Rother Valley Open Water Festival 2018

Brilliant! To all you parents, if you look for something refreshing, therapeutic and rejuvenating activity that doesn’t cost you any money and is extremely good for you, consider becoming an Open Water Swimming Official.

Rother Valley is near Sheffield but very rural. It’s like so many Open Water locations a lake or part of a managed inland water area in various locations around the country.

rotherswans
Swans near the lake where the British Open Water Championships 2018 are held

Wildlife occupy the wonderful lake, the water is very clear and the atmosphere is tranquil despite the fierce competing and swimmers racing around the 1km course as many times as they need to complete their distance. the birds are not phased in the slightest by the swimmers, I saw a group of ducks swimming through without any fear or stress.

All helpers are the friendliest people you can imagine and the team spirit and camaraderie is excellent. A thoroughly enjoyable weekend.

rotherareaEven the journey home is nice, through a wonderfully tranquil area in the middle of England.

You simply feel a totally wonderful new you after a weekend working in the great team with eager young people in the great English countryside.

 

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.

 

No phones please

Today at the swimming meet I saw an official using a phone and texting during the races.

I was shocked. Imagine a football lines man/woman texting on the phone whilst the players are on the other side of the pitch.

All pupils and kids are not allowed to use their phones whilst in school but then come to a swimming meet and see an official texting on their phone during races.

I am frankly appalled, not only that the use of phones seems to be tolerated by referees but also that kids get such stupidly bad examples set by adults.

You are not allowed to text whilst driving, so why should it be OK to text whilst officiating?

Dad’s officials army

As an immigrant to Great Britain and a converted German, from German to English, I always admired the sheer grit and determination the British as a whole showed during the wars of the last century.

The best and most popular reminder for us is the series Dad’s army. Amazing what the volunteers went through to help their country. The title implies there was more sexism in the days of the series and during the war, but we need to understand that. Nowadays women and men equally can help.

Whilst I can’t totally compare World Wars with swimming wars, the fact remains that Swimmers also rely on volunteers and that this nation’s swimmers need to train up to international competitions to equal or better performers from other nations.

In that sense a lot of national pride is involved.

Yet, the amount of parents wanting to become swimming officials seems to be dwindling.

There is no alternative to use paid officials as the sport would become too expensive. There is also no way to permanently replace highly trained volunteers with quickly drafted in volunteers who have no specific training.

official
An official’s clip board

 

Because if your swimmers do not get disqualified for doing the strokes wrongly, they do not learn and will not find a reason to learn the correct stroke technique, hence they are wasting a lot of their time.

I hear a lot of reasons why parents can’t do the job of time-keeper, swimming judge or referee e.g.

  1. It is too hot
    1. looking at the fact that many people book summer holidays in hotter climates than Britain it seems odd that people complain the pool area is too hot. My son went on a holiday 2 years back and the temperatures rose to 42 degrees. The temperatures around pools are usually around 30 degrees.
  2. We are on a trip that weekend
    1. Obviously it is important to set priorities and they should rather support the sport their kids are involved in.
  3. Got to work
    1. Work is probably the most used excuse but then if we all just spend time earning money instead of helping out, we won’t have any helpers and have to stop the sport altogether.
  4. Have smaller children
    1. Very reasonable excuse but there are always relatives and friends who could help out as well.

People just need to make that extra effort. People need to find the grit and determination to help their swimmers, to help the sport and to help their national swimming development.

There was a time when clubs had more money and more sponsors and clubs could actually give officials chocolates or bottles of wine as a thank you but since clubs are not that well off at the moment, we just all have to pick ourselves up and do the job anyhow because it is important that our children can continue to develop their skills.

We do not need to have wars to see what our priorities should be. Our children are always the most important assets in our life and we need to support them in what they do.

In my view the best performing clubs are the ones with the most officials in the long run.

 

 

Officials are important

Just heard that a distance meet planned in conjunction with Chelsea and Westminster swimming club at their pool for next week Thursday has had to be cancelled for a lack of officials.

It can happen, that if a club wants to get swimmers into a meet that the club will not be accepted if they do not bring officials.

I am very pleased that I have now become a J2 and will be very willing to encourage other parents to become officials too.

that’s a club

Now I know what a superb club is run like. What a difference it makes to be in a club with a superb set of parent volunteers and excellent and dedicated coaches.

We have had the new squad structure circulated for next season and I am very pleased to learn that Madison has made the Performance Youth Squad.

But a great club is not just about the squads, it’s also about the volunteer engagement and the life-long swimming prospects for all involved.

Everything works for the benefit of all and everybody is happy. So far so good.

The new training schedule from next season involves the Lido and Madison already got a taster of swimming there at the Hackney Community event.

Very happy we are having 4 AM sessions per week as we are getting used to waking up early. It’s a bit strange to have to get up very early one day and late the next. It is better for the body clock to alway get up at the same time.

Walking down

The 3km Open Water is equivalent to swimming the 1500 freestyle twice in one go. We forgot to look at the result but I assume Madison achieved around 50 minutes for the 3km.

I was proud she finished the course on her first attempt. There is no warm-up, there is no swim down. But I think it is important to keep going.

So Madison went for a 2km swim-down to the Hackney Lido.

Today she wanted to stay in bed but I still think it is important to keep moving so that the aching muscles don’t get stiff.

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walking through Richmond Park

We went for a walk to Richmond Park.

hamforest

For the first part we walked through some wooded area the Ham Nature reserve was very similar to Epping Forest, just without the traffic noise in the background.

Just when we arrived at the Richmond Park gate, the sun shone doubly hot directly upon us.

richmond

The sun was burning down on us on 30 degrees and it was absolutely parching hot. However the whole peaceful atmosphere with loud grasshopper choirs filling the air achieves an amazing peace of mind.

It is well worth to have a change of scenery and recover out of the pool in good air for a day.

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.