I am still around

Still going to training regularly with the performance squad but haven’t been competing since the end of last season, e.g. August 2018.

Have already obtained 8 County times for this season during last season.

Don’t be put off by injury. Even though swimming is a very active sport with constant competitions, having an injury is no reason at all to drop out of the sport.

You can continue training and keep fit, even if you can’t enter every competition for a while.

Don’t let your coach tell you otherwise because if you love swimming you will want to stick with it.

Just thought, that swimming is the ideal sport for hyper active kids. Stick anybody into a swimming club and even the most lively kid will be tired by the end of the day, with little time left for being hyper-active.

Think about it if your child attends morning training before school, by the time they get into the benches, they will already have spent all excess energy during the AM session and if they get active again the after-school training session will take care of that.

Doctors should prescribe more sport less pills.

I think the key is to get parents involved as much as the children to develop the healthy life-style for the whole family.

London Sport Strategy

London Swimming has published details that the Mayor of London has launched a consultation on the London Sport Strategy.

I think that every dedicated swimmer parent can take part and express what improvements they want to see for competitive swimming in Greater London.

The consultation is open until 12 October 2018, please take part. 

Rother Valley Open Water Festival 2018

Brilliant! To all you parents, if you look for something refreshing, therapeutic and rejuvenating activity that doesn’t cost you any money and is extremely good for you, consider becoming an Open Water Swimming Official.

Rother Valley is near Sheffield but very rural. It’s like so many Open Water locations a lake or part of a managed inland water area in various locations around the country.

rotherswans
Swans near the lake where the British Open Water Championships 2018 are held

Wildlife occupy the wonderful lake, the water is very clear and the atmosphere is tranquil despite the fierce competing and swimmers racing around the 1km course as many times as they need to complete their distance. the birds are not phased in the slightest by the swimmers, I saw a group of ducks swimming through without any fear or stress.

All helpers are the friendliest people you can imagine and the team spirit and camaraderie is excellent. A thoroughly enjoyable weekend.

rotherareaEven the journey home is nice, through a wonderfully tranquil area in the middle of England.

You simply feel a totally wonderful new you after a weekend working in the great team with eager young people in the great English countryside.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

Walking on Hampstead Heath

hampstead heath entranceIt was a grey day with just clouds hanging over us, which gave the foliage this dark green deeply lustrous glint.

All trees were shrouded, as we walked on with a fine rainy mist that spread all over and stopped all view over the crowns of the trees, which surrounded the horizon.

Where we could see through the foliage, the view was barely there.

Hampstead Heath view

When we arrived at the Henry Moore sculpture within the Kenwood estate, Henry Moore’s ‘Two place reclining figure’ nestled shyly under the trees, barely noticeable in the darkness under the sky.

Hampstead Heath Henry Moore
Henry Moore, two place reclining figure at Kenwood estate in Hampstead Heath

That’s when the rain started to fall harder and we couldn’t find a rain-free bench to eat our sandwiches.

Feeling some heavy rain coming on, we went for the nearest bus stop and when we were near Finsbury Park the thunder and lightning and the rain became so bad, sitting in the bus seemed the safest option.

This thunderous rain contrasted sharply with the deeply peaceful atmosphere amongst the trees of the park.

We love the forest and hope the weather allows us further explorations of the London Park this half-term.

Powerwalking Epping Forest

I don’t think it is good to just laze about suddenly, when the body is used to regular exercise, so I suggested a leisurely walk through Epping Forest.

into Epping Forest
enter Epping Forest at Snaresbrook

We started at Snaresbrook and walked along a fairly wet path, which turned out to be muddier further in and some rain drops still fell from the leaves of the trees, when we were greeted by a pair of friendly Mallards who wanted to show us the way.

Mallards Epping Forest
pair of Mallards showing the way

We came past a wonderful meadow with lovely yellow flowers, which was rather big.

Meadow Epping Forest
A wonderful meadow opened up and showed this wonderful clearing

then leave trees paraded on both sides of the path.

Trees Epping Forest
leaves on trees, very relaxing

There was a very interesting contrast between some old and dead trees and new growth, a little ghastly.

sunshine Epping Forest
A ghostly old tree

It gotten even spookier when we arrived near the old and dark swamp.

swamp Epping Forest
The murky Swamp

The creepy, dark swamp was actually filled with black water, which I think makes you sink if you fall into it.

On the way we crossed 2 motorways and went under 1 tunnel on another one.

motorway Epping Forest
Footbridge over motorway

When walking through Epping Forest you are never far away from traffic noise, which is sometimes the only evidence of civilisation around us.

We managed to walk for 2 hours till almost near Walthamstow and then found we are walking around in circles and whilst we left Snaresbrook at 8, we arrived at South Woodford at 10:30, which is only 1 station away from Snaresbrook.

Madison walked very fast, equivalent to a 2 hour kick-session in the pool I should imagine, at least my legs felt like it when we gotten home.

It’s going to be fun at Crystal Palace

The best part of the swimming meets is the planning and the journey and the taking part, making friends and enjoying the atmosphere.

Of course winning is nice too but it can’t always be. It is all part of growing up, forming character, getting into healthy habits and having fun.

I can almost always predict, according to the qualifying time, whether that time has been achieved on a long or short course meet and by looking at the other participants in the field, how my placing is going to be.

Hardly ever will anybody achieve a last-minute 30+ second PB because that is often the difference between the last and first place in a level 1 meet.

I could not expect to say I have to win or I am out, I say, lets take part and improve my performance and build on the experience.

As swimming is for life, having radical ideas of winning or never doing it again, are simply not acceptable. I expect to swim forever and could not say that I think not winning at a regional competition would put an end to my performance swimming career.

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.

 

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.