grateful for what?

I am quite upset that some voices asking for remuneration for swimming are getting louder. I have also heard people complaining of getting exploited for being officials.

Lets just start at the beginning.

First of all we are not in China, in China, children get selected by the state and get forced into some sports in state sponsored schools. For them sports become a professional path, which is pre-determined by the state and the state benefits from the athlete. I do not know how they get rewarded in China.

Here in the UK, we do have a different system and I really do not want that Chinese system, even though some very prominent swimmers now want to force a professionalisation of the sport of swimming. But to make children into professionals they would have to start very young and be forced into the sport whether they want it or not.

Now I thank our democracy that we do have a choice.

Why do people swim? Mostly people start as children because parents decide it would be a good hobby for the child/ren.

Kids love the sport and go to training, get better and faster. It suits the family, the kids are happy, they are off the street and engaged in a healthy sport.

Now, contrary to China, here in the UK, we have to finance our sport ourselves. Yes, a whole industry has developed around it but that is in reaction to demand, because swimmers need equipment, they need pools, they need coaches.

Most of the finance for the sport comes from parents who pay

  • monthly squad membership, ‘
  • yearly club membership
  • equipment like costumes and training aids
  • competition costs
  • travel costs

Parents want the kids to swim and the kids want to swim and the finance of it all is borne by the parents. Parents even become officials so all swimmers have the chance to swim within the same rules and get a level playing field.

Now those who ask to get paid, I want them to ask themselves, why they are in the sport and if they are in the right sport.

Especially those who already get lots of sponsorship (the swimmers) should just shut up and swim or leave the sport, if they don’t like it and choose one that pays a lot, like boxing or tennis for example.

There are only very few swimmers who do not want to do anything else but swim. For those who have both feet on the ground and whose brain still functions (despite all the swimming), they do know that swimming will always only be a secondary activity besides having a day-job.

But some who never even had a day-job and only ever swam, they probably find it hard to accept reality.

I am really fed up with swimmers and officials alike who think the world owes them a special thanks; we are all in it because we like it and that is how we want to spend our time, if we wouldn’t like it we would be doing something else. Officials make their own choices, go to meets, where they want to help and go there as individuals with a license from British Swimming. Officials do not need to be chaperoned all the time, like they probably do it in countries where people generally have less choices.

No official is ever forced to officiate, they can all walk out and bring a competition to a halt, if they prefer. But most do it first because their own children swim and secondly some keep on doing it after their kids stopped because they like the sport.

People who are chosen to represent their country do get funding to cover living expenses and officials also get costs paid for helping but that is just fair.

For swimmers who literally just spend the whole day in the pool or the gym perhaps British Swimming could put those, at least once a week, into some kind of work placement or give them counselling on ‘life after swimming’ so that the swimmers do not suffer from delusions or mental problems.

The perils of volunteer run organisations

All swimming clubs rely on volunteers and the longer I am involved the more hair-raising incidences I come across that question my sanity.

Obviously for all of us the day-job comes first, we do need to earn a wage, to even be able to pay the swimming clubs for the membership.

Yet there are a lot of jobs in swimming clubs that are done purely by volunteers. There is someone who runs the website, someone who organises galas, the competition entries, the results processing, the officials and so on.

Quite often I see that swimming club info on the website is out of date and even clashes with e-mail information sent out. Even though many of us see websites as a blessing, if you can’t up-date yours it can be adding to the confusion.

What can one believe?

I think the most important thing to go by is the

  1. date of the event
  2. start time of the races
  3. start time of warm ups

As long as we know the date and that the event is happening we can always arrive on the day and get our swimmers into the pool. Our coaches will normally be there but in instances were they aren’t swimmers can still take part in the event and a parent will have to step in organising as good as possible.

We had been to plenty of events where no coach came, especially with our previous swimming club.

If you think about it, if somebody has the job of publishing on a club website and then things start happening, like computer breakdown, illness, just to name those, then obviously the websites cannot be up-dated.

keeping calm and getting our swimmers to the venue is obviously the most important issue, everything else will fall into place on the day.

The officials will always arrive early and have their equipment on them, so that the event can go ahead, as long as the organisers have booked the pool and have their technical equipment in place.

One cannot compare running swimming clubs with major blue chip companies. When a large website breaks down it makes front line news on all major publishers but swimming clubs are voluntarily run and can only do the best they can.

family friendly

Looking at swimming clubs, there are a lot that are family friendly. That is a good thing, but I do beware of clubs that want to make us all one big family.

That concept is not working and simply confuses people. Many different families do not make us all one big family.

What however is a good concept, are clubs that have a good team spirit and all working together well. Big difference, lots of families and individuals being a great team and then there are those that want to make all members into one big family. I think that is an idea that arrived during the Hippy era in the 1960s, and not suitable for swimming clubs.

In a good team all individuals have great respect for one another.

Legally families and swimming clubs fall under totally different rules.

Many criminal elements have abused the term family to raise criminal organisations and led to the doom of those taking part.

Having a family concept to run a sports club clashes with all legal requirements laid down by our national laws. British Swimming and Swim England, do not endorse making swimming clubs big families for all their members.

Hotel A & E

Went training at the LAC yesterday and again a sharp headache coming on, left early to change and there was nausea, fainting feeling and then sickness.

Home and a bite to eat, and straight back to the Royal London A & E, thinking its not so full on a Monday evening. How wrong we were. The waiting room was crowded with mainly smaller children.

Had the pre-examination at around 10 pm and then waited till 12 midnight to see the doctor who referred Madison for a Brain CT scan and another ECG.

Went to the CT scan at 1AM. What is most annoying that when you sit on the waiting room chairs long enough, you kind of run out of comfortable positions to be in. The tiredness sets in and you are too tired to keep the eyes open and too eager to not miss your call to fall asleep.

What often helps to stay awake is getting annoyed about dirty floors or windows or faults in the hospital but no such luck at the Royal London. The place is sparkling clean and everything bright and new. I did find a fault eventually though by sitting at the x-ray waiting room next to a wobbly chair.

It is pretty scary when you get referred for a brain scan, think about it, you are on one hand pleased that they could rule out a brain tumour but on the other hand worried they might find one.

After the CT scan at around 2AM, the nurses led us to the beds, that was even scarier, first the brain scan then a hospital bed. We all know how hard hospital beds are to get into. When you need one there are none and when you get one offered, that makes you think it is getting more serious than you wanted.

However, the nurses were just helpful, allowing us to lay down on beds as we were very tired. Whilst half-asleep Madison had more blood tests, more ECG test and routine examinations.

Eventually at 5:15 AM Madison was discharged. Nothing physically wrong could be found, which only strengthens my assumptions that the problems are related to the sudden withdrawal of the brown inhaler.

It’s a day off school today as sleep is needed and there will be no swimming today either. Got to let the coach know as coaches always want to know what is happening in their swimmers’ lives.

Well, the life of a swimmer is not always plain swimming, when I always read those website, which only report the positive things, I find it off-putting because it makes me more imperfect and the slightest weakness wants me to give up swimming because I am not as perfect as my heroes are. But then on the other hand there is that nagging desire to just swim.

The fainting episode

Yesterday’s fainting of Madison at the London Regional Championships led to much speculation. Snapchat went wild with comments about it and let me make something clear now.

Madison had been wrongly diagnosed with Asthma and been given a brown inhaler that contained steroids.

When suddenly the doctors realised that Madison wasn’t asthmatic after all, they told her to stop using the inhaler. However no advice was given to reduce it gradually. I now¬†found advice on the NHS website, which explains a lot. It seems that these days patients need to find their own advice online instead of relying on doctors to tell them everything.

Madison now suffer the typical withdrawal symptoms like

  • Dizziness and even
  • some pain around the lungs,
  • joint pain, which is accelerated by the swimmer’s shoulder and she can
  • get very tired
  • mood swings
  • increased appetite.

Yesterday Madison fainted at the London Aquatics Centre and I had to leave my official’s post and take her home.

We rang NHS 111 and then went to the A & E and been told it was just a faint. I am considering making a complaint to the NHS about the quality of advice we are getting.