Inside December 2016 Swimming Times

Swimming Times is the only magazine for British aquatics. Read about the latest issue below. Click on the buttons to reveal the story.

News round-up

  • The ASA, in partnership with British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS), has launched a brand new university programme designed to increase the number of water polo players and establish stronger relationships with universities. It will empower students to develop water polo, through financial investment and dedicated support. As such, the programme will benefit the university’s water polo club, the local water polo community and the students. Also included in the benefits package is a club grant, bespoke training and dedicated staff support from a leading NGB.
  • The English Roses Masters Water Polo team won bronze at the European Masters Water Polo Championships 2016 in Rijeka, Croatia. There were more than 150 entries for the men’s age group championships. With only one age group, 30+, on offer for the women’s tournament, the English women were the oldest team of the four with five of them over 50 years old. But they more than held their own against younger opposition from Italy, Czech Republic and Germany. After the round robin stage, the Roses were left to fight out the bronze medal match against Stepp Prague. And while the lead changed hands several times, the Roses eventually squeezed home 8-7. Liz Palmer scored the winning goal with just 33 seconds left on the clock to avenge a 7-5 group stage defeat.
  • More pupils will swim further as School Swimathon returns in 2017. It is targeting its biggest ever year as it aims to inspire 15,000 pupils to ‘Swim their Best’. Created by The Swimathon Foundation, the charity behind Swimathon, the world’s largest annual fundraising swim, and the ASA, School Swimathon is setting the challenge to pupils all across England to get the most from their school swimming lessons and swim further than they ever have before in 2017.

To read more of this month’s news stories, click here to buy the December issue of Swimming Times. 

Stephanie Millward

Paralympic gold medallist Stephanie Millward realised her long-held ambition with an individual - and team - triumph in Rio. Peter Hassall spoke to her.

How did it feel to finally get that Paralympic gold in Rio?               

After my heat for my favourite race, 100m backstroke, I felt confident that I could win the final so I designated the race to two charities, the MS Society and Neurofibromatosis Society hoping that the patients of these terrible diseases would find some comfort for the future.

Ever since I swam in the junior Olympics at the age of eight in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, my main dream was to win an Olympic gold medal. I’ve had to alter my journey from an able-bodied Olympic swimmer to a Paralympic swimmer after being diagnosed with the incurable illness Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at the age of 17 when I was training to try and make the Olympic team for Sydney 2000.

All of a sudden, my goal was trying to make Paralympic teams.  

I went into the final in Rio with a smile on my face.  

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ASA county champs

White rose blooms again

After 14 years of Lancashire dominance, the white rose of Yorkshire triumphed in the ASA County Team Championships at Ponds Forge, which featured 36 teams from the length and breadth of Britain. Liz Byrnes reports.

Travel back to 2001. A year when the world was rocked by the September 11 attacks in the United States. George W Bush was arguably the most powerful man on the planet after replacing Bill Clinton as US president while Tony Blair was leading Labour to its second successive landslide. Britain was reeling from the effects of foot-and-mouth and Sven Goran Eriksson became England’s first foreign football coach. Atomic Kitten were whole again, it was raining men for Geri Halliwell and Kylie just couldn’t get us out of her head.

It was also the year that someone other than Lancashire won the ASA National County Team Championships.

On that occasion, it was Yorkshire who triumphed and in October 2016, the white rose county finally managed to repeat that success, toppling their red rose rivals at Ponds Forge after accruing 544 points, 58 more than Lancashire, with Kent in third.

Yorkshire coach Dan Cocking, of City of Sheffield, praised everyone that had taken part as he beamed with satisfaction at his team’s achievement, one that had a symmetry to it with victories in the first and last races of the day. ‘It’s great, it’s a really good feeling. We have had plenty of practice of coming in second to them for a while so we are just glad to turn it round,’ Cocking said. 

For the full report and photographs, click here to subscribe to Swimming Times. 

ASA masters champs

Top of the world

Five world, 26 European and 86 British records fell as 1,200 swimmers converged on Sheffield for the ASA National Masters Championships. Verity Dobbie reports.

This event celebrated its 25th year in Sheffield with over 1,200 swimmers making the annual pilgrimage to Ponds Forge. 

My unofficial award for swimmer of the meet must go to Camp Hill Edwardians’ Craig Norrey. Craig is the living embodiment of that old chestnut ‘if at first you don’t succeed’, reducing the British (and European) record for the 55-59yrs 50m backstroke on no less than three occasions, twice in the lead-off leg of a relay, and truly saving his best ‘till last, recording 27.96 for a new world record. Craig also won five titles and set British records in the 50m fly and 100m back.

In a brief exchange with Craig, I discovered that in 2006 he had previously held the 45-49yrs world records in the 50m back for both long and short course, and that he could lay claim to being masters’ very own bionic man, as he disclosed that he had recently undergone a hip replacement. I asked him what he attributed his performance to and he graciously responded with some great advice: ‘After having a new hip two years ago, I was determined to try and get back to full pain-free fitness, so I hit the underwater legs with the fins in every swim session, 25m underwater, 25m swim – lots of them – to build up the hip strength and lungs.’

To read more of this championship coverage click here to buy Swimming Times 

Fran Halsall

All you need is love

Visiting ‘The Beatles Story’ with her professional sportsman boyfriend - having moved back to her home town of Liverpool - Fran Halsall is ready to give it one last shot in 2020 as she ‘imagines’ an Olympic medal in Tokyo. James Burch reports.

On the eve of her third Olympic games in Rio, Fran Halsall cut a relaxed and cheerful figure at her Loughborough University training base. At the age of 26, and one of Britain’s most successful swimmers with Commonwealth and world honours, a first Olympic medal was very much in her thoughts, perhaps even gold.

She was ready to erase the memory of her fifth place in the 50m freestyle four years ago. And so to Rio, Fran stamped her authority on the 50m heats and eased into the final, could this be the time?

The 50 metre freestyle is typically frantic, exciting and full of drama…and the final in the Olympic Aquatics Stadium definitely did not disappoint. As the starter’s gun penetrated the late-evening air, Fran shot into the pool and surrounded by cheers and screams from the stands, it was the Brit who looked destined for glory, as she led going into the final five metres of the race.

With four swimmers reaching for the wall at the same time, the viewing public were unable to spot a winner as the race ended. It was on the touch as Denmark’s Pernille Blume, America’s Simone Manuel, Belarus’s Aliaksandra Herasimenia and Fran all stood a chance of winning the gold. The times flashed up on the board, and there were cries of both joy and of anguish in the stadium, as the winners and losers were revealed.

With Blume winning the race in a time of 24.07, Fran gut-wrenchingly missed out on her place on the podium by two one-hundredths of a second, as she finished in 24.13.

However, whereas many would be heartbroken by coming so close yet so far, Merseyside’s poster girl isn’t planning on hanging up her goggles and cap just yet.

To read the full article click here to buy Swimming Times.  

Teaching pool

Lorna Crust and Alison Bell aim to offer an understanding, practical solutions and strategies to assist the teaching of swimmers with autism.

Did you swim like a fish?’ ‘No – I swam like a human being!’

This was the indignant response of a parent’s autistic son on being asked how he performed in his swimming lesson. It gives us an insight into how an autistic child’s mind works and how we need to think differently ourselves in order to understand how they communicate.

Many of you will teach or have taught a swimmer with autism and this anecdote is worth sharing from the outset to highlight that knowing your swimmer will lead to a positive swimming experience.

Let’s start from the beginning and recognise that as many as one in 100 children have an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). If you teach one child with autism, then you have only taught ONE as their traits and trends will be unique and change with development. 

Sophie, a non-verbal child with autism, came to her first swim session screaming, spitting and trying to make herself sick. This was caused through anxiety.

We started from the beginning with pre-lesson work such as photos of the pool and storyboards, a visual aid to show the steps of the lesson.

We asked mum to get in the water with her to provide some familiarity and short sessions. It took us a while for her to become comfortable in the pool but the breakthrough came when we discovered her love of numbers.

To read more on this topic click here to buy Swimming Times magazine. 

Tools of the trade

Technical snorkel

Val Thorp road tests an innovative snorkel called the Ameo Powerbreather, and finds it a useful addition to her swim-bag.

The Powerbreather is a new type of snorkel which, according to Ameo, includes the following features:

  • optimisation of swimming techniques
  • specific respiratory muscle training
  • Ameo fresh air system
  • free breathing and dry air tube
  • double D-tube and twist lock system

When I took it out of its case, it was obvious that, with its double tubes, it looked like no other snorkel I’ve seen. So I took some time to read the manual and experiment with the fitting before I used it in the pool.

With its lateral headbands, it was possible to adjust the Powerbreather to the approximate size of my head. Then it is fixed in place on the back of the head with a twist lock. Once in the water, I found it was far more comfortable and stable than a conventional snorkel.

To read the full article click here to buy Swimming Times.  

Honesty Box

The swimming and water polo coach, Don Roberts, is an 86-year-old action man whose other passions include music, bell-ringing, family history and swimming in the sea.

My ultimate indulgence is… a glass of ice-cold milk in one hand and a Crunchie bar in the other. A little bit of Crunchie and a little bit of milk. I just love that. I love milk. When I was at school I used to drink 18 of those little bottles – that’s six pints – at lunchtime.

I owe my parents… My dad was a very good father and came to all the cricket and football matches I played but he never gave me much praise for what I did. I hit 63 runs one time and all he said was what was I doing getting out LBW. He never gave me direct praise but then he’d go away and tell his workmates how fantastic I was. But it was good for me.

My mother was a very tranquil person. During the war I and a friend walked from Torquay to Ashburton and back – 16 miles each way – and didn’t get home until 11.10pm. My mother must have been worried sick but all she said was, ‘Hello, Don. I’m glad you’re home. You’d better get to bed – you must be tired.’

Between the two of them, my parents imbued me with a very patient and tranquil nature.

To read more click here to buy Swimming Times.  

People who swim

A Scottish team has completed the first ever official open water swim from the isle of Arran to Troon on the mainland.

The Arran TrooNautics - 12 women and one man ranging from 22 to 67 years of age - completed the first official 16 mile open water swim from Arran to Troon on October 1. The two teams set off before sunrise at 05.18 and arrived into Barassie beach after sunset, 15 hours 19 minutes later at 20.37. The air temperature was quite brisk and the water temperature was a chilly 13 degrees, rising to 14 degrees during the day.

After the swim is ratified by the British Long Distance Swimming it will be logged as the first ever official open water swim from Arran to Troon.

The team has raised over £15,000, to be split equally between the RNLI and local charity, the Jo Walters Trust. Some of the money raised will go to send a group of young carers from Ayrshire on an Outward Bound project.

Coach Chris Sifleet said: ‘The two teams did an amazing job completing the challenge. Swimmers coming out of the water were often very shivery but they were generally back up on deck encouraging their teammates within an hour of their swim. No one flagged or complained. Everyone just got on with the job.

‘There were a few jellyfish stings along the way and we also spotted many eels and swam alongside seals and porpoises,’ said Katherine Self, one of the swimmers. ‘It was great support to see the Coastguard Search and Rescue helicopter hovering above me during one of my hour swims.’

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