Over the past 18 months blogger has turned into an outlet, diary, journal for my day to day activities but most of the time I end up feeling like it is just a another cookie cutter example of an "athlete in training" column. Its hard to avoid, seeing as most athletes are doing the same things day in day out, half of us very similar sessions...and almost all have the same memorised responses for the same questions.
"yes I'm working hard"
"yes this season is going to be great"
"yes I love my sponsors"
So not ignoring the fact that I do love my sponsors very much I guess I would like to start including more thoughts and fun stuff into my writing, every once and a while, along with the usual training updates and race reports (once racing starts).
So I shall continue...
Back in the day (possibly my favourite phrase) when I was a swimmer, the group of guys I trained with on a day to day basis became some of my best friends. We were a great team, full of potential and dominated the swimming scene for a few years. We would head to nationals and pick up at least a medal in every event, some of the longer distance freestyle events...we'd take up the whole podium. It was a fun time, definitely made me appreciate being part of a team.
Well around 2006 the squad essentially disbanded, most of us moving away to university elsewhere or like me, just taking some time off. Most of the guys are still on indefinite leave but there are a few of us still sticking in, myself still training 4 mornings a week in the same pool and at the same time as I used to back then.
Though the squad split up a new one was created filled with younger swimmers, the average age dropping by about 4 years and for a good 3 seasons it wasn't the same. Though there was still talent there, there was no motivation and no team spirit. A lot of us thought our era was the last, and it wouldn't be the same again.
Last year when I moved back to Aberdeen, before the 2009 season started I jumped on the phone to the new head coach and asked if I could come in for a few sessions with the "new" top squad, even younger than the one created to replace mine. I trained with them a bit over the summer and by the time the season had finished and winter training started I was in with them 8 hours a week.
It quickly became apparent that there were some great swimmers in the squad, though a huge lack or moral was affecting everyone. The "fun" was minimal and as a consequence there was no inter-swimmer support or encouragement for each other during sets. Things started to change though and by the time November came around it looked like a different group of kids.
This weekend past was yet another successful medal haul by the squad, further north in Inverness at the District (regional) championships. Almost everyone improved times, which at this time of year is great, and a few records fell. One in particular. One of mine.
I set it almost 7 years ago in the same pool, off the back of a great 1500m the month before where I took over a minute off my PB, I was flying. I went into the race clear headed and ready to take it out fast, I did and ended up taking another 20 seconds off my time. 2 weeks later I would take another 27 seconds off my time, 2 weeks after that I'd set the fastest long course time for my age in the UK. It was the best 3 months I ever had in swimming.
Well for 7 years no one has touched it, I was very proud of that record, but I am still proud that it took someone 7 years to get it. Tim McGovern who I've been swimming alongside for the past 8 months took it by a massive 8 seconds to go 16.20, and he's only 14.
It was one of a group of great swims from the weekend but definitely the one worth a mention by me. In fact it now means I no longer hold any 1500m swimming records in Scotland, with another one haven fallen to an equally impressive swim in November by yet another of my young training partners Euan Inglis.
These kids are fast, but they always were. Now though they have the confidence to go out and do it, it's not a confidence they achieved individually but one they worked together to get. When I leave in June for the rest of my season abroad and then in August to Canada where I'll be staying for the forseeable future, I'll miss them for sure. It's been great to train with younger athletes again, they have the guts that quite often older athletes seem to have lost.