I suppose becoming invincible is the ultimate goal of any performance athlete, that nothing can get you down. But it will take years of hard graft to achieve that goal. Careful management of resources is required.
This year’s competition schedule, with the unexpected 3km Open Water thrown in, was simply too much for a young person like Madison. She already trains quite a lot, perhaps above average, compared to her peers, yet unexpected demand on strength just collapsed the shoulder muscles eventually when the 400 IM followed an 800 freestyle, which followed the 3km freestyle.
Just because somebody is young and fit obviously doesn’t mean they are also invincible.
We’ll learn from that for next season. Last season we did more than 1 competition per month. We’ll try a more targeted approach, carefully selecting meets and strokes to slowly develop a repertoire that is sustainable and promising.
Talking of sustainable, we noticed that some former swimming and training partners have dropped out of competitive swimming when goals were reached. That is a bit sad. We want to continue the swimming and make it a lifestyle that can be maintained forever. The drop-outs were swimmers who specialise really early and the danger is that there is not enough to go along with once a certain goal is reached. Yet I cannot rule out that an injury stopped the sport for those who dropped out.
Swimmers don’t have to reach their peak aged 14, there is plenty of lifetime to come. Swimmers need the self-confidence to develop their swimming styles regardless of constantly winning medals. Of course a swimmer wants to reach the regionals but winning medals is often the prerogative of specialist swimmers who decided quite early what to focus on.
I think too much pressure to reach very fast times too early can push swimmers over the edge and drive them to injury. Yet it is often the swimmers themselves who set themselves goals, which are too high.
Every swimmers who takes part in age-group competitions makes a positive contribution to the sport.
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.
Will be trying now to get the qualifying times for next year’s county champs prior to breaking up for the summer.
Yet we need to consider that there are plans to close the qualifying window even earlier in 2020 to avoid the examination period in schools.
As age-group swimmers have to swim as the age they would be at the end of the calendar year, most swimmers must swim ahead of their age.
Only people who are born in January of the year can swim their actual age for counties (that is where counties are held in January.
This principle of age as at the end of the calendar year, applies to all nationally regulated competitions throughout the year; most regional are in March/May (here in London). The summer champs are in July.
Madison will need to put her mind onto next year’s nationals.
One way to increase stamina and general strength will be to swim more long-distance competitions. Open water doesn’t have any turns and requires constant swimming. Other long-distance meets are held for us in July.
The dilemma for younger swimmers is the fact that they are not allowed into gyms and the apparatuses within.
Madison will swim 2x 800m competitions on two consecutive days. Gone are the days were anything over 200m is greeted with shrieks of horror. We need to embrace long-distance.
The final list of national qualifiers to be published on the 8. June 2018 for the national swimmers on the Swimmingorg website.
Madison did not qualify for England or British events and Hackney does not have a relay team.
The best course of action is to drive forward training and get as much strength conditioning as possible.
We need to think about qualifying for next year’s counties and regionals. With the long summer break, Madison does not want to drop down in the performance levels over that 5 weeks rest period. Madison will go to a week-long swim camp.
Some clubs offer sponsored swims, which help train for distance, there are also several 800 and 1500 meter events. Then of course there are Open water swims, which span from 2km to 5km normally. Madison’s distance would be 3km. We entered an Open Water event, details to follow.
Any type of training is good training as long as it helps the progress of the swimmer. All activities like walking, running, climbing or other sports will help to preserve and enhance conditioning.
We purely choose our events and activities according to the benefit for training progress. The more we pay and the more we want to gain from the activity.