2018 selection policies

for a young swimmer the world is an oyster. All option and chances are available to be exploited and the release today of the 2018 British Swimming Selection policies for

  • 2018 Junior Champs in Helsinki 4. – 8. July
  • 2018 European Champs Glasgow 3. – 9. August

help us focus on the future of our sport, rather than dwell on sad spots in the past.

Though it is important to learn the skill of dealing with emotions, the focus on the season ahead always helps to take a deep breath and swim.

I avoided the rain but not the tears

This morning it was good-bye to training mates after the AM session and as swimmers are wet already and in the shower, the tears are hard to spot.

But the good-byes were heart wrenching and emotional.

Normally local swimming clubs hardly ever change but with the LACPP and its dissolving came a lot of dramas.

Coaches left, swimmers left and new club arrangements were made.

It was kind of sad to see the LACPP signs disappear both on the Web, Facebook and in the LAC. I never thought they would actually dissolve this scheme.

At least I now know that Lisa Bates can continue to enjoy her coaching career by moving to Chelsea & Westminster swimming club, Pixie, also a former LACPP swimmer went there too.

The older national swimmers went to Loughborough, Sterling, Angharad went to a residential school with swimming as main sport.

Madison is fast but not fast enough and too young to get into a national coaching scheme.

I predicted that most fast national swimmers would leave if they dissolve the LACPP and that is what happened.

Madison joins Hackney as this is the most improved club this year and also has some very good national swimmers and it is within our reach.

Swimmers of Madison’s age, need to concentrate on their education; we are just beginning the GCSE courses. I don’t think a competitive swimmer can succeed unless they are in an excellent local club or in a residential school like Millfield.

The LAC ACS is an excellent coaching scheme, yet it is geared more towards the younger swimmers who just begin their competitive careers. I am sure they will shine in competitions.

I think it is important for swimmers to get continuity with their sport and established local clubs deliver the best results.

It’s best to turn all that sadness into new energy and look forward to new endeavours. We have plenty to do in the future and look forward to seeing swimmers at competitions in the future.

Getting ready for the meet

On Sunday, Madison will swim for her first and last meet with Newham & UEL club.

Preparations centre around

  • how to get the home work done over that weekend
  • how many hours are needed for the meet
  • which foods are needed and how to nourish
  • travel time and arrangements
  • packing the bag for the meet
  • mental preparation
  • which races are swam
  • promoter’s conditions
  • study the accepted entries list

Luckily the BWF early county qualifier level 3 meet is in the London Aquatic Centre, which is one of our local pools. We can just take a local bus there and arrive within 20 minutes, we do not need to worry about parking either.

We see that entry in the LAC is now security screened, visitors are not allowed to bring drink or food in but swimmers are.

Swimmers always have their favourite snacks to use as pick-me-ups and preps before or between races. Most of the time in swimming meets, there is also not enough time between sessions to have a proper lunch. There are delays and if a meet goes on from 8AM till 5pm, swimmers need to find time to get useful nourishment.

This Sunday we’ll only have half a day, usually we stay the whole day. But if Madison swims longer distances we do less races altogether.

This Sunday it’s going to be 100 fly and 200 back.

The social aspect is also important beyond the just racing. Swimmers get to know each other over time and meet up at race meets. Swimmers who change clubs still see their friends at meets too. That is very enjoyable for the swimmers.

With the arrival of the LAC, local swimmers’ lives were quite affected. Before we had our local pool and suddenly that opportunity with the LAC arose.

New swimming arrangements were introduced and swimmers often commuted between their old club and the LAC Beacon schemes.

Luckily most local clubs are very sympathetic to swimmers and often allow seemless transitions between clubs, so that swimmers do not lose out on training times. Rules were changed that swimmers could be members in more than one club and have dual registrations, which is all very helpful.

From next week Madison will become a member at Hackney Aquatics. We already preparing for the week after this Sunday’s meet to train fully with the new club.

Swim England have this brilliant online system whereby swimmers best times get recorded on the data regardless of which club they swim for and that is very good. These days people move more often because of job or housing needs and also because the swimming club scene can change and have an impact on training needs too.

More award schemes

Madison came home with a letter stating that she has to take part, COMPULSORY, in a Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.

For a performance swimmer life centres around the pool and there is little time to do something else.

Of course 8 hours per day are already dedicated to school work, Madison managed to participate in Girl Guides also and takes piano lessons; but now to be told, she HAS TO take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award scheme, just about takes my senses to new heights.

I am just thinking, children are to take part in volunteering for the space of six months, must go on camping trips and meet weekly after school to plan those trips; that is on top of any GCSE course meetings of course.

I think this Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme is a brilliant activity for people who are not already otherwise engaged in focused sports but for people like Madison who trains daily, it is not suitable. I am negotiating with the school about this.

 

All sorted

changing club can sometimes be quite work intensive. The already planned competitions, the training schedules, the new club, the different competitions schedules there and all the coaches want the swimmers to do their best.

I must say Swim England or British Swimming is the best organisation I have ever had the pleasure to deal with. the vast majority of officials, coaches and swimmers are very friendly, polite, helpful and keen to get on and make things easy. There is even a friend service to help.

Swimming is a tough sport, training is very intense but Madison says she wants to work hard and toughen up. British swimming is always on the side of the hard-working swimmers who want to swim.

A lot of previous LACPP swimmers had to find other clubs. Whilst Madison was a junior performer, she still found that the LACPP was not a club as such and neither is the replacement LAC ACS. LAC ACS is now associated with Newham and that is well out of our geographical reach. LAC ACS offered to take over all previous LACPP swimmers but those who were national material went to other clubs.

Another swimmer not yet associated is the National, possible podium funded Jarvis Parkinson who is the only swimmer on the 2018 funding list without a club, Jarvis swam and trained with LACPP until the program had the plug pulled and swimmers dispersed in all directions. Jarvis is the proof that the LACPP delivered excellent results for swimmers. I just read that Jarvis joins the National Centre in Loughborough.

It shows that being part of a program has slight difficulties associated with getting into the club environment again. One has to live local to the club.

But all is well that ends well for Madison and she will compete in her last competition for Newham on Sunday 1st October at the LAC, early County qualifier and then storm into the Hackney training and competition environment; taking part in the ARENA league and a Middlesex development meet.

Hackney Aquatics, HAC for short, has a list of national classed swimmers who are up and coming.

swimming with Hackney

We are very happy to announce, that Madison is now officially a member at Hackney Aquatics Club HAC. I am not stating that Hackney is the best club because all swimming clubs are good clubs but to give you an idea, the sheer happiness factor of the Hackney Swimming club can be seen on this picture from Going Swimmingly.

Currently Madison has dual membership with LAC ACS, Newham and Hackney. It is all possible and you can have as many clubs as you like as long as they’ll have you.

Madison is especially happy to join HAC because many of her “old”* swimming mates are there now and as they know each other, there is no need to get over this first hurdle of getting to know somebody as the ice is already melted. HAC seems to be a magnet for local swimmers who show longevity in swimming.

Madison tried many new things lately, the new LACPP, now the LAC ACS and Newham & UEL but the good old friends are always easiest to have around.

But in my mind also, I think that Hackney Aquatics have the BEST training schedule of any club I’ve seen.

* I don’t think any are older than 15.

onward forward

I have already had to quit the LAC ACS scheme because their training schedule has been altered in such a way, from what was originally agreed, that it is no longer suitable for Madison’s needs.

It is up to each club to produce a training package, that they can manage and afford and think it is most effective, but all training packages have time-restraints and travel needs. So unfortunately LAC ACS is no longer suitable for us.

I shall miss those wonderful shopping opportunities nearby, e.g. popping into Waitrose or John Lewis whilst Madison is swimming. Also it is very sad to say good-bye to a very well cleaned pool environment.

I believe we have found a club, which is not only the most improved but also has, in my opinion, the best training package in the area.

Luckily here in London we have quite a few clubs to choose from but for me it is always important

  • what the training times are
  • how easy I can travel there
  • what training package there is
  • COST.

I think that the LAC training is quite expensive for the actual training offered, I am very sorry to say that.

But because we have already signed up for competitions, we’ll need to wait a while before we can formally join another club and compete in their name.

I have found that once a swimmer becomes a swimming teenager, it becomes increasingly difficult to find quality training and a club that suits with timing especially.

Competitions schedules

Of course once you are in a competitive club, you sign up for competitions. Competitions are often signed up in advance of 3 months. Once you have signed up for a competition, you do so as a member of a particular club. Then you are prescribed to that club. The club knows you rely on them and you have to adhere to the club’s conditions, even if they change.

Some top swimmers, argue to become professional swimmers and participate as individual rather than for a club. For a young swimmer that is not so easy, younger swimmers like to feel part of a club or a crowd, that makes them more confident and gives more motivation.

To change club, requires long advance planning. You cannot get your money back for competitions entered if you decide you do not longer want to compete with the club you have entered with.

We are now in that position.

It is best to be with a club that has established, predictable routines. Unfortunately for us, with this new LAC ACS set-up, we have very many unknown factors to cope with.

Yes it is in a fancy and nice location like the LAC but it is very expensive and things constantly change and nothing seems to be certain.

I sometimes look at the scruffy stairs of York Hall when I go past there and then think of the shining new facilities at the LAC and wonder whether it is worth having all this shining new club if there are so many pitfalls in taking part or whether it is not better to stick with an established club that runs from less fanciful facilities but is stable.

Just to reiterate

I do not want to be negative, I know everybody probably does their best. Previously we were advised not to join a club that isn’t part of the Advanced Coaching Scheme, I followed that advice but since I followed it and signed up for the club with the Advanced Coaching¬†Scheme, I have suddenly been presented with unforseen changes in the training schedule that were not agreed prior to signing up.

Previously we were supposed to get training at the LAC exclusively, if we sign up to become members at the newly created LAC ACS. We had to sign up by 15. September; as soon as I had signed up and entered competitions, up to November 2017, I was given a new training schedule that requires me to be at East Ham Leisure Centre at 5:30 AM. I reside in Bethnal Green and whilst I find it easy to be at the LAC for 6 AM, as it usually started with LACPP and LAC ACS training, the new host club Newham UEL suddenly changes the routine against all agreements that were formed previously with Swim England.

Additionally the cost of being a member in LAC ACS has sharply risen and it is not even quite clear now, whether the Beacon Program is included in the price as it was last year.

In fact the whole Beacon program has so far not been agreed with the host boroughs.

I am not blaming anybody, I suppose it is very difficult to set up a club from scratch and cost this, but I know what I need, I need a regular routine for my swimmer, my swimmer needs to be able to attend school, learn and form relationships and that is only possible with a predictable regular routine. That is what the Advanced Coaching Scheme cannot offer us at present.

I am now looking to join an already established well running local club, even if they are not members in the Advanced Coaching Scheme because we need peace of mind, we need affordable club swimming and we need a good routine that we can rely on.

I have contacted the parties involved in this and await responses. It is the weekend and hopefully something will have changed for the Better by next week.

unpredicted changes

Now that tuition fees at university are so high, becoming a swimmer seems a good career move, but just as I get friendly with the thought the government might cap tuition fees for students to a set cost of £7,500 per year.

Whatever happens with university fees, swimming fees are also quite expensive and need to be well-managed to be affordable.

Young people need a certain amount of consistency to be successful in whatever they do because too many changes cause unnecessary disruptions.

When I read those wonderful blogs like Swim Vortex, everything seems to easy, people swim, train and win medals. But when you are in the mix, you actually need to work hard to stay ahead of the game and succeed in sport and life challenges.

Already problems have emerged with the new LAC ACS setup and we might need to change club again.

I am not apportioning blame because pressures are on everybody these days and I am certain all do their utmost best. But young people do need regular and reliable routines to get on in education and in sport; that is really what we are looking for.

Swimming also needs to be affordable and manageable from the aspect of finance, travel, time and effort involved. We are currently looking for a new club.

I think those swimmers who swim in the well-established smooth running clubs do best in the long-run. The LAC ACS, formerly LACPP is a relatively new setup and it is quite hard to cope with the continuing changes.

It is much harder to form friendships, to organise home-work and it is actually getting really expensive as well when routines constantly change.