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This month’s Swimming Times

Swimming Times is the official magazine of the ASA and British Swimming. Read about the latest issue below. Click on the buttons to reveal the story.

News Round-up

  • Temporary pool specialists Total Swimming have teamed up with Bury Council in Greater Manchester to provide a temporary pool following the closure of Radcliffe Baths last year due to structural damage. The move is aimed at filling the gap for thousands of swimmers until a new pool is built, which will be at least three years. The £945,000 project will be a UK first – the construction of a demountable 25m above-ground pool. The facility, due to open in early June, is sited at Radcliffe Riverside School next to the existing community sports centre, which has a large car park and public transport links. 

  • Londoners are being invited to support a ‘crowd-funding campaign’ to help bring swimming back to the River Thames. In return for pledging money, people will be offered free swims in the first year of the proposed lido as part of a tiered membership scheme. Community interest company Thames Baths are planning to build a floating freshwater pool at Temple Stairs off the Victoria Embankment. Architects and founders Studio Octopi have designed a floating pontoon which will rise and fall with the tide. The two pools will be filled with Thames water, filtered through a bespoke filtration system, making the water crystal clear.

    The plan also includes a large, publicly accessible decked area. Thames Baths launched a fundraising appeal on April 23 with a target of £125,000. 

  • It’s a conclusion that many readers of Swimming Times will already have reached, and now a study has confirmed it: swimmers make the best lovers. The psychological study, conducted by Mindlab for the British Heart Foundation, also found that swimmers are likely to be happier, tidier and more charitable than people from other sporting groups.

    Mindlab, who surveyed 2,000 adults across the UK, say our choice of sport reveals a lot about our personality – including the type of newspaper we are most likely to read and how we might vote in a general election.

To read more of the latest news stories, click here to purchase the June 2015 issue of Swimming Times.  

This Life

Hilary Silverman, the owner of the award-winning Sussex Swim School, explains her teaching philosophy and how it came about to Swimming Times.

Shortly after qualifying as a swimming teacher 15 years ago, Hilary Silverman donned a pair of sunglasses and took to the water in Horsham as she battled more than the elements while trying to impart her knowledge to a group of 18 children.

Excessive light and noise combined with freezing cold water and overhead flumes at the West Sussex pool meant it was memorable – for all the wrong reasons.

Fast-forward and the knowledge drawn from such experiences played a part in Hilary’s thinking as she set up the Sussex Swim School in 2004 which, 10 years later, was runner-up in the ASA Swimtastic Awards.

The 53-year-old recalls: “I remember when I first started teaching I was in the teaching pool in a local leisure centre in Horsham and the water was freezing cold, I had 18 pupils in a class and no lifeguard on duty.

“The pool had been designed with great big windows so there was a massive amount of glare. I could hardly see the pupils because of the glare – I used to have to wear sunglasses while I was teaching. There were flumes right above the teaching pool so you had to scream at the children just to be heard, especially on a Saturday and Sunday.

“I can understand the fun element of it and I think that is really important – all of our lessons are fun and all of our teachers are happy – and it shows. We have a strong bond with all the parents and it works. But to have flumes overhead and freezing cold water, it doesn’t work.”

To find out more about Hilary’s teaching philosophy, click here to purchase a copy of the June 2015 issue of Swimming Times.  

Honesty Box

Nick Robinson-Baker

The two-time Olympian talks about life after 13 years of competitive diving for Great Britain, how his heart was broken by his father and his ultimate indulgence of whisky and cigars.

Nobody knows this, but…There are many things that people will never know about me, as I am a very private person when I want to be. But the one thing I will share is that it is my dream one day to own an orphanage for children that have been abandoned by their parents. I would like to take them in and make sure that they have a great upbringing by a wonderful family. That has never been mentioned before. Every child deserves to be loved and not neglected.

The last time I cried was… last week watching a video of somebody who struggled so much in life yet had the will and desire to compete and win and go through any obstacle to get there. I am an emotional person. I always have a hard face on, as you have to be tough in this day and age, but if something gets the better of me, I will most definitely let it out. Music and memories get me going.

To read more from Nick you can click here to buy the June 2015 issue of Swimming Times. 

Arena League

Plymouth Leander made it seven titles in eight years at the National Arena League cup final – but this time they were given a real run for their money.

Plymouth Leander won their seventh National Arena League cup final in eight years in Cardiff. But in a thrilling gala featuring Olympians and other internationals in abundance, not to mention two world record holders, they were given a real scare by Guildford City. The Surrey club, bidding to become the first to hold the Arena League and Junior Inter-league national titles simultaneously following their inaugural junior win at Corby in November, took the lead after event five and were still ahead after 39 of the 50 races. But the gap was never more than a few points and the second most successful club in the league’s 46-year history was not going to relinquish their title lightly. After hitting the front on event 41, Plymouth went on to win five of the last nine events to end up with a victory margin of 20 points – almost comfortable though well short of the 75-point advantage they achieved 12 months earlier.

Head coach Jon Rudd said: “For three-quarters of the meet, it was the closest it has ever been with lead changes all the time. But I knew that as long as we came to that last block of relays in contention, we had a good chance of winning because that’s our greatest strength. I’m over the moon. I don’t think it was anywhere near the strongest team we have brought here across the age groups but it was the most passionate one. For the first time, we came here feeling like underdogs, particularly because Millfield pushed us so close in the Western final but also because Guildford City have such a big team. I’m quietly pleased we did it with all our own swimmers. This is 100 per cent Plymouth Leander. And I have no problem with you saying that.”

To view the full report and event photos, click here to buy a copy of the June 2015 issue of Swimming Times.

Haringey Aquatics

Battling Hard

Temporary pool closures sparked a talent drain from Haringey Aquatics but the London club is fighting back.

Records are tumbling at an inner-city club facing a David and Goliath battle to keep its members and facilities and to compete with bigger neighbours in one of Britain’s strongest swimming counties. North London-based Haringey Aquatics has seen both its training pools temporarily closed in the last 18 months causing more than half the club’s swimmers, divers and fledgling water polo squad to leave.

Yet such is the enthusiasm of coaches and determination of parents that the community-focused club, part of which is in one of Europe’s most deprived areas, is thriving as never before.

“We have more county and regional times than ever, broke 177 club records last year and have set 49 more this year already,” says head coach Paul Doyle. “We don’t have the hours that other clubs have so we have to be smarter in the way we use pool time. It’s working.”

To read more about this determined club and its passionate members, click here to buy a copy of the June 2015 issue.  


Ninety-year-old Cyril Stephenson-Mole shares a cautionary tale from his early swimming days during a tour of duty 65 years ago.

The troopship SS Empire Halladale, loaded with an assortment of soldiers and airmen, left Liverpool behind on a dull autumn day in 1949 en route to the Far East, dropping off mail and other military business at outposts in Tobruk, Malta, Port Said and Aden.

As we dropped anchor in Port Said to join other ships waiting to negotiate the Suez Canal, word was received that this was where we got off. That was how I came to be in a long queue slowly winding its way through the bowels of the ship via a labyrinth of passageways, carrying small packs until, finally, reaching a hatch in the vessel’s side.

We were hustled down a gangplank and onto a tethered lighter loaded with 40 or so other bodies waiting to be taken across the bay to the dockside.

We lined up in a baking-hot transit shed waiting for our kitbags to be unloaded and my mind drifted back to an amusing incident that happened in Tobruk, Libya, where we had stopped on ship’s business.

A group of four squaddies, without considering the consequences of their actions, had slipped through the deck rails and, with a great leap of faith, had plummeted down into the cooling water of the bay. A sergeant-major had seen them and was hopping about in anger, mouthing vile threats and obscenities at them.

I thought it had required a great degree of faith for them to jump overboard but they obviously had not thought of how they were going to get back on board. As I looked over the side at them hanging onto the anchor chain, I thought they must have been mad or suffering from sunstroke and I have often wondered what happened to them when they were retrieved.

To continue reading anecdotes from Cyril’s military transport days, click here to purchase the June 2015 issue of Swimming Times. 

British Champs

Simply the Best

Adam Peaty took world breaststroking into new waters with a world record that lit up the British Championships at the London Aquatics Centre.

He arrived as the European and Commonwealth champion over 100m and the world record holder over 50. He was also older, wiser, stronger and faster. You didn’t need to be a coaching genius to sense that something special was on the cards. But there’s special and there’s special. And with the possible exception of his coach Mel Marshall, no-one expected Adam Peaty’s 100m breaststroke final to be quite as special as it was.

There were signs, though. In the 200m breaststroke on day one, this so-called sprinter outswam a world-class field that included an Olympic medallist, an Olympic finalist and the Commonwealth champion to claim one of the first gold medals of the 2015 British Championships.

His time of 2:08.34 was a one-second improvement on his previous best and took him to second in the 2015 world rankings. Behind him, London 2012 finalist Adam Willis and Glasgow 2014 champion Ross Murdoch racked up the world’s third and fourth fastest times of 2015, 2:08.59 and 2:08.90.  

Craig Benson and Calum Tait were fourth and fifth, ahead of Michael Jamieson, for whom many spared a thought as he presumably contemplated his future and the tough road ahead if he is to regain the form that won him Britain’s only silver medal in the Olympic pool in 2012. Three years is a long time in swimming but the result also underlined the extraordinary quality and depth in British men’s breaststroking 16 months out from Rio 2016.

To view the full report, results and photos, click here to purchase the June 2015 issue of Swimming Times.  

Fast Lane

Heading out for a masters meet? Swimming your races could be the least of your worries, says former England swimmer Jimmy Rogers.

Call me an old cynic but I’ve come to the conclusion that the venue you’re competing at will give you as much to think about as the races you’ve entered. I’ve found that most venues throw up the same challenging issues that have to be negotiated before and after you stick your toe in the water, and I’m not talking about the organisation, which is always very good. Stories and scenarios abound in the masters scene from all who’ve experienced the challenges. 

For some, it starts with the decision to leave early to ensure they’re in good time for a warm-up and able to nab a prime poolside seat. Leaving early, you believe, will afford you these luxuries. Not so! It seems everyone has the same idea and very often the centres are not ready to let us early birds in.

Once the doors have been opened, the reception area takes on the look of a flight departure concourse with kitbags, each large enough for a fortnight’s holiday in Benidorm, and a queue of ‘baggage handlers’ blocking all available routes to the changing rooms.

Having collected your goody-bag (Ooh! I spy a packet of mint imperials!) and registered, you break through the blockade to grab one of the larger, coin-operated lockers. Unfortunately, you’ve just given your £1 coin away for a programme. Eventually, you find someone who’ll split your £20 note but now you’re left with the last big locker that has a buckled door. You squeeze in your reluctant bag. Sound familiar?

To read more from Jimmy, click here to purchase a copy of the June 2015 issue of Swimming Times.  

Quick Interview... Adam Paker 

ASA chief executive Adam Paker tells editor Peter Hassall about his own swimming background, his approach to his new role and his early impressions of the governing body after six months in the job.

What is your background in sport/swimming?

Swimming has always been an important part of my life. My earliest memories of swimming are while I was away on holiday – I spent most of the time in the water, swimming and snorkelling, which I loved.  

I still go swimming regularly and enjoy scuba diving whenever I can (I’m a qualified BSAC sports diver). Recently, my youngest daughter had her first swimming class, aged 12 weeks, which was great. I’m passionate about ensuring children learn to swim as early as possible and have always been a firm advocate of school swimming.

Before joining the ASA, I was chief executive of Commonwealth Games England. It was an honour to have been involved in fielding Team England at the Glasgow Games and some of my proudest moments came from the successes of the English swimmers and divers.

My previous roles over the last 15 years have also been sport-related, the highlight of which was my involvement in the marketing of the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups. Working on these mega-events was a great introduction to working in the sporting world.

And your leadership philosophy and approach to the job of chief executive?

I believe the primary role of a CEO is to empower and listen to those around you and make the best possible judgements based on the advice of the experts. I would certainly say I have a great team at the ASA who are incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about swimming and aquatics, which has been invaluable during my first six months in the role.

To read the full interview and discover the priorities and potential improvements, click here to purchase a copy of the June 2015 issue of Swimming Times.  

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