Trying again

cropped-madison-aquathlon-16-1.jpgAfter over a year of no swimming Madison is back in the pool. Not properly of course, so far not able to go to normal training sessions, the taster sessions at the moment will have to suffice.

People can under-estimate the muscle power needed to swim lots of length in a pool. It is not only the stamina but also the strength. Hence you see those performance swimmers having bodies as they do.

Just to be able to swim more than one length can be an achievement for all beginners and starting from scratch can be hard but it is worth it.



Set your goals

Personally I am not a club swimmer. I rekindled my love of swimming purely because of the stimuli I gotten through Madison’s swimming, the officiating and – as I am a rational person – the health benefits of swimming.

I don’t swim all four strokes and mainly do breaststroke with a little bit of backstroke but the latter only if the lane is empty. As I mainly swim in the LAC, I need a lot more experience how to navigate the lanes on my back without having clear lines on the ceiling to navigate on. That is of course because lanes can be busy and it is in the best interest of all swimmers if we keep to our side of the lane.

I swim currently against the clock and doing lane counting. There is no coach to guide me, nor do I use fitness aps or trackers. I simply set myself goals and keep to them. I see how long it takes me to do a certain amount and I keep on doing that until I see an improvement in my time and then I decide whether I swim the same amount of lengths in a faster time or add lengths so that I swim the same amount of time.

The benefits are great, my leg muscles have improved, my shoulders feel stronger and because I swim a lot of breaststroke of course my hands get stronger too. I see my stomach fat melting away.

There are few competitions that allow for my style of swimming to be measured and so I just swim to complement my health regime rather than competitive.

It takes some confidence to do that rather than just join a group of people but that is entirely up to the individual.

I am very rational in my regimes e.g.

  • Eat less sugar
  • drink very little alcohol
  • keep to a sensible diet
  • get enough and regular sleep
  • Socialise┬áby helping in schools or community projects.

The results speak for themselves, I am very healthy and need no medication.

For older persons out there, do not listen to people who try to talk you down, you can improve in older age, just keep on going



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.

Dashed hopes

It appears that this shoulder operation didn’t work. In fact we are glad we didn’t book a holiday this year because at the moment, Madison can’t even stand up without being in pain.

Lee Valley Wildlife Centre

Yesterday we only went for a relaxing walk, so I thought, but then in the evening just standing up was extremely painful for Madison. It is of course the screws in her shoulder are causing pain.

A lake in Walthamstow Wetlands

Of course whilst Madison can’t do the swimming training because she still can’t rotate her arm around we – at least – want to keep the legs moving and doing 10.000 steps per day is a minimum requirement for fitness.

We went to the Lee Valley Wildlife centre and then onto Walthamstow Wetlands. A mere walk, which didn’t involve any strain onto the shoulders but in the evening and still today the shoulder hurts when just standing up.

Screws were inserted into the shoulder to fuse the joint together

Those screws in the shoulder are causing a lot of debilitating pain and we are going to ask the doctors to take those screws out.

The non holiday

Living in an iconic holiday location, namely London, and near the London Aquatics Centre, we do not see much need to go away on holiday this year.

revision-booksMadison’s received a pile of revision books and spends at least 3 hours per day revising for the forthcoming GCSE results.

This year a student needed only to get just 14% of the exam questions right to pass the Maths A-level. But that is something Madison wants to achieve at a better grade. No better place to start than getting a better than good GCSE in Maths.

Today, when our local Raine’s Foundation pupils will be able to collect their A-level results from school, we’ll be there to hand out leaflets and memorabilia. #300moreyears.

Just as we’ve received an invite to join Melanie Marshall for her exclusive Swim Clinic on 29. December 2019 at Repton Pool, we find that due to the screws in Madison’s shoulder, she cannot even rotate her left arm around for training. It is the best Swim Clinic of the season, held by an actual Olympic swimming coach. Melanie is in the process of preparing Adam Peaty for next year’s Olympic games.

IMG-20170415-WA0003The swimming for Madison is in the dog house right now. Because it is not a permanent disability, Madison cannot train as para swimmer but we do not know what will happen next. Our next appointment to see the doctors is in September and the last time Madison went they told her that nothing has healed yet since the operation this spring.

Yet Madison is cheering herself up by wearing the Melanie Marshall hoodie around the house whilst she is revising for ther GCSE exams next year.

It is an exciting time to think that Madison can at least continue her performance based swimming career by helping to coach younger club members as she already teaches her younger cousing to get ready for racing.



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.


On the positive side

The benefits of performance swimming for youngsters are undeniable. Healthy bodies, healthy minds, is a well-known phrase.

Well, of course in Madison’s case, there is the shoulder injury but that is not life-changing or threatens any kind of academic career.

After now 9 years of permanent swimming and often performance training – and many of you can see from the blog, how many times I wrote about those early morning sunrises – the mind has benefitted from the swimming.

Getting into year 11 of schooling, Madison has been accepted into the High Attainment program. This program is for students expected to get grades 7-9 at GCSE. A very interesting package of support is provided by schools for academic achievers. Great to know she will be able to visit a top UK university as part of the support package.

They even go to the Emirates stadium or a workshop day in October, for pupils participating in the STEM program.

I really believe that keeping fit, staying active whilst in Secondary school is the best recipe for success.

We are still waiting for progress after the shoulder operation and Madison still can’t swim strokes at the moment but kicking is possible and coaching certainly is possible. So it’s all good.

Young people have restless minds and keeping the mind active at all times is certainly rewarding.