Summer’s coming

What a wonderful club; to be part of Hackney Aquatics feels like being part of the action, the community and an exciting club concept that does not only make people jump into a pool but has a big palette of social events to offer as well.

I am looking forward to the summer fete and barbecue and cake stalls in June. Date to be confirmed.

Till then we have a host of exciting competitions to look forward to.

Even kicking is better in the sun

Swimming must be the Best sport, looking at those pics, the week in Spain is at the half-way mark and swimmers are having a wonderful time training in the sunny pool of Torremolinos Sports Abroad.

The first Olympic swimming took place in 1896 in the Bay of Zea but was only available for women since 1912 in Stockholm Sweden.

Now we do start to recognise that swimming has a beneficial effect on health for all ages and school children learn better when swimming.

There are now many swimming competitions held all year round and our next big event will be the London Regional Championships held at the London Aquatics Centre and Crystal Palace.

wed-sun

The swim camp in Torremolinos is an extra special Easter break treat and prepares nicely for the competitions ahead, culminating in the British Summer champs, European Champs.

Contention

blossomI feel a spring in my step. A lot of performance happens in the mind. All that I need to make sure of is that what I put in my body is good stuff and that my life is without hassle, that I have plenty of supportive people around me and that I feel good.

It doesn matter whether you live in a castle or in a flat, whether you have a car or take the train, whether you are rich or poorish, what matters is that you want to do it and be the best. Regular attendance at training sessions is crucial. You learn all the techniques and speed during training.

The less problems you create in your mind, the more you can focus on the swims.

The competitions then become just a relaxing weekend away with a few enjoyable swims.

 

 

In Focus

Suddenly the national qualifying window becomes meaningful. Whilst we are totally in focus on the goals, it is important to make decisions that are in sync with aims. Today we break up from school at 12:20 and a few of my school mates go to Stratford Westfield window shopping. I decide to pass on this, I know I have got my second training session of the day tonight and have a full weekend of competition ahead of me.

I use this afternoon as a welcome rest period before the storm.

first dawn 540
First signs of dawn on 29. March 2018 at 5:40AM in East London

Performance athletes are definitely in the minority. It just helps me a lot to see determined early morning joggers on my way to AM practise, I then know that there are others who are also focussed on fitness and training. Of course when I arrive at the pool, that is the best feeling, being amongst like-minded friends then.

I am feeling more relaxed now by making decisions that fit in with my performance goals rather than with pleasing others who have different lifestyles. It seems rather trivial to find the trip to Spain more exciting than getting national qualifying times. I suppose national athletes who swim for Britain get many great training sessions abroad anyhow.

Basildon & Phoenix regional qualifier

Madison did 4 races and won Gold twice, obtained 3 regional qualifying times and achieved some very good Personal Best Times.

  • 400 freestyle – entry time 5:13:01 = result 5:05:97
  • 200 backstroke – entry time 2:46:16 = result 2:36:88
  • 50 backstroke – entry time 35:80 = result 32:55 Gold medal
  • 100 backstroke – entry time 1:15:87 = result 1:12:64* Gold medal

This time we came fully prepared. We started preparations the day before with good nourishment routines and this time didn’t get lost on the way to the Basildon Sporting Village.

There is a very easy walking route from the Basildon train station and with a little research, this time we made it without problems. We arrived early, had an early lunch at the Basildon Sporting Village cafe and then the event started.

And at last but not least, Madison finally now achieved regional qualifying times. The hard work and excellent training at Hackney Aquatics paid off. Madison has 2 guaranteed and 1 consideration time. Wow and well done.

*There was one faster swimmer on a time-trial.

The little green man

a little green man whispered into my ear that the northern clubs always win because their swimmers spend more time in the water.

Oho, I went onto the Sheffield Swimming Club senior elite squad, normally for swimmers from 16 up-wards, those who swim in national and international competition and he presto, they have 10 swim sessions and 7 land training sessions per week.

Just as well that they normally have to be 16+, as then they would have completed their GCSE levels by then.

Clearly top end competitive swimming is a full-time sport and swimmers get little full-time funding. Yet swimmers constantly have to juggle the need for an education and the need for performance swimming; a tough sport.

The only way to fund is getting full podium funding through British swimming, e.g. be in the Olympic Squad or similar squads, GLL funding and/or swimming and part-time work and A-levels.

There is my argument again, that fully committed athletes who train so much per week should get their free education window extended and be able to do their free A-levels once their Olympic phase is over.

Just as well that Hackney doesn’t have such a squad with such intense training routines. That is the reason why superb full-time swimmers have to move to clubs that provide such training. LACPP provided such an options for London but they have unfortunately been dissolved.

Oh, we’re going to Torremolinos

I forgot to mention in my last post, Yes, we are really going to Swimcamp in Malaga this Easter break with Hackney Aquatics, a camp run by Sports Abroad.

It’s like all birthdays and Christmases have come together here. We are counting down the days till this exciting swim camp.

Flights are booked, and now we are thinking about not much else. What a wonderful sweetener to complement all our competition chores and school exams.

strong bones = gravity = land training or can swimming prepare humans for life on Mars?

Exposing our bodies to the full force of gravity by using our bodies with the help of our limbs is what makes our bones stronger. As humans living on earth, with its gravity, we have evolved into boned upright beings that rely on strong bones to exist on this planet.

When I visited a New Scientist lecture event at the Excel last year, I was terribly disappointed that most of the speeches centred around outer space. I thought, so boring, there are no pools in space, I like swimming.

Then I didn’t know how swimming affects our bodies through gravity but now I do; it suddenly dawned on me that swimming takes place in less gravity than outside of a pool activities do. Our weight is reduced in the element of water.

When I watched a recent BBC documentary about the effect of sports on our bone density titled: ‘Which type of exercise gives you the strongest bones‘, I was amazed to learn that cycling is actually worst for bone health than other sports, that cyclists’ bone density is around 20% worst than that of Cricketers or Gymnasts.

That is due to the fact that cyclists do not use their whole body to propel within their activity but use a cycle and sit on it with part of their body. That reduces the physical effort the body uses.

Swimming does not strengthen our bones, it is good for soft tissue and organs, e.g. brain, heart and muscle-building. Because swimming reduces the gravity, I suppose constant swimming would severely reduce our bone density despite developing our muscles.

Most of us swim only for a few hours and most highly competitive swimmers couple swimming with severe land training, which compliments swimming and produces the land based activity that a strong  skeleton needs.

Adam Peaty is famous for his strong-man land training, which makes his the fastest breast swimmer on earth at present.

Whilst swimming helps to develop the muscles, land training ensures bone health and strength. Our swimming club, Hackney Aquatics

pilateshas a tremendously varied training routine, which is just about perfect and provides a lot of variety with Yoga, running, gym and Pilates.

 

I once worked on a cycle and cycled 10-12 hours per day, I completely collapsed with severe leg pain after nine months and still suffer from the consequences of an alteration of my leg muscle fibres and tendon damage due to a lot of cycling.

I now swim regularly to repair that damage.

But seriously if humanity would spend long periods of time in the water and had no exposure to gravitational pull and activities, I suppose we would evolve into humans with soft bones, probably what would be needed in an environment like the planet Mars or other outer space environments. mars

Humans with weak bones here on earth would start to suffer from brittle bones and constant breakages.

I like Earth though.

GCSE options

Performance swimmers cannot tone down their training to suit the GCSE learning and exam schedule. Performance athletes needs to tailor their GCSE choices around their training requirements.

Apparently age 14 is the time when most girls drop out of performance swimming. That is the time when we have to make up our mind whether to continue in performance swimming or not.

We need to study core subjects like Science, Maths and English and others like religious education in church schools.

Madison has been chosen for triple Science, is top grade in Maths and English but also wants to continue with performance swimming.

The swimming training involves at least 8 sessions per week, each one 2 hours swimming and half hour land. Two days per week there is twice a day training starting at 6AM till school and then continues after school.

On top of the core subjects or GCSE we need to choose 3 other subjects and there we consider how much time and effort each subject takes and whether we can weave in some learning with the sport.

It is best to choose subjects where the grades are high and learning comes easy, so that the whole experience seems effortless and easy.

We participated in high-end performance training since almost 2 years now and this experience comes in very useful as we are already used to calculating our time very efficiently and learned to make use of every minute of the day without sacrificing our sleep.

Aimee Willmott has been a great role model for Madison, Aimee studied sport whilst at University and being a performance swimmer and proves that combining education and performance swimming is possible.

Masters records

From age 25 onwards Wikipedia lists Masters world records. The oldest age-group is 100 – 104. NO, I just found somebody who holds the world record for the age-group in 50 backstroke for ages 105-109 and that is Jaring Timmerman of Canada. Apparently he also held the world record for the preceding age-group of 100-104.

Aged 100-104 Jaring swam the 50 backstroke in 1:45:59 and aged 105-109 Jaring took 3:09:55 for the same distance.

The women’s world record for age 90-94 in 50m Freestyle is 52:09, for 50 breaststroke for the same age-group its 1:14:04.

George Corones
Swimming Australia Picture

Just to update this post on 2. March 2018, the 50 m Freestyle record for 100 – 104 year olds has just been smashed by 99 year old George Corones in Queensland Australia with 56:12.

Ideally every athlete and swimmer should try to maintain their fitness and keep the age group records with rising age.

I would be pleased if I could even make it to the pool aged 100 let alone swim 50 meters. But this is what the sport and keeping fit is all about, perform as long as you can and stay fit, set a good example to others and don’t  let yourself go.

For younger swimmers having the Olympic Games in their horizon, stay focussed on the long-term achievements and not only on performing till the Olympic games.