Invite to swim the Thames

Our readers are cordially invited to participate in the Community Day of Hackney Aquatics that will be held at the London Fields Lido.

From 3pm till late on Saturday 30. June 2018

Roll up, roll up and come along and swim if you want. Anyone can swim for a £5 donation. It would be great if we could altogether beat the 7.000 length required to equal the Thames.

EPSON MFP image
Hackney Community Day on 30 June 2018, at the Hackney Lido from 3pm

There will be

  • Barbeque
  • Ice cream
  • Food stalls
  • Pilates in the Park
  • Outdoor Yoga
  • Football
  • Extreme Frisbee

Hackney Aquatics want to split the proceeds of the day between the North London Hospice and the Club Access Fund. The Club Access Fund helps swimmers who are keen to swim but have problems finding the cost.

A huge thanks to all my neighbours who already generously donated for Madison to swim 5km at the Lido but she will also in the morning swim 3km at the London Open Swimming Championships* at the Surrey Quays. A mammoth undertaking for the good of the club.

All sponsors are most welcome to check with Hackney Aquatics whether their generous donations actually arrived at the club after the 30. June. If you do not meet me before and want to help but cannot come on the day please try to donate online.

*Your donation will not fund this competition but only the sponsored swim at the Lido.

No turning back

Madison has now entered two Open Water competitions this season. The London Region Open Water in Surrey Quays and the South East Region in Chichester.

The main difference between Open Water and pool swimming is the fact that there are actually no turns. You swim continuously around some buoys in circles.

There are some videos on YouTube to start your own open water journey. We won’t be swimming by ourselves. A Wikipedia article gives some more overview over the possibilities.

We will be taking part in strictly organised competitions, whereby each swimmer gets numbers written on their body and hat, so that they are always under control and cannot get lost.

Salford Quays- Swim Start 5274.JPG
By Clem Rutter, Rochester, Kent. – I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the following license:, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

We will also be swimming in unsalted water e.g. lakes. You do not need a full body suit if the water temperature doesn’t fall below 16 degrees. However I do think that a pre-pool warmup is going to help in any case. And as it is summer, the lakes shouldn’t be too cold, they are also not very deep compared to open sea swimming.

For younger swimmers the distance should not exceed 3km or three laps of a set course around some buoys, which are arranged in a circle or square.

However, the skill is to learn to do this without relying on the regular turns pool swimmers are used to in 25m or 50m pools. That is going to be the most beneficial skills learned from this I think. Looking at swimmers’ Best Time profiles, they mostly find it easiest to get faster times in 25m pools because there are the most turns but in open water there are no turns. This helps with endurance and strengthens the body.

Did you know that all swimmers have to have their toe and finger nails trimmed, apparently that helps prevent damaging each other. In pool swimming each swimmer has their own lane but in open water swimming, there is often a scramble and short nails help prevent scratching injuries.

Alpha (Beta) ahem Bravo

As a parent helper I have now chosen to branch out into Open Water officiating. Open Water competitions take place only in the summer months, well from June onwards.

There are plenty of Open (Open) Water competitions throughout England this year.

Anybody can join any meet as long as under-18’s are supervised by a club coach or designated club official. But read the conditions on each individual event to be sure.

One can make a great weekend out of it by booking into local B&B and attending the swim. Fresh air is often guaranteed in the country based locations.

I am learning the phonetic alphabet, pronunciation of the numbers for radio communication purposes.

 

 

Walking on Hampstead Heath

hampstead heath entranceIt was a grey day with just clouds hanging over us, which gave the foliage this dark green deeply lustrous glint.

All trees were shrouded, as we walked on with a fine rainy mist that spread all over and stopped all view over the crowns of the trees, which surrounded the horizon.

Where we could see through the foliage, the view was barely there.

Hampstead Heath view

When we arrived at the Henry Moore sculpture within the Kenwood estate, Henry Moore’s ‘Two place reclining figure’ nestled shyly under the trees, barely noticeable in the darkness under the sky.

Hampstead Heath Henry Moore
Henry Moore, two place reclining figure at Kenwood estate in Hampstead Heath

That’s when the rain started to fall harder and we couldn’t find a rain-free bench to eat our sandwiches.

Feeling some heavy rain coming on, we went for the nearest bus stop and when we were near Finsbury Park the thunder and lightning and the rain became so bad, sitting in the bus seemed the safest option.

This thunderous rain contrasted sharply with the deeply peaceful atmosphere amongst the trees of the park.

We love the forest and hope the weather allows us further explorations of the London Park this half-term.

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.

Swim the Thames at London Fields

How is it possible? It is, the length of the River Thames is 346km, equalling 7000 lengths of the Hackney Lido pool. To be on 30th June 2018 from 3pm till late.

With a combined effort, people are expected to swim those 7000 lengths within 4 hours. That is such a doddle. Inexperienced swimmers can swim as little as one length of the pool. Performance swimmers do much more.

This is couched within a splendid Hackney Aquatics Community Day at the park and the Lido with

  • Swim the Thames! Sponsored Swim at London Fields Lido from 4pm.
  • barbecue, ice cream and food stalls
  • Pilates in the Park
  • Outdoor Yoga
  • Various games and activities such as football and extreme frisbee!

Of course all activities will be expertly run and are supervised.

I understand anybody can take part in the sponsored swim. There is a fundraising page on GoFundMe but I am not sure whether paying into this will also enter people for the sponsored swim. I am awaiting further details. However contributing to the founds would not do any harm to anybody. I think the aim is to help low-income families to allow their kids to swim at the club.

Smart water

Exercise increases the blood flow to the brain and the good news is that Madison achieved top marks in both her higher mathematics and history yearly assessment. Super cool. As I have read that a decrease in exercise will also reduce the blood flow to the brain and with it the stimuli I won’t be reducing Madison’s swimming schedule anytime soon.

As swimming can even repair damaged brain tissue in older people, it must have wonderful effects on young brains too.

I have heard from many parents who have kids in the GCSE-range-age, that they reduce swimming to 3 times per week but we won’t be doing this.

Madison spends literally most of her free time in the pool or volunteering or attending swimming meets and that has no detrimental effect on her school work at all.

Finding confidence

The fear of coming last gets worst the bigger the winning ceremonies are. Especially when there is medal or point counts, if you are not in the club with the most points or medals, it is very hard not to feel inferior.

Yet when it comes to results, really only the records are the ones that get the most publications. All world records get permanently published and all major competition wins.

But looking at the journey of a swimmer, there are many competitions and they do – at any stage of age, from 10 years upwards – measure success by the most and the best at each age. .

Nobody can stop growing and goes through the ages and goes through all the age-group competitions, yet winning at all stages of age groups is literally impossible.

Some clubs do better with the younger swimmers and some do better with the older swimmers.

But when one comes last or very near the bottom of the meet results it is very hard not to feel crushed and pick up the pieces and get onto the next competition with fresh confidence.

The swimmers belonging to the club with the most points or medals, they always feel best, even if an individual comes last. As long as one belongs to the club with the best overall results the feelings of loss can be easier consolidated.

But then having to come to terms with a loss if one is in a club that is at the bottom of the ratings is very difficult. I think people have to just not feel too bad about it and feel some pride in their club and continue with training there because it is important for the sport that locally there is a club that caters for swimmers.

We can’t just all run off to the biggest, most winning club. It’s just a bit like football, do you support your local club or do you support the always winning Manchester United?

At some meets my club comes on top and that is the best feeling but when it doesn’t I just feel crushed and remember the good times.

 

water in a bottle at Swimathon

Volunteered at the Swimathon this weekend and to my amazement some swimmers did 200 length of the 25m pool, that makes 5000 meters or 5km and had not a drop of water with them, no snacks or any type of refreshment.

As a parent, I would not be able to swim 5000 m without any water drink.

Apparently competitions have as longest distance 1500 m or 1.5 k, that is at most 60 length in a 25m pool. I think that swimmers already get very hot when competing at a 1500 meter race and often the pool water is kept at a lower temperature to accommodate that extra body heat.

I understand that Swimathon long-distance swimmers do not swim at their highest speed for 200 length of the pool but the strain on the body is severe I imagine.

Swimmers to perspire just as runners do and we would not put on running events without the supply of water to the runners, at least not any more.

Yes you can say that it is the responsibility of the swimmer to bring their own supplies, but people do forget. They find themselves having started the event and suddenly get thirsty. I don’t think it is much to ask an organiser to make some water available or emphasis to swimmers that they need to bring at least a bottle that can be filled up at a water fountain. And if all that fails have some spare bottles available.

At youth events, e.g. the London Youth Games, organisers give one free plastic bottle and water tanks to fill up those bottles to all participants.

I do think that organisers have a duty of care, even if the participants are adults.

Incredibly exciting times ahead

My move to Hackney has proven to be the most important and best decision I have made in my young life, in sporting terms.

There are the best prospects ahead and I can work with swimmers on all performance levels.

From next weekend the club attends no less than 4 different competitions. There is lots of fun at:

There is something for everyone. Of course all competition swimmers (well most) want to be selected or the Premium selection meets like the Golden Tour but it is a very good feeling to be part of a great mix.

Madison will swim at the Regional Qualifier in Basildon.

Seeing that our head coach Rick Hall has gotten all these important letters after his name like Rick Hall (First Class BA HONS Sports Coaching, Level 3 Swimming Coach), and having experienced the club environment, I now think that the continuation of the former LACPP should have been transferred to Hackney Aquatics or a committee consisting of various clubs.

Hackney Aquatics has an amazing bunch of parent volunteers who run the club in great harmony and effectively and Hackney, out of all clubs we have had the pleasure to experience, has the most robust and effective financial system.

Hackney, like most local top clubs have now also signed up for Team Unify, a move that has not been made by Newham UEL, who promised exciting changes to their website last year but nothing has happened.

Rick Hall from Hackney Aquatics is also the most qualified coach to handle top swimmers as he is actually employed by Middlesex County as County Coach.

img_1181The competitive swimming club development within the LAC is still a precarious situation, which needs to be looked at further. Geographically located within the borders of Essex, LAC no less hosts all clubs within the area, who can be located within Essex County, Middlesex County or other counties.

Having trained there for over a year, whilst LACPP was a primary British swimming development, there is a certain flair attached for us and vivid memories connected with the LAC training environment.

I think all regional swimmers who trained with LACPP still miss the Saturday Beacon program and I think Swim England should again look at the situation and discuss this further.