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.

 

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.

richmond2
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.

Powerwalking Epping Forest

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.

into Epping Forest
enter Epping Forest at Snaresbrook

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.

Mallards Epping Forest
pair of Mallards showing the way

We came past a wonderful meadow with lovely yellow flowers, which was rather big.

Meadow Epping Forest
A wonderful meadow opened up and showed this wonderful clearing

then leave trees paraded on both sides of the path.

Trees Epping Forest
leaves on trees, very relaxing

There was a very interesting contrast between some old and dead trees and new growth, a little ghastly.

sunshine Epping Forest
A ghostly old tree

It gotten even spookier when we arrived near the old and dark swamp.

swamp Epping Forest
The murky 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.

motorway Epping Forest
Footbridge over motorway

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.

sounds good

“Success of a swimmer can be represented as a pyramid;

  • the bigger the base,
  • the higher the peak.

If a swimmer can fill their base with great understanding of skills, coachability and application, they’re giving themselves the best chance of becoming all they dream of in the pool”.

JAMES KIRTON

Why do you swim?

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?”

imageThis 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.

It’s going to be fun at Crystal Palace

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.

Will power

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.

Life’s good

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.

 

stoke newingtonThere 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.

 

ClaptonEven 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.

 

Cambridge HeathThe 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.

 

Comparison

Look and compare the two pictures, showing the weather in Spain and in London on the 9/10 April 2018.

spainland1weather Since swimmers are expected to get the British National Qualifying times in this narrow 4 months window, incorporating the British winter and often dreary spring, especially for us Londoners, I wonder whether the results of spending a week in Spain, prior to Regionals will push up the performance results.

Lets wait and see.

Eyeing up the Nationals

Somehow Madison made a great leap into the Regionals and now wants to get into the Nationals. There is not such a big margin. The Regionals are quite fast and it is just a matter of sheer determination to succeed. Of course by sheer determination, I mean training and more training and even more training.

But that is all so much fun. Enjoy the swims, enjoy the exercise. Think BIG.

British Swimming publishes Nationals performance lists of swimmers who are eligible. This is now the first preliminary version for this season. Up-dated rankings will be available every Wednesday, till the qualifying window closes on 28th. May 2018. This of course gives all those who take part in Regionals to get those qualifying times.

But just to clarify, of course the qualifying times can be obtained in any licensed meet.

For the 50 back for example, a time of 32:70 LC would still enable a listing. That is all within achievable reach now and we’ll surely try.

Once in Performance the Hunger for top competitions just comes automatically. It is very easy to be a performance swimmer because the vast majority of swimmers are very nice people with a lot of determination and very fair at the same time.