Will the LAC be back on the menu??

Whilst former LACPP swimmers tearfully had to pack their bags and search for new clubs, I now read that Swim England now wishes to establish up to 4 new swim centres throughout England.

I remember the conversation well when I mentioned that the LACPP dissonance was in my mind a temporary thing and that not using the LAC as national swim centre is a sin.

I reckon somebody will apply for the LAC to be re-established as one of England’s swimming centres. Application forms have been made available on the Swim England website as we speak.

This program aims to link swimming clubs and universities to help talented swimmers with the transition to performance swimming whilst continuing their university education. My best guess is that UEL might be in with a shout on this one again.

See in the picture two former members of the LACPP training program, Aimee Willmott and Jarvis Parkinson, both now swimming for the Commonwealth games. Whilst Jarvis moved to Loughborough, Aimee went to Scotland.

Back to the future guys.

 

The little green man

a little green man whispered into my ear that the northern clubs always win because their swimmers spend more time in the water.

Oho, I went onto the Sheffield Swimming Club senior elite squad, normally for swimmers from 16 up-wards, those who swim in national and international competition and he presto, they have 10 swim sessions and 7 land training sessions per week.

Just as well that they normally have to be 16+, as then they would have completed their GCSE levels by then.

Clearly top end competitive swimming is a full-time sport and swimmers get little full-time funding. Yet swimmers constantly have to juggle the need for an education and the need for performance swimming; a tough sport.

The only way to fund is getting full podium funding through British swimming, e.g. be in the Olympic Squad or similar squads, GLL funding and/or swimming and part-time work and A-levels.

There is my argument again, that fully committed athletes who train so much per week should get their free education window extended and be able to do their free A-levels once their Olympic phase is over.

Just as well that Hackney doesn’t have such a squad with such intense training routines. That is the reason why superb full-time swimmers have to move to clubs that provide such training. LACPP provided such an options for London but they have unfortunately been dissolved.

County press reporting

Since the government changed the rules on Council newspaper reporting, sports clubs increasingly rely on the FREE press to report about their achievements.

Apparently ARCHANT owns almost all big local papers in the region.

I want readers to compare the achievements reported in each paper to get a good idea about the quality of the club.

For Tower Hamlets we have the East London Advertiser, ELA reported very positively on 15. February 2018 about the relatively small achievements of Bethnal Green Sharks in a full press report. Yet Bethnal Green Sharks swimming club achieved the least medals out of the clubs mentioned here.

For Islington we have the Islington Gazette (Archant), they did not report at all about Camden Swiss Cottage swimming club. The club relied on the CamdenNewJournal to report about them online on 8. February 2018 and Ham&High on 7. February 2018.

Anaconda swimming club also from Islington mainly report on their own website about results.

Redbridge, an Essex County club, have the Ilford Recorder (Archant). I could not find any county report either on the Redbridge Swimming club website nor in the press.

Hackney Aquatics have the Hackney Gazette (Archant) where there is no press report in the paper but Hackney Aquatics have an excellent report about the County results on their website.

Even though newspapers are a bit old-fashioned in paper format, many read them online in E-editions. It helps clubs to get funding from sponsors if there is a good press coverage.

In this case the club with the least medals has been reported about the most by ARCHANT, perhaps a typical example of British behaviour to always support the Underdog.

 

Keeping up the performance

In performance sports constant fitness regimes and a lifestyle that is focused on performance are imperative.

There is no fast way to sporting results for most athletes, not all are fast starters and many reap the results of their training and clean living efforts later on in life. Remember you can establish a swimming record till very late in life, age-groups never stop.

Learning to deal with rejections and throwbacks is almost as important for a young swimmer as being able to win. Most swimmers probably lose more races than winning them.

It is however very important to attend competitions on a monthly basis to stay tuned.

In swimming as a sport, peaking at 18+ is probably more convenient than earlier because it fits in with the schooling regime that we all have to follow here in the UK.

What is important is that we get into healthy living habits, don’t slack on the swimming training and keep it up.

Performance swimming means being constantly on the swim, on a daily basis. You gotta love swimming a lot to be able to do it.

Once you get selected for national teams, you get a whole host of wonderful training opportunities through podium funding. Prior to that all athletes can apply for GLL funding. But as said previously there are also many practical ways to improve fitness.

The glamour of being fit

It is not about the glamour of looking good, it is about the glamour of looking good by being fit.

Practical ways to get fit and to benefit the body and the mind, which cost the least, are always practical.

There are many ways to get fit, which do not cost any extra money, you do not need to go to the gym to get basically fit and build muscle.

When I, the parent, had a spell of poverty to go through and could not even afford a washing machine nor a car or any luxuries, I found myself having to wash the laundry for a family of seven by hand in the bath tub, I went shopping and carried 10 bags from the nearest supermarket, which was over 2 miles away on a daily basis, I painted all the walls in a 10 room flat and cooked and washed up, swept the floors.

There was no problem with obesity. And

  • when I entered the 10km NIKE fun run, I was a middle performer, despite never having been in an athletics club,
  • when I joined a local King Fu club, I simply pushed those muscular big blokes over and I was small compared to them.

The point I am trying to make is that there are many youngsters out there who come from poor families and there is no point complaining. There are clubs like Hackney Aquatics who subsidise your monthly fees if your parents are unable to pay.

Practical exercises include

  • cleaning up your room, sweep under and behind the furniture,
  • paint your walls and
  • wash your laundry
  • carrying shopping home in a rucksack and walk all the way
  • do gardening if you have one or help neighbours
  • walk whenever possible and take the stairs
  • Swim as much as possible, it is good for the brain and helps your school results.

Very important indeed, eat as many self-cooked or prepared meals as possible, avoid highly processed foods whenever possible.

Remember you do not need a gym to have a great fitness regime, floor exercises are free and running is also free, so are home chores.

 

Increased parental responsibility

Whilst I am talking about giving rewards for sporting achievement, this very interesting article I read on the BBC website this morning, highlights exactly the points I was trying to make in various previous posts. Parents to have a leading role to play in supporting their children’s development for longer now.

Adolescence now lasts from the ages of 10 to 24, therefore parents have a much bigger role to play in supporting their children, who now on average get married considerably later and spend much more time in education and learning to be self-supporting adults.

At the same time, and the article doesn’t even mention that, the increased risk of swerving off the path of righteousness with increased offers of getting involved in wrongdoing are also around.

Alcohol, drugs, crime are all around us and kids need to learn to focus on always staying productive and improving what they do, that may be education, sport or getting into early business ventures.

Since children are dependent longer, parents really need to lend support much longer now. Kids just don’t move out at 16 or 18 anymore, they do not do their own thing till much later in life.

Puberty has now dropped from age 14 to the age of 10 whilst body development stops at age 25.

[Lead author Prof Susan Sawyer, director of the centre for adolescent health at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, writes: “Although many adult legal privileges start at age 18 years, the adoption of adult roles and responsibilities generally occurs later.”

She says delayed partnering, parenting and economic independence means the “semi-dependency” that characterises adolescence has expanded.]

Therefore it is right that parents assume a more supporting role in creating a path to successful adulthood by actively supporting children’s sporting endeavours more actively.

It is no longer the case that kids leave the parental domain aged 18, though they are legally recognised als self-sufficient; in reality they are not and still need the support of adults that help them along.

So even the pathway of achieving in sport and the dependency on support from both parents and funders exists much longer than it did in previous years. I think the more of an active role parents play in their children’s sporting successes the better for the athletes who need to be able to get reliable support from friends, family and funders.

Even Adam Peaty made this very important point in that he said that swimmers need to make sure they can get the support they need.

Putting a value on sporting achievement

One of my previous posts “Measuring sporting potential” has attracted considerable interest. I quite like it if people tell me their thoughts about my blog posts as it provides essential feed-back.

I think that spending care-free time is important for kids; like playing with friends, just enjoying days with family, swimming and racing with other swimmers.

Especially for younger children, care-free times are an essential part of growing up whether its playing with toys or counting ants in the garden, or whether its going to the pool and splashing about, it all helps to grow up and is very enjoyable indeed.

Yet children’s time is totally measured up by education strategies we have today. Every minute of the day gets measured and children have – by law now – have to spend a certain amount of time in education and by law now as well children have to follow an educational path until they are 18 years of age.

The freedom to drop out of education earlier has gone, the freedom to take a gap-year has also disappeared for most who cannot afford not to work or are at risk to lose all benefits if they do.

So the way young people these days spend the first 18 years of their lives is more or less strictly controlled by laws. In fact there is a value being put on this time of educational advancement. Children learn that time is money because they have to pay for university education and free education stops at age 18 with A-levels completion.

Those carefree early years disappear and in comes the harsh reality, the knowledge that time is money.

From that perspective it is, I think, totally acceptable to ensure that children get to learn that participating in a sport has value for them. Value can come in many guises:

  • Improvement to health
  • learning team work
  • becoming a professional sport star
  • feeling valued
  • positive memories

Children learn, that every minute they spend doing a sport, they cannot do anything else. So the time as they spend at it must have value for them and for their futures.

I read it on sports clubs Facebook pages that former members point out that the club time remains the best memory of their lives.

At some point paying for sporting activities can be quite expensive. Funders step in and offer assistance like GLL for instanceUK Sport or Sport England would support elite athletes for podium funding and some businesses provide extra support like free cars or the like.

I think that from a certain age parents need to communicate to their children that time is money and that sport can be a career as well as a great past time. The more time a child spends on doing a sport, the better they get, the more likely they are to get funding.

I think parents can reward their children for doing well at a sport as sports are a huge industry and even the GCSE curriculum offers sport as a qualification. Parents can reward children for doing well at their sport just as they can reward children for doing household chores.

Of course we should never entice children to do a sport for earning money but as it goes in today’s society money has to be earned and children need to learn that good performance leads to rewards.

Some parents give their children reward money for having good grades and good school reports so why not give them reward money for doing well at their sport as well?

Obviously businesses fall over themselves to use sports persons to promote their brands and naturally children soon catch onto the lucrative side of sporting activities.

Of course any reward schemes should never lead to hardship or suffering. Rewards can be hypothetical as well as real but measuring performance in monetary terms is a good lesson in evaluating performance.

For example I reward a regional qualification time with £50 but reduce the reward by £5 for missing a personal best time, that shows that making a gain but also loosing an advantage reduces an overall gain by a small amount. It is just another way of learning that there are setbacks as well as improvements. Any money actually awarded by a parent can be used for future education for example, e.g. if a child wants to study a sports related subject at university. That is only feasible if a child is very keen on sports and Madison is extremely keen.

Madison received GLL funding last year in the form of a membership that gives her free access to all GLL sports facilities for a year, that is worth a lot of money.

No one these days can afford to spend time idly or waste it as we just do not have that freedom any longer to do with our time as we please. Children are expected to be productive at all times; that might not be the best way but that is just the way it is.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.