British qualifying window shorter in 2020

We are now  in 2018 and British Swimming just announced that the Qualifying window for 2020 will be shorter to help lessen the cross-over with school examination periods. Great to know that as many parents plan their children’s lives well ahead of their GCSE periods.

2020 qualifying window is going to be:

Friday 13th March – Sunday 10th May 2020 inclusive.

In Madison’s case we need to think further ahead as the fitness situation is probably not going to get her fit by the 2019 Summer champs where the qualifying window will be

Friday 22nd March – Sunday 27th May 2019 inclusive.

The difference amounts to 59 days in 2020 – 67 days in 2019 = 8 days less to qualify. Of course the qualifying period also starts earlier in 2020.

 

GCSE options

Performance swimmers cannot tone down their training to suit the GCSE learning and exam schedule. Performance athletes needs to tailor their GCSE choices around their training requirements.

Apparently age 14 is the time when most girls drop out of performance swimming. That is the time when we have to make up our mind whether to continue in performance swimming or not.

We need to study core subjects like Science, Maths and English and others like religious education in church schools.

Madison has been chosen for triple Science, is top grade in Maths and English but also wants to continue with performance swimming.

The swimming training involves at least 8 sessions per week, each one 2 hours swimming and half hour land. Two days per week there is twice a day training starting at 6AM till school and then continues after school.

On top of the core subjects or GCSE we need to choose 3 other subjects and there we consider how much time and effort each subject takes and whether we can weave in some learning with the sport.

It is best to choose subjects where the grades are high and learning comes easy, so that the whole experience seems effortless and easy.

We participated in high-end performance training since almost 2 years now and this experience comes in very useful as we are already used to calculating our time very efficiently and learned to make use of every minute of the day without sacrificing our sleep.

Aimee Willmott has been a great role model for Madison, Aimee studied sport whilst at University and being a performance swimmer and proves that combining education and performance swimming is possible.

Everything happens just about now

Tomorrow is the start of the MCASA age group competitions and the week after that the Youth get their chance to shine at the LAC.

Of course everyone is thinking of the forthcoming Regional qualifier meets as well, just as – for pupils in year 9 – the time comes to discuss choices of GCSE subjects.

Not all schools do this at the same time but Madison’s school does it in early February.

Parents evenings are also on the horizon and all that in the most exciting training period, when everyone wants to train hard and learn how to #swimfast and #swimskilfull.

Lets just not get nervous and take it one step at a time, keep calm and keep swimming. It is just a matter of keeping the diary in order and do all homework immediately when it arises. Don’t let things pile up. Make every minute of the day a useful one.

Competitions help to calm nerves towards school exam periods and calm nerves are essential to learn for exams.

Listen to your coach, who has plenty of experience and knows how to bring the best out of swimmers. So everything is going to be just fine.

Try not to lose sleep over catching up on apps and social networks late at night. Most important is a regular and healthy diet and regular and uninterrupted sleep. Turn the mobile off whilst resting.

Talk to non-swimming friends and make them understand that you just cannot chat at all hours and need your own sporting routine, all good friends will understand. All swimmers will definitely sympathise.

Timing is everything

Of course in competition all that counts is time, for performance competitors in swimming that is. Since I have been lamenting since the last two posts of mine that it is not straightforward to determine swimmers’ performance potential by age, I have read this article about Ruta Meilutyte, that she had already broken 11 Lithuanian women’s’ records when she was only 15 years of age. At the age of 17 she became the first and the only swimmer in history to win all available junior and senior international swimming championships at least once. Now swims for a new elite program in the USA.

If a swimmer becomes successful so early, it is much easier to stick to the sport and continue the time-consuming training rather than if success comes later.

In Britain the exam schedules and legal requirements for pupils to attend school until age 18 often leaves parents little choice but to remove their children from swimming clubs to attend school and spend extra time studying.

But I think that it is important for youngsters who enjoy swimming a lot to allow them to continue in the sport, even if in a reduced capacity. Swimming can be important for people’s general happiness and how their brains function, especially when the love of swimming is in the DNA.

For just about any sport, training during the teenage years is the foundation for early adult sporting success but unfortunately our education system leaves pupils little choice but to surrender sport in favour of education.

I think our education should be more flexible and allow sporting activists to delay taking GCSE or A-levels at a later date.

Because those who develop slower into the sport and are not likely to continue in the face of educational pressures can develop within their own pace. Funders also tend to fund more willingly if sporting success comes early and if funding is given, then it is easier to stick to the sport but this continuation can only come in conjunction with remaining in education till the age of at least 18.

Swimmers are encouraged to attend universities with swimming clubs attached but that also requires early taking of GCSE and A-levels.

I think people should have more freedom to get educated at their own pace and be allowed to take exams later in life without losing entitlement to free education.

Why not give people education vouchers that they can exchange whenever they want. Of course a basic education is extremely important for youngsters, so that they can make informed decisions for themselves but anything further should be left for people to take at their own pace.

 

 

 

Nothing is easy

Nowadays I often define myself by well-known song-titles as they define emotional milestones in my life. Jethro Tull had been one of my all-time favourite bands.

This song has probably one of the cleanest lyrics of the time, so it’s save to show it here.

Things constantly change in the life of a young swimmer; with the publication of Madison’s latest end-of-year results I definitely want to concentrate more on school work next year, the year when pupils enter their GCSE paths.

But it is not just so easy as to say, well my swimmer is not too good in school so we concentrate on swimming. I think it’s best to try out a lot of different sports to find a ‘suits us best’ style. Swimming always assisted Madison’s learning rather than hindering it.

I am constantly pondering over how much time we spend travelling, how much time we have for homework and other hobbies. How happy my swimmer is in the club they are in and how much money it all costs me.

It is much harder than I thought it possible to come to conclusions because Madison is smart and good at a lot of things, it is really hard concentrate on one sport. Because even in swimming things never stay the same. Favourite strokes also change constantly.

If I look at those swimmers currently at the top, I always wonder how they made their decisions to concentrate on their swimming careers. Perhaps I start reading biographies of swimmers next.

I am going to want to watch some life streams of competitions online to get some inspiration.

British Summer champs start in 3 days.

FINA world championships in Budapest are in full swing.

Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas, 1 more day to go.