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.

 

New Beginnings

Local is Best, as it is near and plentiful. We reside almost next to York Hall and have Mile End Leisure Centre a short bus ride away. But during the last season Madison trained with London Aquatic Performance at the LAC solely. The schedule was very harsh. To show you Madison’s time-table last year:

Monday    :   07:35 – 15:05 school;     17:00 – 19:00 swim*or 19:00-20:30 Guides

Tuesday   :   06:00 – 07:30 swim*, 07:35-15:05 school; 18:30-20:30 swim*

Wednesday: 06:00-07:30 swim*, 07:35-15:05 school; 17:00-18:30 swim*

Thursday :   07:35 – 15:05 school; 17:00-19:00 swim*

Friday     : 08:35 – 15:05 school; 17:15-17:45 piano lessons

Saturday : 08:30 – 11:00 swim* or competition all day

Sunday   : church or competition all day

*  All swimming took place in London Aquatics Centre, all schooling in Shadwell.

This was an extremely tight schedule and because we had to take the few sessions that were available at the LACPP, Madison had hardly any rest during the previous year. It was very hard to fit in homework during the week and eating had to be done during travelling to and from venues, especially from school to swimming and back home. Because the early morning swim was straight after an evening session, that meant straight to bed when arriving home to get ready for an early start.

For a 13-year-old with GCSE exams coming up, this schedule is not manageable over a prolonged period of time. Teenagers need more sleep than older swimmers and that takes away a lot of time from doing stuff in the evenings.

As it is quite apparent to most who visit the swim club websites, the LACPP website has not been updated for quite a while, also the Facebook page is unchanged since a few months. People know about the stoppage of the senior performance program there.

The club is on summer shut-down for the whole of August and the remaining club swimmers were not given any competition schedule for the Autumn. At least Madison was not given any competition schedule.

We had such great improvements during the last year, that I think a whole month without training and then no competitions to prepare for the up-coming County and Regional competitions can’t be good.

So I needed to make a quick decision and approached our former club, the Bethnal Green Sharks for membership. They are local, easy to reach, there is hardly any travel time to get there. That all saves previous minutes to do course work or rest and eat.

Sharks also have competitions planned from September and Madison can slowly lead up her performance improvement to January 2018, when the County competitions start.

LACPP started off as support club for local elite swimmers and I think for Madison it is best to recommence part-time swimming with them in the autumn because of the time-schedule concerns I have to do with schooling.

Sharks train in the evenings almost every day and on Saturday and Sundays, there is a great variety of sessions to choose from whilst at LACPP the sessions available had been pressed into 5 days with 2 sessions on 2 days. There is no land-training and only 20 mins pre-pool available.

Currently we have no idea what the schedule is going to be at LACPP in the autumn and the lack of planning for us is quite difficult to manage. That’s why we chose to return to our local club as main club with the LACPP as support club. Of course the LAC facilities and the quality of training are superb.

Other successful swimmers have the LACPP as support club like Angharad Evans for example who won Gold at the British summer championships in her age-group. Her home club is West Sussex; I state this only to show that a local club is probably a better option for us too. Though at the moment Madison can only dream of the British Championships.

The flowers you see are a charming by-product of walking to the LAC via the scenic walkways; that is one big plus of going there. But the local happiness and umpf of the local club can only be found here.

 

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.

On balance…..

There are several parts of a successful swimming environment:

  1. The team
  2. the coach
  3. the pool

Neither of those three can function to full fruition without the other. There is a fourth part that has not been mentioned and that is the facility environment. I would love to see the London Aquatic Centre being made a British National Centre for Swimming. It is the ideal Competitive environment and simply asks for British Swimming to make it the third British National Centre besides Bath and Loughborough.

I am fighting tooth and nail for this to happen.

Current plans to downgrade the LACPP to a learn-to-swim facility with a Development Squad simply cannot have been properly thought through.

I am currently lobbying the Minister for Sport to get involved and avoid a national scandal around the use of the London Aquatics Centre.

An Olympic Pool is the ideal place to coach an Olympic team or part thereof.

A beautiful pool alone doesn’t make champions, it is the whole buzz around the facility that spurns swimmers on to do better.

One can see quite easily that since training with LACPP Madison has achieved a greater improvement rate than with her previous club. Click on any of her recent Personal Best Times on her records and see how the improvement curve becomes steeper since July 2016, when she first started swimming with LACPP.

Angharad Evans achieved record speeds in the national arena after having trained regularly with the LACPP team and the national coaches there.

The presence of such wonderful swimmers like Aimee Wilmott, Michael Gunning, Jarvis Parkinson and others have a great part to play in the desire to swim faster. If that top set of swimmers is no longer there then the biggest assets of the pool are missing.

There are many great British clubs who regularly participate in British Championships without having a permanent 50m pool to train in, just to mention Chelsea and Westminster and Camden Swiss Cottage, Barnet Copthall to name a few. Hackney Aquatics now has swimmers in the national summer champs. Such teams only train a couple of times per week in a 50 m pool. It is because of their team spirit and presence of long-standing swimming aces, that these clubs achieve so much.

The LAC has the ability to make the pool the greatest national swimming legacy by training national swimmers and Olympic swimmers there. But to ‘only’ use an Olympic pool for learn to swim and development sessions is a travesty.

We’ll consider our options if Swim England and UEL decide to down-grade the club because I think swimmers swim faster if they swim with other fast swimmers; fast championship swimmers in 25m pools are faster than leaner swimmers in 50m pools.

No more excuses

Whilst I was sitting around, being a bit bored, a link from British Swimming to the ‘progressive age-group records‘ came up.

I saw, to my total amazement that Francesca Halsall actually achieved her first recorded British age-group record on this list aged 13 in the 50 free, on 7 April  2004 in 26:43. Born on 12 April 1990, this happened just 5 days before her 14. birthday.

I find this completely amazing because Fran is relatively short, she even joked about  her height in one of her recent interviews saying it would help her being a bit taller. The current Wikipedia profile list Francesca as 1.71m height.

This just puts fire into the flames of those who argue they could never win against all those tall people who turn up at age-groups.

I think Francesca should become a real trend-setter for swimmers because she achieves and swims with longevity and now aged 27 has again been nominated to the British Olympic team.

Apparently I show YouTube videos of Fran’s sprints to Madison to show her the technique; recommend this to all who want to be good at freestyle sprint.

We are still fighting to save the National Senior section of LACPP

I cannot help commenting on this awful situation that has developed around the LACPP’s senior program, that saw many swimmers move to London to take part.

It includes national, international and 1 Olympic athlete. This athlete, Aimee Wilmott, incidentially also is the Commowealth Games Ambassador for England for the next term. Considering that there was a hot article in the Swimming Times about this new hot club LACPP that also is the only club in London that has been awarded Swim 21 ASA competitive swimming environment status, it is hard to belief that those e-mails and messages from UEL to swimmers shall be final.

It beggars belief that a swimmer who needs to take part in the 2020 Olympics, the World Championships in Budapest and the Commonwealth Games in Australia, gets told suddently that their training program will be taken away. SwimSwam has published an article about the situation which is quite bizarre. Apparently senior swimmers did a job to attract younger swimmers to the club and are now no longer needed as the younger swimmers have now joined?

Cost-cutting measures never improve a service, what needs to be done is to make the service more attractive to make it pay.  I do not think that the tactic saying that perhaps in a few years time the senior program will start up again will make swimmers trust into the program again. They would naturally be afraid that it will be taken away again after a short while.

I am sure most club members will not accept this as final. There will be many complaints because also the parents of the lower squad members want the Senior swimmers to stay at the club to give the younger swimmers an aim. A good club has a mixture of younger and older swimmers, they compliment each other and make the club wholsome.

I am hopeful that there will be a reversal of that decision by the UEL and Swim England.

Just to calculate the cost of this proposed UEL scheme in that Senior Squad swimmers should find another club and only come part-time to training sessions at the LACPP. Currently a full-time swimmer at senior section pays £120 per months for 24 1/2 hours training per week. If swimmers need to join another club because LACPP wants to reduce senior swimming sessions to 16 hours per week then the swimmers would have to pay the full club fee for their new club at probably £95 per months and the LACPP fees at probably £100 per month. That would double their costs.

This is more than unreasonable from just this point of view alone.

British swimming championships 2017

A must to watch the live stream or highlights, look at the results and get an excellent insight into the latest trends in swimming. The commentators give invaluable tips on developments and techniques.

The Championships are live transmitted on the British Swimming YouTube channel and also via their website, #BSC17.

Even if you cannot find the time to watch it live, like my swimmer who is always training when the events are on, look at the highlights or the playbacks.

It is the first time for Madison that she actually knows the swimmers at the British Championships and that especially awakes Madison’s interest in performing well herself.

Known well to Madison is Angharad Evans; Angharad swims for West Suffolk but trains with Madison at the London Aquatic Centre in the National Youth Squad a few times per week; often in the same lane. Angharad who only just turns 14 on Tuesday, broke the British Junior record in the 50 breast and swims tomorrow the 100 breast as well, broke the age-group record.

It is a great bonus that swimmers such as Jarvis Parkinson and Aimee Willmott are daily acquaintances around the pool and the competitive spirit is great at the LACPP.

5 days camp and 5 Olympians

What an action-packed week. This 5 day camp was superbly organised, even better delivered and certainly had a lot of inspiration packed into the program.

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Madison met Melanie Marshall, Grant Turner, Tim Shuttleworth, Adam Peaty and Luke Greenbank.

All swimmers gotten a medal, engraved with their name at the end of the 5-day camp and Madison chose to purchase a hoodie to remember the camp as well.

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Madison was in team South Africa. And during the week various athletes came to visit the

swimmers. This was an action-packed week and I can only admire how the organisers managed to keep 80 kids busy and happy during a week full of fun.

Tim Shuttleworth was giving a question and answer session as well as showing off his skills.