Everything happens just about now

Tomorrow is the start of the MCASA age group competitions and the week after that the Youth get their chance to shine at the LAC.

Of course everyone is thinking of the forthcoming Regional qualifier meets as well, just as – for pupils in year 9 – the time comes to discuss choices of GCSE subjects.

Not all schools do this at the same time but Madison’s school does it in early February.

Parents evenings are also on the horizon and all that in the most exciting training period, when everyone wants to train hard and learn how to #swimfast and #swimskilfull.

Lets just not get nervous and take it one step at a time, keep calm and keep swimming. It is just a matter of keeping the diary in order and do all homework immediately when it arises. Don’t let things pile up. Make every minute of the day a useful one.

Competitions help to calm nerves towards school exam periods and calm nerves are essential to learn for exams.

Listen to your coach, who has plenty of experience and knows how to bring the best out of swimmers. So everything is going to be just fine.

Try not to lose sleep over catching up on apps and social networks late at night. Most important is a regular and healthy diet and regular and uninterrupted sleep. Turn the mobile off whilst resting.

Talk to non-swimming friends and make them understand that you just cannot chat at all hours and need your own sporting routine, all good friends will understand. All swimmers will definitely sympathise.

The more you learn…..

Madison’s school, Raine’s English Department, just published a lovely tweet @RainesEnglish and it says:

“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go”. – Dr. Seuss

Certainly true for swimmers, the more you learn the more places you will go.

The better the skill, the better the swim. It is all about skill, without skill, there will be no fast swims.

It is always very uplifting to read about the successes for swimmers like Michael Phelps or Adam Peaty and others whose names stick in our heads because as swimmers and swimmers parents we just read more about what is happening in the swimming world.

Madison I think, like most swimmers need to learn the skills really well to make the most of the swimming opportunities that are out there.

So far we went to competitions within the London area and visited all sorts of clubs and pools, perhaps, with more skill we’ll be able to take part in competitions that are in other places. I needed to purchase a railcard to make train travel affordable because some competitions are outside of town. Soon, for the first time, Madison will go abroad for a swimming camp in Spain. That is a very exciting activity to look forward to.

Though I must say, the London region has a very good pool that attracts other swimmers to come and compete here. We are in a good place. In about 10 days time the Middlesex County Championships take place in the London Aquatics Centre and soon also an international open level 1 meet will be held there.

 

Timing is everything

Of course in competition all that counts is time, for performance competitors in swimming that is. Since I have been lamenting since the last two posts of mine that it is not straightforward to determine swimmers’ performance potential by age, I have read this article about Ruta Meilutyte, that she had already broken 11 Lithuanian women’s’ records when she was only 15 years of age. At the age of 17 she became the first and the only swimmer in history to win all available junior and senior international swimming championships at least once. Now swims for a new elite program in the USA.

If a swimmer becomes successful so early, it is much easier to stick to the sport and continue the time-consuming training rather than if success comes later.

In Britain the exam schedules and legal requirements for pupils to attend school until age 18 often leaves parents little choice but to remove their children from swimming clubs to attend school and spend extra time studying.

But I think that it is important for youngsters who enjoy swimming a lot to allow them to continue in the sport, even if in a reduced capacity. Swimming can be important for people’s general happiness and how their brains function, especially when the love of swimming is in the DNA.

For just about any sport, training during the teenage years is the foundation for early adult sporting success but unfortunately our education system leaves pupils little choice but to surrender sport in favour of education.

I think our education should be more flexible and allow sporting activists to delay taking GCSE or A-levels at a later date.

Because those who develop slower into the sport and are not likely to continue in the face of educational pressures can develop within their own pace. Funders also tend to fund more willingly if sporting success comes early and if funding is given, then it is easier to stick to the sport but this continuation can only come in conjunction with remaining in education till the age of at least 18.

Swimmers are encouraged to attend universities with swimming clubs attached but that also requires early taking of GCSE and A-levels.

I think people should have more freedom to get educated at their own pace and be allowed to take exams later in life without losing entitlement to free education.

Why not give people education vouchers that they can exchange whenever they want. Of course a basic education is extremely important for youngsters, so that they can make informed decisions for themselves but anything further should be left for people to take at their own pace.

 

 

 

Measuring sporting potential

medalsWe have hordes of medals and all those medals are no guarantee of future sporting success, they were gained in so-called low-level 3 meets.

What really determines sporting talent is the ability to get regional and national and international qualifying times.

But, when young, for example when a 10-year-old gets regional times, that does not mean they’ll always get regional times in the future.

When a 14-year-old doesn’t get regional times that doesn’t mean they won’t get them the following year.

I am drawing up a table now to measure improvement or decline.

A simple formula

financial reward for

Gaining regional, national times and medals. (Though medals do not pay as much as regional or national times).

financial penalty for

performing at less than a previous best time for each event.

So for example, go to a meet, do 9 events. If at worst the swimmer swims below previous Personal Best time that accrues a considerate financial penalty in terms of deduction from future earnings from medals or achieving target times.

However if the swimmer gains by getting a regional time, gains a medal but swims below PB in just one event, then there will be overall a financial gain.

How a parent does the math and what sums are involved will most likely depend on the spare cash available.

The more hopeful performance is, the greater the financial reward. If financial penalties keep mounting up then perhaps there is little point in training as intensely and it is time to concentrate on other, more rewarding activities, like trying to get all A*** in the GCSEs.

 

 

Pocket money

Recently I read a lot about how ‘sensible and responsible’ parents allocate pocket-money. That successful and well off parents often keep their children’s feet on the ground by only paying pocket-money if chores around the house are done well.

I thought about this quite seriously and came to the conclusion that it is after all a matter of time. Looking at Madison’s time-table she got barely enough time to do her home-work. Any child that is engaged in a sport at performance level spends a lot of time training.

Then being able to manage the most basic completion of home-work tasks to have enough time for training, wouldn’t allow any more time for chores around the house.

Sport and sport related activities are now a huge industry and there is always work for those committed to sport and suitable experienced and qualified to work within this field of employment.

It therefore think that it would make sense for a sporting parent to reward excellence in the sport instead of household chores.

Most importantly a child should make an informed decision whether they want to jeopardise their GCSE or A-level grades for the sport they are in. Perhaps a sporting youngster can concentrate on the sporting side of the curriculum.

Producing lower grades for lack of time must be a price worth paying for any athlete and in the case of Adam Peaty for example, who said he didn’t like school, it definitely did pay to concentrate on the swimming.

Yet the full-time training schedule Adam Peaty has is not feasible nor possible for a teenager. A young person, still in school has to juggle school and sport until such a time that it becomes possible to spend most of the time on training.

I think any young person can only develop a tendency to full-time sport with the full support of parents and supporters who encourage and are generally positive. Kids with parents who constantly concentrate on more elaborate home work, doing chores around the house, cannot turn into sporting heroes.

I think any child should have a right to want to become a sports person even in a sport that doesn’t pay huge amounts of money like tennis or football.

Aimee Willmott manages to combine university and swimming career and recently published a dissertation.

If a child is really keen on a sport and puts in 10+ hours training per week and competes in competitions regularly then why not reward them for getting target times and reduce rewards when underperformance takes place. So a child can learn that they can earn by doing well and loose when doing not so well. That is a better method to learn that excellent performance pays rather than just the medals they take home and the emotional high they get when standing on that podium.

The earning made from doing well needs to be great enough to put across the message that on a full-time basis there would be a chance to do well, but if the earning made from the sport slips into the minus because of under-performance then perhaps it is time to reduce training and concentrate more on school work.

Time has to be spend well and useful.

No more excuses

I was very impressed watching the @CityofDerbysc level 1 meet today. @HackneyAquatics has a small bunch of swimmers non older than 16 I believe and they did very well in this national atmosphere. Hackney came 16. at the end of day one – out of 44 clubs attending – with only a few swimmers with some very big and famous clubs attending.

At this level 15 year old swimmers had to compete in opens with no age-group to hide behind. Very tough and sobering.

Great thanks to Rick for providing the flair needed to make Hackney a club of the highest calibre with a lot of promise.

No more excuses that either the training or the facilities aren’t good enough to perform. The possibilities are endless with Hackney Aquatics and once Madison comes over her woes to do with changes in her life and we get stuck into this new routine, there is no reason to stop now.

In two weeks we have as a big milestone the MCASA Youth county swims at the LAC and to give some extra strength, will go to the gym tomorrow to fill the weekend with some muscle-workout.

Chocolate Porridge

Is an absolute favourite prior to early morning training. Get up extra early, never go to training without having had food.

Ingredients for 2 people:

1/2 litre of full-fat milk
1 cup (not full to the brim) of whole organic, rolled oats,
20 grams + – ~1 row of chocolate, per plate, 40gr in total
some berries.

Method:

Soak the milk and the oats overnight in a pot with a lid on, if its warm keep in fridge overnight, that will greatly reduce the cooking time. whole oats have a better bite than the quick cook soft oats.

Prepare the plates, use soup plates and put some berries, e.g. frozen mixed etc and 20 grams of chocolate in each plate.

The porridge should be ready after about 10 minutes of cooking, stir occasionally. Then put the thick, hot porridge over the chocolate and the berries, leaving the chocolate to melt and berries to defrost.

Put plates on the table and then stir the content, making a very delicious, chocolate, fruity porridge, that does not need any sugar. It will be eaten in 5 minutes max.

See my recipe page for more ideas.

Chocolate milk

is the ideal after training recovery drink. I make my own without extra sugar and any other additives, using a few simple ingredients.

  1. Make a chocolate ganache.
    150ml double cream
    150 gram of milk chocolate
    Bring double cream to nearly boil, break chocolate into small pieces and put into heatproof bowl, preferably a glass bowl. Pour the hot double cream over the chocolate pieces. Stir the chocolate and milk until the chocolate is dissolved. Put mix into container and keep cool in the fridge until needed*.
  2. Make the chocolate milk.
    400ml of full-fat whole milk
    2 table spoons of the chocolate ganache.
    Put into a pot over a low heat and stir until dissolved, do not boil. Then pour into your drinking container and put in fridge to cool. Consume on the same day or within 24 hours.

*The ganache should last around 1 week in the fridge.

See my other recipes for more ideas.

Everything to swim for

Suddenly, life’s become extremly exciting. Hackney Acquatics is a dream come true for us. There is a

  • great social life with Christmas parties and team meals
  • superb competitions
  • an even better varied training program
  • a swim camp in sunny Spain.

Madison is working hard to manifest her qualifying times for a level 1 meet in Derby in January, that is pre-County and will be held in the national pool in Sheffield.

 

Adam Peaty MBE

Adam’s receiving his MBE is probably one of the most shared and liked images on Twitter and across all swimming publication platforms.

peaty-mbe-medal

Because Adam is one of the cleanest athletes and that is what makes him so likeable.

The guy never moanes. He is seen working out, trying new moves, emphasizing training methods are the most important tool of a swimmer; so Adam is probably the most important influence on Madison today.

Madison met Adam briefly during her stay at Mel Marshall’s Easter swim camp; Adam held a lecture to camp attendants this year 2017. There will be another camp next Easter.

Even as a parent I can learn a lot from this swimmer because he proves that only hard training and concentrating on the pool can make a swimmer; I just used to moan at the coach that Madison didn’t get promoted quick enough when she was younger.

Moaning at coaches doesn’t make any swimmer faster, it just makes working together that little bit harder. I am now not getting involved any longer apart from bringing her to training and competitions. Trying to help out will make swimming competitions easier for everyone and is actually constructive as it provides a great platform for all who are keen to compete. Parents try getting onto officials courses that keeps you busy rather than wait around a pool for 2 days.

I have learned that parents really are most important as helpers and supporters rather than wanting to be critical friends.

And swimming is so rewarding. Because swimmers get fully occupied in the club activities parents can easily calculate their costs of the training and club membership because costs are easily predictable and spending is relatively steady.

Kids spend most of their spare time with the club and that makes swimming as a sport also a life-style and life-long good habit. Once a swimmer always a swimmer.

Even though I hear it that people complain that the cost of the swimming club is too high, in my experience the cost is easier to handle than having other impulse spending that usually happens when there is no proper plan in place to do things with the children after school and in holidays. Swimming club costs are fixed costs that can be calculated ahead for the season and there are few surprises that could break the bank. Even away swimming competitions can double up as family break away.

For Adam Peaty investing all his time in swimming worked out superbly and I suppose the sport is self-regulating because if the swimmer feels the success and that stimulates the swimmer to keep on swimming then that is a career path worth taking. Once swimmers get really good they get offered sponsorship and podium funding and I suppose commercial opportunities follow.

For others they fade out of the performance competition side of the sport and rather concentrate on education or work but the habit of going swimming will normally stay with all who once engaged with the sport.

If your child wants to swim and you think you want to support it, try and find a club for them.