For the future

Session 2 1905041525 – ASA London Region London Regional Summer Championships 2019 2019 on May 04, 2019 at London Aquatics Centre, Olympic Park, London, E20 2ZQ, London. Photo: Ben Davidson,

The shoulder injury is not healing up any time soon. The shoulder operation takes much longer to work the wonders we expected than thought. Yet swimming is an important part of Madison’s life. The best solution, whilst Madison wants to stay with swimming, is to allow Madison to pass on her enormous knowledge to the younger swimmers.

Madison’s style has always been very clean, I think she didn’t get disqualified more than twice in 5 years of competitions. It is more than important that all swimmers learn to swim according to the rules and learn to get fast with all the rules in play.

It can become a drag on a swimmer’s career when you suddenly realise that you had been doing something wrong all these years and it only becomes apparent at a top level meet.

Madison will be coaching next season and train as much as possible for herself.

I’ll be going to Glasgow and Sheffield for both the summer meets. Our club sends a fair amount of swimmers to both the British Swimming champs and the English summer champs, so its only fair that we should send at least one official, which happens to be me.

It will all be visible on the life-streams.


A good workout

Apart from helping our athletes to perform to their best ability, officiating is also a good workout. As a stroke judge on a 50m pool, I clocked 11.000 steps and 6km distance over the duration of 3 1/2 hours.

But its not just a physical workout, it also helps with fairness and equality for all.

Yet as a stroke judge my most difficult task is to judge Butterfly from the side of the pool. It helps though to even work out the brain because one can think about how efficient it is to report possible infractions from various locations around the pool.

butterflyLooking at butterfly swimmers from a 45 degree angle makes it almost impossible to spot subtle differences in arm movement. I had this problem, when working as a time-keeper; I just couln’d understand why a stroke judge would not report an infraction for uneven arm movements when I, as standing at the starting block, could clearly see it, when the swimmer came down the lane.

Obviously I looked at the swimmer straight on, whilst a stroke judge stands on the side with an angle.

So that is something to keep the grey cells moving.

Move towards coaching

So far the shoulder operation had little impact on Madison’s ability to return to performance swimming.

We are currently awaiting further x-ray and doctor’s appointments for more up-dates on the progress.

Madison will step down from the main competition squads as swimmer and become a Junior Masters swimmer instead. That also leaves the option of becoming a swim teacher and or coach in the future.

Madison loves coaching and helps out at the club at least twice per week. That is good for swimmers because Madison knows everything about preparing for and competing at events.

Club swimmers are doing very well. The club has swimmers at both British Summer Nationals in Glasgow and English Summer Nationals in Sheffield this year.

I will be helping out as Judge at both competitions, so we are involved in the competitions.

But, formally to be able to train as coach or teacher, Madison must have reached 16 years of age, until then all helping is purely voluntary. It should make an interesting addition to the GCSE schedule next year to also fit in coaching or swimming teacher training.

But, should Madison’s shoulder recover next season there would be nothing holding her back from getting back into performance swimming.

There is this very good ethos at Hackney Aquatics, who have a club for life ethos, that allows swimmers to switch squads and stay with the sport in whatever capacity.

spending time

following my last post, I cannot help mentioning the thought that crept up in my mind some time ago. It is about how we occupy large swathes of time by stuffing our children’s memory with facts that can easily be looked up.

So kids are forced to sit on desks and benches in classrooms simply learning how to memorise facts that can easily be stored and looked up by using modern technology.

Our education is so completely old-fashioned and out-of-date.

The lack of sport and physical exercise, which would not only increase our children’s mental health but also their physical health is manifested in forcing kids to spend years memorising dates, places, facts.

All data can easily be looked up and re-called using apps and reference literature, Google or other internet searches.

Even Einstein is firmly wedged into my memory for not being one of these people who spend most of their brain’s capacity with stuffing references into it but for not memorising facts that can easily be looked up and so freeing up space for being able to invent new concepts and enrich us with his findings.

When I watch quiz shows on television I think those people with photographic memory have the talent to remember all those dates and facts but for the average human being, it would be more practicable to learn to make good use of references libraries and apps that quickly supply knowledge needed.

Today there is almost an app for every query we may have. You can quickly look up

  • dates of historical events
  • country borders
  • kings and queens
  • names of flowers
  • mathematical equations

to name just a view.

There was a point memorising knowledge when there was no other way of looking it up easily. At the time when only few people could afford or reach books, which used to contain all knowledge, it made sense to make kids memorise every known fact.

But today with the steep increase of events, the constantly changing political and geographical landscape, the time spend memorising and learning facts in classrooms takes away from the time people can have actually keeping physically fit.

I think the lack of progress for humanity hinges on the simple inability to progress and take modern technology into account. Rather than remain old-fashioned gullible humans who will soon use robots to do the work for us, we should free our brain power and learn to be creative.

Much brain health is created by swimming as it increases the blood flow to the brain, which increases intellect and mental capacity.

So perhaps the wasted time our children have to spend learning how to memorise facts that can be looked up anyhow, is what makes it partly a reason for the deep dissatisfaction people get from schooling these days.

I notice that pupils who spend more time with sporting activities appear generally happier and content than those forced to spend all day indoors within the four walls of smaller classrooms.

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.