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.

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.

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.

 

The glamour of being fit

It is not about the glamour of looking good, it is about the glamour of looking good by being fit.

Practical ways to get fit and to benefit the body and the mind, which cost the least, are always practical.

There are many ways to get fit, which do not cost any extra money, you do not need to go to the gym to get basically fit and build muscle.

When I, the parent, had a spell of poverty to go through and could not even afford a washing machine nor a car or any luxuries, I found myself having to wash the laundry for a family of seven by hand in the bath tub, I went shopping and carried 10 bags from the nearest supermarket, which was over 2 miles away on a daily basis, I painted all the walls in a 10 room flat and cooked and washed up, swept the floors.

There was no problem with obesity. And

  • when I entered the 10km NIKE fun run, I was a middle performer, despite never having been in an athletics club,
  • when I joined a local King Fu club, I simply pushed those muscular big blokes over and I was small compared to them.

The point I am trying to make is that there are many youngsters out there who come from poor families and there is no point complaining. There are clubs like Hackney Aquatics who subsidise your monthly fees if your parents are unable to pay.

Practical exercises include

  • cleaning up your room, sweep under and behind the furniture,
  • paint your walls and
  • wash your laundry
  • carrying shopping home in a rucksack and walk all the way
  • do gardening if you have one or help neighbours
  • walk whenever possible and take the stairs
  • Swim as much as possible, it is good for the brain and helps your school results.

Very important indeed, eat as many self-cooked or prepared meals as possible, avoid highly processed foods whenever possible.

Remember you do not need a gym to have a great fitness regime, floor exercises are free and running is also free, so are home chores.

 

Hygiene

You know when you purchase underwear, swimming costumes, jewellery, these are items you cannot return for hygiene reasons because when an item has come in contact with some body parts then that is a taboo.

I’ve learned that snorkels need to be sterilised after use from our brilliant head coach and that definitely has reduced the sore throat feeling but now I am going on about the swimming costume dryers we use in some pools.

I am just thinking we are wearing our costumes close to the body and everybody then puts their costume or trunks into the dryer and then the next person and the next person and in the dryer that is where all those germs get exchanged.

So when I come home, I put my costume into a disinfecting solution, as I do not want to put them through a washing machine cycle.

Sneaking in exercise

One of the biggest causes of obesity and general unfitness is our lifestyle, the fact that we spend long periods sitting or lying around doing nothing and then only have small periods of activity.

Even though health gurus generally recommend small bursts of high-intensity workouts to keep the body going, that is just about all it does, but it doesn’t increase general fitness stamina.

I recommended this previously, that you should do exercise whenever possible but I have not reached to the parts of the exercise that are generally taboo, the bed and the holiday sun loungers or the beach.

In the bed, the sun loungers or the beach, there is one excellent exercise that is brilliant. Whilst you lay down, and this is best done with plenty of blankets or towels on the legs, to weigh you down, just lift up your legs, keeping them straight and hold them up at about 2 – 3 inches height as long as possible. Repeat at least 10 times. Rest. Repeat. You can do this for hours.

This tones your core, keeps your tummy flat and even tones the neck muscles and face muscles. You feel mentally refreshed doing this. I can’t offer you your money back if you don’t as you do not pay for the advice but try it anyhow.

I recommend this for sleepless nights, lazy days, beach holidays.

drink water

EPSON MFP image
NIke fun run 1989

As a parent I ran my first and only Marathon (10k) in 1989. I ran in the NIKE ‘woman’s own’ event fun run at Hyde Park, I came 282 out of 487. I trained every day, preparing myself by jogging around Victoria Park. My youngest and fifth child was just under 1-year-old.

On the day of the event, there was not one water station at the run. That was normal at the time. I didn’t prepare myself either by bringing any water. About 2/3 through the race, I gotten rather tired. I think that was the last public running event held without water provision.

By now a big industry has sprung up by producing all kinds of water supplies that help counter the dehydration.

imageI suppose that swimmers produce as much perspiration as marathon runners do. Yet whilst in the water, you cannot see or feel the sweat.

I spoken to some young swimmers and they said that because they feel water in their mouth all the time, their brain might be tricked into believing that they drink water, whilst in fact they do not. Some youngsters just don’t feel thirsty, perhaps again the mind is tricked into thinking that because of all the water around them, they do not need to drink it.

However losing all that body moisture that must fatigue a swimmer. But on the other hand because the body is in water, perhaps the water helps to moisturise. I have not found any study around that.

Perhaps it helps swimmers if they are reminded just to drink more water if they feel fatigued and just think they cannot do another lap. Encourage swimmers to drink lots of water before a training session and also have sips during the session and drink again a considerable amount after the session, I think they feel less tired and worn out doing this.

Increased parental responsibility

Whilst I am talking about giving rewards for sporting achievement, this very interesting article I read on the BBC website this morning, highlights exactly the points I was trying to make in various previous posts. Parents to have a leading role to play in supporting their children’s development for longer now.

Adolescence now lasts from the ages of 10 to 24, therefore parents have a much bigger role to play in supporting their children, who now on average get married considerably later and spend much more time in education and learning to be self-supporting adults.

At the same time, and the article doesn’t even mention that, the increased risk of swerving off the path of righteousness with increased offers of getting involved in wrongdoing are also around.

Alcohol, drugs, crime are all around us and kids need to learn to focus on always staying productive and improving what they do, that may be education, sport or getting into early business ventures.

Since children are dependent longer, parents really need to lend support much longer now. Kids just don’t move out at 16 or 18 anymore, they do not do their own thing till much later in life.

Puberty has now dropped from age 14 to the age of 10 whilst body development stops at age 25.

[Lead author Prof Susan Sawyer, director of the centre for adolescent health at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, writes: “Although many adult legal privileges start at age 18 years, the adoption of adult roles and responsibilities generally occurs later.”

She says delayed partnering, parenting and economic independence means the “semi-dependency” that characterises adolescence has expanded.]

Therefore it is right that parents assume a more supporting role in creating a path to successful adulthood by actively supporting children’s sporting endeavours more actively.

It is no longer the case that kids leave the parental domain aged 18, though they are legally recognised als self-sufficient; in reality they are not and still need the support of adults that help them along.

So even the pathway of achieving in sport and the dependency on support from both parents and funders exists much longer than it did in previous years. I think the more of an active role parents play in their children’s sporting successes the better for the athletes who need to be able to get reliable support from friends, family and funders.

Even Adam Peaty made this very important point in that he said that swimmers need to make sure they can get the support they need.

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.