I hope you have all been taking the time to work through the Stages of training each week that Diane has been preparing and getting out to you, they are designed with many things in mind but essentially to give you focus.

We are certainly going through unprecedented times and a time of uncertainty at the moment, but also a time to reflect, change and focus on the return to our sport.

I think it was inevitable that the lockdown and certainly the removal of swimming was going to go well beyond the initial 3 week period, which has been borne out by the further 3 week lockdown restriction we now face.  I anticipate that our return to the pool will not come any time soon and therefore we need to look at certain things.

Stages 1 to 3 were to give you a physical focus on continuing with some exercise on a regular basis. For those of you who swam 6 or 7 times a week, and certainly in recent times hitting 25000 m a week, to suddenly have nothing will have a serious impact on your lives in many ways. So what you see in Stage 4 is a timely piece to focus on the psychological aspect of your sport, life and wellbeing.

So lets look at you as competitive swimmers, I know we have multi-sports athletes in the club, and social swimmers and you can benefit from other areas at this time but  the swimming side of things will impact you too. The annual training plan and subsequent periodised training is built around certain phases and times within the year that ultimately focus on various Competitions. The vast majority of the competitive element will look at peaking for the County Short Course Championships, which I’m sure you will agree we did a very good job of, evident by the outstanding swimming and achievements across the board. This was backed up at the City of Derby meet a few weeks later where after a re introduction into a full training programme brought adaptations that again brought about outstanding performances for those who competed.

You may not be aware but we had a number of swimmers qualify for Regional Championships and one swimmer was on the brink of National Championship qualification, so obviously training volume and intensity would have been manipulated to accommodate these swimmers. Various open meets were scheduled into the remainder of the season for race stimulus and race skill practices to assist with your ongoing development as a competitive swimmer/athlete.

Unfortunately this has all now gone by the board and it’s unlikely the remainder of the swimming season in regards to competitions will play out. Swimming season goes from September of one year through to July of the next, so there is hope that we can resume with a brand new season at the end of summer.

So this leads us to now, and thoughts of where we are without swimming. Our sport is an unusual one as opposed to other sports in that we need the water to swim. Yes we can do other exercises and strength work that can contribute to our swimming but we need the water to be able to perfect our skills and also to improve and challenge our aquatic fitness, which is very different from dry land fitness.  I’ve already had a large number of you reach out to us with concerns about this and I’m sure there are others who feel the same, so lets look at this in realistic terms.

As highly trained swimmers, you are going to lose fitness, swimming fitness, lets not kid ourselves about this. Even after a week or two without swimming, upon our return we can feel sluggish, heavy, loss of feel for the water, breathed out, achey ….. the list goes on. So a potential 3 month absence from the pool could leave us feeling very out of sorts. As an ex swimmer, I know this feeling all too well and know what a wrench it can be for some to get themselves back to the pool and almost feel you are on that bottom rung of the ladder facing long hours to regain your swimming fitness.

 Lets look at this practically. Allow yourselves the luxury of ‘knowing’ that you ARE going to lose aquatic fitness, if you accept that then it is one less worry you have to concern yourself with at this moment in time. You will bounce back and hopefully return with a new found hunger for your sport. Now is the time to implement Stage 4 that you have been given, to think about your return and approach it with your own individual plan. If it is written down, like suggested, you are more likely to achieve it or at least be able to track it. If it’s just in your head you are setting yourself up to fall short. If it doesn’t enter your head, you are going to give yourself additional hard work. Have the knowledge that every other swimmer ( your rivals) are in the same boat, everyone will come back to the sport at the same stage. How you plan your return, from now, will have an impact on your eventual return to the water.

So what can we do?  Well the first thing we can do is stay safe and healthy, that is obvious at this time. But in relation to training the main thing is you should NOT overtrain in other physical areas as this could potentially have an adverse knock on effect to the return to your sport. We have given you some guidance exercise wise that will continue throughout this period, but also be sensible in other forms of physical exercise. Think about the work you have been given, which essentially is a maintenance program, designed to help you maintain a degree of strength, flexibility and fitness, it is not competition preparation, it’s merely maintenance. By all means go for your allowed bike ride or allowed run, but treat it as that, a bit of freedom to get out enjoy an activity, not as an all out 100% smash fest. You will need time to grow back into your sport and come back refreshed and uninjured.  Take time to mobilise, stretch, read about sports nutrition, all the things we never have time for in our busy lives, but are the very things that can make a difference on your return. Be focused, be positive and lets embrace this time to give your bodies time to relax and grow in readiness for our return.  

We have spoken about the competitive side of things but of course there are the developing and teaching groups that also need to embrace this time to stay fit and well, rest and eat well and also adopt some of the practices mentioned above. On return to the pool you will continue with your skill development and pursuit as an accomplished swimmer. Three months can see a big difference in growth and maturity and you may well find on your return that we find tasks so much easier than before, so think positive and embrace the moment we can return.

On a final note, as athletes, especially swimmers, we are good time management, even though you may not think it. We prepare, plan, execute and complete. In daily life we have to do all of those things., ‘Prepare, Plan, Execute and Complete’  We wake up each day and perform tasks that ultimately make up the full day.

A tip for the day. Wake up, give yourselves a few moments to reflect on how your night / sleep went, and then get up with a clear plan and tasks for the day. However, you need to complete the first task of the day. Make your bed. That bed has nurtured you throughout the night and enabled you to rest and be strong for the next days tasks. Show it some respect and make the bed. In doing so you have completed your first task of the day. Even if your day does not go to plan, at the end of it you will still come back to your bed that is a reminder to you  that you “DID’ complete the first task of the day !!!!

I wont take credit for the above comment, watch the video….. learn !

https://youtu.be/3sK3wJAxGfs


Stay safe, think positive, be strong, wont be long and we will all be back at it. As always if anyone needs our help, you know how to get in touch with us . I’m almost missing you all )))))

Gary McCaffery
Head Coach

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