Breaststroke ahoi

Madison is not ashamed to laboriously pick up her breaststroke skills to build up the full set of strokes to be proud of.

Of course there are a quite a few swimmers in the club who already found their special fast strokes and qualified for this year’s English and British nationals but Madison will continue to build skills across the range.

Today, at the very nice Hackney Development meet, Madison swam the breaststroke and took the 50m breast by storm with a new Personal Best of 42:79 improved from 45:79.

But then, came the amazingly generous lunch that Hackney Aquatics provided for Young volunteers and that 3/4 pizza made Madison look like she swallowed a stone when she participated in the 100 breast straight after lunch with a new Personal Best of 1:36:84. yet it is an improvement from 1:37:19.

There is a very good feeling for not resting on the laurels and continuing to graft on all skills.

Being Young Volunteers is an incredibly rewarding experience for Hackney Swimmers, the club is very friendly and has skill building for the swimmers at its heart.

 

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.

Sugar, sugar

I have become a fan of Britain’s Fat Fight with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. He says what I think but I thought nobody else has realised it and that I am the only one who has to fight the trend.

There is little point in putting in all that training, just to ruin or prevent progress but having the wrong type of diet.

I try to avoid processed food, some fats and take-aways. But what mountain am I trying to climb here. Seeing that most people are so busy with work, bringing kids to sports clubs, that there is little time to freshly cook food at home.

In fact the first thing I did myself, when I got my most recent job was to pre-cook and freeze food portions to avoid reliance on take-aways or packet foods.

I am lucky, I now do have the time available to cook but the vast majority of people is not able to do so. Ready-meals are often the norm but Hugh quite rightly says, it has been recognised that eating highly processed food doesn’t stimulate the body to chew and digest the food.

Gutt microbes exist and they become more and better according to the variety of foods we are eating. The less energy we spend preparing food, the less the body and ultimately our whole physique gets challenged, the laziness settles in and with it comes obesity.

I am now looking at the sugar content on packs and start to realised that the favourite cereal has a third of sugar content. So that one is restricted to once a week until the weaning off process is completed.

I really avoid fast food shops, I do not order take-aways but admit we went to the local Nandos on Church Street, Stoke Newington because the Nandos restaurant food there is the healthiest in my view. I realised that healthy restaurants charge more than the £1.99 fast-food deals that are around. We tried to treat ourselves after volunteering for the mornings Swimathon.

Generally I am very disappointed that many high street shops have disappeared in favour of fast food outlets. I can understand that hard-up people who cannot afford to pay their energy bills rely on such outlets to get cooked food.

But that is all to do with politics and I do wish that parents and health professionals complain to their Members of Parliament more often to state that they need a healthy diet. There are some like Jamie Oliver who fought for better school meals but children do not eat just at school, they eat at home too.

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.

 

 

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 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.

 

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.

Passion Fruit and Mango Chocolate surprise pancake

This is quite an elaborate recipe, which I suggest for days when there is no early morning pre-school training. The pancakes do not provide as much energy and are just right for a day of mostly sitting in school. WP_20180110_07_58_26_Pro_LI (2)

It’s good to have some pretty looking foods as that is uplifting and fun.

For cooking you need:

1 heavy bottom 28 cm frying pan
1 large serving plate (porcelain)
2 small prep plates
2 chopping boards
glass bowl to prepare the pancake batter

For the recipe you need:

1 fresh Mango
Passionfruit and Mango Coulis
20 gr of milk chocolate
1 large free range egg
60 grams of plain flour
100 ml of full-fat milk
a pinch of salt
squirty whipping cream

Variation, use fresh or frozen raspberries and Raspberry Coulis. (Picture to follow)

Method:

Peel half of the fresh Mango, slice off as much as you can get or want and slice into strips, put on a side-plate for later.
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and put on a side-plate for later use.
Now put your heavy pan on the stove and heat up with a couple of drops of oil.
Make the pancake batter by
mixing the free range egg with the flour, pinch of salt and then add the milk to make a smooth, runny batter.

When the pan is very hot, pour in the pancake batter to spread thinly around the pan and cook, turn after about 90 seconds and cook for another minute. Ensure the pancake doesn’t get too brown.

Slide the pancake onto the clean and empty serving plate and put the chopped chocolate over the pancake.
Now roll the pancake up tightly. (It might be a little hot, so work quickly.)
Now drizzle as much Passionfruit and Mango Coulis over the dish as you want, place the sliced fresh Mango on the plate and finish with fresh or squirty whipping cream from a can.

You can also slice the pancake into bite sized pieces prior to serving.

Chocolate Porridge

Is an absolute favourite prior to early morning training. Get up extra early, never go to training without having had food.

Ingredients for 2 people:

1/2 litre of full-fat milk
1 cup (not full to the brim) of whole organic, rolled oats,
20 grams + – ~1 row of chocolate, per plate, 40gr in total
some berries.

Method:

Soak the milk and the oats overnight in a pot with a lid on, if its warm keep in fridge overnight, that will greatly reduce the cooking time. whole oats have a better bite than the quick cook soft oats.

Prepare the plates, use soup plates and put some berries, e.g. frozen mixed etc and 20 grams of chocolate in each plate.

The porridge should be ready after about 10 minutes of cooking, stir occasionally. Then put the thick, hot porridge over the chocolate and the berries, leaving the chocolate to melt and berries to defrost.

Put plates on the table and then stir the content, making a very delicious, chocolate, fruity porridge, that does not need any sugar. It will be eaten in 5 minutes max.

See my recipe page for more ideas.

Chocolate milk

is the ideal after training recovery drink. I make my own without extra sugar and any other additives, using a few simple ingredients.

  1. Make a chocolate ganache.
    150ml double cream
    150 gram of milk chocolate
    Bring double cream to nearly boil, break chocolate into small pieces and put into heatproof bowl, preferably a glass bowl. Pour the hot double cream over the chocolate pieces. Stir the chocolate and milk until the chocolate is dissolved. Put mix into container and keep cool in the fridge until needed*.
  2. Make the chocolate milk.
    400ml of full-fat whole milk
    2 table spoons of the chocolate ganache.
    Put into a pot over a low heat and stir until dissolved, do not boil. Then pour into your drinking container and put in fridge to cool. Consume on the same day or within 24 hours.

*The ganache should last around 1 week in the fridge.

See my other recipes for more ideas.