The Training and the Performance

It’s an anagram of the chicken and egg question.

What came first? The chicken or the egg?

What comes first? The performance or the training?

To explain. To get promoted into a higher performance group in a swimming club you need the speed but to get the speed you need the training.

Whilst we get ready for our stint in the Regional Qualifier in Basildon tomorrow, it seems that it is very hard to make that step onto the regional ladder.

It’s achievable fairly easily to get County times by just popping into training about 7 times per week, on some days twice but the regional times are much faster. A few seconds are very hard to achieve.

The athletic ability needs to be much further developed to gain a few seconds on speed.

 

County press reporting

Since the government changed the rules on Council newspaper reporting, sports clubs increasingly rely on the FREE press to report about their achievements.

Apparently ARCHANT owns almost all big local papers in the region.

I want readers to compare the achievements reported in each paper to get a good idea about the quality of the club.

For Tower Hamlets we have the East London Advertiser, ELA reported very positively on 15. February 2018 about the relatively small achievements of Bethnal Green Sharks in a full press report. Yet Bethnal Green Sharks swimming club achieved the least medals out of the clubs mentioned here.

For Islington we have the Islington Gazette (Archant), they did not report at all about Camden Swiss Cottage swimming club. The club relied on the CamdenNewJournal to report about them online on 8. February 2018 and Ham&High on 7. February 2018.

Anaconda swimming club also from Islington mainly report on their own website about results.

Redbridge, an Essex County club, have the Ilford Recorder (Archant). I could not find any county report either on the Redbridge Swimming club website nor in the press.

Hackney Aquatics have the Hackney Gazette (Archant) where there is no press report in the paper but Hackney Aquatics have an excellent report about the County results on their website.

Even though newspapers are a bit old-fashioned in paper format, many read them online in E-editions. It helps clubs to get funding from sponsors if there is a good press coverage.

In this case the club with the least medals has been reported about the most by ARCHANT, perhaps a typical example of British behaviour to always support the Underdog.

 

MCASA weekends (3)

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.

MCASA weekend (2)

Junior County champs at the LAC was a two-day gala at level 1, that is the highest level possible in swimming.

Madison swam with Hackney Aquatics and the event was for 14 years upwards. All the medal winners from the club were 15 years or older. Madison is still only 13 years of age and only joined the club 4 months ago and had to do so suddenly, due to LACPP being dissolved. Madison swam for National Youth in LACPP but since joining Hackney Aquatics now swims with the second squad, the Performance Age group, which are much younger; but she did have a few  training sessions with the Performance Youth squad prior to the Counties.

Despite all the upheaval, Madison managed to get 5th place in the 200S back stroke for 14 year olds and 2 reserve finalist places in the 50 and 100 back. See full results here:

Of course every reserve finalist becomes a finalist should one of the base finalists decide to drop out, which didn’t happen in Madison’s case.

In a 10 lane pool, the fastest 10 become finalists in sprint events ranging over all the 50 and 100 meter stroke disciplines. Being a finalist could result in a 10th place. Longer distance events do not have any finals.

A fifth place in the 200 back is not a medal but good progress and an excellent stepping stone to develop the swimming skills in the future.

We need to develop skills realistically and having had the courage to swim the 100 breast for the first time in a long course meet and getting a county time is not bad at all.

For Madison this is so far the best result achieved in a county meet and that is encouraging. Madison still enjoys swimming and we are not at all upset for not getting any medals this time.

I strongly want to encourage all swimmers who do not win medals to continue with the sport because we have seen so many young and very fast swimmers drop out of the sport. Being fast when you are very young does not mean that you continue in the sport, what is important is that swimmers lead healthy lives and if it is enjoyable, continue with it.

MCASA weekends (1)

The County competitions are a very exciting time for swimmers and parents. I spent the weekend at Southbury and it was an electrifying atmosphere throughout. The gallery was packed with supporters and it was wonderful how many swimmers gotten the chance to participate. All swam very skilful and fast.

I could not find one person who didn’t enjoy the meet. Next week is the Youth weekend at the LAC. Madison will get to compete.

Everything happens just about now

Tomorrow is the start of the MCASA age group competitions and the week after that the Youth get their chance to shine at the LAC.

Of course everyone is thinking of the forthcoming Regional qualifier meets as well, just as – for pupils in year 9 – the time comes to discuss choices of GCSE subjects.

Not all schools do this at the same time but Madison’s school does it in early February.

Parents evenings are also on the horizon and all that in the most exciting training period, when everyone wants to train hard and learn how to #swimfast and #swimskilfull.

Lets just not get nervous and take it one step at a time, keep calm and keep swimming. It is just a matter of keeping the diary in order and do all homework immediately when it arises. Don’t let things pile up. Make every minute of the day a useful one.

Competitions help to calm nerves towards school exam periods and calm nerves are essential to learn for exams.

Listen to your coach, who has plenty of experience and knows how to bring the best out of swimmers. So everything is going to be just fine.

Try not to lose sleep over catching up on apps and social networks late at night. Most important is a regular and healthy diet and regular and uninterrupted sleep. Turn the mobile off whilst resting.

Talk to non-swimming friends and make them understand that you just cannot chat at all hours and need your own sporting routine, all good friends will understand. All swimmers will definitely sympathise.

The more you learn…..

Madison’s school, Raine’s English Department, just published a lovely tweet @RainesEnglish and it says:

“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go”. – Dr. Seuss

Certainly true for swimmers, the more you learn the more places you will go.

The better the skill, the better the swim. It is all about skill, without skill, there will be no fast swims.

It is always very uplifting to read about the successes for swimmers like Michael Phelps or Adam Peaty and others whose names stick in our heads because as swimmers and swimmers parents we just read more about what is happening in the swimming world.

Madison I think, like most swimmers need to learn the skills really well to make the most of the swimming opportunities that are out there.

So far we went to competitions within the London area and visited all sorts of clubs and pools, perhaps, with more skill we’ll be able to take part in competitions that are in other places. I needed to purchase a railcard to make train travel affordable because some competitions are outside of town. Soon, for the first time, Madison will go abroad for a swimming camp in Spain. That is a very exciting activity to look forward to.

Though I must say, the London region has a very good pool that attracts other swimmers to come and compete here. We are in a good place. In about 10 days time the Middlesex County Championships take place in the London Aquatics Centre and soon also an international open level 1 meet will be held there.

 

Measuring sporting potential

medalsWe have hordes of medals and all those medals are no guarantee of future sporting success, they were gained in so-called low-level 3 meets.

What really determines sporting talent is the ability to get regional and national and international qualifying times.

But, when young, for example when a 10-year-old gets regional times, that does not mean they’ll always get regional times in the future.

When a 14-year-old doesn’t get regional times that doesn’t mean they won’t get them the following year.

I am drawing up a table now to measure improvement or decline.

A simple formula

financial reward for

Gaining regional, national times and medals. (Though medals do not pay as much as regional or national times).

financial penalty for

performing at less than a previous best time for each event.

So for example, go to a meet, do 9 events. If at worst the swimmer swims below previous Personal Best time that accrues a considerate financial penalty in terms of deduction from future earnings from medals or achieving target times.

However if the swimmer gains by getting a regional time, gains a medal but swims below PB in just one event, then there will be overall a financial gain.

How a parent does the math and what sums are involved will most likely depend on the spare cash available.

The more hopeful performance is, the greater the financial reward. If financial penalties keep mounting up then perhaps there is little point in training as intensely and it is time to concentrate on other, more rewarding activities, like trying to get all A*** in the GCSEs.

 

 

No more excuses

I was very impressed watching the @CityofDerbysc level 1 meet today. @HackneyAquatics has a small bunch of swimmers non older than 16 I believe and they did very well in this national atmosphere. Hackney came 16. at the end of day one – out of 44 clubs attending – with only a few swimmers with some very big and famous clubs attending.

At this level 15 year old swimmers had to compete in opens with no age-group to hide behind. Very tough and sobering.

Great thanks to Rick for providing the flair needed to make Hackney a club of the highest calibre with a lot of promise.

No more excuses that either the training or the facilities aren’t good enough to perform. The possibilities are endless with Hackney Aquatics and once Madison comes over her woes to do with changes in her life and we get stuck into this new routine, there is no reason to stop now.

In two weeks we have as a big milestone the MCASA Youth county swims at the LAC and to give some extra strength, will go to the gym tomorrow to fill the weekend with some muscle-workout.

Lots to look forward to

Soon Madison will enter her first Hackney Aquatics Club Championships, which are held with a fun and furiously fast concept but don’t forget that long-distance is the bread and butter of all good swimmers.

This is so exciting that there is an opportunity to swim in Ponds Forge pool for a level 1 meet in January and they only accept the fastest entrants, probably lots of scratches to slower applicants. Well, there are some competitions to get faster times to come before the closing date of the Derby meet. There is the

We’ll definitely have time to improve FINA points and best times prior to the closing date for the Middlesex County Championships, which is in November already. Next year, Madison will have to swim in Juniors for the first time as she’ll be 14 next year.

The Gators meet at the Aquatics Centre in January already gives a good opportunity to polish up on those regional times for next year too.