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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

  • Swimming can make you feel happier as well as healthier, according to a new study by British Gas Swim Britain. People involved in the four-week study, carried out by Mindlab International, reported an increase of 35 per cent in positivity after taking a regular dip. The study also highlighted swimming as a general tonic for everyday life, increasing levels of sleep quality by 40 per cent, energy levels by 51 per cent and fitness levels by 15 per cent. Even those swimming just a few lengths reported an increase of 20 per cent in their overall levels of wellbeing after just one week.
  • Long-serving ESSA official Mary Uppington was one of three people from the swimming community to be recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. She was appointed MBE for ‘services to ESSA and the community in Long Ashton, north Somerset’. The British Empire Medal went to Margaret Lowden, head teacher with Dinnaton SC’s learn-to-swim scheme in Devon, for ‘services to swimming’. Graeme Knowles, chairman of Gwent Dolphin Disability Swimming Club in South Wales, also received the BEM for ‘voluntary services to adults and children with disabilities in Torfaen, Monmouthshire, through swimming and football’.
  • Former heavyweight boxing champion David Haye has thrown his considerable weight behind a campaign to save a swimming pool from closure. The man known as ‘the Hayemaker’ signed a petition supporting the campaign to save Temple Cowley Pools in Oxford. Mr Haye, who is a friend of campaigners Salman Navqi and Faisal Aziz, said: ‘I want to lend my support to my friends in their assistance to the group. I have signed the petition and I believe that the council should take note of the concerns of local residents in Cowley and further afield about losing their leisure centre.’ He added: ‘I back this campaign and hope this valuable facility remains open to the public for many years to come.’ 

This Life

Swimming teacher, Jane Greene Pettersson, takes a dip in the newly reopened London Aquatics Centre – and gives her verdict on the Olympic pool in legacy mode.

‘Ever since I heard that after the London 2012 Olympic Games, they would open the newly-built pool to the public, I have been looking forward to swimming there. It is so unusual and wonderful to have a brand new Olympic-sized pool built anywhere in the United Kingdom these days that I probably would have visited it wherever it had been built. But as I live in London, the journey to the pool was a relatively straightforward one for me. 

‘Having said that, it is on the other side of the city from where I live so the journey involved a cycle ride, then a bus ride, then a train ride and finally another bus ride at the other end. But it was worth the trip. 

‘The building is all swoops and curves, no hard edges. It is light and bright with lots of windows and a ceiling like a giant wave that reminded me of the underside of the blue whale at the Natural History Museum. The only downside is that the swoops mean that it is not great for backstroke, where you need a nice clear line to follow. Through the windows you can see the strange red Amish Kapoor sculpture in the Olympic park.’

To read more about Jane’s experiences at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, purchase a copy of the August 2014 issue of Swimming Times. 

Honesty Box

Ross Davenport – The triple Olympian and 2006 Commonwealth 200m freestyle champion reveals his recipe for change and his uneasy relationship with spiders. 

'My ideal dinner party guests would be… I’d really like to sit down with the Queen and see what she is all about. I wouldn’t say I am a royalist but I am quite fascinated by the Royal Family. I look at them and think what is it like to be you? What do you talk about around the dinner table on Christmas day? Is it a normal family? Do they all address her as the Queen or is it Grandma or Mum? 

'Before I die, I want to… do a big challenge. I really want to do something that takes me out of my comfort zone. I want to raise a lot of money for charity, I want to do something that is inspirational and helps a lot of people.
Ultimately, I would love to do something like travel from the tip or the north of Africa, swim across the Gibraltar Straits and then cycle through Spain and France. Somehow get across the Channel and then run from Dover to London.'

Marathon Swimmer

Ed Williams joins a UK-US force to pay a Channel swimmers’ tribute 70 years on from the D-Day landings.

‘Getting in good quality deep sea training is very difficult. I spend hours in lakes and long pools and occasionally a bit of coastal swimming but very rarely do I get the opportunity to be in the middle of the ocean apart from when I actually do my marathon swims. Imagine my delight at being asked to swim as part of an English Channel relay, and quite a special one at that.

‘On Sunday June 8, I was very privileged to be part of the very first relay team to swim this season to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

‘I was the first swimmer so at 4am I jumped off the boat at Dover’s Shakespeare Beach and started my first leg of the swim in 13-degree water. It was freezing at first but I soon adapted and became used to the temperatures. After five to 10 minutes I was really in my stride.

‘The skies were clear and the sea was like a mill pond. We had the most glorious sunrise to the left and it seemed an absolutely perfect way to start the day. I had slept for a grand total of one hour the night before so was extremely tired at first but as soon as the body hits water of that temperature, it is enough to wake anyone instantly.

‘The hour I was in the water was very pleasant and as my hour came to an end, it was time for swimmer 2, Joe Hall, to enter the water. I had covered about 3.5km in my hour and Joe’s take-over came as a welcome relief, as I was starting to get a little chilly towards the end. I’d better get used to these temperatures for my North Channel solo swim in August, as it should be a similar temperature!’

To read more about Ed’s tribute 70 years on from the D-Day landings get your copy of the August 2014 issue of Swimming Times.    

Swimming Mum

Monetary rewards and bribery? It sounds more like football than swimming. And after being taken to task by a coach in our letters page, Swimming Mum bites back.

‘Recently there was an anxious few days for Swimming Mum. I received an email from the ST editor out of the blue – not a usual occurrence – preparing me for feedback in the latest issue in that I had been ‘taken to task’ on the letters page. Cripes!

‘My immediate reaction was one of amazement – somebody actually reads my articles. Writing a regular column is an interesting exercise as, up until now, I have tapped away on my keyboard, submitted my 1,000 or so words and, for all I know, they disappear into a literary black hole.

‘The amazement quickly turned to anxiety. What could it be? Surely not somebody who has an issue with David Gray? (Leave David out of this!). Worse still, perhaps somebody who doesn’t like ferrets. My mind was all over the place. I voiced my concerns to ex-Swimming Daughter, who had an interesting take on the situation.

‘‘I’m really proud of you – stirring up controversy. You go, Mum!”

‘I hadn’t looked at it like that – me, a swimming agitator. Perhaps I’ll go and have a tattoo, nose-piercing and start wearing dreadlocks at swim meets to enhance my extreme activist status.

‘The issue duly arrived and I turned the pages with apprehension. What heinous swimming crime had I committed?’

To find out click here and purchase the August issue. 

Quick Interview

Jane Figueiredo, Tom Daley’s new coach, tells Roger Guttridge about her own diving background, her opinion of the Olympic bronze medallist and her plans for the London high performance centre.

Tell us about your background with particular reference to diving.

'I am a bit of a mutt because I have been around. I’ve got a bit of everything in me. I was born in Malawi in Africa and, when I was three, I moved to Zimbabwe until I was 18. Then I moved to the USA on a diving scholarship. 

Even though there is nothing said about them today, except in politics, for a country that couldn’t compete, we had an incredible diving family. There were about eight of us and six of us ended up in the States and we all did very well there. Once Rhodesia became Zimbabwe in 1980, we were able to compete internationally. I was a springboard diver and my greatest achievement was 21st in the 1984 Olympics.'

So you’re glad to be coaching Tom, then?

'Having Tom to coach was one of the motivations in itself – an opportunity to work with somebody so passionate and focused. I’m sure there has been a lot of talk about him not being focused but I don’t know what they are talking about because he has been nothing but focused.

I think that what he really needed was some rest. He had been going so long with such intensity that I think he was very burnt out. After the world championships last August, he needed some time off and he came back very refreshed and really feeling good and ready to work. I think we came together at the right moment. I couldn’t be happier.'

Get your copy of the August 2014 issue of Swimming Times to read the full interview. 

Stunt Swimmer

Training a stunt swimmer
The training’s demanding, the hours are long and it can be dangerous – but swim teacher Angela Keen didn’t let that put her off. As she trained fitness model Catherine Peck, she decided to join her as a stunt swimmer.

‘After breaking my back four years ago, I had given up the idea of being a stuntwoman. Then I started training fitness model Catherine Peck for the swim test and was inspired to give it another shot. 

‘Catherine had a reasonable swimming ability from childhood but no serious training in the competitive strokes, so, as a teacher, it was interesting to work out the learning process to get an adult to such a high standard. For Catherine, this was sometimes unexpected. “The weirdest thing was paying for a whole lesson just floating,” she said. “I was sceptical but learning about air, buoyancy and gliding was one of the most beneficial aspects and worth devoting the time to.”

‘Lessons on their own aren’t enough: you need to put serious hours in to achieve something this hard. Catherine says: “I spent over a year swimming five to seven times a week for two hours, plus gym sessions. It became necessary to join a swim club. It was daunting feeling like the worst swimmer, but being part of a team kept me going. When performance is your main goal and you don’t have much time to push yourself, having a coach yelling at you makes you get on with it. When you swim alone, you think you are putting in 100 per cent but you aren’t!”

‘Variation in life, even within your own individual sport training, is essential. For me, stunt training in itself provides a fantastic variety of skills and when one discipline is a struggle, chances are you’re achieving in another so it keeps things fresh and positive. Catherine agrees: “My brother, Richard, runs a cross-fit gym and is always talking about the benefits of variety in your workout, primarily for the body-shock effect which gives you massive performance benefits. I couldn’t have got through the swim test if we hadn’t mixed up the training from hard sprints to technique work and other aquatic skills.”’

To read more about the long hours, demanding training and the dangerous work involved, purchase a copy of the August issue of Swimming Times

The Great War

Wendy Coles charts the tragedies and triumphs affecting the swimming community during the First World War 100 years ago.

‘The ‘Great War’ began on July 28, 1914. Herbert Asquith was Prime Minister; life expectancy was about 50 for men and 54 for women. Food was expensive with almost 60 per cent of the family income going on food and some working-class families sitting down to just a plate of potatoes; malnutrition was common among children. Trains were the main form of overland transport with most towns having electronic trams or motor-buses. Cars were rare with speed limited to 20mph. The working-class family lived in two-up two-down with some very poor families in just one room.

‘The 1,468 swimming clubs affiliated to the ASA were doing well teaching water polo, lifesaving, swimming and, to a lesser degree, diving – with water polo being the most popular. There were separate clubs for men and ladies but the war was about to change this. In the men’s clubs, committee members were players or swimmers; you did not wait until you retired before becoming a committee person. When war was declared, the Government relied on men to volunteer and with a vast number of men malnourished, many joined up thinking the war would not last long and it would be good to receive three square meals a day and regular income. 

‘In 1915, the ASA decided, in view of the war, that no championships or council meeting would take place and suspended publication of the Handbook. The officers of that time continued for the next 12 months. However, the association’s education work was still encouraged.

‘By May 1915, Belper SC had 24 members on service but the remaining older members looked after the club’s welfare. Harrogate SC lost 35 members called to arms. This was becoming the norm all across the country and there are reports of swimmers killed in action such as Berkshire champion Cpl Taylor from Windsor SC and Colin Webster, one of 24 Otter SC members to lose their lives on the battlefield.’

To read more about the tragedies and triumphs that affected swimming clubs during World War One, purchase a copy of the August 2014 edition of Swimming Times. Click here for more information.   

Farnham SC

Farnham SC in Surrey won the ASA Aquaforce Award for Volunteering in October but just five years earlier the club was almost bankrupt. Helen Gorman explains the Surrey club’s phoenix-like rise from near-ruin, highlighting examples of excellent practice which many clubs could learn from. 

‘Chris Lee has been chairman of Farnham Swimming Club for four years. When he first got involved five years ago, the club was on the edge of financial ruin with a large hole in its bank balance. Turning that around has taken a focused effort from a team of volunteers and now the club is thriving. It also has an award-winning volunteer programme where members, including under 18s, are encouraged to get involved in all aspects of running the club.

‘Chris started out as an enthusiastic parent who offered to help with the club accounts. A pool closure had reduced water-time and diminished the club’s income, but it still had a high-cost base. Working with the chairman at the time and a group of other supportive parents, a plan was put together to restructure the club. 

‘A year later, Chris was ‘bullied’ into taking on the role of chairman himself. Clearly his background in finance and health and fitness clubs was having an impact in turning fortunes around.’ 

To find out more about Farnham SC’s Olympian head coach; masters and open water sections and their vision for the future click here.

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