The national team for 2019

It’s a whole new fresh approach. Some of the very trusted names like Aimee Wilmott and Hannah Miley are not among the chosen ones.

But the list published on British Swimming still shows some well-known, huge names like Adam Peaty, Tom Derbyshire, Luke Greenbank, both Lichfield brothers, James Guy, oops I am just quoting males here. Lets look at some females who are in: Freya Anderson and Imogen Clarke are well known from watching nationals and of course Freye Anderson made excellent performance in recent team medley events on an international level.

What impresses me most about the selection page is the part about the world-class sports science and medicine services attached to being selected.

No NHS queues for selected athletes then.

Most of the selected swimmers are already attached to a national training program like National Centre Bath or National Centre Loughborough. Very few local clubs have directly associated swimmers in the national program. That is a bit of a shame because it looses the local connection to big performance.

It’s either university/school run swim clubs or city run clubs apart from national centre swimmers, showing that independent clubs do not have a pool to perform in, rather than saying not a leg to stand on.

Local councils have to wake up to the fact that performance sport, swimming included, needs council or city funding. Here in London we have quite a few clubs but none of those have any swimmers in this national program. Why is it that London does not have a performance program? It may be due to the size of the city. London is a huge area, nothing compared to smaller cities, which have superb performance swimming clubs.

Picture at the London Aquatics Centre of Jarvis Parkinson and Aimee Wilmott with Gold Cost Mascot for Team England

Yet all attempts to establish a performance program have been hampered perhaps by cost. The London Aquatics Performance Program was shelved after a couple of years. Both Aimee Wilmott and Jarvis Parkinson were part of it. Jarvis was a young newcomer at the beginning of it and now made it to Loughborough. Both former coaches of the LACPP now work for Chelsea and Westminster swimming club as coaches.

For example clubs like Barnet Copthall produced Olympic Swimmers but even they are not represented in the National team for 2019. The new club Natare, run by former Olympian Michal Jamieson, which produced many national swimmers, not in the game for 2019 either.

The London Beacon program has gone under.

Don’t get demoralised

Aoife, Kaia and Madison prior to an 800 Freestyle race at Barking and Dagenham, photo taken by Alexander McDonald (now coach at Chelsea & Westminster)

Any prolonged injury can easily lead to feeling demoralised.

  • Can’t take part in all the training
  • practise hurts
  • Can’t take part in competitions
  • people talk to you like you are no longer important

Being demoralised can have important consequences, which produce a creeping withdrawal from the sport.

That can have results like:

  • Making excuses why you can’t take part in gym sessions
  • Making excuses when late for school
  • Looking to break up sessions early

What every injured athlete needs are people who keep on giving encouragement. Saying things like

  • Keep on trying
  • Go to the session
  • Stay the whole session

Not being able to take part in competitions and bring home the medals is probably one of the worst things that can happen to a swimmer.

Madison always relished her medals and being shown on social media and in the club pages of Facebook or Twitter. Having photos taken with friends during competitions, photos that express the team spirit and excitement before or after a swim.

It also all depends how determined you are and it helps to research a problem and listen to a sympathetic coach(es) who give exercises that bridge the gap between the injury appearing and treatment being offered.

Having looked at various publications about the issue, I think that Madison probably needs an operation to resolve the problems.

Embracing the HAC

Don’t ever give up hope, some injuries take longer to heal than others and Swimmer’s shoulder can take as long as a normal pregnancy to heal, around 9 months.

It is hard not to take part in competitions and watch others rake in the medals whilst yourself is just kicking around in the pool. Yet, after 8 years of intense swimming there is little point in giving up the sport for an injury that is healable.

This just shows we are human beings with bodies that can break and need time to heal.

Our club and coach is fantastic in allowing swimmers to overcome injuries. It would be quite terrible if swimmers were discarded on the basis of having an injury. The key point is to keep training with the remaining parts of the body that allow keeping the core fitness at the highest possible peek whilst looking for solutions.

Ashley Twichell, a swimmer for Duke University wanted to get a place on the 2016 Olympic Team and gotten a shoulder injury. Read the story here how she overcame the problems.

Petria Thomas, Australia had to have several shoulder surgeries to win three golds at the Athens Olympics. Read that story here.

British diver Dan Goodfellow overcame nerve damage in his shoulder to win Bronze for Britain. Read the story here.

It really is not worth throwing years of training into the bin over a condition that is treatable and just needs a little time to diagnose and treat.

Keep on training with a coach that is knowledgeable on the condition.

There are great articles about this on the internet. The causes can vary, e.g.

  • nerve damage
  • torn tendon
  • scar tissue

There can be various causes and it is always worth looking into it properly rather than ignoring the pain and making it worst without proper treatment. We don’t know yet and do not want to attempt any treatments without knowing the exact cause. We’ve even had a suggeston that her pain could be in the mind!

Madison is still waiting for an MRI scan now and an appointment with an orthopaedic doctor. But in the meantime its training with the legs.

The kick is now tremendous. In effect it all depends if a swimmer really loves the sport, if they do then an injury will not stop them from pursuing the dream.


the 20 second hug

A hug needs to be 20 seconds long before the body starts to produce the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, which reduces the harmful physical effects on stress. There literally is a study for this.

Short hugs are probably useful though to change attitude towards others, e.g. feel not aggressive and it puts you into a friendlier mood.

Though when I hug now I make sure it lasts at least 20 seconds. To get maximum effect though, you should get at least 8 hugs of that sort per day. Hm, it’s either hugging the same people over and over again or building up a queue of potential huggers.

You need to be pretty friendly and trusting with someone to get such a close emotional bond that prolonged hugging produces. Also hugging is only really enjoyable if both parties really want to do it. You just can’t force others to hug you for 20 seconds and hold tight.

Swimmng the channel with a dislocated shoulder

Samantha Poulson
Picture, Guy’s and St. Thomas NHS Foundation Trust of Physiotherapist Samantha Poulsen, swimming the Channel with an injured shoulder, in freezing water and 1000s of jelly fish.

That is an inspiration to us all, a physiotherapist that shows us how its done, how to deal with injured shoulders, swimming the channel.

Just read this great article in the East London Advertiser, I hope they don’t mind me taking one of their pics to make the case, that everything is possible with an injured shoulder.

There are obviously two ways to deal with problems, 1 is to succumb to them, 2 is to make the best of a situation.

Pausing performance

Which one of us has a private physician that would stand by and deliver instant reliable diagnosis? Hm, I do not know anybody like that.

NHS waiting lists are long and if there is a problem that needs further investigation then any performance athlete either can rely on a team doctor or line up in the queue.

Performance swimming is a hard sport, requires constant high-velocity training because the world record times are extremely fast, the Olympic qualifying times are equally fast and everything else in between is not much slower.

It is impossible to stay in performance swimming without constant training.

As Madison now has this Swimmer’s shoulder problem performance training is severely affected. We need to step down from the training and turn into the slower lane until the doctors are finally ready to delivery a reliable diagnoses and recommend the correct physio to mend the problem.

220px-Shoulder_joint.svgThe shoulder is a big place with many muscles and tendons, one simply cannot assume what is the best exercise to do.

Whatever the problem is, it is extremely important to stay in shape and do exercises that do not overstretch the affected part.

It is important to stay in training and with our club we are very lucky to have a flexible club structure that can adjust training groups and routines to fit any particular need.

Yet it seems that medical assistance is not ready to deal with sport in general. I think NHS practises are very well organised to deal with winter flu, excess weight, check ups and general appointments but when it comes to sport related problems there is no network of doctors available that can be called upon demand by sportsters.

Many people have private medical insurance but I doubt that even those can deliver on the spot treatments.

What we really need are sports clinics because the healthy and active life-style is becoming generally more popular. That would be the way to go for a modern NHS.


The long pause of hope

Whilst there was good news about the non existing Asthma, the shoulder is still a very big problem. The shoulder always hurts and training with the shoulder, e.g. swimming is not possible.

One cannot just assume that those problems with sort themselves out given time. Myself, I once suffered from Tendonitis and it went on and on for years without bettering itself.

Now Madison has been referred to a Orthepaedics doctor and an MRI scan. Good as well. Sometimes one just has to pursue getting to talk to the right doctor that actually can pinpoint the best solution. If one doctor cannot help, get second opinions, keep on trying.

The asthmatic phase

To mirror a typical doctor’s consultation. Doctor asks, do you get out of breath, Madison yes. Doctor do you ever wheeze? Madison, yes especially at the end of a long training session or after swimming fast. Diagnosis Asthma.

I fought that diagnosis since a long time. We were given breathing charts, filled them in by breathing into a tube and measuring the output and putting it on a chart, clearly showing that Madison is not asthmatic.

Yet despite all that evidence, doctors decided to formally diagnose Madison with Asthma after she felt a bit stressed and couldn’t breathe.

Madison was given the brown inhaler containing some steroids, which are illegal to use as injections. Apparently that brown inhaler didn’t make things better at all.

Yesterday, we spent several hours at the hospital and Madison undergone tests which showed that her lung capacity is in fact above average good.

Good riddance of the inhalers then.

But just to be going on about this. People in big cities are not only exposed to more stress due to tight space but also to more air pollution than in the countryside, that is more than obvious of course.

Stress can often result in feeling uncomfortable and feeling a bit tight and cached in by all sorts of things, which may feel like not being able to breathe freely.

More exercise than usual can lead to feeling out of breath. I experienced it myself. After years of inactivity I took up swimming again. After 1 length I felt out of breath. But, of course doctors referred me for an asthma tests, which was negative. I simply continued exercising and now swimming 20 length is easy for me and when I found it difficult to get up a set of stairs without feeling out of breath, now it is very easy for me to run up the stairs using 2 steps at a time.

clean clear cold drink
Photo by Pixabay on

Having a drink of water can provide relief. If I feel out of breath following more than usual exercise I have a drink of water, which reliefs me considerably.

Having walk in a forest or green area can provide considerable relief.

Finding certain types of stress-relief can become a bit of a fashion. Of course it is easy to puff on a blue inhaler for example if you feel stressed about something but then there are also other things you can do.

Perhaps all people feeling unable to breathe should have formal lung capacity tests prior to being prescribed inhalers. Those tests go quite quick and are easily read, it literally doesn’t take longer than 1/2 hour. But one can have to wait a long time to get an appointment to have it done. Those machines should be widely available in doctor’s surgeries and help prevent the wrongful prescriptions of powerful inhalers, which are not always needed.



2 steps forward 1 MRI scan

I am just livid, another mess with booked competitions and not being able to go. Counting the cost of all the lost competitions, it staggers up into hundreds of pounds.

The latest victim is going to be Cambridge Grand Prix, booked the races, booked the hotel and now the shoulder plays up.

Waiting for an MRI scan. Apparently the doctor could not even see into my shoulder with the normal scan last time because of all the inflammation.

But just as I had a bad shoulder the NHS immunisation service decided to put an injection into the arm near my bad shoulder and I am doubly in pain.

Just starting to think if Performance swimming is the right thing but on the other hand, other squads just have such a steep drop in training, that it seems like two different worlds between performance swimming and other swimming.

There is always kicking and spinning as an alternative to normal training.

It’s been quite beneficial to train with either only arms or only legs. When I had the broken leg I used only arms, making my shoulders stronger and now with the inflamed shoulder, doing mostly kicking will improve the legs.

Maybe I am meant to train in parts and in the end it will all come together as one fit swimmer.

living with this injury

Obviously the shoulder injury will get better, one day, when that will be is uncertain and equally certain, as a determined young sports person one doesn’t want to drop out of the performance pathway.

Starting with the Performance Youth Squad this month with this injured shoulder. Not the best of starts, but nobody is perfect at all times.

Not certain whether people show more sympathy for cars breaking down rather than injured young athletes.

The Cambridge Grand Prix is not far away and it is cheering me up that it is in an iconic location. Who hasn’t heard of Cambridge, the world-famous university?

Will have to drop out of the 400 free. Cannot do long distance free style at the moment. Backstroke is easier. Must have injured some part of my shoulder muscle that is used by freestyle mainly.