Rother Valley Open Water Festival 2018

Brilliant! To all you parents, if you look for something refreshing, therapeutic and rejuvenating activity that doesn’t cost you any money and is extremely good for you, consider becoming an Open Water Swimming Official.

Rother Valley is near Sheffield but very rural. It’s like so many Open Water locations a lake or part of a managed inland water area in various locations around the country.

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Swans near the lake where the British Open Water Championships 2018 are held

Wildlife occupy the wonderful lake, the water is very clear and the atmosphere is tranquil despite the fierce competing and swimmers racing around the 1km course as many times as they need to complete their distance. the birds are not phased in the slightest by the swimmers, I saw a group of ducks swimming through without any fear or stress.

All helpers are the friendliest people you can imagine and the team spirit and camaraderie is excellent. A thoroughly enjoyable weekend.

rotherareaEven the journey home is nice, through a wonderfully tranquil area in the middle of England.

You simply feel a totally wonderful new you after a weekend working in the great team with eager young people in the great English countryside.

 

A new chapter

Looking ahead to the new season 2019 and the challenges this bring. So many new things and routines are going to happen:

  • school GCSE studies begin
  • swimming, join the youth performance squad with more AM training and gym.

Till the end of this season, Madison diverted away from the usual pool competition focus and spent a lot of energy on the 3km open water races. That puts a lot of demand on the body and having all those pool competitions on top of tough long-distance meets puts any athlete to the test.

One reason why Madison’s shoulder gave way with the 400 IM in the Barking & Dagenham summer meet was the participation in a long-distance Open Water meet and we just shelved the rest of this B&D gala. 2 silver medals won this weekend.

It doesn’t matter if an athlete has to pull out of a meet. There are many more to come.

We are now focussing on more intellectual and athletic challenges for next season.

Pool training will soon stop but the summer swim camp is still to come.

School term is nearly complete and with the last week of school term an academic award is still waiting.

The summer holiday will be filled with regular gym sessions, some climbing, canoeing and biking and nature walks. It is very important to relax.

Obviously ultimately the challenge is to get national qualifying times but we don’t want to restrict the variety to just one or two events. The swimmers with the biggest longevity also have the most variety of stroke performance.

Whilst still in the pre-GCSE stage, there is no national training scheme available other than getting a place at a boarding school like Millfield for example. We keep in touch with national swimming by regularly attending the Melanie Marshall swim camps. At age 14 it is progress to keep on getting personal best times and achieving regional qualifying times.

 

3km in 53:10

Just found the Open Water London Championship results OW18 RESULTS and very pleased to see that Madison’s first attempt on Open Water swimming was a success.

Despite getting disoriented in places and forgot to turn corners quickly enough managed a respectable 6th place in the London Region. Yet qualified for s silver medal for Middlesex participants.

Unfortunately Madison missed the medal ceremony and her medal because we rushed off to support the Hackney Aquatics Swim the Thames day where Madison swam another 2km to raise funds for charity.

I contacted the organisers to ask whether she can still get her medal posthum.

Didn’t have any preparation and never even been swimming in Open Water at all.

Madison will try again in Chichester in July.

When I often hear swimmers lament how hard the 800 are, after swimming 3000 meters, I suppose the 800 seem quite easy.

It is easy to get results for pool based and licensed meets on the Personal Best swimming results website, but the Open Water results are not included. Perhaps they will add that in the future.

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.

 

Walking down

The 3km Open Water is equivalent to swimming the 1500 freestyle twice in one go. We forgot to look at the result but I assume Madison achieved around 50 minutes for the 3km.

I was proud she finished the course on her first attempt. There is no warm-up, there is no swim down. But I think it is important to keep going.

So Madison went for a 2km swim-down to the Hackney Lido.

Today she wanted to stay in bed but I still think it is important to keep moving so that the aching muscles don’t get stiff.

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walking through Richmond Park

We went for a walk to Richmond Park.

hamforest

For the first part we walked through some wooded area the Ham Nature reserve was very similar to Epping Forest, just without the traffic noise in the background.

Just when we arrived at the Richmond Park gate, the sun shone doubly hot directly upon us.

richmond

The sun was burning down on us on 30 degrees and it was absolutely parching hot. However the whole peaceful atmosphere with loud grasshopper choirs filling the air achieves an amazing peace of mind.

It is well worth to have a change of scenery and recover out of the pool in good air for a day.

Fabulous fun day

Today was a great fun day, unforgettable, filled with ambition and eagerness to achieve, coupled with fun.

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In the early afternoon was the 3km swim for the London Region Open Water championships at Surrey Quay and following that was another 2km sponsored swim at the London Fields Lido.

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Madison, still with her number 60 on the skin from the London Open Water Championships 2018

It was really enjoyable seeing the coaches chip in and swim for fun too.

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Rick Hall, HAC head coach on his sponsored swim, go Rick

Everybody enjoyed themselves, superb.

I shall greatly miss Coach Naomi, who always encouraged me to join Hackney Aquatics.

 

A perfect inset day

The school inset day could not have come at a better time. It’s the day before our first Open Water swim and a day off school with a taper down training session prepares Madison perfectly for the 3km swim tomorrow.

Talking of swimming reminds me of the water shortage reports I’ve heard on the news this morning. Apparently people are advised to have short showers instead of a bath to save water. I do not agree at all. If you have a bath and then use the old bath water to water the garden you get much more out of your water. If you have showers the water just runs down the drain.

 

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.

Hamlet

Tragedies of Shakespeare are an important educational stepping stone of any English 14-year old. Fulfilling the requirements of the English Curriculum, we went to see Hamlet at the Globe theatre today. We try to see at l east 1 Shakespeare play per year and so far we saw Romeo and Juliet and now Hamlet.

We always admire those ‘professional’ swimmers who write about nothing but their training and winning medals, and I hope I’ll get to this stage eventually, but at the moment life is a mix of school and sport.

st.paulsWe went along the picturesque London city, past St. Paul’s Cathedral, over the bridge, near the Tate Modern gallery and towards the Globe theatre. Admiring the sky-line, whilst waiting for the doors to open we had a nice lunch.

london-skyline.jpg

We just can’t believe how lucky we are to be living in London, a town full of opportunities and superb facilities.

We are never far from my favourite element water here in London. Just reminds me that my first open water swim will be next weekend.

Keeping the mind focussed on achievement. Hamlets was a prime example of badly managed mental health.

 

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.