sourdough sooooo much energy

I am just one of those somewhat overweight, not very fit swimming parents. The LAC currently runs a drive to get parents into fitness; very good effort, I must say. But for that, I just don’t have the confidence just yet.

I was getting ready for another day of dieting with cabbage soup, when one of my flat mates left a loaf of sourdough bread on the kitchen counter for sharing. I looked at it and tried to sustain the temptation; but then the appetite overcame me.

Thorpe-3I just left all my energy the day before at Thorpe Park trodding around that venue all day.

I just kept on eating that sourdough bread, and had slice after slice. At the end of the day, I wasn’t even able to eat my greek yoghurt with blueberries. I left that for today’s breakfast.

But today, I was so full of energy. I stomped around the roads, with a spring in my step.

I come to believe that dieting on salads and cabbage does not give me any energy at all. I just sit around all day and hope to lose weight. To get the energy to do exercise I need to eat energy giving foods. It’s always a careful balancing act, how much to eat, how much to exercise, especially if the body has some problems that result in muscle cramping or joint problems.

I think we need to do what we can but the young swimmers just seem to have endless energy anyhow.

Image source: Bewithing Kitchen

New Beginnings

Local is Best, as it is near and plentiful. We reside almost next to York Hall and have Mile End Leisure Centre a short bus ride away. But during the last season Madison trained with London Aquatic Performance at the LAC solely. The schedule was very harsh. To show you Madison’s time-table last year:

Monday    :   07:35 – 15:05 school;     17:00 – 19:00 swim*or 19:00-20:30 Guides

Tuesday   :   06:00 – 07:30 swim*, 07:35-15:05 school; 18:30-20:30 swim*

Wednesday: 06:00-07:30 swim*, 07:35-15:05 school; 17:00-18:30 swim*

Thursday :   07:35 – 15:05 school; 17:00-19:00 swim*

Friday     : 08:35 – 15:05 school; 17:15-17:45 piano lessons

Saturday : 08:30 – 11:00 swim* or competition all day

Sunday   : church or competition all day

*  All swimming took place in London Aquatics Centre, all schooling in Shadwell.

This was an extremely tight schedule and because we had to take the few sessions that were available at the LACPP, Madison had hardly any rest during the previous year. It was very hard to fit in homework during the week and eating had to be done during travelling to and from venues, especially from school to swimming and back home. Because the early morning swim was straight after an evening session, that meant straight to bed when arriving home to get ready for an early start.

For a 13-year-old with GCSE exams coming up, this schedule is not manageable over a prolonged period of time. Teenagers need more sleep than older swimmers and that takes away a lot of time from doing stuff in the evenings.

As it is quite apparent to most who visit the swim club websites, the LACPP website has not been updated for quite a while, also the Facebook page is unchanged since a few months. People know about the stoppage of the senior performance program there.

The club is on summer shut-down for the whole of August and the remaining club swimmers were not given any competition schedule for the Autumn. At least Madison was not given any competition schedule.

We had such great improvements during the last year, that I think a whole month without training and then no competitions to prepare for the up-coming County and Regional competitions can’t be good.

So I needed to make a quick decision and approached our former club, the Bethnal Green Sharks for membership. They are local, easy to reach, there is hardly any travel time to get there. That all saves previous minutes to do course work or rest and eat.

Sharks also have competitions planned from September and Madison can slowly lead up her performance improvement to January 2018, when the County competitions start.

LACPP started off as support club for local elite swimmers and I think for Madison it is best to recommence part-time swimming with them in the autumn because of the time-schedule concerns I have to do with schooling.

Sharks train in the evenings almost every day and on Saturday and Sundays, there is a great variety of sessions to choose from whilst at LACPP the sessions available had been pressed into 5 days with 2 sessions on 2 days. There is no land-training and only 20 mins pre-pool available.

Currently we have no idea what the schedule is going to be at LACPP in the autumn and the lack of planning for us is quite difficult to manage. That’s why we chose to return to our local club as main club with the LACPP as support club. Of course the LAC facilities and the quality of training are superb.

Other successful swimmers have the LACPP as support club like Angharad Evans for example who won Gold at the British summer championships in her age-group. Her home club is West Sussex; I state this only to show that a local club is probably a better option for us too. Though at the moment Madison can only dream of the British Championships.

The flowers you see are a charming by-product of walking to the LAC via the scenic walkways; that is one big plus of going there. But the local happiness and umpf of the local club can only be found here.

 

White Currants

Swimming, especially as school sport seems to be the white currant of sport. To explain, there are black currants, red currants and white currants, we all can buy the red currants, know the black currants from jam, cheese cake and juice but the white currants are hardly known. In the school sports world, here in London, swimming is hardly known to exist.

What really is important to introduce swimming as a sport to schools and having looked at the Sport England Website, they have some very good headlines like: “Swimming – Health benefits proven“, Core market – people who already play sport are hugely valuable”, “Local delivery“.

For school sport however, here in Greater London especially, there is no funding available for schools to make it a permanent feature as a school sport. Primary schools get funding for 2 years to take primary kids to swimming once per week for 45 minutes. It is actually enshrined in British law that school must teach children to swim.

Madison, who attends secondary at Bishop Challoner Girls now gotten taken swimming for one half term, that is around 6 sessions for 1 hour each per year. Madison’s PE teachers think she is not athletic enough to be put into the set 1 for PE ‘because she is only a swimmer and that is not a school sport’. [sic]. Though her school is very supportive of her swimming club lessons, starting at 6am on some mornings.

All the swimming that Madison does with her swimming club is privately funded. Parents have to pay for club membership, for ASA membership, competitions and travel there, costumes and equipment are also dear. Parents even need to volunteer to keep the clubs running, to man competition officials. For being an official parents even have to purchase their own stop watches and whites to wear and other equipment. often at competitions it is hard to get the core amount of officials needed to run the competitions.

I think that structurally swimming is chronically under-funded.

Perhaps this has to do with the fact that especially in London schools usually do not have pools inside the school compound.

Swimming has become a private sport that has to be financed with money that people earn and is manned with swimmers whose carers/family can afford to bring them to lessons, especially when they are younger.

As already mentioned in the previous post top coaches earn a good salary that an average club cannot afford. Swimming generally gets funded by lottery money or many athlets depends on GLL funding, clubs depend on the hugely important Jack Petchey foundation.

British swimming has established two British Swim Centres in Loughborough and Bath, four top coaches are employed to train there and coach Olympic teams but London, that actually has the Olympic pool has no such scheme; we merely have a Beacon program.

The Beacon program is a huge and very important step forward to get competitive swimming established and furthered in all regions of Britain. London’s Beacon program is delivered by the LACPP at the London Aquatics Centre. With the UEL running the LACPP and top coaches’ careers being at jeopardy at present because of a funding problem, we are really on edge about the future of our swimming club.

I do understand that UEL and Swim England are currently negotiating the situation and I have no complete insight how the funding works but obviously from the £100.000 Lottery funding that Sport England gives the UEL to run LACPP over 4 years, (according to the Minister for Sport), there is a doubt that the coach, who delivers the Beacon program and excellently so, can stay in post because of a lack of funding.

Swimming is chronically underfunded. In school sports’ teachers minds, swimmers are not atheltic and the ethos of swimming seems centred around those who are already famous and made it to the top. 84900739_84900738We all love Adam Peaty. But getting there literally needs years and years of almost daily training and when at the top often training twice per day. Adam is extremely athletic.

To get swimming more widely established, schools should get funding to make swimming a school sport as it would cut the health care costs that the NHS is so worried about. So the government should fund more  swimming in schools as they would save the money on NHS costs.

Parents are already investing a large part of their salaries into the swimming sport of their children, many parents simply do not have the money at all to allow their kids to swim as a sport. Recently, through cut-backs, some local councils stopped funding their local swimming clubs and that has a huge effect on clubs. Many club coaches have to work during the day and coach in the evenings to help kids into competitive swimming, they all do their utmost.

Swimming is probably the most undangerous sport that has the most health benefits and should make Britain a healthier nation, so the Sports Ministry should invest more into it.

I also think that swimming club membership keeps children off the streets and helps reduce crime.

 

 

 

 

Stability

One of the most important considerations for me as parent is the factor of stability. Swimming was always meant to be an enhancement to the growing up process, a sport that helps improve school results and learning rather than be an alternative to education.

Children’s lives these days are marked out till at least they are 18, Nursery, Primary School, Secondary School, A-levels. University, Job.

Whilst for school we get the time-table at least 1 year ahead, we know what is expected of a pupil at all times, we can normally fit our swimming routine in with the education and group our social life around this.

During Madison’s early swimming years, she was a member of Bethnal Green Sharks and I now start to appreciate how important the stable running of that club was to us. There were always the same teachers, the schedule would never change, for years and years, we could rely on it.

We then changed to LACPP and were given a totally different routine and we managed to adhere to this as well. We were given competition schedules, great, another thing to put into the diary and something we could plan ahead for.

What is happening now is that suddenly we got an e-mail saying that the future of the club is uncertain. I got e-mails saying, “We hope you can bear with us during this difficult time”.

But there is not even a hint of when we are going to get a schedule, apparently it all depends on negotiations between Swim England and the UEL.

Yet as a parent I kind of would like to know that our time-tables and swimming schedules  and competition schedules are guaranteed for the coming year.

Unfortunately this is not yet the case. I am trying to explain why I now start to panic and ask for trials with another club that seems very stable and has great training routines and excellent swimmers, who also participate in regional and national competitions.

Considering that both our lead coaches are rumoured to be leaving the LACPP as well and we do not even know what coaches we are going to get and there are only rumours that there are going to be reduced training hours for the top squads without again providing for land training, it seems quite logical that I want to look for another club.

For smaller swimmers it might not be so impacting on their lives that some things are uncertain but for Madison who has to choose her GCSE subjects next year and start to learn for a tougher GCSE schedule than ever, we just cannot afford any more instability.

Redbridge we are getting ready

Just one week to go and a severe chesty cough has come upon my swimmer. I furiously looked up a Google search about swimming and coughing and learned that a mild to moderate cough won’t impede the swimmer much, but that a heavy one needs a rest.

After a weekend of resting we are back to the training schedule and the pool definitely lifts the spirits and is very stimulating and makes one forget all ailments.

 

My conscience is clear

As a parent, I have been called all kinds of things for bringing my child to a lot of swimming sessions, starting at 6am on some days. The worst one was slave-driver. It hit me hard. I suppose some like the word couch potato more?

Having an active life should be the norm and not the exception and the concept of always keeping busy, I suppose has become alien to many.

Yet I had some doubts as to whether it is justifiable to allow Madison to spend so many hours per week at the pool, that is prolonged by travel-time to and from the LAC.

Yet so far Madison always had 100% school attendance through from Primary School. Madison never missed a day since she started Secondary school and has no late marks either.

Madison had the highest marks on the SATS exams in year 6 of Primary and now still is 2 grades ahead of target in 70% of her subjects and does not fall below target in any subjects taught at school.

I just received her interim report from school and again can only recommend swimming as sport for youngsters, as it definitely does not dim the intellect. However, having said that, I must emphasize that high quality coaching is essential. The coaches at the LACPP use the latest methods in a pleasantly professional manner, which aids a child’s development and doesn’t cloud the mind.

 

Happy and successfull 2017

  • stay positive
  • be punctual
  • attend as many sessions as possible.
  • don’t become a dictator. (1)
  • try for new Personal Best times. (2)
  • do not ignore your GCSE exams/school work (3)
  • use good nourishment routines.(4)
  • remember committment gets you further.
  • reduce empty times, keep busy. (5)
  • complete all tasks as set by your coach.

(1) I have heard that

  • some swimmers will only swim if their parents buy them certain costumes and/or goggles in certain colours. Make swimming your most important task not the colour of your costume.
  • some swimmers only want to swim if another specific person also swims. Remember you swim because it is your favourite sport.

(2) The older you get the harder is it to get new PBs. Perhaps extra land training and gym workouts or other types of muscle training will help.

(3) Use your time wisely and do homework between school and swimming and do not stay up too late to complete home work. Get at least 7 hours sleep per night.

(4) Eat at least 1 1/2 hours prior to swim practise with plenty of fluid. After practise have nourishing drinks and replenishing snacks/meals.

(5) if you sit and watch TV/films, try and exercise by using a hand weight.

Tower Hamlets Swimming club?

Looking at the swimming club landscape it seems that Tower Hamlets is one of the few London boroughs that doesn’t have a swimming club named by the borough name. Look at the swimming club links on the side, all other competitive clubs have the name of the borough they represent.

Perhaps it could be one of the reasons why Tower Hamlets pupils are hardly represented at the London Youth Games for Swimming or ESSA Secondary Teams Championships.

ESSA is held at the London Aquatics Centre on Saturday 19th. November 2016.

I tried to find a secondary for Madison that is strongly engaged with swimming but could not find one. Perhaps one reason for a lack of interest in swimming is the absence of a Tower Hamlets Swimming club.

Apparent from the 2015 results, there is a team from a Surrey and Croydon school and the rest come from all over England with those teams also coincidentally being sent by clubs that usually represent their teams at British Championships.

Obviously swimming is beneficial both for mental and physical health and more swimming in Tower Hamlets would enrich the borough. When I looked for a Secondary place for Madison, schools categorically asserted that they are NOT interested in swimming as a school sport.

There are many pools in Tower Hamlets and I think the time has come that the borough starts to establish a Tower Hamlets Swimming Club.

During the Primary schools swimming games it becomes apparent each year that the privately run Gatehouse School always wins the team cup whilst the borough schools often send swimmers that hardly make 1 lane. I think that the borough’s education department really has to try harder to put the borough’s pupils into swimming as a sport and that the swimming abilities of pupils in the borough should be raised.

With quite a few pools in the borough, the council could try harder to roll out a borough wide swimming schedule to introduce pupils to regular advanced swimming sessions and make it a matter of pride to actually be good at swimming.

Swimming clubs could become centres for swimming with home work clubs attached, so that pupils could also do homework nearby.

I pleaded personally with Madison’s Primary school headmaster at St. John’s C.o.E. Bethnal Green to enter the school in the Tower Hamlets Primary School Championships because Madison wanted to win the Gold in the Butterfly, which she did win. Now Madison’s Secondary school Bishop Challoner Girls has promised to hold an inter-form swimming competition, which is a good start.