New Beginnings

Local is Best, as it is near and plentiful. We reside almost next to York Hall and have Mile End Leisure Centre a short bus ride away. But during the last season Madison trained with London Aquatic Performance at the LAC solely. The schedule was very harsh. To show you Madison’s time-table last year:

Monday    :   07:35 – 15:05 school;     17:00 – 19:00 swim*or 19:00-20:30 Guides

Tuesday   :   06:00 – 07:30 swim*, 07:35-15:05 school; 18:30-20:30 swim*

Wednesday: 06:00-07:30 swim*, 07:35-15:05 school; 17:00-18:30 swim*

Thursday :   07:35 – 15:05 school; 17:00-19:00 swim*

Friday     : 08:35 – 15:05 school; 17:15-17:45 piano lessons

Saturday : 08:30 – 11:00 swim* or competition all day

Sunday   : church or competition all day

*  All swimming took place in London Aquatics Centre, all schooling in Shadwell.

This was an extremely tight schedule and because we had to take the few sessions that were available at the LACPP, Madison had hardly any rest during the previous year. It was very hard to fit in homework during the week and eating had to be done during travelling to and from venues, especially from school to swimming and back home. Because the early morning swim was straight after an evening session, that meant straight to bed when arriving home to get ready for an early start.

For a 13-year-old with GCSE exams coming up, this schedule is not manageable over a prolonged period of time. Teenagers need more sleep than older swimmers and that takes away a lot of time from doing stuff in the evenings.

As it is quite apparent to most who visit the swim club websites, the LACPP website has not been updated for quite a while, also the Facebook page is unchanged since a few months. People know about the stoppage of the senior performance program there.

The club is on summer shut-down for the whole of August and the remaining club swimmers were not given any competition schedule for the Autumn. At least Madison was not given any competition schedule.

We had such great improvements during the last year, that I think a whole month without training and then no competitions to prepare for the up-coming County and Regional competitions can’t be good.

So I needed to make a quick decision and approached our former club, the Bethnal Green Sharks for membership. They are local, easy to reach, there is hardly any travel time to get there. That all saves previous minutes to do course work or rest and eat.

Sharks also have competitions planned from September and Madison can slowly lead up her performance improvement to January 2018, when the County competitions start.

LACPP started off as support club for local elite swimmers and I think for Madison it is best to recommence part-time swimming with them in the autumn because of the time-schedule concerns I have to do with schooling.

Sharks train in the evenings almost every day and on Saturday and Sundays, there is a great variety of sessions to choose from whilst at LACPP the sessions available had been pressed into 5 days with 2 sessions on 2 days. There is no land-training and only 20 mins pre-pool available.

Currently we have no idea what the schedule is going to be at LACPP in the autumn and the lack of planning for us is quite difficult to manage. That’s why we chose to return to our local club as main club with the LACPP as support club. Of course the LAC facilities and the quality of training are superb.

Other successful swimmers have the LACPP as support club like Angharad Evans for example who won Gold at the British summer championships in her age-group. Her home club is West Sussex; I state this only to show that a local club is probably a better option for us too. Though at the moment Madison can only dream of the British Championships.

The flowers you see are a charming by-product of walking to the LAC via the scenic walkways; that is one big plus of going there. But the local happiness and umpf of the local club can only be found here.

 

The good people of Britain

​​

Keep calm and carry on
Keep calm and carry on

Just received a reply from the Department for Media, Culture and Sport, showing that my communications where not put before the minister but answered by a member of the Ministerial Support Team, telling me that Sport England invested £400.000,– of Lottery funding between 2015 – 2019 (this works out as £100.000,– per year).

Sport England works with the University of East London to make the program sustainable. This means they can’t spend what they don’t earn.

Running a swimming club is very expensive. A top coach receives around £60.000 per year in wages. The more swim classes, the more coaches you need. Of course learn-to-swim coaches are not quite so dear but the Living wage, goes up and up.

Some clubs, that do not receive any prop-up funding constantly scrape their financial barrels, kids are seen spending the weekends fund-raising.

Clubs which can manage better usually have rich sponsors, either because the Billionaire parents can afford to bolster their club’s spending or because a club is fortunate enough to get charity funding. Many clubs increasingly rely on Jack Petchey support.

Whichever way you look at it, fact is top performance needs top coaching but there are coaches who need to work in day jobs and who coach after work in the evening, sufficiently tired. Nevertheless it must be said that most coaches I ever dealt with where very passionate about their swimmers and always wanted their best.

I think here at LACPP, the future of the top-coaches is very uncertain.

I therefore invite anybody interested in supporting the future of the LAC as a National

Olympic Park
Olympic Park sign near the LAC

Swim Centre, which would attract funding for top coaches to approach Sport England about this. Now is the perfect time to achieve improvement for the LAC as things are getting settled at the moment.

It would be great for all local clubs, here to London to get the LAC as National Swim Centre because our local swimmers could continue to train locally if they make it to the top.

On balance…..

There are several parts of a successful swimming environment:

  1. The team
  2. the coach
  3. the pool

Neither of those three can function to full fruition without the other. There is a fourth part that has not been mentioned and that is the facility environment. I would love to see the London Aquatic Centre being made a British National Centre for Swimming. It is the ideal Competitive environment and simply asks for British Swimming to make it the third British National Centre besides Bath and Loughborough.

I am fighting tooth and nail for this to happen.

Current plans to downgrade the LACPP to a learn-to-swim facility with a Development Squad simply cannot have been properly thought through.

I am currently lobbying the Minister for Sport to get involved and avoid a national scandal around the use of the London Aquatics Centre.

An Olympic Pool is the ideal place to coach an Olympic team or part thereof.

A beautiful pool alone doesn’t make champions, it is the whole buzz around the facility that spurns swimmers on to do better.

One can see quite easily that since training with LACPP Madison has achieved a greater improvement rate than with her previous club. Click on any of her recent Personal Best Times on her records and see how the improvement curve becomes steeper since July 2016, when she first started swimming with LACPP.

Angharad Evans achieved record speeds in the national arena after having trained regularly with the LACPP team and the national coaches there.

The presence of such wonderful swimmers like Aimee Wilmott, Michael Gunning, Jarvis Parkinson and others have a great part to play in the desire to swim faster. If that top set of swimmers is no longer there then the biggest assets of the pool are missing.

There are many great British clubs who regularly participate in British Championships without having a permanent 50m pool to train in, just to mention Chelsea and Westminster and Camden Swiss Cottage, Barnet Copthall to name a few. Hackney Aquatics now has swimmers in the national summer champs. Such teams only train a couple of times per week in a 50 m pool. It is because of their team spirit and presence of long-standing swimming aces, that these clubs achieve so much.

The LAC has the ability to make the pool the greatest national swimming legacy by training national swimmers and Olympic swimmers there. But to ‘only’ use an Olympic pool for learn to swim and development sessions is a travesty.

We’ll consider our options if Swim England and UEL decide to down-grade the club because I think swimmers swim faster if they swim with other fast swimmers; fast championship swimmers in 25m pools are faster than leaner swimmers in 50m pools.

We are still fighting to save the National Senior section of LACPP

I cannot help commenting on this awful situation that has developed around the LACPP’s senior program, that saw many swimmers move to London to take part.

It includes national, international and 1 Olympic athlete. This athlete, Aimee Wilmott, incidentially also is the Commowealth Games Ambassador for England for the next term. Considering that there was a hot article in the Swimming Times about this new hot club LACPP that also is the only club in London that has been awarded Swim 21 ASA competitive swimming environment status, it is hard to belief that those e-mails and messages from UEL to swimmers shall be final.

It beggars belief that a swimmer who needs to take part in the 2020 Olympics, the World Championships in Budapest and the Commonwealth Games in Australia, gets told suddently that their training program will be taken away. SwimSwam has published an article about the situation which is quite bizarre. Apparently senior swimmers did a job to attract younger swimmers to the club and are now no longer needed as the younger swimmers have now joined?

Cost-cutting measures never improve a service, what needs to be done is to make the service more attractive to make it pay.  I do not think that the tactic saying that perhaps in a few years time the senior program will start up again will make swimmers trust into the program again. They would naturally be afraid that it will be taken away again after a short while.

I am sure most club members will not accept this as final. There will be many complaints because also the parents of the lower squad members want the Senior swimmers to stay at the club to give the younger swimmers an aim. A good club has a mixture of younger and older swimmers, they compliment each other and make the club wholsome.

I am hopeful that there will be a reversal of that decision by the UEL and Swim England.

Just to calculate the cost of this proposed UEL scheme in that Senior Squad swimmers should find another club and only come part-time to training sessions at the LACPP. Currently a full-time swimmer at senior section pays £120 per months for 24 1/2 hours training per week. If swimmers need to join another club because LACPP wants to reduce senior swimming sessions to 16 hours per week then the swimmers would have to pay the full club fee for their new club at probably £95 per months and the LACPP fees at probably £100 per month. That would double their costs.

This is more than unreasonable from just this point of view alone.

The calm waters of Fullwell Cross

with bright reflections of the glorious sunshine on the Saturday midday break were the calm before the storm; when swimmers set out to get those last-chance regional qualifying times. See full results LBRSC-17-Last-Chance-Regional-Qualifier-Results.

Despite the heavy cough last weekend Madison smashed her Personal Best times by quite a margin.

  • 20 seconds off the 400 freestyle
  • 2 seconds off the 50 back
  • 5 seconds off the 100 back
  • 3 seconds off the 200 back
  • 4 seconds off the 50 breast

and winning

redbridge-2017-madison

1 Gold (50back), 2 silvers (100 back, 50 fly), 1 bronze (200 back) and some place medals in an excellent field of swimmers. But unfortunately Madison is just a fraction outside of the regional qualifying times but edges nearer and nearer to them each year and in more strokes than one. That sounds promising. I think there will be a breakthrough on the regional times next year.

Just trying to find out at what stage other swimmers reached their regional status, whether they were all early or some later.

One has to measure progress in manageable steps and what is so very pleasing about this spring’s Redbridge result is the fact that

  • Madison won 4 top 3 finishes in an age 12-13 group, when she is not even 13 yet.
  • the 50 back gold won straight after the 400 free, which also produced a record 20 sec. improvement.

The friendships were renewed by swimmers across the club scene with many moments of happiness around the pool.

British squad in Luxembourg

Please follow the events, when the British Squad will swim in a European competition in Luxembourg. British Swimming promoted the event and there are links to follow the results of the competition. LACPP’s Aimee Wilmott will be part of the team and Madison will see a good role-model for her future career in action here.

Aimee won 2 silver 400 free & 200 IM and 2 bronze medals for 800 free & 200 breast.

. Full results list here.

School Swimathon 2017

The ASA and the Swimathon Foundation are encouraging all Primary and Secondary Schools, who bring their pupils swimming within their PE curriculum to register now for the 2017 School Swimathon.

This is extreme fun for school children and has an outright positive effect on all involved.

Madison won her first ever gold medal at a School Swimathon whilst in Primary school and her headmaster even entered the school for the purpose that Madison wanted to win gold for the school, who never won a gold medal at these games previously.

Please schools support your children swimming at this event.

County qualifying times

They vary wildly across Britain. I give some examples:

50 Free Girls age 13

Middlesex = 32:50
Essex         = 35:20
Devon        = 34:35 (includes Plymouth Leander, Mount Kelly)
Derbys      = 37.20 (2016)
Staffs         = 32:00
Kent           = 31:00
Hamps       = 31:20
Berks          = 32:40
Yorks         = 32:80

Middlesex includes parts of West London whilst Essex spreads towards the East. Middlesex includes clubs like Barnet, Westminster & Chelsea from where a few participants in the British nationals sprung.

Out of those areas listed above Plymouth Leander (Devon) and Sheffield (Yorkshire) supply more swimmers at national level than the other counties and yet they have slower county qualifying times in the 50 freestyle for example than the faster Middlesex and Staffordshire.

I have witnessed it myself, if the county times are too fast for at least 2 swimmers per club to qualify, the local clubs loose momentum and turn into leisure swim clubs and don’t become more competitive. Clubs need to be able to connect to the competitive events.

Hence even at the Olympics they now allow the fastest swimmers from developing countries to swim in the heats, even if that time is slow compared to our standards to bridge a connection.

From what I observed, talented swimmers can be very fast aged 9/10 if they start swimming early enough but then when swimmers turn 12 upwards it becomes a matter of regular training and eventual muscle-building, which is only allowed in British gyms from age 13. I think all County Associations should put on times that allow a wide participation even if it means that they struggle to engage enough officials to cover the events.

See the lists of all teams in the 2 divisions here.

ASA tips for support

How to support your child at swimming events is a page I just came across via my Facebook account. Have a look at their tips.  I shall also put a permanent link to this page in my links section.

Keeping clam is the main message. But also please do remember, your child won’t be able to hear you once they are in the pool. It is very loud in a swimming arena and because swimmers’ ears are under the water most of the time, they cannot hear you. They can hear the crowd in general.

In most level 3 age groups, where coaches are allowed pool side and team mates often support club swimmers, they are immersed in poolside support. The only time the child will see the parents is at the start when they line up and glance up into the gallery.

Another good tip is also become an official/volunteer, it keeps you busy and helps your child a lot.

Swimming inspirations coming

Madison just booked into the 2017 Easter swim camp run by Melanie Marshall, the 3-times swimming coach of the year winner and personal coach to Adam Peaty.

During the swim camp week, visits by swimming stars are promised and I really hope that Madison gets the chance to meet with Adam Peaty.

*Picture from British Swimming website