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.
Of course all swimmers want to go and swim and win but gains have to be earned through training and better skills.
Madison also finally achieved a 30 second swim for the 50 freestyle, which earned a 21st place.
In the backstroke it’s good to have gotten a 3 second PB in the 200 backstroke. The Best times as published by Swimmingresults now show more and more level 1 meets from 50 m pools.
Qualifying with a fast 25m time that was converted is not easily matched in a 50m pool. We’re trying to set manageable goals, like matching a converted 25m time with an equally fast 50m time.
At present Madison is faster at the 50m freestyle in the 50m pool than in the 25m pool. The latest times will be published within the next couple of days.
It was amazing to see swimmers we normally only see on the streaming of the British Champs. Swimming amongst those great swimmers was an absolute privilege and even being put into ones place, was a great lesson. We witnessed 50 breast swum in 29 seconds and 1500 free in 16 minutes respectively.
The only thing Madison has in common with Michael Phelps is the fact that she is playing catch up. I seem to remember Michael saying that in his early career, he always played catch-up to the fast swimmers.
These days we are wearing his goggles.
One perk of going to swimming competitions is the fantastic landscape, that we can enjoy regularly. Crystal Palace is set in wonderful mature trees. However the performance is steadily going down-hill this time.
Madison managed to set a new long-course PB in the 50 back but both the 100 back and 200 back were slower than previously achieved times.
We’ll see whether an improvement can be achieved next weekend at the London Swimming Open Summer Champs at the London Aquatics Centre, when Madison will be swimming in four events.
When going to Regionals is a new experience for a swimmer, I suppose the routine and the priming of getting the fitness and results at the right time is something that has to be programmed into the psyche of a swimmer, to peak at the correct moments. Where there is a will there is a swim.
Since I qualified for regionals, I have not even gotten time to think. I am literally at the pool every spare minute of the day. I don’t even have time to get myself into any kind of trouble, I am too busy for that.
May is an exceptionally busy month. Well, lets say January is busy with County qualifiers, then from May onwards, it’s a mad rush. Literally each weekend in May is a competition weekend because London Regional competitions are stretched out over the whole month to accommodate all age groups and all swimming disciplines.
Since I am also a volunteer, I help sometimes at meets and also in the club. That is very enjoyable. In June come the club development and then other competitions, which I want to use to already qualify for next year’s Counties and Regionals.
It’s always good to plan ahead. I want to widen my repertoire, increase skills in my weakest stroke and get better in my strongest ones.
From September there will be the GCSE time-table and once I know that, I can plan my next season in detail as far as school is concerned but sports wise, we all wait for the County and Regional qualifying times for next year and because world records always get faster, we will need to get faster too at the bottom end of the sport to qualify for those stepping stone meets that allow us to qualify for the national competitions.
My definite goal will be to win some medals at next years County and Regionals because I won so many at the local swimming competitions but winning them at the higher level meets is tough indeed.
Just hate it when my club shuts down for the whole of the summer holidays, so I do not get 5 weeks worth of training.
Whilst I complete the consent form for the Melanie Marshall Swim Inspiration’s camp for the second time, I have one question which simply says: “Why do you swim?”
This year I am attending the summer camp, (early August), last year I attended the Easter camp. Apparently Repton was an invasion point for the Vikings around 865 AD, how amazing.
The swim camp is going to be at Repton school in the wonderful Derbyshire countryside. I know I am not going to make it for the English or the British Nationals this year and so opt for some concentrated training with Grant Turner instead. Last year I gotten a lot of swim inspirations there.
So why do I swim? I suppose now I am doing it for fitness and stress relief. I think I’ll also want to be a coach later on. I am going to study sport science, triple science, maths and continue to do the intensive training. My brain works best with lots of swimming.
Hopefully next year I’ll get better still and will make the nationals.
Incidentally the polite attentiveness of both Grant Turner and Melanie Marshall is characteristic of fast and happy swimmers.
The best part of the swimming meets is the planning and the journey and the taking part, making friends and enjoying the atmosphere.
Of course winning is nice too but it can’t always be. It is all part of growing up, forming character, getting into healthy habits and having fun.
I can almost always predict, according to the qualifying time, whether that time has been achieved on a long or short course meet and by looking at the other participants in the field, how my placing is going to be.
Hardly ever will anybody achieve a last-minute 30+ second PB because that is often the difference between the last and first place in a level 1 meet.
I could not expect to say I have to win or I am out, I say, lets take part and improve my performance and build on the experience.
As swimming is for life, having radical ideas of winning or never doing it again, are simply not acceptable. I expect to swim forever and could not say that I think not winning at a regional competition would put an end to my performance swimming career.
Madison is very lucky to have been given the opportunity to swim in two long-course meets at the London Aquatics Centre, concentrating on sprint events and then also getting to grips with an ability to try out some more strength events in a short-course meet.
Up-coming are the London Open Summer meet at the end of July, the London Borough of Waltham Forest Swimming club meet and to round off the season, we’ll get into gear to work on some hard graft long-distance events hopefully at the Barking and Dagenham meet.
I think strength conditioning comes from long-distance like 800 free and events like 400 IM; since we didn’t get any national times and are not likely to get them this season, it is best to work on variety. I am looking at trying out the 200 fly again, I tried it once and gave up on it, better try again at some point.
But just to mention distance, we are going to have a sponsored swim and that gives plenty of scope to do a lot of length for charitable purposes.