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.

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.