The MCASA Open Water medal

As the medal service for Middlesex County is more than excellent, a representative of Open Water Swimming delivered my silver medal won in July to me yesterday.  I competed in the 3km distance.

I missed the medal ceremony at the time because I had to rush off for the Sponsored Swim taking place at the Hackney Lido for the purpose of collecting funds for the Hackney Aquatics Charity fund.

 

On the fast trail

cptreeThe only thing Madison has in common with Michael Phelps is the fact that she is playing catch up. I seem to remember Michael saying that in his early career, he always played catch-up to the fast swimmers.

These days we are wearing his goggles.

One perk of going to swimming competitions is the fantastic landscape, that we can enjoy regularly. Crystal Palace is set in wonderful mature trees. However the performance is steadily going down-hill this time.

Madison managed to set a new long-course PB in the 50 back but both the 100 back and 200 back were slower than previously achieved times.

We’ll see whether an improvement can be achieved next weekend at the London Swimming Open Summer Champs at the London Aquatics Centre, when Madison will be swimming in four events.

When going to Regionals is a new experience for a swimmer, I suppose the routine and the priming of getting the fitness and results at the right time is something that has to be programmed into the psyche of a swimmer, to peak at the correct moments. Where there is a will there is a swim.

 

The Training and the Performance

It’s an anagram of the chicken and egg question.

What came first? The chicken or the egg?

What comes first? The performance or the training?

To explain. To get promoted into a higher performance group in a swimming club you need the speed but to get the speed you need the training.

Whilst we get ready for our stint in the Regional Qualifier in Basildon tomorrow, it seems that it is very hard to make that step onto the regional ladder.

It’s achievable fairly easily to get County times by just popping into training about 7 times per week, on some days twice but the regional times are much faster. A few seconds are very hard to achieve.

The athletic ability needs to be much further developed to gain a few seconds on speed.

 

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.

 

The Happy Club

HAC has got the very appropriate abbreviation, that could also stand for Happy Club. After this year’s County’s everybody is happy, singing praise to the coaches and the swimmers, whilst all parents congratulate each other on supporting their successful swimmers.

It is all down to a very happy combination of everything working together just fine,

  1. the professional coaching team, who are all very friendly, very approachable and always happy to have a chat in a nice way, superb communications,
  2. the extremely keen swimmers who work very hard and train to compete and if they do not compete, they are all very supportive members of a club that welcomes all swimmers,
  3. the excellent Advanced Coaching Scheme that provides superb transitional coaching and an unreal and good land and swim training program,
  4. all the kind and cordial parents who all support each other.

hackney tablesThe superb progression of achievement has been well shown by the recent graphs and tables Rick has posted for us to see and I shall recommend that everybody is proud but not complacent with the achievements but aims to work even harder to continue the success.

Madison made a relatively small contribution to this success by having contributed to the Top 8/final category. But MADISON is chuffed to bits that she can be part of such a successful and well-run club by head coach Rick Hall.

It makes it so much more worthwhile to invest time into training and not having the feeling that she wastes time in the pool. There is something to aim for and it seems achievable.

MCASA weekend (2)

Junior County champs at the LAC was a two-day gala at level 1, that is the highest level possible in swimming.

Madison swam with Hackney Aquatics and the event was for 14 years upwards. All the medal winners from the club were 15 years or older. Madison is still only 13 years of age and only joined the club 4 months ago and had to do so suddenly, due to LACPP being dissolved. Madison swam for National Youth in LACPP but since joining Hackney Aquatics now swims with the second squad, the Performance Age group, which are much younger; but she did have a few  training sessions with the Performance Youth squad prior to the Counties.

Despite all the upheaval, Madison managed to get 5th place in the 200S back stroke for 14 year olds and 2 reserve finalist places in the 50 and 100 back. See full results here:

Of course every reserve finalist becomes a finalist should one of the base finalists decide to drop out, which didn’t happen in Madison’s case.

In a 10 lane pool, the fastest 10 become finalists in sprint events ranging over all the 50 and 100 meter stroke disciplines. Being a finalist could result in a 10th place. Longer distance events do not have any finals.

A fifth place in the 200 back is not a medal but good progress and an excellent stepping stone to develop the swimming skills in the future.

We need to develop skills realistically and having had the courage to swim the 100 breast for the first time in a long course meet and getting a county time is not bad at all.

For Madison this is so far the best result achieved in a county meet and that is encouraging. Madison still enjoys swimming and we are not at all upset for not getting any medals this time.

I strongly want to encourage all swimmers who do not win medals to continue with the sport because we have seen so many young and very fast swimmers drop out of the sport. Being fast when you are very young does not mean that you continue in the sport, what is important is that swimmers lead healthy lives and if it is enjoyable, continue with it.

MCASA weekends (1)

The County competitions are a very exciting time for swimmers and parents. I spent the weekend at Southbury and it was an electrifying atmosphere throughout. The gallery was packed with supporters and it was wonderful how many swimmers gotten the chance to participate. All swam very skilful and fast.

I could not find one person who didn’t enjoy the meet. Next week is the Youth weekend at the LAC. Madison will get to compete.

Everything happens just about now

Tomorrow is the start of the MCASA age group competitions and the week after that the Youth get their chance to shine at the LAC.

Of course everyone is thinking of the forthcoming Regional qualifier meets as well, just as – for pupils in year 9 – the time comes to discuss choices of GCSE subjects.

Not all schools do this at the same time but Madison’s school does it in early February.

Parents evenings are also on the horizon and all that in the most exciting training period, when everyone wants to train hard and learn how to #swimfast and #swimskilfull.

Lets just not get nervous and take it one step at a time, keep calm and keep swimming. It is just a matter of keeping the diary in order and do all homework immediately when it arises. Don’t let things pile up. Make every minute of the day a useful one.

Competitions help to calm nerves towards school exam periods and calm nerves are essential to learn for exams.

Listen to your coach, who has plenty of experience and knows how to bring the best out of swimmers. So everything is going to be just fine.

Try not to lose sleep over catching up on apps and social networks late at night. Most important is a regular and healthy diet and regular and uninterrupted sleep. Turn the mobile off whilst resting.

Talk to non-swimming friends and make them understand that you just cannot chat at all hours and need your own sporting routine, all good friends will understand. All swimmers will definitely sympathise.

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.

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.