The first words Madison uttered when I came to collect her from MMSwiminspirations swim camp, under supervision from Mel Marshall were: “I swear they are trying to kill us with that land training!”
What does that tell you? What should it tell me?
Madison has had land-training regularly. Yoga, Pilates, and exercise. That has been going on since a year. All soft training and still an injury of the shoulder. Perhaps the soft training is too soft to strengthen the muscles enough.
1 week at Mel Marshall’s swim camp and Madison’s feels totally overstretched.
But, who is winning the medals at top competitions? Those who work with Mel or those who work with Madison’s regular club?
I am just glad that Madison is going to train with the top squad in Hackney Aquatics from September with 2 gym sessions per week. It seems that all the soft options like Yoga and Pilates do not do too much for high performance athletes.
Our local Hackney Aquatics club is the only one we can attend, from where we live and school.
Just to mention that when Madison had the Better sponsorship, during her membership with LACPP, Madison hardly had any time to go to the gym to top up the water-based club training. Madison never needed to see the physio. One felt invincible.
Then, the following year, I did not apply for the Better GLL sponsorship, which brings with it, free physio treatment. I thought we do not need it, Madison was never injured to a significant degree. I thought better let other athletes have the sponsorship, those who do need to supplement their training with extra gym sessions.
Now the injury has finally arrived. No, I have not been waiting for it but it has happened.
My GP told me that coming to the NHS for advice is a waste of time because the NHS has no resources to treat sporting injuries quickly enough. Perhaps the NHS should reconsider their treatment options. NHS constantly peaches to us about healthy life-styles, yet that brings with it more sporting activities with sporting related injuries. If the NHS wants to specialise in deteriorating illnesses, which are not sport related only, they should re-name themselves.
Now I have been told that the physio in my own club charges at least £50 for a consultation. Obviously like most average people I am not made of money.
I have to find ways of solving problems without spending even more than I already do on the swimming.
We have enormous cost because we not only need to pay the club membership, we also constantly got extra costs like:
Travel costs – to and from training and going to competitions
Accommodation cost – most further away competitions require hotel stays
Performance costumes – can cost around £300,–
Training equipment – quite a lot of stuff
Competition entry – At the LAC can cost up to £12,– per event.
Now having even more cost, would just about break the camels back.
I do not understand, that Swim England, doesn’t make Physios available for free. Just perhaps a physio per region. Or perhaps advertise for physios who want to help the sport on a voluntary basis.
I need to turn to the Internet for advice. There is quite a lot about. There are some useful pages, which are seriously useful. Search the Internet for Swimmer’s shoulder and some good pages with advice come up for free. Obviously it only needs a terra bad and a wall to do a couple of exercised.
Our club coaches are also pretty good and allow the continuation of training, just not using the injured shoulder. Yet active Physio intervention is not available, especially in the holidays. I am hoping that the Mel Marshall camp, that also cost quite a lot of money has gotten some solutions available.
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.
I don’t think it is good to just laze about suddenly, when the body is used to regular exercise, so I suggested a leisurely walk through Epping Forest.
We started at Snaresbrook and walked along a fairly wet path, which turned out to be muddier further in and some rain drops still fell from the leaves of the trees, when we were greeted by a pair of friendly Mallards who wanted to show us the way.
We came past a wonderful meadow with lovely yellow flowers, which was rather big.
then leave trees paraded on both sides of the path.
There was a very interesting contrast between some old and dead trees and new growth, a little ghastly.
It gotten even spookier when we arrived near the old and dark swamp.
The creepy, dark swamp was actually filled with black water, which I think makes you sink if you fall into it.
On the way we crossed 2 motorways and went under 1 tunnel on another one.
When walking through Epping Forest you are never far away from traffic noise, which is sometimes the only evidence of civilisation around us.
We managed to walk for 2 hours till almost near Walthamstow and then found we are walking around in circles and whilst we left Snaresbrook at 8, we arrived at South Woodford at 10:30, which is only 1 station away from Snaresbrook.
Madison walked very fast, equivalent to a 2 hour kick-session in the pool I should imagine, at least my legs felt like it when we gotten home.
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.
I don’t think it works to improve an athletes performance to provide sun and sandy holidays in expensive swim camps to get results.
So far the Regional competition didn’t bring much success.
A 21st place in the 50 back and today and even worst 24th place in the 200 back. With not much will power to be seen.
I spend quite a lot of time poolside during competitions and find the positive attitude of most competing swimmers very refreshing. The whole pep talk is edging on, showing grit and getting to the wall first.
I don’t think that softly, softly and feeling sorry for oneself is any recipe for success in any capacity. Whatever the situation everybody needs to have a “Can do” attitude. There is little point in spending a minimum of 3 hours (including pre-pool) of training per day if there is no result in racing.
Those athletes that were selected for international competitions on the strength of their performance had to do the performance first and then were invited to join sunny beach-side training groups. I just refer to Aimee Willmott’s wonderful photo shots on her website and Facebook. Aimee is a very hard-working and focussed on achieving top performance. That always has to be in the back of every athlete’s mind, even the younger ones.
I won’t spend any more money on foreign training camps unless I see some performance first. There is little point in rewarding something that hasn’t been achieved yet. We have been left with a lot of appealing photos and that is a memory I can’t quite enjoy.
Madison showed much more determination after last year’s Mel Marshall Easter Camp. Yet last year she didn’t qualify for Regionals at all. I don’t know whether there is a different atmosphere in those higher up level 1 competitions rather than the level 3 racing.
On, what is going to be the hottest day of the year so far, we are settling back into the normal routine.
Back to school
Early morning before school
Early evening after school training.
There is no such thing as a morning or an evening person. It all depends on the up-bringing and routines we are getting used to from child hood.
I wasn’t raised as a morning person and getting used to AM training on a regular basis was a bit of a chore. But now, early mornings are getting better and better.
Even the journey back after the training sessions help me prepare for a busy school day.
The hazy sunshine on a hot morning is very calming and relaxing and I learned to appreciate the sensations I get when looking into the morning sky and I appreciate the changing nature of the trees and shrubs that make a significant part of the skyline.
The more trees, the more bird song and the chirping and singing makes a great backdrop on the views. Well really, I just have my earphones in and listen to my favourite songs. Perhaps some birds manage to enhance the tunes I am listening to.
The bus chuckles along and I ponder whether I missed the Newham National qualifier at the LAC last week or whether looking back to the under-water sensation and the fantastic week of Spanish training was stimulating enough for me to smash those national times during the Regional competitions in May.
My year has been set up and I look forward to reaping the better times I am going to achieve this year.