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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

  • We’ve all been there. You have a good swim, take a shower – and then your heart sinks as you discover you’ve forgotten your towel. A training mate or lost property can often come to the rescue – but they weren’t options available to Nick Alford. When the 41-year-old from Aylesford, Kent, realised he’d left his towel at home, he’d just done battle with a shoal of jellyfish, swum 46,600 frontcrawl strokes and become the first man this year to swim the Channel under Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation rules. ‘Despite the months of planning and preparation, I got back onto the boat after 14 hours 4 minutes and found that I had left my towel at home,’ said the father of three.
  • He’s already the president of ESSA and a former university water polo player and now the Prince of Swimming has added another water discipline to his portfolio. The Duke of Cambridge, second in line to the throne, demonstrated his aquatic credentials as he followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather to become president of the British Sub-Aqua Club. Speaking at Oasis Lido in London’s West End, Prince William admitted he was a ‘fair-weather diver’ but promised his toddler son Prince George will one day be taught to snorkel and scuba-dive. ‘Just like my grandfather and my father, I am proud to say that I learnt to dive with BSAC, and I share your passion for the sport and the underwater world,’ he said. 
  • Katie Nesbitt made history by becoming the first-ever girl to win a para-swimming gold medal at the European Junior Championships – then followed up with three more golds and a bronze. Craig Harris and Matthew Wylie also struck gold twice each in the Netherlands while Ryan Nicholls bagged a quartet of silver medals, It was UEA City of Norwich’s S14 swimmer Nesbitt who claimed the unique honour, however, as she won the multi- classification 100m freestyle in 1:02.91, worth 911 points. The 15-year-old went on to strike gold in the MC 50m freestyle (29.20, 862), 100m butterfly (1:12.88, 904) and 100m backstroke (1:10.75, 838) and also won bronze in the 100m breaststroke.

For more news you can click here to purchase the September 2014 issue of Swimming Times. 

This Life

The Glasgow 2014 opening ceremony was certainly a riot of colour and sound, says Roger Guttridge.

It was colourful and loud, it was quaint and quirky; it offered humour in spades, a warm welcome blended with the inevitable dollop of Scottish pride and a touch of the sombre when appropriate. It was, in short, a fitting curtain- raiser to what was billed as the ‘biggest sporting event Glasgow has ever seen’.

With more than 40,000 people in the Celtic Park stadium, this celebration of sport and the Commonwealth began with ‘the kingdom of the Scots’ – an eight-minute canter through all things Scottish, from whisky to marmalade to giant teacakes, from golf to fountain pens, from Dolly the Sheep to the Kelvin scale. As entertainer Karen Dunbar reminded us, ‘We’re a land of inventors and poets and dreamers. We’re enlightened, creative and fun.’

To read more about the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony you can click here to purchase a copy of the September 2014 issue of Swimming Times. 

Honesty Box

Graeme Knowles, the award-winning chairman of Gwent Dolphins Disability Swimming Club in South Wales, reveals that he twice raced an Olympic champion – and why he’d like the late Tony Benn among his ideal dinner party guests. 

Nobody knows this, but... I raced against Linford Christie twice and got beaten both times. I did athletics seriously when I was young and came second to Linford in the 200m at an open meeting at Crystal Palace back in 1981.

I wouldn’t be where I am now without... my son, Andrew. He is 26 and has learning difficulties and when he was nine, my wife and I took him to Gwent Dolphins Swimming Club for people with disabilities. I had not been there long when they said they could do with another man on the committee, as they only had one. I agreed and straightaway they told me I would be vice-chairman.
Within about six months, the chairman packed it in. I took over and have been chairman ever since – about 12 years.

To find out what else Graeme reveals in Honesty Box you can click here to buy the September 2014 issue of Swimming Times. 

Marathon Swimmer

Ed Williams has done the training and put everything in place. Now he just has to swim the North Channel. 

With two weeks to go before my swim window opens on August 18, I’m getting a little nervous. As the weather is so unpredictable for any Channel swim, a swimmer always books a five- or six-day window of opportunity in relation to the tides so that they have the best possible chances of success by going on the first good weather day. If each of the days in the window passes with no suitable weather, then the swimmer loses the opportunity to swim and has to re-book. That is one of the many frustrations of Channel swimming and I know many a swimmer who has trained hard for years only to lose their window due to bad weather and have to wait another year.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I did something called a ‘back-to-back swim’, which in Channel swimming circles involves a six-hour swim one day followed by a seven-hour swim the next day with little or no time to recover. The good news is that I managed to survive it so I know my training has paid off.

It was pretty tough and on day one, within the first 30 minutes, I swam face-first into a jellyfish. The pain was excruciating and felt like a net of acid expanding over my face and down my body. I didn’t stop, though, and just kept on swimming knowing in my mind that this jellyfish was a pussycat compared to the ones in the North Channel – the dreaded lion’s mane, which regularly reach 10ft in diameter and are highly toxic.

This is the least of the wildlife I can expect in the North Channel, though. Last week a friend of mine had a humpback whale pop up 10 metres away from her. Seals and basking sharks are regular occurrences as well and I really hope I get to have a similar close-up experience. It is one of the many things that make these swims so magical.

To find out more about Ed’s preparations you can click here to buy the September 2014 issue of Swimming Times. 

Fast Lane

Former England swimmer Jimmy Rogers compares Glasgow 2014 with his own experiences at Jamaica 1966 and Edinburgh 1970.

Glasgow 2014. More than seven years in the planning and now it’s been and gone. Prince Imran, president of CGF, put it well at the closing ceremony: ‘It was the best ever!’ And it was. Scottish pride, culture and the traditional friendship theme was well presented in a lighthearted, musical way at the opening ceremony at Celtic Park. Even Her Majesty was playfully animated at the CGF president and Chris Hoy's clumsy attempts to retrieve her message from the baton, all of which had Sylvia and I reminiscing about our 1970 Edinburgh Games appearances.

‘Where are our uniforms now?’ ‘In the loft?’ ‘And your silver medal, Sylvia?’ ‘In the cabinet!’ Visually there were some differences compared with our opening ceremony, not least the giant screen that provided an ever-changing backdrop to a spectacular evening featuring John Barrowman and Rod Stewart to name but two. The decision to use the Games platform for the vulnerable children in the Commonwealth, which raised £3.7m was a stroke of genius and touched all in the stadium and at home.

In the pool, there were few clues at first that anything was different from our Games of 44 years ago. The Tollcross pool was 50m in length, check. The lane floats changed colour at each end, check. Electronic touchpads were in place, check. Scottish kilts were check, check.

From this point onwards, however, very little was recognisable. Competitors in head phones, heated pants, thermal tops, fully capped and goggled, were ‘piped’ through what looked like the front facade borrowed from the Celebrity Big Brother house and were air-blasted for the privilege.

Fortunately, none were too traumatised to race afterwards. And race they did, not any harder than we did all those years ago but certainly quicker and matched by Hannah Miley's ‘talk 500 miles...an hour’ TV interview, and why not? It was a brilliant 400m IM win and Scotland's first in the pool.

You can find out more about how the Games have changed over the years simply click here to purchase a copy of the September 2014 issue of Swimming Times. 

Glasgow Gold

Wales enjoyed their finest-ever Commonwealth Games in the pool while England and Scotland were close to their best results. Roger Guttridge reports from Glasgow’s Tollcross International Swimming Centre. 

When Scotland’s Dan Wallace cried ‘For freedom!’ after winning the 400m IM, he was providing one of the iconic moments of Glasgow 2014 – albeit one of many. 

Four days later he provided another, stepping on to the podium to collect his 200m IM silver medal clad in a kilt in the Team Scotland tartan. In both cases, he was making a statement about national identity – a very public one in his case, but behind the scenes this subject had been exercising the minds of coaches for some time. Some more than others.

As the Games swimming programme drew to a close, England head coach Jon Rudd explained that identity was one of the topics his team focused on in the run- up to Glasgow 2014. ‘We talked about the fact that the Scots found it very easy to feel Scottish and the Welsh found it very easy to feel Welsh whereas the English found it very easy to feel British,’ he said. ‘We need more than just an England badge on our teeshirts. We needed to bring some kind of collective responsibility about what we were trying to do. We didn’t worry about what the opposition might or might not do. We just concentrated on what we could do.’

The team spirit was evident throughout the Games but no more so than during those thrilling three-and-a- half minutes at the very end, when the team of Walker- Hebborn, Peaty, Barrett and Brown won the men’s medley relay gold for England for the first time in 64 years. This was the epitome of the ‘collective responsibility’ that Rudd had spoken of.

You can read the rest of this article by purchasing the September 2014 issue of Swimming Times.  

Top 10

There was tremendous success for the English divers at the Commonwealth Games diving in Edinburgh, as Peter Hassall reports.

Redolent with the faces and medallists of two previous Commonwealth Games, having been built for the 1970 edition, and then used again in 1986, the triple flat-roofed Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh became, after its recent refurbishment, the only venue in Commonwealth history to be used at three Games.

Overlooked by Arthur’s Seat, the remnants of an old volcano, there was plenty of red-hot diving action and, though we must not get carried away (a few too many straight finals and the European championships around the corner), great praise must go to England’s table-topping medallists, particularly Jack Laugher with two gold medals and a silver and the irrepressible Tom Daley, who retained his 10m title and won silver in the synchro.

Considering that the last Games in Delhi brought just two golds (for Daley in the 10m and with his partner Max Brick in the 10m synchro), this year’s best-ever haul of 10 – four gold, three silver and three bronze – was a superb improvement while for me Jack Laugher had a hand on the gold in the 3m as did Sarah and Tonia in the 10m synchro. So the depth is certainly better and, with youngsters like Victoria Vincent, 13, England’s youngest athlete at the whole Games, and 14-year- old Matthew Dixon coming through, the future looks bright.

To read more about the diving at the Games you can click here to purchase the September 2014 issue of Swimming Times.

Master Blogger

Verity Dobbie jets off to the world masters champs – and finds spanners in the works at every turn.

How do you explain to your husband that you’ve booked a trip to Montreal and you’re not going to take him? I wrestled with that for a while and then posted on Facebook: ‘Just booked flight for Montreal, anyone need a roomie?’ That worked – although I had to mollify him by booking an extra week for him and Teenage Triathlete (TT) in Lanzarote before I arrive later in August.

With my departure looming, I had somewhat uncharacteristically managed to keep swimming until I left for Montreal. This marks a significant change of tactics as usually I am able to avoid training completely in the three weeks before an event. It almost seems as if I’ve planned it.

But don’t worry: my pre-meet preparation was as ideal as ever, consisting of the obligatory late night in the office sticking the proverbial fingers in dykes (12:15am escape). And halfway home, I realised I’d left behind my laptop charger. Bother!

I eventually arrived home around 12:30am and made myself exceedingly popular with Bob and TT by crashing around the house packing – or rather chucking – half- a-dozen teeshirts, three pairs of shorts, two warm-up suits, two racing suits, two pairs of goggles and as many clean pairs of knickers as I could find, not to mention enough electronic gadgets to start a PC World franchise, in a bag. Three hours 25 minutes in bed, then up and off to the airport for a 6:25am flight from Newcastle to Paris. (How else would you get to Montreal? And it’s French, isn’t it?) By 12 noon (5pm UK time) I found myself starving and shattered at 41,000 feet…

To discover Verity’s first impressions of Montreal you can click here to buy the September 2014 issue of Swimming Times. 

Awards & Celebrations

This month’s round-up of awards pictures includes the Leicester Diddy League champs from Nottinghamshire, medallists and award winners from Kent, Sussex and Dorset and a Scottish swim squad with an unusual mission…

Thirty-two young swimmers from 17 clubs across the west of Scotland have been selected for a new partnership between Scottish Swimming, Youth Scotland and Scottish Sports Futures, supported by West District Swimming. The Young Leaders squad attended a residential training event in Larbert with the aim of upskilling them so they can address retention issues in their sport. They will develop their projects and programmes to take back to their clubs to engage other young swimmers and keep them involved in the sport.

To view pictures and find out more about our featured award winners you can click here to buy the September 2014 issue of Swimming Times.

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