Enjoying athlete services

It’s the first time I helped around the pool in preparation of a competition and it’s an eye opener how much work and effort goes into hosting an international event.

lac-duskI arrived on Thursday evening for my induction.

For many, helping at the Aquatic Centre was a first time experience, but since I am there at least twice a week and we used to train there almost daily, I felt relaxed about the vicinity. Some people were amazed to learn that I am not officiating but I do not have the para swimming specific qualification yet.

para-prepThe place looked like a building site. But it must be emphasized how genius the preparations for the event are. Many Better members were quite annoyed for the pool being closed for so long and I can confirm that my local pool is over-filled with swimmers who are normally at the LAC. You can see the 50 and 150 m start end and medal presentation area being prepared.


para-prep-2Our team leader Nicole held an inducation talk on the spectator seats.

All prep and competition volunteers at and listened and were amazed by the atmosphere.

The Para World Championships will be an extraordinary event.


para-kitYesterday was my first shift, I got the kit. This is me after the shift. I supplied various athlete preparation areas with bottled water, which is really necessary. I carried numerous packs of 12 bottles around the vicinity. Great, exercise that definitely has superb fitness potential.

I cleaned up around the pool and helped athletes who were new to the pool find their way around. I saw athletes from Russia, Sweden Myammar, Spain, Japan, China, Great Britain, just to name a few.

It is extremely useful, for me as official also to experience the preparation of an event. Just having the knowledge of the official and sporting side of things helped immensely to be able to comprehend situation.

madison-coachesWhilst we are a sporting family Madison is off to the London Region Aquatic conference today, held in Hammersmith.

Madison just loves swimming and helping her fellow swimmers excel in the sport.

She’ll take part in workshops and talks held by fantastic coaches from the sport of swimming.


Towards the new season

Whilst we get ready for the GCSE year, the new swimming season also coincides starting in September.

Madison is awaiting a Physio appointment just prior to going back to school and then later in September with the consultant.

I am now inclined to ask to have the screws removed from her shoulder because it is very debilitating. We can’t plan anything, we can’t plan a holiday for next year or feel comfortable to do outings because of the unpredicable reaction to the treatment.

Normal activities are fine but anything special may lead to cramps around the body.

Obviously if all the muscles in the body are capable of working normally and were training at full potential very intensely for a long time and then suddenly lay dormant then the body reacts to this.

Just exercising part of the body will also affect the shoulder. I will express myself totally in lay-person’s terms and it seems that if a joint in the body is unable to be used due to the bones in that area not working normally then that can cause a real problem. Especially if the muscles are capable of working fully.

Whilst with a broken leg for example it is feasable to train just using arms for about 3 months at a time but Madison’s condition has been going on like this now since over a year. Those screws in the shoulder do not have any good effect and it is time to re-consider. Madison cannot compete as healthy and cannot be considered as Para because nothing is certain at the moment.

I am going to be helping with the World Para Swimming Championships at the London Aquatics Centre in September, which has competitiors who are fully assessed as Para swimmers. I do have a lot of admiration for any athlete who competes to their best ability.

I hope to see you there.

Tricks of the mind

Whilst Madison is still not able to swim with both arms, her training has collapsed but Madison feels she can get back into performance swimming pretty quickly, once the shoulder is fixed. Madison thinks that her youth will help her to get back to top performance quickly.

I wait for it and see what happens. As we’ll have to wait till September now because the shoulder has still not healed and doctors may need to try something else.

In the meantime, I get up extra early in the morning to improve my own fitness and swimming. Since the Aquatics Centre hosts Ultra Aquasplash daily, the competition pool closes at 9am. Because I prefer the 50m pool, I make sure I get there in time to do my daily 1000m.

And hurray, today I managed to improve my best time by 5 minutes. Yet I felt like a rock in the water but the clock never lies.

Swim England National Summer Meet 2019I think those 2 weeks officiating at nationals have magically improved my fitness. Lets continue that and I will be helping at the World Para Swimming Allianz Championships 2019 at the Aquatics Centre.

The Aquatics Centre has become my favourite place for swimming and officiating. But the team work and discipline at the nationals is so far the best experience ever.

Coaching unlocks potential

Passing on knowledge, passing on the feeling for the sport. Sir John Whitmore is a British racing driver, not a swimmer but the knowledge is the same for all the sports. Sir John thinks it is more imporant to set actionable goals rather than just to give advice.

Madison, the second swimmer visible on the left

Madison knows very well which goals can be managed and how swimmers feel at various stages of their career and is very popular with the younger swimmers. It is important that swimmers like their coach.

MedalsWhen Madison was still competing she was a trendsetter in the local clubs and won many medals at local meets.

As the more senior swimmers train with Rick, who is of course the bee’s knees of coaching, there are now some goals becoming apparent as the club in a first of its short history has achieved 3 relay and medley relay races entries.

Considering that not all members of the relay teams have achieved single entries for the British Summer champs 2019, it is quite remarkable that this young club – Hackney Aquatics – has now achieved entries into the British nationals for the first time in all three male team events.

Since Madison cannot train or compete at the moment it is very important that she can pass on her knowledge to younger swimmers and help them set goals as she has been through the stages of development.

The atmosphere in East London clubs is changing for the better and we give each other strength and encouragement.

Madison is now waiting for another appointment to see whether her shoulder gets better as the screws that were inserted do not seem to do the trick.

This is my best smile, I am very happy to help at the Glasgow Summer Champs. This event is superbly organised and the discipline is exemplary. A real pleasure.

But I might as well help with officiating of the British and English champs this year so we keep the good swimming competition feeling in the centre of our hearts.


Watching #BSC19

Just started watching the British Swimming Champs, I am really pleased to hear the names of some London swimmers whose parents I often work along with at local meets. It’s brilliant when the swimmers of those parents then compete at the nationals.

It’s also very inspiring when I see local officials at the nationals.

I’m also able to pick up some good tips how the officials behave at the meet as I am signed up to help at two national meets this July/August.

Just as our family has another member entering performance swimming, Madison’s younger cousin, whom she trains privately to get ready to enter performance swimming later this year.

It is very inspiring to see the nationals with its brilliant organisation.



starterThe motivation to do well, in fact do better than previously is what drives us all on. I really enjoy my starter’s course and it is fascinating to help swimmer to get a good start. Starts and turns make or break a swim as anything in between is just a gap filler.

Finding that extra bit of momentum to get the first 15 metres is more than important. If you think that a 50 metre pool allows you to spend 30 metres of it on starts and/or turns*, if you swim over 100 metres, then – ver a 50 metre sprint race – you swim over water a mere 35 metres of the journey, which is just a bit more than half of the pool. With an efficient tumble turn in backstroke, you can further reduce swimming distance by another 2 metres.

In a 25-metre pool, a good start leaves 10 metres to swim, taking away another 2 metres or a good tumble turn.

Getting up on the starting block, on the referees long whistle and posing on the ‘take your marks’ prompt, drives all the energy into that jump that every swimmer eagerly awaits.

The new national British Championships season starts next week. Watch it live from this web page.

* the 15m rule doesn’t apply to breaststroke, if you have a strong underwater phase you can go further than 15 metres under water.


A very public apology

I wholeheartedly apologise to all parents whom I criticized in the past for not becoming swimming officials.

It sounds stupendous but that is what I literally did. I told people off for not officiating when the pressure of cancelled meets brought me to have a go at parents.

Yet over the years, I had the privilege to speak to many parents who told me their reasons for not being an official. Some are emotional and others are unspecified.

If you compare sports, swimming has the highest requirement of officials, as each lane requires individual attention. Depending on the level, where level one and two are the highest possible, competitions can require a minimum of 22 qualified and licensed officials.

Yet all those officials are volunteers within a framework that is more or less regulated.

Whilst qualifying standards for officials are high and follow strict FINA guide lines the way that training is run depends on the volunteers in local clubs and associations.

It is extremely time-consuming but a mere by-product of having a swimmer in the club.

Yet when being an official one has to deal with other officials and those who teach us and those who are in charge of clubs and associations.

I think it must be up to each individual how comfortable they are in helping how they decide their activities within clubs or the sport as a whole.

Often clubs vary tremendously because of their location, demographic make-up and personal motivations. It all depends how well one gets on, how good one feels about doing the job and how fair we think it all is.

If competitions have to be cancelled for lack of officials then it is up to the sport’s governing bodies to find out why there is such a lack. It starts within the clubs and goes right through to local county associations, Swim England, Scotland, Wales and British Swimming.

There is little regulation apart from the yearly handbook and FINA rules. Many clubs have variations in their club constitutions and rules are hardly enforced *. There is no quality control compatible to Ofsted for schools.

So it is literally up to the people who make up the clubs, how they perceive what is good to do.

Officiating is always completely voluntary. There is no reward other than knowing that one has contributed to a positive environment with positive contributions.

Whatever happens in between is a matter for the people who are involved and that is all confidential and it depends how well people can work out their log jams how good the sport can progress.

* Of course the swimming rules are enforced if an official can spot an infraction and the referee accepts it. But rules how clubs are run or associations of officials are run are in my view quite fragmented.