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I spent a lot of my time swimming either training or competing. I have been training since I was about 8 or 9 and I am still doing it today which means I have been training for about 5 or 6 years. Throughout this time I have achieved so much and have had so much fun. I love the sport even though many of my friends make fun of me because of the swimwear which can be uncomfortable at times and shows a lot of skin and is always tight.
As I just said I have been training for about 5 or 6 years but before that I did swimming lessons and so on. I train at Bo'ness Swimming club and have trained there since the very beginning. I train three times a week on Monday nights from 7 until 9, on Thursday nights from 6 until 9 and on Fridays nights from 5.30 until 7. This adds up to 6 ½ hours of training which isn't that much and some boys my age do double that amount. I could also go to two other training sessions on Wednesday mornings before school and early on a Saturday morning but I don't like getting up early at all. I also try to get up to the gym twice a week but for a while I have been recovering from illness and injuries but soon I will get back into the rhythm of things and will try and get up to 10 hours a week of training.
On a Monday night I will usually swim about 4 or 5 kilometres which would include a warm up, a strength set (pull or kick), an aerobic set (working hard and fast but building stamina throughout), some max effort work (getting the heart rate over 200), some skill and technique work and to finish off a swim down. I would get the same sort of set for the last 2 hours on the Thursday training session but before that I would do an hour of land training. Land training consists of mostly strength work, press ups and sit ups for example. This is probably the hardest part of a weeks training for me because I am not the strongest of people but I am getting a lot stronger because of this training. Then on the Friday session it consists of much more max effort work and technique work.
Training is very hard and to make it to a high standard of swimming you need to be training hard from a young age. It's never too late to become a fast swimmer though. I think that if you took someone who couldn't swim a length and trained them properly for a few months they could swim a 200m front crawl without being tired. I also think that anyone can be the best in the world but you need to spend soo much of your time in the pool training and you would loose a lot of your free time and wouldn't be the most sociable person.
I used to train at a slightly different squad which was set up for the best swimmers from a few clubs to join together and make a "super squad". This squad is coached by Robert Lee who swam at the commonwealth games in 2006 for 50 metres Breaststroke. He also swam for Bo'ness Swimming Club so I am quite proud to swim there because of that. Robert Lee is a very good coach and knows a lot about swimming but if I had continued to train at that squad my whole life would be taken over by swimming which is not what I want to have happen even though some of my friends have already said it has.
The other main aspect for me is competing which for me is the best part of swimming. I think that one of the best feelings in the world is diving into a pool for a race, heart racing, and pushing yourself as hard as you possibly can and when it pays off it feels fantastic. I have competed up to West District level which is pretty good as only the best swimmers on the West side of Scotland get to that level. I have swum three events at this level, 100m Breaststroke, 200m Breaststroke and 200m Backstroke. These two strokes are my two fastest in comparison to other peoples.
The best pool that I have ever had the chance to compete in is the Tollcross pool in Glasgow which would be used for the commonwealth games if Glasgow were chosen to host the 2014 games. It is a 50m x 25m pool making it huge. It has a constant depth of 2 metres the whole way down the pool but this can be changed by raising the level of the floor. I have competed in this pool 3 times and every time it has just been amazing. One of the great things about it is that right next to it, it has a 25 metre pool for swim downs after races which is very useful after working yourself very hard because afterwards all your muscles tighten up and I have been stupid enough not to stretch off after a race before and it is not something I will do again. It also has a huge full colour display above the starting blocks at one end of the pool for showing split times during races and results etc. It is the only one of its kind in Scotland making it another unique feature for this pool. Another great pool I have swum at is the Stirling University pool. It is also a 50m pool and is always kept in great condition. It feels very easy to swim in just like Tollcross which makes it a great pool for competing in.
I probably compete in between 15 to 20 competitions a year. These range from small club competitions to big competitions like the West Districts. I look forward to every competition I swim in because it gives me another chance to see how fast I can go and if all the work in training has paid off.
I'll just type up my 100m times for each stroke because if I do much more I will end up boring you with numbers. 100m Butterfly 1.24 100m Backstroke 1.16 100m Breaststroke 1.25 100m Front Crawl 1.10
These are all short-course times meaning I swam them in a 25m pool not a 50m pool which is long-course. I am very happy with these times because I am pretty fast now and can beat quite a few of the swimmers at Bo'ness Swimming Club who are older than me and I like to make fun of these people but I don't do it too much because they are still bigger and stronger than me. Right now I am ranked 20th in Scotland for 100m Breaststroke and 24th in Scotland for 200m Breaststroke for my age group which I am extremely happy with because I don't train much and a lot of the other boys in my age group are a lot taller and more developed than me. I would love to get into the top 10 in Scotland but to get to that I will need to put a lot more work in.
I actually haven't gone out to a pool just to mess about with my friends for probably over 2 years now because the only time I get into the water is to train or to race. At times I think about giving up the sport because it can become too much at times but then I think about how great it would be to swim for my country or even win a medal at the world championships and this gets me motivated.
I have achieved so much as a swimmer and there is so much more that I want to do as a swimmer like swim at the Nationals for instance. This is something I am hoping to do next year or the year after. I love swimming but it is not all I do with my spare time as many people do say to me. I don't know what I would do with the 6 ½ hours a week a spend training though if I didn't swim. I would probably just sit in front of the television and get fat so I'm pretty glad that I learnt to swim and now I have become pretty good swimmer.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this and I hope you have learnt a good bit more about me as a person and a swimmer. I hope you have also learnt a bit more about the sport of swimming and how much work goes into swimming fast and it isn't a girls sport as many of my friend's say who play rugby or football. I think I will leave it at that but if you have anything to ask me then feel free to do so and feel free to add a comment at the end of this. Thank you for reading and good luck to you in whatever sports you compete in if it is swimming or anything else.