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.

 

 

A perfect inset day

The school inset day could not have come at a better time. It’s the day before our first Open Water swim and a day off school with a taper down training session prepares Madison perfectly for the 3km swim tomorrow.

Talking of swimming reminds me of the water shortage reports I’ve heard on the news this morning. Apparently people are advised to have short showers instead of a bath to save water. I do not agree at all. If you have a bath and then use the old bath water to water the garden you get much more out of your water. If you have showers the water just runs down the drain.

 

Hamlet

Tragedies of Shakespeare are an important educational stepping stone of any English 14-year old. Fulfilling the requirements of the English Curriculum, we went to see Hamlet at the Globe theatre today. We try to see at l east 1 Shakespeare play per year and so far we saw Romeo and Juliet and now Hamlet.

We always admire those ‘professional’ swimmers who write about nothing but their training and winning medals, and I hope I’ll get to this stage eventually, but at the moment life is a mix of school and sport.

st.paulsWe went along the picturesque London city, past St. Paul’s Cathedral, over the bridge, near the Tate Modern gallery and towards the Globe theatre. Admiring the sky-line, whilst waiting for the doors to open we had a nice lunch.

london-skyline.jpg

We just can’t believe how lucky we are to be living in London, a town full of opportunities and superb facilities.

We are never far from my favourite element water here in London. Just reminds me that my first open water swim will be next weekend.

Keeping the mind focussed on achievement. Hamlets was a prime example of badly managed mental health.

 

Blogging about the sport

Yesterday on Twitter, I read some posts about people blogging in a derogatory way about swimmers and or coaches.

That is the way of the www. There are always mindless people who want to make everything look either bad, ridiculous or simply take the mickey.

There are laws like inciting racial hatred, unlawful discrimination, criminal and terrorist incitement, which are incidences where police will intervene and blogs will have to be shut down.

But when it comes to name-calling, ridicule, bullying, things are harder to control.

It is one of the benefits of the free society that we can freely express our feelings, thoughts and it enriches our lives tremendously.

I would be very concerned if I read nothing but good things about anybody. In fact it seems that only in very repressive and fascist countries nobody is allowed to say anything negative about certain religions, political leaders or countries.

What drives swimmers is the love of the sport and the vast majority of swimmers I know have the greatest respect for their coaches, their fellow swimmers and for the sport.

People who want to progress in the sport and achieve great results will always go to training and swim at every opportunity.

I think that people wanting to learn about the sport and seek inspiration will look around and feel better about reading in-depth stories that may or may not contain some critical words but that comes across very positively and gives readers something to think about and encourages them to take part rather than put them off.

I mean you could sit on your couch all day and do nothing, but who wants to do that?

It’s good to be busy

Since I qualified for regionals, I have not even gotten time to think. I am literally at the pool every spare minute of the day. I don’t even have time to get myself into any kind of trouble, I am too busy for that.

May is an exceptionally busy month. Well, lets say January is busy with County qualifiers, then from May onwards, it’s a mad rush. Literally each weekend in May is a competition weekend because London Regional competitions are stretched out over the whole month to accommodate all age groups and all swimming disciplines.

Since I am also a volunteer, I help sometimes at meets and also in the club. That is very enjoyable. In June come the club development and then other competitions, which I want to use to already qualify for next year’s Counties and Regionals.

It’s always good to plan ahead. I want to widen my repertoire, increase skills in my weakest stroke and get better in my strongest ones.

From September there will be the GCSE time-table and once I know that, I can plan my next season in detail as far as school is concerned but sports wise, we all wait for the County and Regional qualifying times for next year and because world records always get faster, we will need to get faster too at the bottom end of the sport to qualify for those stepping stone meets that allow us to qualify for the national competitions.

My definite goal will be to win some medals at next years County and Regionals because I won so many at the local swimming competitions but winning them at the higher level meets is tough indeed.

Smart water

Exercise increases the blood flow to the brain and the good news is that Madison achieved top marks in both her higher mathematics and history yearly assessment. Super cool. As I have read that a decrease in exercise will also reduce the blood flow to the brain and with it the stimuli I won’t be reducing Madison’s swimming schedule anytime soon.

As swimming can even repair damaged brain tissue in older people, it must have wonderful effects on young brains too.

I have heard from many parents who have kids in the GCSE-range-age, that they reduce swimming to 3 times per week but we won’t be doing this.

Madison spends literally most of her free time in the pool or volunteering or attending swimming meets and that has no detrimental effect on her school work at all.

Watering down

After last night’s edition of Britain’s Fat Fight I realised the danger sugar in drinks poses. It is very hard to know how dangerous those appetizing bottles of liquid are unless you find that a mass publication finally notifies the population of the facts and that only happens once things have become desperate.

Kids just love endless soft drinks in restaurants. Fruit juice and smoothies, presented as healthy options are full of sugar.

I learned that apparently a 150ml serving of fruit juice is recommended by government health officials.

Why is it then that producers can fill shelves with rows of bottles of smoothies, juices and sell soft drinks in bottles and restaurants in abundance but why is it that it is much more difficult for the consumer to be educated about the effects of consumption than buying those items.

I am now cutting down on fruit juices bought in bottles. If I serve it, I water it down by at least 1/3. I’ve already stopped baking those sugary muffins because if I add up all the sugar consumed by just drinking juice, having smoothies and eating muffins, than also eating desserts after school dinners or having chocolate milk after training, I end up serving a huge amount of sugar per day.

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.