Cyprus Blog 2019

Day 8 – 2nd October 2019

The final day of our camp in Cyprus and it is the World record attempts morning. First up was Lauren & Kayleigh who attempted the women’s 200m freestyle record. Next up was Jo Fixter who took on the same event but the women’s Masters record. Dion attempted the men’s 200m IM as did Jude. Josie B, Josie F, Phoebe and Lucy took on the women’s 400m freestyle whilst Leone attempted the women’s 400m IM. The final attempt was the men’s 800m freestyle which involved every swimmer.

It was then time to return to the hotel for the final time, enjoy our last breakfast and watch the swimmers attempt the final record of the day – the Billingham Swimming Club Pancake Record. The current holder is Jude Blackmore with 12 and the challenge is simply. Eat a bowl of cereal, followed by a full English breakfast with toast followed by as many pancakes as you can possible eat with any topping you so desire!

This year the challenge was taken on head on by Lucy Betsho who managed an incredible 15 pancakes. Unfortunately for Lucy – the pancake judges deemed a technical infringement had occurred and she was disqualified. Her crime -she did the challenge in the wrong order. Despite her protests the decision stood on the simply premise that you wouldn’t do the IM in the wrong order. A true swimmers mentality!

We all arrived home safely despite a few hiccups on the way such as a flat tyre, a lost wallet, choking on a piece of chicken and the A19 closed in two places. Roll on next year!

Day 7 – 1st October 2019

Happy Cyprus Independence Day everyone! A public holiday for most of Cyprus – but not for our swimmers #nodaysoffpaysoffexceptforawatersportsrestday!

All the swimmers are suffering from fatigue and a few other ailments, but the spirits are high and the desire to get through all the sessions is something they are proud of.

Today included the final two training pool sessions of the week. An early start for the 7.30am to 9.30pm session and then the 3pm to 5pm session. In between is a 4-mile walk to and from the pool and a log book session – followed by the now end of day ritual of an ice cream at Häagen-Dazs. The menu choices are becoming more extravagant as the week has progressed as various fruits, crepes and waffles are now included. What ever happened to a simple 99?

Tonight, also included a presentation to Guy and Ian as a thank you for their hard work this week. Unfortunately, Ian returned to the UK on Saturday evening but Guy will take his gift. Guy mentioned how thrilled he has been with the swimmer’s efforts and determination over the past week and commended the swimmers as a pleasure to work.

Our final evening coincided with the Greek night at the hotel, which was a great way to finish the week with some fabulous food and traditional entertainment.

Tomorrow will see the group attempt several world records in their final pool session before we head home to a damp and cooler UK. Sadly, goodnight all for the last time.

Day 6 – 30th September 2019

After the adrenaline fuelled rest day yesterday; parents, swimmers and the head coach still felt a little jaded. It has been a warm week at around a steady 30 degrees in temperature which makes training tough. However, after a quiet early morning meet of 7.10am, the swimmers sprung into life during the 5km run with the speed pushed along by the younger swimmers who had grown in confidence over the week. The new found confidence also transferred to the sea swim as the pace picked up from earlier in the training camp. It appears all the fears of sea have certainly been put to one side, as they tried to dive to the bottom and touch the seabed.

Following breakfast, the swimmers started the first pool session of the day from 11am to 1pm. That was followed by lunch and a log book session before the second pool session of the day between 3pm to 5pm.

The Häagen-Dazs visit was back on the schedule and it was richly deserved and a new favorite ice cream seems to be taking over the ordering – Salted Caramel with a Bischof biscuit! It was then dinner and an early night for most as we head in to the last full day tomorrow. Good night all.

Day 5 – 29th September 2019

And on the 5th day of the training camp, the sabbath; Guy created the rest day!

A wonderful day for relaxation, reflection and contemplation. A time for peace and tranquillity after the recent madness and 100 mph scheduling. So, what did the swimmers decide upon? Yeah – 3 hours for jet ski’s, sofa rides and banana boats. 3 hours for bouncing across the water at great speed… that is until the speed boat broke down 2 miles from shore thanks to a plastic bag caught in the propeller. Luckily International Rescue launched Thunderbird 4 to rescue John Fixter from the stricken vessel so he could make the 2pm golf tee off time. The rest of the swimmers followed so they could enjoy the final sofa ride.

The man in charge of water sports centre was Stavros Flatley – The Great Britain’s Got Talent finalist. We learnt that he is a great dancer, he is in the Champion of Champions final next week and he knows a jet ski from a banana boat; but he can’t swim for toffee as he took on Jude and Dion in a quick race across the harbour and he didn’t make it past the first pedalo. The swimmers spent the remained of the day relaxing in the pool, playing tennis and scuba diving. I think they need to understand the definition of rest.

Meanwhile at the Elea golf course the inaugural golf tournament took place between some of the parents and grandparents. On this beautiful Nick Faldo designed golf course, it was ironic that the winner of the ‘Kings of Leon’ competition was won by a man who only drinks half of Keo – Maurice Crosthwaite. For those who don’t know, Leon is a delicious is Cypriot lager served in big bottles and Keo is the local draft lager. Maurice is a vegetarian chicken eater, half pint drinker and somebody who can hit a golf ball 300 yards. But we all know the real winner of the day was golf!

Not to be out done by the swimmers meeting Stavros Flatley; the golfers bumped into Jason Puncheon – the ex-Crystal Palace premier league footballer on the golf course who has just signed for Paphos.

After a day full of excitement, it is time to go to bed in preparation for full day of training tomorrow, this time without Ian Muscroft who left to return home yesterday. Good night all.

Day 4 – 28th September 2019

Saturday, almost the middle day of the camp and the time that tiredness and fatigue starts to show. The day began with a relatively late start at 10am for a log book session. At 11am the group had a surprise visitor – Anna. A former Serbian National Water Polo player took charge of a Pilates session which focused on strength for swimmers. This was a wonderful session and exposed the swimmers to some stretches and movements which will build their core strength and flexibility. At the same time Guy held a parents talk on future plans for the swimmers, the pressure of exams and other benefits of swimming.

Lunch followed before the swimmers had their pool session at 3pm which focused on dive starts and speed development. Again, we were in the presence on the Russian sycho team but in a scene straight from the cold war; Guy, Ian and Jo all broke in to the pool to have a training session on the afternoon. Guy slide through a bush whilst Ian and Jo scaled the fence. The lengths our master’s swimmers go to in order to train knows no bounds.

Saturday is our annual trip to Fat Mammas restaurant in Paphos. As usual we enjoyed some fabulous food but also celebrated some key milestones. Guy’s imminent 60th birthday, Steve and Doreen’s 51st Wedding anniversary as well as Jude and Dion’s upcoming birthdays.

Tonight, was a later evening than normal as tomorrow is the rest day. Not only do we have the normal exciting water sports day but we will also have the inaugural adults golf day. The Kings of Leon trophy will be up for grabs – some very big reputations will be on the line together with their low handicaps. Who will come out on top – we will have to wait and see? Good night all!

Day 3 – 27th September 2019

Day 3 started with an early morning meet at 7.10am for the walk up to the pool for the first pool session of the day. Again, we shared the pool with the Russian synchronised swim team. After 2 sessions of hearing the same 30 second segment of a song – relief came from the rogue foot that tripped over the speaker wire disconnecting the full system. The Billingham swimmer will remain nameless in fear of some retribution just in case the gold medal fails to arrive back in Moscow.

Breakfast was then followed by a log book session and a talk regarding nutrition in competitive sport. The swimmers then had some down time and most took this time to try and recreate the Russian routine in sea – complete with un-synchronised diving.

Following lunch, it was then time to do the 1 mile walk back to the pool for the next 2 hour session. This was a particularly hard session and following the effects of the previous sessions – it took a lot of courage, strength and resolve from the younger swimmers to get through it. Both Guy and Ian were delighted with the effort and application shown.

It was then time for the most difficult decision of the day – which ice cream to have from Häagen-Dazs, and does it fit in with the nutritional plan from earlier in the morning. Probably not but at least some swimmers had fruit with it… With a later start tomorrow morning it will be good to have a little longer in bed. Good night all!

Day 2 – 26th September 2019

Day 2 – 26th September 2019

Day 2 is traditionally the hardest day of the camp. With a little travel fatigue still in the limbs, it was an early rise for a 7.10am meet in the foyer. It was then a swift departure for a 3.8km run down to the harbour and back. This was quickly followed by the sea swim! For some of the swimmers this was the most daunting element of the entire camp and it was before breakfast on the 2nd day. The courage, determination and resilience show by those facing their worst fears was quickly replaced by joy, pride and elation once they completed the course.

Following a quick breakfast (the omelettes were superb as usual) it was off to the pool for the first pool session of the week, which a timed swim of every stroke from 1500m to 50m

Lunch was then quickly followed by a maximising talent for performance swimming questionnaire session before the final 2-hour pool session. Our group also shared the pool with the Russian synchronised swim team. Synchronised swimming demands advanced water skills, requires great strength, endurance, flexibility, grace, artistry and precise timing, as well as exceptional breath control – just some of the skills the parents displayed whilst enjoy the facilities at the hotel.

Both parties were reunited at Häagen-Dazs for the customary and richly deserved ice cream for our young athletes.

The first day of training is done, and despite a little sunburn everybody survived. Good night all!

Day 1 – 25th September 2019

The big day has finally arrived. Excitement has been building over the past few weeks for our group of young athletes and today it is time, at last to board the plane bound for Cyprus. The sunnier climate of Cyprus at this time of year makes it a perfect setting for the swimmers to experience a week of intensive training with running, sea swimming, pool sessions and land training. For the parents it is a slightly more relaxed affair and is made more enjoyable with the poor weather back home!

Enough gloating – day one is a day of travel. We all met at Leeds Bradford airport for breakfast before boarding the plane. Arriving in Cyprus 4 hours and 8 minutes later, and yes Guy did time it on his stop watch, our journey slowed down in Paphos airport. This resulted in a later than expected arrival at the hotel and following a quick meeting it was time for a bite to eat before settling down for the night. Day 2 is always the hardest. Good night all…