Invincible

I suppose becoming invincible is the ultimate goal of any performance athlete, that nothing can get you down. But it will take years of hard graft to achieve that goal. Careful management of resources is required.

This year’s competition schedule, with the unexpected 3km Open Water thrown in, was simply too much for a young person like Madison. She already trains quite a lot, perhaps above average, compared to her peers, yet unexpected demand on strength just collapsed the shoulder muscles eventually when the 400 IM followed an 800 freestyle, which followed the 3km freestyle.

Just because somebody is young and fit obviously doesn’t mean they are also invincible.

We’ll learn from that for next season. Last season we did more than 1 competition per month. We’ll try a more targeted approach, carefully selecting meets and strokes to slowly develop a repertoire that is sustainable and promising.

Talking of sustainable, we noticed that some former swimming and training partners have dropped out of competitive swimming when goals were reached. That is a bit sad. We want to continue the swimming and make it a lifestyle that can be maintained forever. The drop-outs were  swimmers who specialise really early and the danger is that there is not enough to go along with once a certain goal is reached. Yet I cannot rule out that an injury stopped the sport for those who dropped out.

On the other hand, multi-discipline swimmers like Katinka Hosszu, Aimee Willmott or Michael Phelps are much more able to stick to the sport for more years.

George Corones
Swimming Australia Picture

Swimmers don’t have to reach their peak aged 14, there is plenty of lifetime to come. Swimmers need the self-confidence to develop their swimming styles regardless of constantly winning medals. Of course a swimmer wants to reach the regionals but winning medals is often the prerogative of specialist swimmers who decided quite early what to focus on.

I think too much pressure to reach very fast times too early can push swimmers over the edge and drive them to injury. Yet it is often the swimmers themselves who set themselves goals, which are too high.

Every swimmers who takes part in age-group competitions makes a positive contribution to the sport.

 

 

 

Great results

Most useful to know the actual improvements of a swim in the results pages. Hackney Aquatics gives this superb overview on results in age group competitions and that is more useful than to know one has won a medal.

It is actually better to get a 15 second PB and second place in the 800 free rather than a gold medal with a time that is not a personal best.

Once a performance swimmer as a teenager, there is an aim to get better times most meets.

We did do a lot of meets though and the more meets one participates in the lower becomes the improvement ratio.

If you only compete 3 times per year than the improvement ratio becomes higher and more impressive.

 

Pulled muscle

The Summer at Dagenham meet worked well as far as the 800 freestyle went on Friday evening. From then on things just went down-hill. #lastopenmeetoftheseason #swimfast

A muscle pull during the 400 IM put a firm stop to Madison’s racing weekend. the life guard said Madison should have ice packs every 20 minutes but only supplied one ice pack and refused to give more.

I was working as official and could not get away easily. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all that I put Madison into races, she didn’t really enjoy doing. Perhaps swimmers need to be happy with their races to perform well.  Others say swimmers sometimes need to be taken out of their comfort zone.

Perhaps I should discuss this with the coaches about race selection. That is always a subject that can cause friction. Do you do the races that the swimmer likes, the races that the coach wants or the races that the parents want. They are not necessarily the same.

 

After the busy weekend

All pics taken in the London Aquatics Centre appear with blue tint. That’s due to the windows being covered in blue foil. Just dropped my official’s board on the floor to take a pic of Hackney’s trophy won at the Gators meet on Sunday 8th. July 2018.

HAC TROPHY
Head coach Rick Hall with coach Naomi and some of the swimmers who won medals at the Gators meet on 8th. July 2018. Madison missed this photo opportunity.

We had a long weekend. First swimming for Tower Hamlets at the London Youth Games on Saturday 7th. July and then competing at the Gators meet in the LAC on Sunday 8th. July.

It’s all important to earn the stripes necessary to progress further in a swimming career.

Madison won 4 medals at the Gators meet.

gator-medals-July18
3 x silver and 1 x bronze at the Gators meet in July 2018

I am awaiting the results and will add-on as soon as published.

But in the 50 Freestyle Madison went all out and finished well ahead in her penultimate heat, making second place, with a great Personal Best in the long-course, which is the best result a swimmer can have, great PBs.

 

Out with the old in with the new

My feelings are best shown with the marvellous graffiti currently along the Regents Canal. There is now 1 week leading up to the London Youth Games swimming on Saturday and then followed on Sunday the London Borough of Waltham Forest (Gators) summer meet at the London Aquatics Centre.

It’s always harder to get to the LAC pool when approaching roads and walkways are closed due to other events.

Tomorrow morning for AM practise we have to get up earlier because buses are on diversion and walkways around the LAC are closed.

Looking forward to the usual pool based competition but cannot help wondering why all the best pool swimmers are also doing very well in the Open Water. For example Keri-Anne Payne won a 10km open water sea race in 2014.

Suppose Marathon and Open Water swimming help a lot with endurance and general strength.

 

Make or break

There is now a lot of suspense in the air because Hackney Aquatics will shortly announce squad movements. It’s a very big deal for swimmers whether they get selected for the top Performance squad or the competition squad.

Makes a huge difference, some competitions can only be entered by performance squads. Madison has been in performance since several years now and doesn’t want anything else.

At the moment we are trying to get tougher. We are entering competitions mainly to increase stamina. Going to swim in

Some events we do not enter to win but just to condition.

We know where Madison can get good results but there are those events where the chances are not so good and those are the ones we will enter as well, e.g. 400 free, 400 IM. Winning medals is not always possible but taking part is.

Overall the consistently best swimmers in the long run are always the ones who have the best variety of strokes and distances.

As a special treat for after the summer break. during which Madison will keep busy by attending

  • The Melanie Marshall SwimInspiration summer camp
  • climbing and canoeing workshops
  • perhaps a Hackney Aquatics summer camp

then in September onto the level 2 Cambridge Grand Prix 

and also Redbridge which is always a nice weekend to get some more County and Regional Times for next season.

Overall there is an excellent variety of competitions that Hackney Aquatics attends, which really enriches the life of any swimmer.

Just swim

The London Region Open Water Championship details have just been announced and Madison will be in the last event of the day, the 3km age-group female champs. The 3km waves start at 14:45 and there is a maximum swimming time of 1 hour and 15 minutes allowed.

It must be total freedom to be able to just swim, with no turns or pool restrictions to cope with, just swim from your own strength and develop a rhythm that doesn’t stop at turns.

A swimmer doesn’t even know what strength they can develop during unrestricted Open Water swimming until they did it.

It’s worth a try. Qualifying within the first 3 of an age-group qualifies for the National Open Water Age-group championships in Rother Valley Country Park. Though the distance there is only 2km for age-groups. It is also possible to qualify with appropriate 800/1500 m times.

We are just interested in trying this out, to see what happens with this type of swimming.

Interestingly though it is going to be a very tough day because Madison will swim the 3km of the London Open Water champs at 14:45 and then head straightaway to the London Fields Lido to take part in the Hackney Aquatics sponsored Swim the Thames event and is attempting to swim another 3.5km in the 50m pool there, e.g. 70 lengths.

 

 

Qualifying window for 2019

Next year’s qualifying window for British and home nation nationals will run from

22nd March – 27th May 2019 (inclusive).

Will be trying now to get the qualifying times for next year’s county champs prior to breaking up for the summer.

Yet we need to consider that there are plans to close the qualifying window even earlier in 2020 to avoid the examination period in schools.

As age-group swimmers have to swim as the age they would be at the end of the calendar year, most swimmers must swim ahead of their age.

Only people who are born in January of the year can swim their actual age for counties (that is where counties are held in January.

This principle of age as at the end of the calendar year, applies to all nationally regulated competitions throughout the year; most regional are in March/May (here in London). The summer champs are in July.

Madison will need to put her mind onto next year’s nationals.

One way to increase stamina and general strength will be to swim more long-distance competitions. Open water doesn’t have any turns and requires constant swimming. Other long-distance meets are held for us in July.

person on elliptical trainer
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The dilemma for younger swimmers is the fact that they are not allowed into gyms and the apparatuses within.

Madison will swim 2x 800m competitions on two consecutive days. Gone are the days were anything over 200m is greeted with shrieks of horror. We need to embrace long-distance.

Full program for London Open 2018

Like looking at the program and listings of swimmers prior to the events, that gives me time to adjust and prepare mentally and physically.

If I know I’m in a later heat, I can calculate the time it gives me to get ready for the race. Knowing the time between warm-up and marching in is a valuable tool. Knowledge is always good.

This weekend is going to be very interesting with international swimmers and the good old friends from local meets.

Great it is at the LAC, loving it. I’m lucky, having 1 race per session. I’ll be able to manifest my long-course times. Very happy that I’ve been accepted for the 50 free.

On the fast trail

cptreeThe only thing Madison has in common with Michael Phelps is the fact that she is playing catch up. I seem to remember Michael saying that in his early career, he always played catch-up to the fast swimmers.

These days we are wearing his goggles.

One perk of going to swimming competitions is the fantastic landscape, that we can enjoy regularly. Crystal Palace is set in wonderful mature trees. However the performance is steadily going down-hill this time.

Madison managed to set a new long-course PB in the 50 back but both the 100 back and 200 back were slower than previously achieved times.

We’ll see whether an improvement can be achieved next weekend at the London Swimming Open Summer Champs at the London Aquatics Centre, when Madison will be swimming in four events.

When going to Regionals is a new experience for a swimmer, I suppose the routine and the priming of getting the fitness and results at the right time is something that has to be programmed into the psyche of a swimmer, to peak at the correct moments. Where there is a will there is a swim.