so much easier to enjoy the landscapes whilst using a bus/train or walking to or from a train station rather than driving.
It is cold but fresh this morning and as long as the sky is blue and the sun is shining, the weather is not so much of an issue.
AM training has now firmly become a part of our routine and is embedded in our life-style. It is not only the swimmer that is affected by the training routine because as long as they are young teens the parents are the ones that bring them to training. So chop, chop and bristol fashion, no excuses.
HAC has got the very appropriate abbreviation, that could also stand for Happy Club. After this year’s County’s everybody is happy, singing praise to the coaches and the swimmers, whilst all parents congratulate each other on supporting their successful swimmers.
It is all down to a very happy combination of everything working together just fine,
the professional coaching team, who are all very friendly, very approachable and always happy to have a chat in a nice way, superb communications,
the extremely keen swimmers who work very hard and train to compete and if they do not compete, they are all very supportive members of a club that welcomes all swimmers,
the excellent Advanced Coaching Scheme that provides superb transitional coaching and an unreal and good land and swim training program,
all the kind and cordial parents who all support each other.
The superb progression of achievement has been well shown by the recent graphs and tables Rick has posted for us to see and I shall recommend that everybody is proud but not complacent with the achievements but aims to work even harder to continue the success.
Madison made a relatively small contribution to this success by having contributed to the Top 8/final category. But MADISON is chuffed to bits that she can be part of such a successful and well-run club by head coach Rick Hall.
It makes it so much more worthwhile to invest time into training and not having the feeling that she wastes time in the pool. There is something to aim for and it seems achievable.
As parent volunteer I only worked briefly this weekend and again came to the conclusion that swimming is simply the best sport for youngsters. Can any parent, non swimmers of course, imagine hundreds of kids in one hall in good discipline, hard-working, cheerful and enthusiastic all weekend?
All participants are very positive, eager, committed and following the rules. The activity is very healthy and can’t do any harm. Highly recommended.