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Latest features in 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

  • Olympic swimmer Peter Head celebrated his 80th birthday recently – but even that landmark has not persuaded him to hang up his water polo cap. The president of Norwich Water Polo Club retired from competitive polo when he was 78 but two years on, he still turns out twice a week for the club’s training sessions. ‘I enjoy it and it’s good exercise. It keeps me active hopefully,’ said the veteran of the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. 

  • Several Olympic swimmers were among the guests when former GB breaststroker Kate Haywood married fellow former swimmer Kevin Barter in Spain. Olympic 2008 bronze medallist Jo Jackson was one of the two bridesmaids. The other was another former Loughborough swimmer, Michelle Shillabeer (neé Kiff). Other swimmers among the 52 guests included GB sprint coach and former 50m breaststroke world champion James Gibson, fellow Olympians Fran Halsall, Grant Turner and Steph Proud and Welsh record holder Lowri Tynan. 

  • Britain’s Olympic backstroker Marco Loughran is recovering after a vicious road rage attack that put him in hospital and damaged Danish girlfriend Jeanette Ottesen’s preparations for Kazan. Loughran, 26, suffered cuts to his head and eyebrow, four chipped teeth and injuries to an ear and a shoulder after being dragged from a car in Copenhagen – apparently because Ottesen was driving too slowly.

    Ottesen, 27, the 50m butterfly world champion, sustained one broken and one sprained finger after trying to defend her boyfriend. She was expected to miss three weeks’ training, putting her involvement in the world championships in doubt.

To read more of this month’s news stories, click here to purchase the August 2015 issue of Swimming Times. 

Golden Girl

Commonwealth 200m IM champion Siobhan-Marie O’Connor reflects on her rise to number two in the world rankings and her hopes for Kazan.

You’re ranked number two in the world in the 200m IM but you’re also British champion in the 100 and 200m freestyle and the fastest British breaststroker going to Kazan following Sophie Taylor’s withdrawal. What events will you be doing at the world championships?

I’m not entirely sure what my programme is going to look like because of relays. The 200m IM is on the first day – and hopefully the second day [the final]! Then I will have the 4x200m freestyle. I’m not entirely sure what relays I am swimming. We could do them all because we have the teams for them. This year is the qualifying for the Olympics so we want to do all of them as we want to swim all of them at the Olympics. I don’t think I’ll know what I’m doing until the week. If they ask me to do the breaststroke, I will do it. Going into trials, I thought I might get the fly. After the trials I thought I might get the free. Now it looks like I might get the breaststroke swim. The coaches will pick the best team.

Is it a good thing to have your best event at the start of the championships?

It’s good having the IM on the first day. It’s nice being up first and getting into the meet. Your first race is an important one – it sets up your week for you. I have a lot of confidence from my first race at the Commonwealth Games, the 200 free [Siobhan won the silver medal]. I’m just hoping it goes well. The 200 free in Kazan is halfway through the week.

To read more from Siobhan and her thoughts on training at Bath and her coaches, click here to purchase a copy of the August 2015 issue of Swimming Times.  

Honesty Box

The former elite breaststroker and now Swim Wales regional business manager (north) talks about her major facial surgery; her sugar addiction and her love of rock and heavy metal music.

I wouldn’t be where I am now without… my parents. I owe them everything. I know everyone is likely to say this, and I know you can’t choose them, but I landed bloody good ones. Genuinely, the life I lead and love is completely down to them. They are priceless.

The last concert or gig I went to was… I spend most of my money on music gigs. I love live music and my main love is rock and heavy metal (you can blame the biker dad!). The last gig I went to was Rise Against (a punk rock band) with Louise Henley, another sprint breaststroker. For 2015, I have tickets for Foo Fighters, The Offspring and Download Festival and will likely go to more. I know what you’re thinking – and yes a numb chin comes in handy when faced with a mosh pit!

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

Out and About

Coming out as a gay sportsman was a largely positive experience for Scotland’s Commonwealth Games swimmer Martin Cremin – and that’s a message he’s keen to share.

When swimmer Martin Cremin was invited to speak at the ASA’s LGB&T Roadshow in several English cities, he jumped at the chance to tell fellow members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community that they have nothing to fear. ‘My experience of the sport has been largely positive and that was the message I was giving to the audiences,’ he says. ‘I talked about my experiences with coming out at a young age within the swimming environment and deciding whether I was comfortable enough to carry on and what issues were affecting me.’

Martin, now 23 and a constable in the Metropolitan Police, was just 17 when he made the decision to be open about his sexuality. ‘I never really thought of myself as a sportsman,’ he says. ‘It never really occurred to me that there might be implications for me as an athlete. I wasn’t thinking about that. I just did it and decided I would deal with the consequences afterwards. Except that there were none. I didn’t really draw attention to myself – I just made it seem normal and that’s the way I was accepted.

To read more about Martin, click here to buy a copy of the August 2015 issue of Swimming Times.  

Swimming Mum

Life is hitting new levels of stress and surreality as summer exams, regional champs, young love, a house move and chickenpox converge in Mum’s household.

Quite surreally, it’s early morning and I’m sitting in Prague writing my article for Swimming Times. However, in our household, life in general has also taken on a surreal quality which can be summed up as a series of sensational news headlines:

  • ‘100 per cent of teenagers suffering from severe exam stress’

Scary (second year physics); Ex-SD (A levels); Guitar Man (GCSEs); Junior (year 8 exams – although Ex-SD, helpful as ever, is quick to point out: ‘What’s your problem? Those aren’t real exams. Get a life!’)

  • 'The Hot Date – fashion tips and etiquette for the sassy teen’

Ex-SD meets up in town with her new beau – I’d forgotten the agony of creating that perfect look.

  • 'The Big Move’

Finally – it’s on! A year on and we have a buyer to provide much needed swimming funds. The stressful news is that they want us out in six weeks so it’s all systems go.

And finally, the most sensational headline of all:

  • ‘Chickenpox 2: Return of the Spots’

You may recall that SD Junior suffered from chickenpox before Christmas. Just when we thought it was safe to go back in the water, the spots make a comeback.

So, now you have an idea of the backdrop against which we’ve been operating. A business trip to Prague is, therefore, an oasis of calm and the perfect place to contemplate all things to do with swimming. 

To read on and discover whether SD Junior made it to regionals, click here to purchase the August 2015 issue of Swimming Times.


Chocolate with a cuppa – can this really be healthy?

Performance nutritionist Debbie Smith looks at the evidence for dark chocolate and green tea to see if their superfood claims really can improve our health.

Dark chocolate and cocoa

In 1492, Columbus brought cocoa beans from America to Europe but it wasn’t until the 19th century, when machinery was developed for squeezing cocoa butter from the cocoa, that chocolate was first produced.

Similar to most superfoods, cocoa is known for its high polyphenol content, particularly catechins. It is the antioxidant properties of these polyphenols that are said to lower blood pressure and contribute towards the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancers. However, when the cocoa bean is processed, the polyphenol content is reduced, and through further production, such as chocolate making, it is reduced even more.

One of the main catechins found in cocoa is epicatechin. So this is found in greater quantities in chocolate, which is said to be quickly absorbed due to the presence of sugars and oils. The rate of absorption from 50g of chocolate has been found to be similar to the absorption of catechins from 200ml of red wine.

Many studies and reviews have summarised that there are potential benefits of dark chocolate in reducing blood pressure and LDL cholesterol – the ‘bad’ cholesterol which can lead to the clogging of arteries.

To read the full article and learn more, click here to purchase the August 2015 issue of Swimming Times.  

Otter Water Polo

In part two of our look back to this year’s ASA National Age Group Water Polo Championships, Otter coach Peggy Etiebet reflects on her club’s victory in the U17 girls event. How would you describe your victory?

We won the old fashioned way. The girls, some of whom have to travel for over an hour to Crystal Palace for a 8–10pm session, were motivated to come to training. This enabled us to train as a team and work on tactics to break down the M zone defence we knew Manchester would play and which had served them very well.

Manchester, on paper, had the more experienced players and had beaten us 9-4 and 17-9 in previous rounds but Otter worked as a unit to get the better result on the day. We had previously done the same for Liverpool – they beat us 12-10 using a 1/2 drop defence in the qualifiers but we broke that down in the semis to win 13-7.

I, helped immensely by Nick Buller, had also concentrated in training on building the girls’ confidence to shoot while working on a sense of team responsibility and positive feeling such that if your team-mate shoots and misses, you think, ‘Hard luck, you'll get it in next time’, while covering back with all your energy.

My experience at GB senior level showed me that a systemic problem, at least at the senior level, was that we did not take as many shots as other teams. If you don’t shoot, you don’t score. We worked to build up the girls’ confidence in shooting as well as their judgement of when to shoot and, if you look at the scoresheet for the final, we have a very even spread of scorers.

The final was amazing. The girls did me proud and played the best I’ve ever seen them play. Nick Buller’s motto is ‘Believe to achieve’. Manchester went into an early 4-1 lead and our girls just kept on battling and believing. We went into the final quarter 6-4 up and then Manchester showed great fight to come back and lead 7-6. I told the girls a story about how, in the final of the Hungarian championships, my team Szentes were five goals down in the last quarter and came back to win, scoring the last goal at 0.01 seconds before the bell, and if we could do it, they could too. And they did! The final score was 9-7 to us. The key for me was how responsive the girls were to changes of tactics and position to stymie the Manchester defence and how each player stepped up to take responsibility to get that ball in the back of the net. 

To read more about Otter’s success, click here to purchase a copy of the August 2015 issue of Swimming Times.   


They were ringing the changes at the British Masters Championships in Manchester as the masters community took another step towards self-sufficiency – but the meet ran smoothly despite a record entry, says Swimming Times.

In the pool, there were over 2,800 splashes producing one world, 12 European and 55 British records. The world mark came in the 160yrs 4x200m freestyle relay and fell to Sarah Collings, Karen Driver, Jessica Woodisse and Nicola Latty collectively swimming as Sub 160. They were delighted with their achievement. ‘We’ve only gone and swum a world record,’ was Karen’s insightful if slightly understated comment when announcing their success on Facebook. 

One interesting feature of the event was the emergence of the team from East Leeds. The swimmers from this northern powerhouse have been threatening to challenge Otter and Spencer and this was obviously their breakout meet. East Leeds relay teams set five British records in the men’s and mixed 120yrs 200m freestyle team, the 160yrs men’s 200m freestyle and the mixed 400m freestyle – not to mention a European record in the 120yrs mixed 800m freestyle relay.

As for individual performances, in true Sir Chris Hoy style, Antipodean Kirsten Cameron didn’t let the removal of her favourite event from the programme affect her performance as she set three European records in the 40-44yrs 200, 400 and 800m freestyle. Team-mate and exiled Geordie Julie Hoyle continued her assault on the 50-54yrs backstroke marks, claiming a British record in the 200m and a European record in the 100m.

David Emerson and Alastair Crawford made it a double celebration for the Yorkshire club as they both made it into the record books in the 50m fly in the 50-54 and 30-34 age groups.

To read the full report, click here to buy a copy of the August 2015 issue of Swimming Times.

World Champs Preview

Jamieson back on track, says McNulty

Olympic silver medallist Michael Jamieson has put his personal ‘annus horribilis’ behind him and is back on the path to Rio – and his coach Dave McNulty is delighted about that. 

While most swimmers would be delighted to win a Commonwealth Games silver medal, coming second to fellow Scot Ross Murdoch in the 200m breaststroke was a shattering blow to the hot favourite and Glasgow 2014 poster-boy.

He took another blow when he finished only fifth among a world-class field in the 200m breaststroke at the British championships in April, missing out on world championship qualification.

But McNulty, head coach of British Swimming’s University of Bath National Centre, believes Jamieson has now turned the corner and is on track for Rio.

‘Nearly every great sporting story has a time when you hit a bit of a low, hit rock bottom,’ McNulty told Swimming Times.

‘I think that’s what happened with Michael. He had the highs of a silver medal in London and then it didn’t quite click for him. He got a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games, which he found really difficult’.

To read more of the World Champs preview, click here to buy a copy of the August 2015 issue. 

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