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.

Thurrock golds

Thurrock yesterday saw Madison smash her 100 freestyle PB by ~ 4 seconds to win gold and her 100 fly PB to win gold too.

In total Madison had 6 races and won 6 medals, 2 gold, 2 bronze, 2 place.

It was a 12-13 age group and Madison beat a strong field of older competitors to get

  • 50 free – 5th out of 26 competitors with 31:07
  • 100 fly – 1st out of 5 comp with 1:19:21
  • 100 back – 4th out of 18 comp with 1:17:37
  • 50 fly – 3rd out of 15 comp with 35:57
  • 50 back – 3rd out of 19 comp with 36:07
  • 100 free – 1st out of 18 comp with 1:07:57

The 100 freestyle win gives Madison 514 GB points, breaching the 500 mark for the first time. Madison improved her PB by ~ 4 secs. Full results

This was an aged 12-13 age-group and Madison was still 12 yesterday and won against older competitors, edging more closely to the regions top swimmers.

The club is it

After long and laborious deliberations whether or not to change club, it was decided to stay at the LACPP. It isn’t so bad after all.

Sometimes it helps a lot of look around though and go through the motion of the fictional change, calculate travel time, look at training schedules and see how that would work with the usual routines.

Changes can be dramatic when changing club. Madison was at her first club for 7 years and recent uncertainties at our new club led us to seek out other clubs but what the heck, why change things that do not need changing.

We could not wish for a better coach, we could not get a better pool, we could  not get better training.

It is just much easier if a swimmer qualifies for the top tournament and goes on tour to swim with a team, like the European Champs, World Champs or Olympics; then one doesn’t need to ponder which club to swim with at all. Instead we just amuse ourselves with the achievements of others and dream to do better next season.

Ultimately all a competitive swimmer wants to do is to swim faster and looking at the Personal Best Times should be the best reward possible.

If PB’s seem to stall then a change of club could be a solution but in our case, Madison has had a lot of PB’s since joining the LACPP and made a lot of progress.

It’s always good to keep the important objectives in mind and not to get lost in little frustrations. Things like rumours or assumptions coupled with insecurities can make a  person think another club would be better.

Especially smaller children can often admire other clubs that seem happier or better organised and moan that ‘they get the sweets and we don’t’ but nice looking pictures are not everything. Happiness is our fulfillment in our achievements and trying to strive to the ultimate best time.

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.

Basildon & Phoenix level 1 meet, day 1+2.

Day 1

4 races for @lac_pp and 4 medals, 100% success rate @gllsf.  1 silver and 3 bronze.

Basildon 50 m poolThe 50 m pool is great at the Basildon Sporting Village.

Day 2

4 races 2 silver medals in 400 free and 200 IM.

Official results

May I say that the organisation and fluency of proceedings is outstandingly good at the Basildon pool.

Madison achieved Personal Best times in 6 of the 8 events entered.
Overall swimmers for LACPP achieved, 11 Gold, 16 Silver, 14 Bronze.

The calm waters of Fullwell Cross

with bright reflections of the glorious sunshine on the Saturday midday break were the calm before the storm; when swimmers set out to get those last-chance regional qualifying times. See full results LBRSC-17-Last-Chance-Regional-Qualifier-Results.

Despite the heavy cough last weekend Madison smashed her Personal Best times by quite a margin.

  • 20 seconds off the 400 freestyle
  • 2 seconds off the 50 back
  • 5 seconds off the 100 back
  • 3 seconds off the 200 back
  • 4 seconds off the 50 breast

and winning

redbridge-2017-madison

1 Gold (50back), 2 silvers (100 back, 50 fly), 1 bronze (200 back) and some place medals in an excellent field of swimmers. But unfortunately Madison is just a fraction outside of the regional qualifying times but edges nearer and nearer to them each year and in more strokes than one. That sounds promising. I think there will be a breakthrough on the regional times next year.

Just trying to find out at what stage other swimmers reached their regional status, whether they were all early or some later.

One has to measure progress in manageable steps and what is so very pleasing about this spring’s Redbridge result is the fact that

  • Madison won 4 top 3 finishes in an age 12-13 group, when she is not even 13 yet.
  • the 50 back gold won straight after the 400 free, which also produced a record 20 sec. improvement.

The friendships were renewed by swimmers across the club scene with many moments of happiness around the pool.

Essex County Block C

We spent a nice weekend in the Essex area of Basildon and made the most of the weekend. There is plenty of scope for relaxation near the Basildon Sporting Village with plenty of excellent restaurants and hotels to stay in overnight. An 8am warm-up start on a Sunday morning made staying in a hotel necessary as I do not know how to get there this early without a car.

Talking of being a carless not careless but carless human being, navigating the area around the Basildon Sporting Village for a pedestrian is a sheer nightmare as there are no pedestrian crossing toward the bus stops at the north of the Sporting Village. We had to take taxis for each journey as crossing the dual carriage ways without a nearby pedestrian crossing points is very dangerous.

Despite that, it is well worth to make the way to the Essex County Championships as the atmosphere in the hall is superb with all individual athletes and teams doing their utmost to achieve brilliant times. New county records were achieved, look at the ECASA website for details. Needless to say that the organisers did a brilliant job putting up the event. I have heard that the LAC leg of the Essex County Championships was the largest such event ever held in Europe.

Apart from that Madison thoroughly enjoyed the competition that weekend. We could only marvel in the very fast times other 13 year olds achieved. This year Madison is happy with achieving personal best times on her long-course PBs. Next year the aim is to do better.

She’ll have to try again at the Redbridge regional qualifier to get those regional qualifying times for this year.

FINA points

Just trying to find the best way to appreciate the placings Madison has gotten in the latest County championships, where Madison did not get a podium finish but had some very good Personal Best Times.

In mixed ability races winner always gets determined by the amount of FINA points a swimmer achieves. The highest number of points is 1000 and that is the points awarded to the world record holder; all slower swimmers get awarded FINA points in proximity of that world record.

Clubs always tend to praise the podium winners the most because that is the highest award a race winner gets in any particular meet. Yet the fastest swimmer in total is the person that is closest to the world record in their particular category.

Name      year of birth      stroke      time              FINA points   place
Madison 2004                   fly             36:65            320                  28.
The current world record for

  • male 50 meter fly is 22:43  = 1000 FINA points
  • female 50 met  fly is 24:43 = 1000 FINA points
  • So all a podium finish in any race, other than a race that sets a new world record says, is that the person who won the medal was the fastest at that meet.

For the first time in her young swimming career, Madison has breached the 400 points barrier, achieving 412 points for 50 backstroke and 403 points for 50 freestyle.

All swims were of course brilliant swims and I am looking forward to the last leg of the Essex Championships on the weekend 18/19 February at the Basildon Sporting Village.

It is getting very exciting now, and the desire to swim even better at the next meets has grown immensely. All points achieved, help the club in the overall rankings within the Essex county. I think it is brilliant that a small club like LACPP managed to get to 16. so far, Madison will try the hardest in the Block C swimming competitions.

Rankings

The ASA website has this wonderful tool, that allows swimmers to compare themselves to others within a chosen region. Also one can ascertain the ranking within the last 12 months or all time for various nationalities.

It’s a little bit hard sometimes to see one doesn’t come within the top 10 on a search; Today Madison ranks joint 16th on the 50 meter freestyle in Essex County. Tomorrow comes the big test, swimmers from 29 clubs will try to get into the top-ten, to make the finals. They swim in age-groups and anybody is aged as they would be on 31st. December 2017, even if they are born in January.

Last year Madison was ranked 20th in the same category, she has improved 4 places since joining LACPP.

I am taking some solace from stories I heard that Adam Peaty ranked 38? when he was younger and that Michael Phelps always was in the B-squad as a youngsters and tried his best to catch up.

I suppose in swimming success comes with endurance and longevity; swimmers train for years each day of the week, sometimes twice per day with gym training in between to be at the peak performance in a competition.

Swimming skills build over time, hang in there and train hard. A personal best is always good.

Swims can only get Better

Madison’s previous club did not have early morning training for quite a while. Some years ago Madison went to morning training twice a week. Now it takes a little getting used to again. Especially on those cold winter-mornings, when it is really dark and frosty outside. Even for me as parent, I occasionally find myself moaning and not being exactly the best role-model there is.

But, overcoming the initial hick-ups, we are getting there. The hope that it will soon be spring and we can see the sun-rise again in the morning, cheers us up. (A picture will follow as soon as we can see a sun-rise again).

Obviously after changing club there can be no sudden jump in performance, especially as it takes around 9 month to get out of bad stroke-practise.

The best effect of changing clubs to LACPP is that Madison has found the will for swimming again. Madison can see hope that her swimming performance now stands a chance of achieving something in the long-term. If I had not changed club for Madison, she would have dropped out of swimming completely this year.

We do follow the County champs results of Madison’s previous club mates who also changed clubs to various other clubs closely. Some are doing extremely well.

OK, so the 800 free didn’t go too well, but then not everyone is an 800-meter swimmer. This weekend we have the 50 sprints to come and that is going to be very exciting. As it takes place in Madison’s home-pool the LAC, she hopes to do well. I am sure she will do her best. So far we had PBs in every race Madison entered, which is a good result. What more could we want?