Monday, May 23, 2016

Swim Social Blog: Scott Gauld's - Road to London (European Champs)

Swim Social Blog: Scott Gauld 


When I joined Silver City Blues in 2011 following an 11 year hiatus from swimming I would never have thought I’d be competing in a European Championship. As a youngster I was never one of the fastest swimmers and joined my local club a couple of years later than others my age. My only achievement there was gaining the most PBs in a calendar year for two years running (Not enough to threaten a red post box with gold paint). In the pool I am constantly learning and I’m fortunate to be part of a club which has a strong team spirit and access to incredible facilities.

The road to London began for me on 12th June at the British Masters LC Champs, once the event schedule for the European Championships had been released. That day I found the 200IM and 50 Fly very painful and although I had scraped the qualifying times for the event in London, it became clear that something would need to change. In the weeks after Manchester a few of us from our club worked with one of our coaches to create a training plan which would take us right through to the European Masters Championships. Once I had a plan in place I set my goals for the remainder of 2015.

Now it was time to put it into action. This meant training on my own outwith the club sessions, something which I hadn’t really done since joining the club in 2011 but I was motivated to do so. It also meant not tapering (I like taper) for the remaining meets on the Masters circuit throughout the autumn with the plan to peak at the ASA Nationals in Sheffield.  A discussion often heard amongst Masters swimmers before a meet is if a swimmer has been able to do any training. From June through to August I’d had a great run in the pool, however I picked up an injury after bravely, but awkwardly exiting a flume with a very high drop into the diving pool (I haven’t been near a flume since!)  Recovering from an injury was challenging and a real pain in the…shoulder it meant that I was restricted to training only two strokes for a couple of weeks. Not being able to attempt to swim freestyle was no loss to my repertoire but it was frustrating hearing people talk about how good their training was going on our Euros 2016 training support Facebook group, something which was a great if you needed to find somebody to go and swim with.

Despite being in heavy training through the next couple of meets I was still able to achieve best times. Swimming well in competition despite feeling tired was rewarding and set things up nicely for the ASA Nationals in Sheffield. At Ponds Forge things went really well. I was hitting times which I had never thought would be possible for somebody of my ability.  I left that competition feeling like I was onto something and it was re-assuring to know that training at a high volume was paying off, even if at times it was a struggle hitting the weeks which were over 24k. 

Then the festive season happened and from the end of November through to the end of December there was plenty of socialising to be done, making up for lost time I’d spent in the water. Trying to balance work, a busy social schedule and maintaining the training was too much, I was shattered. I picked up a cold and decided on the 28th December I decided it was time to re-focus on my long term goals and decided to kick the beer until after my final race at the Europeans, seeing in the bells with a tea wasn’t so bad.

A nasty cold (in no way self-inflicted from the activities of the paragraph above) in 2016 felt like it was a slow start and it felt hard trying to get back into training. In late February I was involved in the Masters Long Course Training Camp which was fantastic preparation for the coming events. Robbie Renwick was on hand - he was great with us masters swimmers! The video analysis we received also helped me find areas to improve on going into the final months of training. This was quickly followed by a week training in the sun, with a trip to Club La Santa, something which I’d definitely recommend will hopefully do again. I’m pretty sure the swimmer next to us with the Olympic Rings Tattoos was impressed with our efforts and have probably been looking out for us at the Elite Championships. Coming back to a rainy Scotland in March was definitely provide dip in morale as well as temperature.

Being able to get in another long course meet was an added stepping stone to prepare for London. I was happy with my swims in Sheffield at the GB Nationals with my times continued in the right direction. It was a good opportunity to test out all of my racing gear to prepare for the main event in May.   A couple of weeks later I had my last competition ahead of the European Masters Championships at the Scottish Masters in the great city of Aberdeen where I set short course bests in 2 of the 3 events that I will be swimming at the London Aquatics Centre, so I am glad to be heading there with some good swims under my belt.

Training like this is very far from the norm in Masters Swimming and has come at the sacrifice of spending time with Family and Friends, something I will be looking to do in the weeks ahead after the conclusion of these European Championships.  Watching the Elite event on the TV this week has been great to give a feel of what the venue is like, however I suspect it may be a bit busier next week.

Good Luck to all of the Scottish Swimmers heading down to London, it will be a great experience and of course we will have fun!!!