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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

  • Fifteen swimmers have been selected for a new-look England synchro squad as the sport seeks to rebuild following the shock termination of Lottery funding. The 15 have been chosen after more than 30 girls took part in a trial at the end of September. The post-funding closure of the High Performance Centre at Aldershot means the athletes will be doing their day-to-day training in their home club environments. However, thanks to Surrey Sports Park and Rushmoor, who are allowing the squad to train free of charge, they will be able to train in a centralised programme on one day a week. ASA synchro talent development officer Karen Thorpe said the development was the sport’s best news for some time.Scores of disabled young people turned out to sample the London Aquatics Centre’s world class facilities during National Paralympic Day – and some could go on to be the Paralympic stars of the future. One youngster has already been identified as someone who should be fast-tracked on to the ASA’s disability talent programme. Others are being advised on clubs they may wish to join and how to move forward in the sport. 20 disabled young people took part in a fun-filled Sports Fest Talent ID session – just one of three strands of activity during the day-long event at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
  • Competitive swimming in Britain is to undergo its biggest overhaul for more than a decade as the ASA and British Swimming attempt to provide more swimmers with the chance to experience national competition. The changes, which come into effect next year, follow consultation with clubs and coaches across the home nations and wider discussions within the swimming community.
  • Sedgefield and City of Manchester respectively claimed the under 15 boys’ and girls’ titles after an exciting weekend of action at the British Gas ASA National Age Group Water Polo Championships in Manchester. Sedgefield – bronze medallists last year – beat City of Sheffield 6-4 in a thrilling final which saw the lead change hands more than once.

For more news please click here to buy the December 2014 issue of Swimming Times.

This Life

Becky Adlington, Britain’s most successful Olympic swimmer, shares her thoughts about the successes of 2014 and future prospects and gives a progress report on her learn-to-swim project.

We didn’t have the best year in 2013 but the British team has really bounced back and I think swimming is now in such a good place. There have been a lot of changes and a lot of people stepping in. But I think the team have shown they are able to handle the changes and the decisions made by Bill [Furniss, GB head coach] and Chris [Spice, national performance director] and other people. They are saying, ‘We want this, we want to work hard, we want to get the results.’

Yes, people were getting the gold medals [in Glasgow and Berlin] and that was amazing but the times people were posting were insane and that’s the most encouraging thing. So many people were stepping up and doing world best times. The rest of the world is taking notice. We have depth now, which we didn’t have last year or in London in 2012.

After Olympic year, there is always a drop-off. Athletes retire and the younger ones this time were just a tiny bit too young. This year has been set up perfectly for them and I think having a home Games in Glasgow made a massive difference. I remember Cameron Brodie stepping out of his 200 fly heat in the morning and saying he didn’t just want to be in the final, he wanted to win it. I don’t think he achieved the medal results he wanted but I loved his attitude. What a great response!

To read more from Becky you can click here to purchase a copy of the December 2014 issue of Swimming Times.

Honesty Box

Simon Rothwell, the outgoing ASA president, reveals that he has considered giving up teaching and his swimming involvement to become a priest – and why his heroes include a swimming rebel from Victorian Liverpool

Nobody knows this, but... I sometimes wonder about giving up my job as a teacher and my involvement with swimming and becoming a priest.

I often dream about... living back in the Middle Ages. I have always been fascinated by chivalry, particularly during the period of the Crusades, and I often seem to dream about either being one of the Knights of the Round Table (I am not saying which one) or a Knight Templar (an organisation later outlawed by the Church).

My ideal dinner party guests would be... a somewhat eclectic mix but I suppose that is just me. The first would be Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, for whom I have a great spiritual admiration; Mark Spitz, who was my boyhood hero when I was swimming; Tony Blair, who changed the face of British politics; and the actress Audrey Hepburn, whom I idolised as a teenager.

To read more from Simon you can click here to buy the December 2014 issue of Swimming Times. 

Diving for all 

Olympic diver Hayley Sage’s DiveAbilities class caters for people with learning difficulties and physical disabilities – and some of them take to it better than the average able- bodied person.

Diving off a 10m board isnot an easy thing to do. Tom Daley has said that he still gets nervous up there. So to do it when you’ve had both your legs amputated and when you’re a novice diver with only a matter of weeks in training is very impressive. Richard Whitehead on the TV programme Splash! was an inspiration.

The effect of that show can be seen in diving venues across the country as week after week, inexperienced idiots like me fling themselves uncontrollably off the boards and limp out of the water, lobster-red, somewhat embarrassed but, on the whole, having a great deal of fun in the process.

I recently met Hayley Sage, former Olympic diver and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, at her DiveAbilities class in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Coming from a swim teaching background, I automatically assumed that ‘disability diving’ was a long-established part of the sport.

Although it is impressive seeing anyone with a disability compete at a high level, I never thought there was anything specifically odd about Richard Whitehead on Splash! So I was astonished to learn that diving does not feature in the Paralympics or the Special Olympics and that there aren’t even many facilities offering disability classes.

Having a sister with learning difficulties, and another job as a support worker for people with disabilities, means that Hayley is well aware of the different learning needs of those with impairments.

To find out more about DiveAbilities click here to buy the December 2014 issue of Swimming Times. 

Goodbye funding, aloha Hawaii 

Claire Nixon moved to Manchester as a teen to train and play water polo at the highest level. Her dream was to compete for Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympic Games, but she didn’t quite make it.

Then, with her heart set on 2016, Lottery funding for water polo was withdrawn earlier this year, and getting to Rio appears to be an uphill battle. Despite this, the 20-year-old considers herself the luckiest person in British water polo because she’s playing the sport she loves on an academic scholarship at the University of Hawaii.

Naturally tall at 5ft 10in, and strong, Claire plays as a centre back. Although positions in water polo are less well defined than in some other ball sports and can change during a game, the centre back is the primary pit defender. Hence, the need for strength as the attacking pit player is often the strongest player in a team and tactically clever at drawing fouls.

Like nearly every water polo player, Claire came to the sport from a swimming club background. Growing up in in the West Midlands, she joined her local club at six before moving to Walsall Swimming and Water Polo club aged 12. Competing in both swimming and polo, she started playing in the National League at 14 and had impressed enough by 15 to be selected for the national junior team to compete in the European under 20 championships.

She said: ‘I was the youngest on the team, and, if I remember rightly the only one from my area. It was an eye-opening experience. I didn’t get a huge amount of game time, but it was definitely an interesting start to my international career.’

To read more about Claire's adventures in Hawaii click here to buy the December 2014 issue of Swimming Times

Still going strong 

When Halifax Swimming Club held its first gala in March 1864 – or its ‘first grand contest’, as a local newspaper described it – Queen Victoria reigned, civil war raged in the fledgling United States, and Charles Dickens was finishing his novel Our Mutual Friend.

Instead of medals, the awards included a lifesize portrait of the winner in crayons. Other prizes included a gold pencil case, a gold toothpick (yes, toothpick) and a ‘handsome silver cup’.

Even 150 years ago, the club took its fun seriously, with the club president creating ‘much merriment in dexterously undressing in the water’. The gala also included diving, with four competitors vying to win a gold Albert and key – a chain for men’s fob watches.

Fast-forward 150 years to 2014 and Halifax SC is as strong as ever. Run by volunteers without any direct funding, it enjoys support from the local authority and Halifax Swimming Pool staff. The club is doing a lot with few resources and limited pool time.

You can read the rest of this article by purchasing the December 2014 issue of Swimming Times by clicking here.  

Hard battle 

Sarah Barrow reflects on a year that included Commonwealth silver and the first British women's individual European diving gold for 87 years. 

If anyone had told Tonia Couch and me the day before that we would win silver at the Commonwealth Games, I would have been so happy. But on the day, I felt like we lost that gold.  

Training had not gone as well as it normally does in Edinburgh. We were stressing about it and I knew that we had one of the toughest competitions ahead. I woke up more nervous than usual and felt like I didn’t want breakfast, which never happens to me on a competition day. But I ate and we were much happier with training that morning.

It was a strange set-up for a synchro competition. We all had to train in the morning but wait for the men’s 1m prelim to finish before we were on. The scheduled time was 11.50am. We got 10 minutes to warm up and then rushed off to parade to the crowd. After two restarts, 40 minutes later we were able to compete going manual with scorecards. I only realised we were in first place after the fourth round. 

To read more from Sarah click here to purchase the December 2014 issue of Swimming Times.

Action packed

The British Gas ASA Masters and Senior Age Group Championships were a huge success, attracting 1,250 swimmers completing 5,000 swims over the course of a weekend and, as usual, jam-packed with action and controversy. The event provided a slew of records with 94 British, 33 European and seven world marks broken.

The controversy related to the failure of the electronic timing system in the mixed 800m freestyle relay, which deprived the Nottingham Leander 120yrs team of a world record, after they had demolished the previous mark, and Newcastle Swim Team’s 160yrs quartet of a European record.

The meet produced three individual world records in the women’s 70-74yrs age group for Spencer’s Di Ford and Birmingham Masters’ Judy Wilson. Interestingly, both swimmers played a full part in relay swims for their teams and both still went on to excel in their individual events.

To read more of the report click here to buy the December 2014 issue of Swimming Times

Tale of three swimmers 

Have you heard the one about the Englishman, the Scotsman and the Welshman? It may sound like the start of a corny joke but this is serious stuff – especially if you’re a 1500m freestyler on the international stage.

After decades of having only one or two men battling for success at the highest level, British Swimming suddenly finds itself with 25 per cent of the world top 16 – that’s four men in the top 16 for 2014.

Not only that but three of them have crashed through the 15-minute barrier in the last six months, doubling the membership of an exclusive British club that was previously restricted to Olympic 1500m bronze medallists Graeme Smith (1996) and David Davies (2004) and London 2012 finalist Dan Fogg.

To read more of this article click here to buy a copy of the December 2014 Swimming Times.

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