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.

 

No more excuses

I was very impressed watching the @CityofDerbysc level 1 meet today. @HackneyAquatics has a small bunch of swimmers non older than 16 I believe and they did very well in this national atmosphere. Hackney came 16. at the end of day one – out of 44 clubs attending – with only a few swimmers with some very big and famous clubs attending.

At this level 15 year old swimmers had to compete in opens with no age-group to hide behind. Very tough and sobering.

Great thanks to Rick for providing the flair needed to make Hackney a club of the highest calibre with a lot of promise.

No more excuses that either the training or the facilities aren’t good enough to perform. The possibilities are endless with Hackney Aquatics and once Madison comes over her woes to do with changes in her life and we get stuck into this new routine, there is no reason to stop now.

In two weeks we have as a big milestone the MCASA Youth county swims at the LAC and to give some extra strength, will go to the gym tomorrow to fill the weekend with some muscle-workout.

Swimmers’ development

Just through my previous post on changes to stroke achievements, I started to look at other swimmers’ profiles and realised that each swimmer is very much an individual and each swimmer developes in different stages.

Some swimmers are extremely good in all the strokes and Katinka Hosszu is a gleaming example of that, she was/is the lady with the most world records to her name, in both long and short-course pools.

Then again there is Adam Peaty, who shines through his tremendous breaststroke achievements mainly in the 50 and 100 meter long-course pools.

Adam, being good at one stroke peaked at an early age, around 21-23 and is still going strong onto the next Olympics, Commonwealth and other international competitions and Katinka Hosszu is now aged 28 and still going very strong and improving.

It is definitely worth to look at the careers of various swimmers to see just how different they all developed.

There is no strict uniformed pattern on how to grow up in the swimming world. There is a lot of personal freedom to develop in different strokes and that freedom is vital to have to get the time to enjoy the sport.

It would be terrible to have those professional pressures on a swimmer who can develop on a very individual basis through the sport and take as much time as needed to excel in any particular discipline of the sport as long as it stays on an Amateur basis.

For most younger swimmers like Madison it is advised to learn all strokes to a very good standard.

The main point is to stick to the sport and continue doing it because one just can’t lose when swimming, the overall benefits are just to great; to give up just because a season’s regional competition wasn’t so great is not a good decision.

Keep calm and carry on swimming.

 

London Region Summer champs 2018

Qualification times were published now and they are fast. We have till 11. April 2018 to get a time.

Well, I think that if Madison continues to train at the pace and volume she does now she will be meeting the Regional and national qualifying times in the years to come.

50/50

The New Year’s Gators meet was a half/half event for Madison. Half the events were Personal Best times and the other half was just not the best.

The hundred fly was the event, which was swum the most under the Personal Best already achieved since leaving London Aquatics Performance Program. PB: 1:22:33L swam in 1:27:42L.You can see how the performance graph sharply swings upwards.

The best result was the PB in the 50 Free, now 31:07 both long and short course. The long course gives 445 and short course 418 FINA points for the same time.

Long course 50 free record currently 23:67 = 1000 FINA points
Short course 50 free record currently 22:93 = 1000 FINA points

It is good to be part of the winning best performing club and the club having taken home the Gators trophy on the day.  See tweets from @HackneyAquatics at the side of the blog.

But having now swum a couple of meets with 5sc under the PB results in some events and being sent home from the Harrow Christmas Cracker for illness is something we are not accustomed to.

I suppose that both changing club and school does take its toll. Routines have been disrupted and the whole body and mind configuration has to be reset, I suppose that would affect anybody.

Also what affects Madison’s dip in some strokes is the fact that she now receives very good breaststroke training @HackneyAquatics. Amazingly Madison achieved the 100 breast County consideration time and though been accepted as one of the slowest entrants, it is a huge step for her.

I think that if a swimmer is reasonably good in 3 strokes but not at all good in one stroke, that will affect the overall performance. Madison has been short of regional times for most of her career. I tried a lot of things but now Madison’s breaststroke times start to improve and her changing her mindset to include breaststroke will affect the other strokes in the long run for the better.

It is very important that young swimmers get good in all the strokes and it is very worth sacrificing time results for that transition period, after all at 13 any swimmer has still years of successes to come.

Of course there is a swimmer who excels and specialises in one stroke and we all know who it is, a swimmer called Adam Peaty but he is exceptionally good at breast stroke; I suppose you need to be extremely good at one stroke to make a huge impact to make it worth concentrating on that one stroke alone. It is interesting to look at the stroke profile of a swimmer to see strength and weaknesses.

A busy weekend

As a parent I am now fully involved in Madison’s swimming career and as there is little chance of Madison giving up swimming in the near future, I decided to go for qualifying further along the officials path.

On Saturday 19.11.17 I officiated at the ESSA Secondary School championships, a very worthwhile chore, as several records had been broken and thanks to Nick Gillingham Academy, here is one of them. I can be seen on lane 7.

I didn’t have a swimmer at this event as Madison’s school does not have any swimmers. But I very much want to support those who bring swimming to their school communities.

On Sunday, I officiated at the Hackney Aquatics championships, with an unbelievably good atmosphere and great community spirit, an occasion where mainly younger swimmers take their first steps into competition. Madison took part and won several medals and entered the finals.

Helping the sport

If only those parents whose swimmers make it to the top would help with swimming duties or organising galas, club functions etc, we would have very few helpers.

The better the sport is organised the more possibilities there are for more swimmers to prosper and benefit in the sport.

I actually quite enjoy helping when my own swimmer isn’t competing, as I look at the sport as a whole and not just onto how my own swimmer performs. I need to be as impartial as possible and keep my mind on the smooth running of the meet rather than just my own swimmer.

But of course having my swimmer get into a high level meet is a special bonus. Most parents start off helping with the club, officiating because their own child swims. That is how it has to be as only volunteers run the sport events.

I have seen people demand for the employment of professional judges and referees but the sheer volume of swimming competitions would make that a very expensive option and not sustainable at all.

It’s all about facilitating options for swimmers to compete. My own swimmer just loves competitions, they are the culmination of weeks of swimming practise day after day and often twice a day.

But often as swimmers get older and do no longer need constant close supervision, I can sneak off and help out at competitions at the weekends. It is great to be able to help those succeed who have the dedication, skill and time to compete to the highest levels.

parent helpers

As a licensed swimming official I decided to officiate at the London Region Swimming Champs at the LAC, even though my swimmer didn’t qualify to compete.

Normally, whenever my swimmer doesn’t qualify we just sit at home and let time go by, but by my involvement in the meet, Madison gotten an interest in this and wants to be involved as swimmer in the future.

Parents helping at meets always helps swimmers and the sport of swimming. All our swimmers need the sport to evolve and continue to be organised and meets to happen and parents helping will enable swimmers to take part in competitions.

Not all parents can help, many have to work but if at all possible I think parents should consider helping even if their children do not swim at an occasion. Swimming is a great hobby and even ‘just’ officiating a superb fitness exercise.

Everything to swim for

Suddenly, life’s become extremly exciting. Hackney Acquatics is a dream come true for us. There is a

  • great social life with Christmas parties and team meals
  • superb competitions
  • an even better varied training program
  • a swim camp in sunny Spain.

Madison is working hard to manifest her qualifying times for a level 1 meet in Derby in January, that is pre-County and will be held in the national pool in Sheffield.