Hi. I wondeer can anyone answer this for me. This is my first post, so please bear with me!
I am 37 years old, live in Wirral, UK, have followed the Olympics for as long as I can remember, my favourite sport is swimming, and I am partially sighted, but above the highest criteria of S13, but not able to drive as my vision is not good enough for that. Now to my point:
Ever since I was at school I loved swimming, but found it hard to get used to it again after being frightened as a small child. Luckily we had our own pool at my school - 25 yards but still lovely to swim in. My fastest time for one length was 17.94 seconds - but my problem was I was not quite good enough to do any galas, although I did do one once, and was not happy with the outcome
As my vision was 6/24-6/18, I had better vision than the S13 maximum criteria, which I believe is 6/60 - ie only able to read the top line of the snellen chart.
I was entered into a race which, because there were not enough people to fill the pool for this particular race, only myself and one other person took part. So you guessed it, I won silver by default - despite finishing 30 seconds after the winner.
The sheer fact that you could win by default was a farce. Having enjoyed swimming, I felt I had been cheated by the system, so was put off partaking in any other BSAD events. I left school soon afterwards, and had no further opportunity anyway.
And if that wasn't bad enough it got worse. When I left school, I had no opportunity to train or be coached in order to improve my perfornance. When I returned to Wirral a few years later, every club I tried to join did not attempt to get my performance better - or if they did, they never told me my technique was wrong, or I had lane discipline problems. This is nw rectified by the way.
So a few years ago, I attempted to join yet another swimming club - this time on my first visit was told "you have a good staminer, but you're not good enough to join us, come back in 12 months." The coach also said that they do not have time to "teach", and I needed to basically start again on technique etc. I was not amused.
I am still having trouble because I really do want to swim well again - preferably competing if possible. There are very few Masters clubs, but after all that, I can now ask the questions I hope someone can give an honest answer to.
1 At the current Olympics, one of the US women won silver who was 41 years old - older than me so as far as I know there is still time theoretically. What I want to know is if anyone knows:
1 Is there a particular method you can use mentally or whatever, to keep up good performance for many years back to back?
2 If you are good enough in Masters, if your time is good enough is it still possible to qualify for the Olympics?
3 What advice can you give to someone who would love to be able to keep up the same fast pace for high volume of lengths, rather than slowing down the more the swim goes on? I was told it was not how many lengths you do, but the way you do it - but I could not get any other explanation on that.
4 The minimum age for participation in the Olympics is 16 - yet there are clubs in the UK who only provide advice to swimmers up to the age of 16 and then no more. They don't want to know you if you are over 16 and not already in a club at that time. There is no logic in this.
Sorry this is very long, but for someone who had been inspired by the success at the current Olympics, it seems a shame to waste it if I still have any competitive swimming left in me.
As I was frightened of water for almost my entire childhood, I see it as a way of getting over that - and possibly doing something I never thought I would ever do.
Just to let you know, in Wirral we have no fewer than 6 25 metre pools all operated by the local council, plus one 25 yard pool - which is run by a trust. Only one has very early morning swimming - for elite swimmers ony. They use a facility which although run by the council and used by the public, was only given its funding on conditionn it was used by the swimming squads, and not generally for public access. The public get the gaps in between the training sessions. Starting blocks are kep out at all times but no-one is allowed to use them - only the elite swimmers can. Yet, during BBC coverage of the games, the swimming guide promos done by Stephen Parry, included the start technique, which I am not allowed to practice, despite the starting blocks that are at the pool I refer to. I see little point of letting people participate in a sport that you are not able to do properly, but I want to do it properly, and can use starting blocks. Attitudes towards that has to change. I was told off for doing a racing dive from a plinth the first day this "elite" pool was open. I just did it by second nature, and was not amused.
Idealy the ASA really need to get a grip of this - ban any centre from having two insurance policies - one for public and one for clubs - it doesn't make sence. There should be one only - meaning that all facilities on site can be used by anyone who attends. The ASA should also stop this blatent discrimination on grounds of age whereby you cannot join any clubs because you are too old etc.
So what do you suggest? If anyone is out there who can advise genuinely and positively who I should contact about my concerns or questins, or what I should do, please get in touch. Luckily I am taking part in the Great North Swim, on 13 September. But I do want to swim better and compete again if possible. Sorry if I have posted this in the wrong place, but there is one thread for swimming here, and want advice from people who may be able to help. The British success in the pool is bound to inspire people to take the sport up even if they have not done it before - but they should be given a chance if they want to - whatever age they are.
Thanks for reading this and I lok forward to reading your responses.