grateful for what?

I am quite upset that some voices asking for remuneration for swimming are getting louder. I have also heard people complaining of getting exploited for being officials.

Lets just start at the beginning.

First of all we are not in China, in China, children get selected by the state and get forced into some sports in state sponsored schools. For them sports become a professional path, which is pre-determined by the state and the state benefits from the athlete. I do not know how they get rewarded in China.

Here in the UK, we do have a different system and I really do not want that Chinese system, even though some very prominent swimmers now want to force a professionalisation of the sport of swimming. But to make children into professionals they would have to start very young and be forced into the sport whether they want it or not.

Now I thank our democracy that we do have a choice.

Why do people swim? Mostly people start as children because parents decide it would be a good hobby for the child/ren.

Kids love the sport and go to training, get better and faster. It suits the family, the kids are happy, they are off the street and engaged in a healthy sport.

Now, contrary to China, here in the UK, we have to finance our sport ourselves. Yes, a whole industry has developed around it but that is in reaction to demand, because swimmers need equipment, they need pools, they need coaches.

Most of the finance for the sport comes from parents who pay

  • monthly squad membership, ‘
  • yearly club membership
  • equipment like costumes and training aids
  • competition costs
  • travel costs

Parents want the kids to swim and the kids want to swim and the finance of it all is borne by the parents. Parents even become officials so all swimmers have the chance to swim within the same rules and get a level playing field.

Now those who ask to get paid, I want them to ask themselves, why they are in the sport and if they are in the right sport.

Especially those who already get lots of sponsorship (the swimmers) should just shut up and swim or leave the sport, if they don’t like it and choose one that pays a lot, like boxing or tennis for example.

There are only very few swimmers who do not want to do anything else but swim. For those who have both feet on the ground and whose brain still functions (despite all the swimming), they do know that swimming will always only be a secondary activity besides having a day-job.

But some who never even had a day-job and only ever swam, they probably find it hard to accept reality.

I am really fed up with swimmers and officials alike who think the world owes them a special thanks; we are all in it because we like it and that is how we want to spend our time, if we wouldn’t like it we would be doing something else. Officials make their own choices, go to meets, where they want to help and go there as individuals with a license from British Swimming. Officials do not need to be chaperoned all the time, like they probably do it in countries where people generally have less choices.

No official is ever forced to officiate, they can all walk out and bring a competition to a halt, if they prefer. But most do it first because their own children swim and secondly some keep on doing it after their kids stopped because they like the sport.

People who are chosen to represent their country do get funding to cover living expenses and officials also get costs paid for helping but that is just fair.

For swimmers who literally just spend the whole day in the pool or the gym perhaps British Swimming could put those, at least once a week, into some kind of work placement or give them counselling on ‘life after swimming’ so that the swimmers do not suffer from delusions or mental problems.

Swimming stuck in the 70s?

Just read another controversy loaded article on the BBC website, this time about swimmers wanting to earn more money from the sport. Adam Peaty, no doubt one of the best swimmers in the world, wants to cash in and do more competitions, which he undoubtedly can win.

Adam Peaty is one of the flagship swimmers for the UK and admired by very many including Madison, who went to his head coaches swimming camps twice.

Now one of the most important principles that young swimmers learn is not to compare against other swimmers, because individual development is very different.

Comparison in itself can be treacherous. Adam for example compares the status of swimming today with the 70s. That is really not far back, looking in that we still all enjoy religion which was founded over 2000 years ago and nobody is complaining, with the exception of Albert Einstein of course and a few other, rare scientists.

There are very few exceptional swimmers in the world who can make swimming a job, Adam Peaty, Katinka Hosszu, Cate Campbell, to name a few but there are quite a number of swimmers who seem to be able to swim forever and get younger doing it. Yet even Michael Phelps suffered from the constant demands on performance swimmers.

It takes a certain type of person to be able to swim that much.

Now Adam also compares swimming with triathlon, which I don’t think works very well.

Swimming in itself is much more monotone in both body workout and movements, whilst triathlon has much more different activities involved, like cycling and running, both out of the water and exercising different parts of the body in other ways than in the pool.

I think it is dangerous for young people to put the career of swimming as an option because the extreme amount of swimming a swimmer needs to make it in the sport is not suitable for all.

Just to show how it affected Madison who now suffers from OS Acromiale. Swimming itself is beneficial in moderation but performance swimming can have adverse effects on the young person and not everybody is built to withstand those pressures. Though there are medical interventions possible.

Performance swimming can however complement school performance for some pupils.

Also that amount of training required to make it later on in life as professional swimmer, can seriously affect education requirements laid down by the law and being an important stepping stone for young people.

Performance swimmers now are encouraged to train twice a day, starting at 5:30AM then going to school all day and then swim again in the evening with another gym session thrown in.

Adam said he didn’t like school but that should not be seen as a good example to others who may be good in school and can mix long training hours with good academic results. Everybody is different and I think the option of making swimming a spectator sport should be taken with caution.

What makes other sports so successful for money-making is that spectators like to watch them and they are out of the water. Two tennis players are modern gladiators who can delight a large crowd through their visible body action for hours on a court.

Swimming will never be like that, as swimmers are in the water and cannot be seen so good. One has to be realistic here. Swimming is and will also be a fringe sport for connoisseurs.

I think swimmers are getting a raw deal because the amount of training one has to do to get to the top is extreme. It is literally impossible to follow any other career seriously. Yet top swimmers often earn from their sport by either getting sponsorship or by developing sporting brands, getting TV presenting opportunities or use their good name to get a lot of good will in all sorts of industries.

A lot of ex swimmers become swimming coaches, earning an excellent salary and/or also run swim camps.

I think swimmers just have to appreciate that they need to turn their attention to other things in life rather than being a professional swimmer forever and plan ahead for their futures when for the rest of their lives, they will not be able to be performance athletes forever.

I personally support young people becoming swimmers but would not want to add the pressure of this sport becoming a professional spectacle like tennis as the nature of the sport is different.

Adam Peaty probably should take the advice given by Albert Einstein when he said: “A calm and humble life will bring more happiness than the pursuit of success and the constant restlessness that comes with it.”

Of  course performance swimming is anything but calm but there is a different between swimming for personal satisfaction and feeling good doing it and swimming for glory and earning money.

I think this is a sad example of a brilliant swimmer who starts to fight the sport’s governing body rather than go with it. I think British Swimming has a duty of care to tis swimmers to help them find a good path in life away from performance swimming and not let swimmers become totally disgruntled.

Madison only ever swam to complement her schooling, which she loves, if however somebody swims because they hate school and miss out on educational opportunities then that opens to way to a lot of problems.

A calm and humble life…..

Just read about Albert Einstein and some clever letters he wrote. I am very taken by his view on life, to be calm and humble rather than living the hectic in the pursuit of success.

Madison is not pursuing any fame, Madison just likes to swim and it becomes rather clear that the injection didn’t work.

The pain is still there.

All Madison wants to do is enjoy her swims and that is just not possible right now. So further hospital visits will become necessary.

For some people swimming is extremely important, a way of life and necessary to keep calm and collected and the ability to enjoy life better.

The new hope

It’s now been over a week since that steroid injection and so far nothing has returned to normal.

Madison’s pains have gradually disappeared through the week but the swimming is not yet what it used to be.

The steroids injected merely acted as anti-inflammatory agent, they are not like anabolic steroids some athletes use.

When the shoulder bones do not fuse, then the friction causes inflammation of the area. The steroids merely counteract on that inflammation.

So far the pain has gotten better but no more than 15 minutes of breaststroke can be swum.

It is remarkable that still no freestyle or backstroke can be done. Well, that means back to the drawing board and to see what the doctors can come up with. But till then there is still time to try. I reckon the diagnosis of OS Acromiale remains the same.

Normally it takes about a week for the injection to take effect. It has been only 7 days since. Let’s wait and see.





























The perils of volunteer run organisations

All swimming clubs rely on volunteers and the longer I am involved the more hair-raising incidences I come across that question my sanity.

Obviously for all of us the day-job comes first, we do need to earn a wage, to even be able to pay the swimming clubs for the membership.

Yet there are a lot of jobs in swimming clubs that are done purely by volunteers. There is someone who runs the website, someone who organises galas, the competition entries, the results processing, the officials and so on.

Quite often I see that swimming club info on the website is out of date and even clashes with e-mail information sent out. Even though many of us see websites as a blessing, if you can’t up-date yours it can be adding to the confusion.

What can one believe?

I think the most important thing to go by is the

  1. date of the event
  2. start time of the races
  3. start time of warm ups

As long as we know the date and that the event is happening we can always arrive on the day and get our swimmers into the pool. Our coaches will normally be there but in instances were they aren’t swimmers can still take part in the event and a parent will have to step in organising as good as possible.

We had been to plenty of events where no coach came, especially with our previous swimming club.

If you think about it, if somebody has the job of publishing on a club website and then things start happening, like computer breakdown, illness, just to name those, then obviously the websites cannot be up-dated.

keeping calm and getting our swimmers to the venue is obviously the most important issue, everything else will fall into place on the day.

The officials will always arrive early and have their equipment on them, so that the event can go ahead, as long as the organisers have booked the pool and have their technical equipment in place.

One cannot compare running swimming clubs with major blue chip companies. When a large website breaks down it makes front line news on all major publishers but swimming clubs are voluntarily run and can only do the best they can.