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.

 

Nothing can stop us

We had a few obstacles in our way to get to early morning training.

  • First a lot of walkways around the LAC are closed due to an event nearby
  • and buses are on diversion
  • then we could not enter the LAC because of a staff problem there
tunnel
Carpenters Road underpass

We decided to take a nightbus to near the LAC and walk the rest of the way from the other side of the venue to get there on time. Isn’t that underpass psychedelic? I love it.

We were relatively early just to find out that the LAC manager was locked into her office and they had to call the fire brigade to get her out.

Our ever so reliable head coach then took some of us to Clissold so that we do not miss the morning practise.

After a nice car ride we finally made the practise. Nothing can stop us from morning practise.

If a morning practise is finished at 7:30AM it is still easily possible to be in school for 8:30AM because public transport in London is fantastic.

Backstroke turn in the medley

I want each coach to query any disqualification for the backstroke turn in the medley and ask the following:

  1. who reported the infraction
  2. did the referee accept an infraction report from a stroke judge/official on the side of the pool?
  3. was there a turn judge on each lane?

It is very important that the quality of judging gets raised because there are strokes where the judging is so difficult to do that it is really very important that the person judging the action stands directly above the lane to see what’s actually going on.

It is literally up to the referee from whom they accept infraction reports and if they accept an infraction report from an official who is not directly on the lane then the angle of vision and ability to see detail is diminished.

To improve the chances of swimmers to develop stroke techniques to the utmost efficiency, they must be judged on the technique applied as it can be seen from the nearest possible angle rather than from further away.

For example, if a swimmer comes to the end of the backstroke and changes onto the breaststroke, the swimmer must finish the backstroke as if it was the end of a backstroke race. The swimmer must touch the wall whilst on his back with part of his body above the water.

The rules also state clearly that the body can be turned by up to 89 degrees to the side for the swimmer to be on the back. Also the position of the head is not important.

Only the stroke judge on the lane can see if the swimmer touched the wall whilst still on the back especially if that touch happens below the water line.

From further away a side judge cannot see the angle clearly, cannot see where the swimmer touched the wall in relation to the position of the shoulders, if the touch happened below the water line.

Clearly it is unacceptable that swimmers do a tumble turn from the backstroke to the breaststroke because with a tumble turn they do not touch the wall whilst still on their backs but swimmers can develop incredible effective turning techniques.

That is good because the aim of the sport is to swim #swimskilful #swimfast. It is the duty of officials to assist this aim. If there is a doubt it always must be for the swimmer. Judges must be alert and judge what they actually see and not expect the swimmers to do dramatic touches just because they are easier to see. Swimmers must to fast turns to help the sport develop faster swimming.

So if now a swimmer has been disqualified by a side official who is not directly above the lane the disqualification happened in, then I think that coaches should put in a complaint on the grounds that the official could not clearly see what was going on.

I think that all referees should ask the lane turning judge for an opinion before disqualifying a swimmer – especially on the backstroke turn – to get the best picture.

Unfortunately not all officials do have radios, if they had, then it would be easy to cross reference with all officials. I think that is something I would strongly support.

Also if a turn judge has more than 1 lane to watch, then they have to concentrate on one swimmer, which gives reason to query a disqualification on a lane.

So to improve the quality of swimming and to help swimmers to swim more fast and skilful I think it would be appropriate to query disqualifications on the grounds stated above.

Please do so only strictly within the rules, do not approach individual judges, only approach the referee and ask to see the disqualification report and put in a protest only in the most polite and disciplined manner.

The disqualification report shows at the bottom who submitted the report there are boxes, which must be ticked, it can either be the

  • turn
  • stroke
  • starter
  • referee

So if in the Medley, any other than a turn stroke has submitted an infraction report on the turn from backstroke to breaststroke then I think coaches should query that infraction and subsequent disqualification.

However if the disqualification happened because the swimmer was totally submerged, then of course stroke judges are in a better position to judge that as they can see the whole body. Turn judges and time-keepers cannot keep an eye on the whole body when they have to time when the hand/arm touches the wall, they need to look at that rather than whether the whole body is submerged or not.

 

 

 

 

 

Blogging about the sport

Yesterday on Twitter, I read some posts about people blogging in a derogatory way about swimmers and or coaches.

That is the way of the www. There are always mindless people who want to make everything look either bad, ridiculous or simply take the mickey.

There are laws like inciting racial hatred, unlawful discrimination, criminal and terrorist incitement, which are incidences where police will intervene and blogs will have to be shut down.

But when it comes to name-calling, ridicule, bullying, things are harder to control.

It is one of the benefits of the free society that we can freely express our feelings, thoughts and it enriches our lives tremendously.

I would be very concerned if I read nothing but good things about anybody. In fact it seems that only in very repressive and fascist countries nobody is allowed to say anything negative about certain religions, political leaders or countries.

What drives swimmers is the love of the sport and the vast majority of swimmers I know have the greatest respect for their coaches, their fellow swimmers and for the sport.

People who want to progress in the sport and achieve great results will always go to training and swim at every opportunity.

I think that people wanting to learn about the sport and seek inspiration will look around and feel better about reading in-depth stories that may or may not contain some critical words but that comes across very positively and gives readers something to think about and encourages them to take part rather than put them off.

I mean you could sit on your couch all day and do nothing, but who wants to do that?

Ethos + pressure = results

I heard somebody say yesterday that swimmers should not be put under pressure. Wow, what a statement. Looking at the London region age-groups medal table, there is

  1. Barnet Copthall with 21 Gold, 13 Silver, 6 Bronze

    ……………………….28. Hackney Aquatics 2 Bronze

that is the standing after the first half of the competition.

Who put up the rule for swimmers not to compare results or performance?

Looking that the Barnet Copthall head coach Rhys Gormley’s favourite saying is “Death before dishonour”, I think he just about puts pressure to win as his utmost priority.

That is what you would expect as a result, that swimmers actually bring home the medals for the amount of training they are putting in each day, that is exceptional value for investment.

Since I do not live anywhere near Barnet Copthall, again I am finding myself in the position of having to make the best of what we’ve got. But having great leadership and swimmers all being a positive influence onto each other will achieve exceptionally good results. Mark Foster is probably their best known swimmer for the younger generation.

I do not think that not being a swimmer for Barnet Copthall is an excuse not to do well, but it makes it much harder indeed.

The whole different ethos of clubs like Barnet Copthall sees many swimmers taking part in gruelling events like 1500, 800 free, 200 fly, 400 IM. I could not see many of Hackney’s swimmers take part.

I shall aim to participate more in those character building events in the future.

Incredibly exciting times ahead

My move to Hackney has proven to be the most important and best decision I have made in my young life, in sporting terms.

There are the best prospects ahead and I can work with swimmers on all performance levels.

From next weekend the club attends no less than 4 different competitions. There is lots of fun at:

There is something for everyone. Of course all competition swimmers (well most) want to be selected or the Premium selection meets like the Golden Tour but it is a very good feeling to be part of a great mix.

Madison will swim at the Regional Qualifier in Basildon.

Seeing that our head coach Rick Hall has gotten all these important letters after his name like Rick Hall (First Class BA HONS Sports Coaching, Level 3 Swimming Coach), and having experienced the club environment, I now think that the continuation of the former LACPP should have been transferred to Hackney Aquatics or a committee consisting of various clubs.

Hackney Aquatics has an amazing bunch of parent volunteers who run the club in great harmony and effectively and Hackney, out of all clubs we have had the pleasure to experience, has the most robust and effective financial system.

Hackney, like most local top clubs have now also signed up for Team Unify, a move that has not been made by Newham UEL, who promised exciting changes to their website last year but nothing has happened.

Rick Hall from Hackney Aquatics is also the most qualified coach to handle top swimmers as he is actually employed by Middlesex County as County Coach.

img_1181The competitive swimming club development within the LAC is still a precarious situation, which needs to be looked at further. Geographically located within the borders of Essex, LAC no less hosts all clubs within the area, who can be located within Essex County, Middlesex County or other counties.

Having trained there for over a year, whilst LACPP was a primary British swimming development, there is a certain flair attached for us and vivid memories connected with the LAC training environment.

I think all regional swimmers who trained with LACPP still miss the Saturday Beacon program and I think Swim England should again look at the situation and discuss this further.

 

Adam Peaty MBE

Adam’s receiving his MBE is probably one of the most shared and liked images on Twitter and across all swimming publication platforms.

peaty-mbe-medal

Because Adam is one of the cleanest athletes and that is what makes him so likeable.

The guy never moanes. He is seen working out, trying new moves, emphasizing training methods are the most important tool of a swimmer; so Adam is probably the most important influence on Madison today.

Madison met Adam briefly during her stay at Mel Marshall’s Easter swim camp; Adam held a lecture to camp attendants this year 2017. There will be another camp next Easter.

Even as a parent I can learn a lot from this swimmer because he proves that only hard training and concentrating on the pool can make a swimmer; I just used to moan at the coach that Madison didn’t get promoted quick enough when she was younger.

Moaning at coaches doesn’t make any swimmer faster, it just makes working together that little bit harder. I am now not getting involved any longer apart from bringing her to training and competitions. Trying to help out will make swimming competitions easier for everyone and is actually constructive as it provides a great platform for all who are keen to compete. Parents try getting onto officials courses that keeps you busy rather than wait around a pool for 2 days.

I have learned that parents really are most important as helpers and supporters rather than wanting to be critical friends.

And swimming is so rewarding. Because swimmers get fully occupied in the club activities parents can easily calculate their costs of the training and club membership because costs are easily predictable and spending is relatively steady.

Kids spend most of their spare time with the club and that makes swimming as a sport also a life-style and life-long good habit. Once a swimmer always a swimmer.

Even though I hear it that people complain that the cost of the swimming club is too high, in my experience the cost is easier to handle than having other impulse spending that usually happens when there is no proper plan in place to do things with the children after school and in holidays. Swimming club costs are fixed costs that can be calculated ahead for the season and there are few surprises that could break the bank. Even away swimming competitions can double up as family break away.

For Adam Peaty investing all his time in swimming worked out superbly and I suppose the sport is self-regulating because if the swimmer feels the success and that stimulates the swimmer to keep on swimming then that is a career path worth taking. Once swimmers get really good they get offered sponsorship and podium funding and I suppose commercial opportunities follow.

For others they fade out of the performance competition side of the sport and rather concentrate on education or work but the habit of going swimming will normally stay with all who once engaged with the sport.

If your child wants to swim and you think you want to support it, try and find a club for them.

 

National county team champs

Are to be held in Ponds Forge and the teams come from all over England.

Whilst looking through the swimmers representing Middlesex, our new County, I noticed that a new swimming club has been established.

Whilst Lisa Bates started at Chelsea & Westminster as Head of Swimming, one of the star swimmers, Clara von Opel, has joined the new club Natare, West London Swimming Club, headed by Michael Jamieson.

Michael Jamieson of course is a well-known ex Olympic swimmer for Great Britain and quite recent at that, Also Craig Gibbons is joint head-coach of the new club that trains at one of the C&W training pools, Latymer Upper school.

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.