Are they really?

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.

 

Itching for next season

We were ecstatic yesterday to watch Kai Ogden (second from right) win a bronze in the English National Championships in Sheffield. Madison has been training with Kai since she was very small and apart from going to LACPP for a while and Kai changing to Hackney Aquatics earlier, when Madison still remained in Bethnal Green Sharks, they have spent almost their whole swimming careers within sight of each other, or within the same club.

Kai always struck as being Born to Swim, his dedication was always such an encouragement to us all.

I am pleased to say that Madison’s shoulder is now getting better, the exercises help and now she can at least stretch both her arms out again to do a proper starting jump and begin to do the arm strokes again.

It should be fine by Sunday, when we go to Melanie Marshall’s Swim inspirations camp.

But Madison is itching to join her fellow swimmers next season to make the podium on the premium events.

Even her friends who went to Welsh Nationals achieved very good placings in finals so far and Madison closely follows her long-standing training partner Kaia Cudmore on her success.

Somehow what Madison lost on training through injury before the end of the season will be made up through the mid-season swim camp. It is all working out fine but Madison really wanted to be part of the action, which is definitely going to happen next season.

We gotten our new training plan, and it provides the much-needed gym sessions, three sessions per week at the London Aquatic Centre. Most of Madison’s former friends from the LACPP, which was then taken over by Newham, have now also joined Hackney Aquatics. HAC is the club to be for us East Londoners.

Use your loaf

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.

better=copper
Better membership card for the GLL training support

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.

Swimmer’s shoulder

Currently cannot use the shoulder, it popped during the last 400 IM race, giving a slow time and threw Madison off the ability to turn the arm.

Here is some great advise on that injury and what exercises can be done to assist the healing process.

Hang in there

The outlook is good. No nationals for us this year. I tend to defer to next year and wait for more and better times in more strokes rather than go into competition on a just-about time.

It can be crushing to go all that way and end up last.

It can also be detrimental for overall development if a swimmer gets a really good time in one stroke or a particular distance and then gets stuck doing this over and over again because its the only successful stroke and distance.

I think it is important to gather better fitness, better stamina and better overall performance prior to entering any arena.

Madison did qualify for Welsh Nationals but we rather don’t enter this year. There is always next year.

A kick test result is always a good indication for overall performance fitness and capability even if some parts of the body ir limbs are not 100% fit. Madison’ kick test result for this month was excellent.

Yet, it is kind of good that we did not enter any nationals this year as the heavy competition load prior to the nationals meant that injury would have prevented any competition anyhow.

Invincible

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.

On the other hand, multi-discipline swimmers like Katinka Hosszu, Aimee Willmott or Michael Phelps are much more able to stick to the sport for more years.

George Corones
Swimming Australia Picture

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.

 

 

 

Sharks

Just when I thought performance swimming can lead to injuries and weekends at the beach seemed a good alternative, I read this article that 2 children were bitten by Sharks near New York.

A child was killed by a bouncy castle.

It seems that every activity comes with risks. But looking at it overall, some muscle sprain injuries should be the least of our worries. That is relatively save and if managed correctly will not lead to lasting damage.

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.

 

Summer’s here

There is an enormous feel-good factor in Britain since England won the entry into the quarter finals in the FIFA world cup.

It just couldn’t be better. We had a wonderful Community day with Hackney Aquatics, a very exciting finish to the season when some of our swimmers take part in the nationals and, hugely exciting, a new training schedule and competition schedule for next season.

Everybody seems satisfied and happy.