On the paper trail

Whilst waiting for the first train, to get to Stoke Newington for AM training at 6:45, we start to see some light in the sky night. It is a clear and crisp morning, just good to wake us up enough to want to get to our destination, the Clissold Pool.

Whilst I joined the BBC weatherwatch, I am tempted to take more weather photos to capture the moment of the day. I realise phone cameras don’t seem to be good enough to get a brilliant picture.

Church Street in Stoke Newington at 6:25 AM

Apparently today, Hackney Aquatics has an article in the Hackney Gazette. I know the e-edition is not online until the next day, after publication and so I trotted down Church Street, on the way to Stoke Newington Station to get a paper copy.

But there was not one shop open that sold papers at that time in the morning e.g. 6:15-6:30 AM. It is the same here in Tower Hamlets, paper shops just don’t seem to open early any longer.

Perhaps we are developing into a coffee-house culture, getting up late, going to bed late, which is entirely contrary to the life-style of a performance swimmer.

Whilst we were members at Bethnal Green Sharks we featured in many newspaper articles in the East London Advertiser as that club always submitted articles to the paper. After leaving Sharks to join London Aquatics Performance Program at the LAC, all newspaper reporting ceased because that program didn’t publish in the newspapers.

But now Hackney Aquatics will publish articles about the spoils of competition wins in the Hackney Gazette regularly. I shall make sure of it.

It’s just great to pose for a team-photo after a competition, especially if you won lots of medals. If you didn’t win any, you just think, well next time, I’ll have one as well.

At least I can add more newspaper cuttings to my personal development box in which I keep all the articles published about Madison.



Prospecting the swims

Our scene is changing, we are moving from the level 3 meets into the level 1 meets as our main focus.

This just shows that the Hackney Aquatics training is working, Madison has settled into her new club and is steaming ahead. If you can steam in a pool.

Probably after a 5k training session, some steam starts to emerge.

It is a big learning process. We need to know how the Nationals work and apparently they only accept times achieved in 50m pools. Of course that puts a major focus on taking part in 50m competitions all year round as a main source of competition times.

This learning curve reminds me of the learning we had to go through from the small pool to the big pool program. It is coupled with excitement and a new focus.

Big expectations with unrealistic dreams. You cannot dream anything realistic, a dream is always something that is in the clouds and gets into reach only by trying and trying again.

Summer champs interim rankings

There are several categories and for England Madison has gotten the time but she is not listed.

For 50 back there are swimmers listed with as slow as 34:73 for 50 back.

Madison’s time is 33:16 LC converted from a 32:55 SC. Of course the ranking system only seems to take times from the speed achieved in long-course races, where Madison’s last PB was 35:38. Perhaps British Swimming can adapt the Team Unify system that automatically converts times to suit both disciplines.

In all other events they accept converted times, of course I think Madison will up-date her long-course time achieved in long course in the next competition but I’ll also have to contact the coach about this one.

Size matters

It does make a physical difference how tall a swimmer is.

Taking a 50 m pool and assuming that a 150cm tall swimmer achieves propelling forward by half the body length and assuming that in the 3 strokes of freestyle, backstroke or butterfly a swimmer reaches the water surface after 10 m during the start it takes the 150cm tall swimmer 17.78 strokes to reach the end of the pool.

Assuming that a 180cm tall swimmers swims in a 50m pool and assuming that this taller swimmer comes up at 15m after the starting jump it takes the 180 cm tall swimmer 12.97 strokes to reach the end of the pool.

That is assuming that both swimmers have the same stroke efficiency. Hence we see that in most sprint events at the major international competitions the taller swimmers seem to dominate at the short distances.

Katinka Hosszu

I did not include breaststroke into the calculation because there is no rule that a swimmer has to surface after 15m neither at the start or after a turn, meaning that efficient kicking during the under-water phase can propel a swimmer half-way across the pool.

Yet it is quite interesting that in disciplines like the Individual Medley, we see it time and time again that those swimmers who are most proficient at the breaststroke also win the whole race that consists of a combination of all four strokes.

the ultimate drag race

How many of the swimmers wear drag shorts Finis Ultimate Drag Suitto do 50m sprints in training? It is quite hard in the beginning. You slow yourself down by wearing extra ballast and in a normal 25 or 50 training pool, you can be assured that you get a break after a little while.

But now London Swimming is holding the annual Regional Open Water event and the FINA conditions on open water swimming demand that swimmers wear a Wetsuit that covers the knee and the shoulders if the water temperature falls below 17.9 degrees. I suppose in June, in London, open water temperatures won’t go above that.

Open water events last for around 3km or more. I think it must be harder to swim for 3km with that whole body suit rather than without it. It definitely toughens you up if you take part. Though in pool events it is now against the rule to wear a full body suit but I suppose the material of those would be very thin and paper-like and improve performance.

full-body-suitOlympians used  to wear them for a while; but the open-water suits would not be of that same effect and drag on the body to keep you from catching hypothermia.

Image from Saukvalley.com 

We can see how thin those indoor pool whole-body suits are. Open water wetsuits are at least 3 times as thick. They insulate against the cold but also create more drag through the extra weight the body has to carry.

vitruvian-man-laLeonardo Da Vinci the Vitruvian Man comes to mind when I look at Michael Phelps’ position. Equally perfect in proportion, that is what swimming does for you.

Eyeing up the Nationals

Somehow Madison made a great leap into the Regionals and now wants to get into the Nationals. There is not such a big margin. The Regionals are quite fast and it is just a matter of sheer determination to succeed. Of course by sheer determination, I mean training and more training and even more training.

But that is all so much fun. Enjoy the swims, enjoy the exercise. Think BIG.

British Swimming publishes Nationals performance lists of swimmers who are eligible. This is now the first preliminary version for this season. Up-dated rankings will be available every Wednesday, till the qualifying window closes on 28th. May 2018. This of course gives all those who take part in Regionals to get those qualifying times.

But just to clarify, of course the qualifying times can be obtained in any licensed meet.

For the 50 back for example, a time of 32:70 LC would still enable a listing. That is all within achievable reach now and we’ll surely try.

Once in Performance the Hunger for top competitions just comes automatically. It is very easy to be a performance swimmer because the vast majority of swimmers are very nice people with a lot of determination and very fair at the same time.

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 Training and the Performance

It’s an anagram of the chicken and egg question.

What came first? The chicken or the egg?

What comes first? The performance or the training?

To explain. To get promoted into a higher performance group in a swimming club you need the speed but to get the speed you need the training.

Whilst we get ready for our stint in the Regional Qualifier in Basildon tomorrow, it seems that it is very hard to make that step onto the regional ladder.

It’s achievable fairly easily to get County times by just popping into training about 7 times per week, on some days twice but the regional times are much faster. A few seconds are very hard to achieve.

The athletic ability needs to be much further developed to gain a few seconds on speed.


The little green man

a little green man whispered into my ear that the northern clubs always win because their swimmers spend more time in the water.

Oho, I went onto the Sheffield Swimming Club senior elite squad, normally for swimmers from 16 up-wards, those who swim in national and international competition and he presto, they have 10 swim sessions and 7 land training sessions per week.

Just as well that they normally have to be 16+, as then they would have completed their GCSE levels by then.

Clearly top end competitive swimming is a full-time sport and swimmers get little full-time funding. Yet swimmers constantly have to juggle the need for an education and the need for performance swimming; a tough sport.

The only way to fund is getting full podium funding through British swimming, e.g. be in the Olympic Squad or similar squads, GLL funding and/or swimming and part-time work and A-levels.

There is my argument again, that fully committed athletes who train so much per week should get their free education window extended and be able to do their free A-levels once their Olympic phase is over.

Just as well that Hackney doesn’t have such a squad with such intense training routines. That is the reason why superb full-time swimmers have to move to clubs that provide such training. LACPP provided such an options for London but they have unfortunately been dissolved.

Oh, we’re going to Torremolinos

I forgot to mention in my last post, Yes, we are really going to Swimcamp in Malaga this Easter break with Hackney Aquatics, a camp run by Sports Abroad.

It’s like all birthdays and Christmases have come together here. We are counting down the days till this exciting swim camp.

Flights are booked, and now we are thinking about not much else. What a wonderful sweetener to complement all our competition chores and school exams.