Well on schedule

Pleased to discover that Madison already has achieved 6 automatic qualifying times for next year’s County Championships.

Even though she does not participate in any national competition this year, the qualifying window for counties gets better each year, indicating an over-all improvement of performance. Meaning Madison qualifies for more difficult target times earlier than before.

In previous years Madison had to struggle to get the County qualifying times in time for registration but this year we are well ahead. The 2018 season has not yet finished and we already qualify for 2019.

 

 

MCASA 2019 qualifying times

the big change this year is that there are no more consideration times. And all times for all ages are in 25m times and they are all on the same page. I upload MCASA 2019 qualifying standard as normally, if I link to the MCASA website the document disappears when the season is over.

Great about this is that 50m times can be converted to 25m times. Though I suspect much of the competition – for the older swimmers – will take place in 50m pools.

Competition dates 26. – 27. January 2019, venue to be announced.

Invincible

I suppose becoming invincible is the ultimate goal of any performance athlete, that nothing can get you down. But it will take years of hard graft to achieve that goal. Careful management of resources is required.

This year’s competition schedule, with the unexpected 3km Open Water thrown in, was simply too much for a young person like Madison. She already trains quite a lot, perhaps above average, compared to her peers, yet unexpected demand on strength just collapsed the shoulder muscles eventually when the 400 IM followed an 800 freestyle, which followed the 3km freestyle.

Just because somebody is young and fit obviously doesn’t mean they are also invincible.

We’ll learn from that for next season. Last season we did more than 1 competition per month. We’ll try a more targeted approach, carefully selecting meets and strokes to slowly develop a repertoire that is sustainable and promising.

Talking of sustainable, we noticed that some former swimming and training partners have dropped out of competitive swimming when goals were reached. That is a bit sad. We want to continue the swimming and make it a lifestyle that can be maintained forever. The drop-outs were  swimmers who specialise really early and the danger is that there is not enough to go along with once a certain goal is reached. Yet I cannot rule out that an injury stopped the sport for those who dropped out.

On the other hand, multi-discipline swimmers like Katinka Hosszu, Aimee Willmott or Michael Phelps are much more able to stick to the sport for more years.

George Corones
Swimming Australia Picture

Swimmers don’t have to reach their peak aged 14, there is plenty of lifetime to come. Swimmers need the self-confidence to develop their swimming styles regardless of constantly winning medals. Of course a swimmer wants to reach the regionals but winning medals is often the prerogative of specialist swimmers who decided quite early what to focus on.

I think too much pressure to reach very fast times too early can push swimmers over the edge and drive them to injury. Yet it is often the swimmers themselves who set themselves goals, which are too high.

Every swimmers who takes part in age-group competitions makes a positive contribution to the sport.

 

 

 

Sharks

Just when I thought performance swimming can lead to injuries and weekends at the beach seemed a good alternative, I read this article that 2 children were bitten by Sharks near New York.

A child was killed by a bouncy castle.

It seems that every activity comes with risks. But looking at it overall, some muscle sprain injuries should be the least of our worries. That is relatively save and if managed correctly will not lead to lasting damage.

No money back, no guarantee

Our planned trip to Chichester literally fell into the water.

Any away competitions make it necessary to

  • pre-book hotels,
  • arrange travel, buy train tickets
  • if official, let organisers down

Previously it happened to us that we had booked a hotel near Barnet Copthall for a whole weekend competition.

The injury came relatively late to my attention and the Hide hotel near Hendon Central would not accept the cancellation and I had to pay for the full hotel cost.

This time I was charged £25 at the time of booking the Cherry End Bed & Breakfast in Chichester but the proprietor Steve is a very nice guy and waived the remainder of the cost to be paid.

In any case away competitions can run into at least £200 with regards to the cost. Travel insurance doesn’t always cover such short-stay expenses in the home-country.

Yet the health of our young athletes always has to come first. Any injury that gets aggravated will get worst. We just take our losses and look at the bright side of things.

We do spend our money anyhow, if we do not spend it on a swimming competitions we would spend it on some other activity. And what is spent is spent.

It is worth looking at the whole competition strategy and decide what is just right and what is just too much.

I shall look to reduce the amount of competitions we enter because it is just very expensive. There is no funding to help with the cost of age-group competitions.

Great results

Most useful to know the actual improvements of a swim in the results pages. Hackney Aquatics gives this superb overview on results in age group competitions and that is more useful than to know one has won a medal.

It is actually better to get a 15 second PB and second place in the 800 free rather than a gold medal with a time that is not a personal best.

Once a performance swimmer as a teenager, there is an aim to get better times most meets.

We did do a lot of meets though and the more meets one participates in the lower becomes the improvement ratio.

If you only compete 3 times per year than the improvement ratio becomes higher and more impressive.

 

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.

 

Pulled muscle

The Summer at Dagenham meet worked well as far as the 800 freestyle went on Friday evening. From then on things just went down-hill. #lastopenmeetoftheseason #swimfast

A muscle pull during the 400 IM put a firm stop to Madison’s racing weekend. the life guard said Madison should have ice packs every 20 minutes but only supplied one ice pack and refused to give more.

I was working as official and could not get away easily. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all that I put Madison into races, she didn’t really enjoy doing. Perhaps swimmers need to be happy with their races to perform well.  Others say swimmers sometimes need to be taken out of their comfort zone.

Perhaps I should discuss this with the coaches about race selection. That is always a subject that can cause friction. Do you do the races that the swimmer likes, the races that the coach wants or the races that the parents want. They are not necessarily the same.

 

No phones please

Today at the swimming meet I saw an official using a phone and texting during the races.

I was shocked. Imagine a football lines man/woman texting on the phone whilst the players are on the other side of the pitch.

All pupils and kids are not allowed to use their phones whilst in school but then come to a swimming meet and see an official texting on their phone during races.

I am frankly appalled, not only that the use of phones seems to be tolerated by referees but also that kids get such stupidly bad examples set by adults.

You are not allowed to text whilst driving, so why should it be OK to text whilst officiating?