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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-year-old Declan Bennett is preparing for the international stage after being selected to represent Great Britain at the 2015 World Transplant Games in Argentina. The Lincoln Vulcans swimmer won five gold medals and one silver at the British Transplant Games last year, as well as receiving the award for best 15 to 17-year-old athlete. Declan, of Woodhall Spa, Lincs, took up competitive swimming after a kidney transplant in 2009 when he was 10. He was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease three years earlier.
  • Fears about crime and security in Rio have increased after two British Olympic medallists were mugged during a training visit to Brazil. Sailors Saskia Clark and Hannah Mills, who won Olympic silver and world championship gold in 2012, were walking from the sailing club to their hotel when they were attacked by two men with seven-inch knives. “Our delightful walk turned fairly nasty when they ran at us, pushed us around and grabbed everything we had,” they said on Facebook. “Along with the things that were actually worth something, the most annoying thing right now is our lycra we were sailing in got taken. Unbelievable!”
  • Britain’s Fran Halsall, Sophie Allen, Jemma Lowe and Siobhan O’Connor have been awarded bronze medals after the backdated doping ban on breaststroker Yulia Efimova led to the disqualification of Russia from the women’s 4x50m medley relay in the 2013 European short course championships. Denmark and Sweden took the gold and silver medals.  

To get the full story and read more of this month’s news stories, click here to purchase the February 2015 issue of Swimming Times

This Life

The London Aquatics Centre’s first head coach, Lisa Bates, and her star swimmers, Aimee Willmott and Sophie Taylor, talk to Swimming Times about the pool’s inspirational qualities and their plans on the road to Rio.

Lisa, how would you sum up your new role as coach of the new swimming programme at the London Aquatics Centre?

It’s a huge, inspiring opportunity for anyone. It wasn’t a case that I was unhappy in Middlesbrough because I was very happy. But I believe as a coach, not only for your career but for athletes’ careers, that you should always look for and strive for something better. My acceptance was on the condition of Aimee moving with me. We wanted to leave no stone unturned in Rio. It was a decision we made between us. I probably wouldn’t have moved if she had not come with me because I believe too much in the journey that she and I are taking and what she is capable of.

I applied for the job and found out that I had got it during the Commonwealth trials. I didn’t tell Aimee until the day after the trials. I think initially it was a shock. She was very happy and we had all the resources that we needed in terms of physio and strength-and-conditioning but they weren’t centralised at where the pool was. Here in London, we have the whole package on site.

Although it was a shock initially [for Aimee], it was also a case of “this is an opportunity that I’m not going to miss and I am following my dream”. And let’s face it, it’s a good place to be. You become friends with Tom Daley and you have members of the public watching you in awe from the stands.

To read more from Lisa, Aimee and Sophie about life in London and training at the Olympic pool, you can click here to purchase a copy of the February 2015 issue of Swimming Times. 

Honesty Box

Grant Robins, the ASA England Programmes team leader, reveals why he sticks to speed limits and why he ripped up the book that used to be his favourite read.

Before I die, I want to… cycle from John o’ Groats to Land’s End. That’s the sort of life challenge I fancy – a superhuman effort. I’ve swum the Channel so that’s not on my bucket-list any more. I did it as part of a relay with David Wilkie, Duncan Goodhew, Paul Palmer and Ian Wilson. It was certainly a good laugh. Oh, and I need to do an Ironman triathlon.

If I could spend my fantasy 24 hours in any way I wished with no restriction on travel, how would I spend it?

I would start on top of a mountain and ski down it. Due to the constraints of swimming, I never went ski-ing until just a few years ago and now I love it. Then I would have lunch with friends and family. In the afternoon, I would go scuba-diving maybe in the Red Sea or at the Great Barrier Reef, and I would finish off having beef Wellington and red wine in a nice restaurant in London.

I like our capital city – there’s always something going on. It’s vibrant. My daughter spent a year there and we enjoyed going to visit her and exploring the city.

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

Las Vegas life 

Double Olympian Jenna Randall talks about life in Las Vegas, where she has traded competitive synchronised swimming for a role in Cirque du Soleil’s water show, O

How did you get this gig in Las Vegas?

Towards the end of my training for the synchro world championships in 2013, I decided it would probably be my last competition. I still loved synchro – I just didn’t want to do the competitive side any more.

I knew that our choreographer, Stephan Miermont, had worked with Cirque du Soleil for a while and I asked if he knew of any auditions or anything. He gave me the head coach’s email address and I emailed her and sent her a video of my solo.

She loved it and invited me over to Las Vegas and that was it really.

What is the show about and what is your role in it?

I’m in a show called O and it’s the only water show that Cirque du Soleil has. In the official description, it’s called an “aquatic tapestry of artistry, surrealism and theatrical romance” that is “inspired by the concept of infinity and the elegance of water’s pure form” and where “anything is possible and the drama of life plays itself out before your eyes”.

To read more about life in Vegas, future prospects and the Randall family, click here to purchase a copy of the February 2015 issue. 

New pool for old

A pool built for the Navy more than 100 years ago has finally been scuttled – but the Plymouth Royal Navy Royal Marine SC has a brand new pool in its place. June Porter reports

February 1 last year brought the end of an era when the HMS Drake swimming pool shut forever. My swimming history ties in with this pool – from swimming in it as a child with Port of Plymouth up to today as the head coach of the Plymouth Royal Navy, Royal Marine club. The home pool of the Plymouth Royal Navy Royal Marines Swimming Club moved to the new HMS Drake Endeavour two days later.

The old pool was commissioned in 1889 with the stipulation it had to be an indoor heated pool. It was a solidly built structure inside Devonport naval base and finally opened in 1906. Although I don’t go back that far, I still remember the pool having many of its original features, such as a diving platform at the deep end (not allowed today due to the water depth) and the arches on the poolside, which were the changing cubicles. There were trapezes and rings hanging over the pool. As a child of about eight, the scariest thing was having to swim underneath the heavy wooden water polo goals, which were also suspended above the pool. Although I did get to use those goals when I trained and played water polo with Plymouth Leander, this is also where I met my husband, a submariner and a swimmer.

To read more about the club’s history including its silver anniversary as well as future prospects in the new Endeavour pool click here to purchase the February 2015 issue of Swimming Times

Age is just a number 

Kirsten Cameron didn’t take up distance swimming until she was 30 but now she’s chasing a Janet Evans record. Helen Gorman reports

There’s plenty of evidence in sport that endurance increases as you get older, hence marathon runners and ironman triathletes winning world titles in their late thirties, or even into their forties. Ultra runners mature in their fifties.

In our sport, distance swimming is apparently a young person’s domain. Janet Evans won triple Olympic gold aged 16 and retired at 24. Britain’s Sarah Hardcastle won two Olympic medals as a 15-year-old and retired two years later. David Davies won his Olympic 1500m medal at 19 and retired superstar Rebecca Adlington is still only 25 now.

But what happens if you don’t actually take up distance swimming until you’re 30? Leeds-based Kiwi, Kirsten Cameron, is trying to find out and is achieving some incredible performances, even if some of them apparently seem to go unnoticed.

Kirsten set a 40-44yrs FINA masters world record at the British Gas Masters Long Course Championships in Swansea last summer, her 17th career world masters record.

She was not happy with the time, and it was clear to see on her face as she touched the wall and saw 17:49.26 on the scoreboard. It was a world record by seven seconds and eclipsed the previous time that had stood for 11 years, but she had hoped to swim much faster.

She said: “Records are just a marker – it’s a goal you have but for me the motivation is to swim the perfect race, to know you have given it your all and swum the best you can. People couldn’t understand why I wasn’t happy. It wasn’t about the record – it was about the time. Even if I’d been just 10 seconds faster in Swansea, I would have been happier. I just wasn’t focused and when 1500s go wrong, they go really wrong.”

To read more about Kirsten’s training timetable, the challenge of the English Channel and the ultimate dream of Janet Evans’ 800m record, click here to buy a copy of the February 2015 issue of Swimming Times.

Teaching pool 

By creating positive experiences, swimming teachers are promoting aquatics for life for their pupils, says Evelyn McFadden

As you prepare for your swimming lessons on any given day, what are your thoughts about the process? Is it just another work day for you, another shift to get through? Or do you see yourself as an important part of someone else’s day?

How do you imagine yourself as a swimming teacher or coach? As an educator, a supporter, a nurturer? Do you regularly, critically reflect on your methodology, your attitude or teaching style? Or not at all? What is your ‘End Game’?

 More than ever, we are aware of the vulnerability of children and the role we must play in keeping them safe. So it follows that there is the likelihood that children with whom we come into contact, may:

• be coming from an unsafe home environment

• be struggling with school

• have low self-esteem

• lack confidence

• be the subject of bullying

• be anxious or worried

• be fearful

• be hungry

• be neglected

While there is little we can do to address many of these issues, it actually takes little for us to focus on the positive, and to decide a plan of action for treating each child with respect and dignity, for the short time they are in our care.

 We all remember our favourite teacher and why that teacher stands out in our minds. Think of the attributes of the teacher that had a positive impact on you as a child or student. Remember you are a person first and then a teacher. How would you like to be remembered by your pupils?

To read more from Evelyn including her advice checklist and critical reflection, click here to buy the February 2015 issue of Swimming Times. 

Swimming Sixties

Masters coach and former Croydon Amphibians swimmer and water polo player Tony Pearce remembers a decade when swimming captured the mood of an era

The beginning of the Sixties… Bill Haley and the Comets had come to England and it was as if we were waiting for The Beatles to arrive. In swimming then, there were only two age groups – junior (16 and under) and senior (over 16). Swimming was still waiting for age groups for children to arrive.

While attending a Surrey county swimming training course, I had learned all about Amphibians Swimming Club. I had gone as far as I could with my club, Gorringe (Park School) Swordfish Swimming Club in Mitcham. For me, it was time to move on. So, I got on my bike and pedalled all my way to Croydon. Homework done. Check battery lights in working order. Bicycle pump on. Hope I don’t get a puncture. Where’s my padlock? Oh no, it’s going to rain again.

Although run down in appearance, Croydon Central Baths still had a certain ambience – the grandiose, white-pillared entrance, through wooden doors, past the matriarch in the cash desk, to a foyer leading to no less than three swimming pool entrances.

Two pools – one indoor 25-yard and one derelict outdoor pool either side of which a long corridor led to the main 33.3 yards pool. The Amphibians noticeboard on the wall. What a nice badge, I thought. As was the welcome into the pool from the club’s secretary, Edgar Warner. His overall official club attire included a smart cream coloured jacket with a predominant Amphibians club tie. I was a bit nervous at first, but his firm handshake, to me, was a welcoming assurance. Family.

He then introduced me to the swimming coach. His name was Harold Judd. Harold reminded me of the Charles Atlas advertisement. I wasn’t even going to think about kicking sand in his face. He had obviously been a swimmer in his heyday. To me, then, he really looked the part of what a swimming coach should be. Inspiring. It was then that I made my mind up that one day I was going to be a swimming coach.

To continue with Tony’s trip down memory lane, you can click here to purchase a copy of the February 2015 issue of Swimming Times. 

St Lucia Sharks 

A chance encounter at Crystal Palace gave young swimmer Callum Black the chance to train with St Lucia Sharks during a family holiday. His dad Martin Black describes the experience

How many people wonder if there is a local club that their child could attend while they are on the family holiday? Not so much for the training but more to make friends and enjoy the experience of different methods of training.

While at the Beacon swimming gala at Crystal Palace, I volunteered my services and was asked if I could do the announcing – much to my wife’s amusement.

I found myself talking to Hilroy Emanus, a swimmer’s dad, who was over here from St Lucia. This was a big coincidence because we were due to go to St Lucia the following day for our family holiday. Hilroy thought it would be a great opportunity for Callum to meet and swim with a local club and, through him, I contacted Joyce Huxley, secretary general of the St Lucia Amateur Swimming Association.

Joyce was a great source of information and put me in touch with the club local to where we were going to be staying, the St Lucia Sharks.

I immediately emailed head coach Jamie Peterkin to check that it would be OK for Callum to drop in and train with them while we were there.

When we arrived at the outdoor pool, Callum was made to feel very welcome and had an enjoyable session with Jamie putting him and the squad through their paces. After the session, Callum said that it had been hard but great fun.

The pool was finished 11 years ago. Before then, the club had to train in hotel pools, which are not always designed with a shape or depth suitable for a swim squad.

So the pool is a jewel for the club and that shows in the training sessions. But the best is still to come.

To find out more click here to purchase a copy of the February 2015 issue of Swimming Times. 

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