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.

 

It’s good to be busy

Since I qualified for regionals, I have not even gotten time to think. I am literally at the pool every spare minute of the day. I don’t even have time to get myself into any kind of trouble, I am too busy for that.

May is an exceptionally busy month. Well, lets say January is busy with County qualifiers, then from May onwards, it’s a mad rush. Literally each weekend in May is a competition weekend because London Regional competitions are stretched out over the whole month to accommodate all age groups and all swimming disciplines.

Since I am also a volunteer, I help sometimes at meets and also in the club. That is very enjoyable. In June come the club development and then other competitions, which I want to use to already qualify for next year’s Counties and Regionals.

It’s always good to plan ahead. I want to widen my repertoire, increase skills in my weakest stroke and get better in my strongest ones.

From September there will be the GCSE time-table and once I know that, I can plan my next season in detail as far as school is concerned but sports wise, we all wait for the County and Regional qualifying times for next year and because world records always get faster, we will need to get faster too at the bottom end of the sport to qualify for those stepping stone meets that allow us to qualify for the national competitions.

My definite goal will be to win some medals at next years County and Regionals because I won so many at the local swimming competitions but winning them at the higher level meets is tough indeed.

Finding confidence

The fear of coming last gets worst the bigger the winning ceremonies are. Especially when there is medal or point counts, if you are not in the club with the most points or medals, it is very hard not to feel inferior.

Yet when it comes to results, really only the records are the ones that get the most publications. All world records get permanently published and all major competition wins.

But looking at the journey of a swimmer, there are many competitions and they do – at any stage of age, from 10 years upwards – measure success by the most and the best at each age. .

Nobody can stop growing and goes through the ages and goes through all the age-group competitions, yet winning at all stages of age groups is literally impossible.

Some clubs do better with the younger swimmers and some do better with the older swimmers.

But when one comes last or very near the bottom of the meet results it is very hard not to feel crushed and pick up the pieces and get onto the next competition with fresh confidence.

The swimmers belonging to the club with the most points or medals, they always feel best, even if an individual comes last. As long as one belongs to the club with the best overall results the feelings of loss can be easier consolidated.

But then having to come to terms with a loss if one is in a club that is at the bottom of the ratings is very difficult. I think people have to just not feel too bad about it and feel some pride in their club and continue with training there because it is important for the sport that locally there is a club that caters for swimmers.

We can’t just all run off to the biggest, most winning club. It’s just a bit like football, do you support your local club or do you support the always winning Manchester United?

At some meets my club comes on top and that is the best feeling but when it doesn’t I just feel crushed and remember the good times.

 

Beckenham Easter International meet

This premium meet at the LAC was the crowning glory of my competition Easter weekend.

Very pleased to say, achieved a 1.2 second Personal Best in the 100 backstroke. See live results. 

Improved from 1:16:35 – 1:15:13. Not bad to get 8th place within the national swimmers window. Madison easily won her heat  this 10-lane pool.

The older and faster a performance swimmer gets the more precious do Personal Best times become. Madison was concerned that some younger swimmer gotten incredibly fast times but it has to be said that we only can hope that these young, very fast swimmers keep up the regular training to stay that fast for years to come.

What is important for every individual swimmer, is to measure personal progression against previous achievements but not to compare against others because development is different for each individual.

 

Basildon Easter meet

What a wonderful relaxing walk on the way to the Basildon Sporting Village, through picturesque parkland and arriving at the Sporting Village at noon.

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Madison had the privilege to swim on the Saturday 31. March 2018 and the great organisation of the meet enabled her to get some very good result. Considering it was a level 1 meet, with national swimmers in attendance, it is superb that Madison achieved a bronze medal in the 50 Butterfly and achieved top 10 status within her age group in all events swam. All event result in the 13 year old girls.

There was a

  • 5th place  for 50 backstroke with a new PB of 35:29 LC
  • 7th place for 200 freestyle with a new PB of 2:29:43 LC
  • 3rd place for 50 butterfly with a new PB of 34:88 LC (bronze medal)
  • 6th place for 100 freestyle with a new PB of 1:07:54
  • 4th place for 200 backstroke missing the PB by 2 seconds.

But considering that the 200 backstroke came shortly after the 100 freestyle with no rest in between it is not surprising that a PB wasn’t achieved. 200 backstroke is hard.

This is the first level 1 meet that Madison has won a medal. Well done.

BB

not Bed and Breakfast, not Brigit Bardot but Basildon and Beckenham.

The Basildon and Beckenham meets run concurrently in Basildon Sporting Village and the London Aquatics Centre, both are long-course meets on 31. March and 1. April 2018.

We are splitting ourselves between the two. Saturday at Basildon and Sunday at the LAC. All long-course times achieved at licensed meets are acceptable for the national competitions.

We’ll leave the 25m competitions to catch up on weaker strokes, e.g. 200 fly or 200 breast.

 

 

Summer champs interim rankings

There are several categories and for England Madison has gotten the time but she is not listed.

For 50 back there are swimmers listed with as slow as 34:73 for 50 back.

Madison’s time is 33:16 LC converted from a 32:55 SC. Of course the ranking system only seems to take times from the speed achieved in long-course races, where Madison’s last PB was 35:38. Perhaps British Swimming can adapt the Team Unify system that automatically converts times to suit both disciplines.

In all other events they accept converted times, of course I think Madison will up-date her long-course time achieved in long course in the next competition but I’ll also have to contact the coach about this one.