Swimmers of the month April and May 2014

It has been a hugely busy last few months in the club.

All the swimmers have been training hard and it has taken time to manage to get as many pics of our swimmers of the month for April and May as we can.

Thanks to coaching staff, CCO, Designated person and the committee for their hard work throughout the season in ensuring that swimmers of the month took place. Seeing the many happy and proud young faces confirms how important it is to reward hard work and commitment. If your name or pic has been missed then email louisesands@sky.com so that we can add you to the list

Dev 3                  May – Tara Emmett

Dev 2                  April – Bea Cross                  May – Niamh Slattery

Dev 1                  May – Sophie Harbinson

Age Group 2       April – Robyn White           May – Sasha McKeown

Age Group 1       May – Ben Harding

National Junior  April -Lauren Walker      May – Andrea Cox

National Senior  April – Caoimhe Quinn     May – Rachel Bethel

photo 1photo 2photo 3photo-1photo1photo

Posted in club news, swimmer of the month, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Mental Toughness in the pool


Tiger Woods has been doing it since he was a kid, Jack Nicklaus swore by it, Muhammad Ali used  it, and Michael Phelps is renown for doing it in training as well as competition. It’s a mental training technique called visualization, and it is one of the most powerful tools that a swimmer can put in their arsenal.

The process of visualization – or mental imagery — is fairly simple. You sit down, close your eyes, and essentially daydream yourself achieving your goal. Done consistently it helps you “hard-wire” a good performance in your brain, so that when it comes down to race-time you fall back on autopilot, having already swam the race a hundred times in your mind. It is also a fantastic motivational tool; using it consistently helps keep you dialed in on their desired result.

Why it’s So Effective

The brain cannot tell the difference between imagined or real experiences. Research done on weight lifters showed that brain patterns activated during lifting were similarly activated when they visualized themselves lifting the weights, with the mental rehearsal being nearly as effective as physical practice. More importantly, it was shown that doing both was more effective than performing either solo.

Of course, sitting around visualizing the perfect performance doesn’t replace the necessity of hard work in the pool, but rather, when done in tandem with consistent, intelligent effort in practice you maximize the chance of swimming out of your mind come meet time.


Like anything else, using mental imagery is a skill. It’s something best done consistently and habitually. It’s something you use months in advance of the big race, a skill you hone and will eventually master.

Here are some tips for making the most of this skill:

Have a specific outcome. For swimmers this is easy. We deal in tenths and hundredths of a second. A time you want to swim. Winning. Whatever the goal, make sure that it is clear as day.

Make the outcome positive. Seems obvious, right? But your brain will wander towards the W.P.O.’s (worst possible outcomes) often at first. Each time this happens, simply take a breath, acknowledge that you let the imagery get away from you, and reset.

Imagine yourself calmly dealing with setbacks. Things shouldn’t go perfectly every time you run through race day. There are a variety of things that could (and should) go wrong within your mental imagery. The car breaks down on the way to the meet. You only get a shortened warm up. The swimmer beside you bolts out to an early lead. These are all things that you should incorporate to your frequent visualization sessions, so that when something does go awry at the meet (and something invariably does!) you will be cool as a cucumber.

When you notice yourself wandering, stop, reset and start again. Especially as you first start out trying visualization you’ll find that your brain will want to play hooky and think about other stuff. Did so-and-so like my status yet? I wonder if the game is on yet? When your thoughts wonder, catch yourself, reset, and start over.

The more details the better. The more real the mental image, the more convinced your brain will be that this is real life. Imagine the texture of the block under your feet. The deep breaths through your nose as you await the starters gun. The background noise of the crowd. The way your hand slices through the water. From there move to the sensations and feelings you experience over the course of the day. How loose your muscles feel as you warm up. The adrenaline coursing through your blood and butterflies in your tummy in the moments before the race. The elation that washes over you as you touch the wall and look up at the scoreboard.

The more you do it, the better you will get at it! Mental imagery is a tool, not a last minute patch for insufficient preparation or training. Incorporate it into your daily training, and you’ll find that the visualizations get richer in detail and truer to life.

Posted in club news | Comments Off

Summer training timetable

The last training sessions for Dev Squads 1,2, & 3, Age Group Squads 1 & 2 and Club Training Group before the club splits for summer are as follows:

Dev 3: Either Sunday 29th or Mon 30th June (Depending on which session you normally attend)

Dev.2: Either Sunday 29th or Mon 30th June (Depending on which session you normally attend)

Dev.1: Sunday 29th June

Age Group Squad 2: Monday 30th June pm

Age Group Squad 1: Monday 30th June am

Club Training Squad: Sunday 29th June


(Be on poolside 10mins before start for loosening/Warm Up or Core Stability)

Training at Leisureplex unless otherwise stated

Posted in club news | Comments Off

Swim Ulster Summer Meet results

Well done to all the club swimmers who competed at the Swim Ulster summer meet last weekend

Click on the link below to find the results

Results SU Summer Meet 2014

Posted in club news, events | Comments Off

6 Things Holding You Back from Swimming Success

They make it look so easy. So simple. Like you could just reach out and with your fingertips graze the stars.

Any time swimming makes one of its few and far between appearances on television, along with it appears the glossy, over produced bios of our sport’s top athletes. The vignettes where we learn more about how the swimmer came up, their family, and how they were always destined to be champions.

What these features generally do not show is the grind. The struggle. The frequent doubt and second-guessing that comes with chasing down greatness. They forget to show that for each of these athletes, all the way up to Michael Phelps, they were subject to the same difficulties that befall the rest of us.

Whatever your goals, here are six common pitfalls that swimmers fall into while chasing their own version of swimming success:

1. Not dreaming big enough.

There are a heap of reasons why so many swimmers don’t dream big enough. People they trust or who are in authority positions have derided their ambitions. They feel that their surroundings (pool, coach, team, etc) aren’t in line with their goals. The paralysing thought of a failure as grand as your ambitions.

Whatever the case may be for you, at the end of the day clear your mind and ask yourself with complete sincerity: Why not you? Why not now?

2. You chronically plan.

You’re a master of goal setting, outlining elaborate, beautifully detailed goals. You go so far as to construct a carefully thought out goal plan, listing all of the things you need to do to achieve said goal. You write out the goal, create a list of affirmations, even go out and buy a log book as well as an app so that you can track, measure and analyze your progress.

You do everything except acting on it. For some that first step is such an overwhelming commitment that it terrifies them from taking it. Combat this by making it small, non-newsworthy, and something you can do with complete immediacy. (No waiting!)

3. You’re dependent on talent for swimming success instead of hard work.

We have all swum against kids who were designated as mega-talents. They appeared to have the sport on a string. The most striking examples of these are the kids who have the early growth spurt in addition to an easy knack for the sport.

Talent and size will only take you so far. Janet Evans, legendary American distance swimmer from the late 1980’s and early 1990’s is a perfect example. A shade over five feet, she had an unconventional stroke, but otherworldly work ethic, routinely crushing 10,000m workouts.

Don’t fall for the trap of believing that talent or genetics will get you to the next level.

4. You are expecting instant results.

I know how frustrating it can be when things don’t fall into place quickly enough or as quickly as you planned they would. It’s all the more infuriating when you did everything properly; your nutrition was spot-on, you attended every practice, you even devoted an extra fifteen minutes after each workout to do bonus core work. And yet, you still aren’t seeing results fast enough.

Your first instinct will be to throw in the towel. After all, the process isn’t working, right? Wrong. The process is working. You are improving; and success in the pool is never an overnight deal. Keep hammering at it, and realize that even though results aren’t piling up as quickly as you’d like, you are still improving.

5. Not trusting the process.

Similar to how we seek instant results, our head starts to cook up all sorts of negative stuff when we view things as not going as anticipated. We imagine that our natural speed has capped out. That we aren’t built to swim fast. That we aren’t deserving to swim at an elite level.

When these thoughts happen we tend to look for a way out, and this generally uncludes switching tack mid-course. Bailing pre-maturely doesn’t allow you the opportunity to allow the process to run its course, which means you will never know whether you would have succeeded had you stayed on track.

Understand that doubt is inevitable in moments of struggle, but don’t allow panic to derail your plan.

6. Comparing yourself to others.

I still do this on occasion, and I want to punch myself in the face each time I do because it’s utterly pointless to compare, measure and stack and serves nothing.

Stop comparing yourself and your swimming to those around you. Your swimming is completely and unequivocally yours. The splits the kid in the lane next to you might seem other worldly, but don’t let them discourage you.

Rather, follow your own path, direct all your energy inwards to improve every facet of your swimming you can, and ignore the sideshow.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Summer skills camps for younger swimmers

Swim Ulster are proud to announce two new initiatives intended to help aid the development of young swimmers. The flyers for these initiatives can be found by following the links below.

 These camps are a week long opportunity for younger swimmers to develop their skills base and training etiquette prior to the start of the new season. These are open to any club swimmer from across the province whether residing in the area or there on holiday.

Posted in club news, events | Comments Off

Training Cancellation for NSS, NJS, AG1 and Dev 1 squads Thursday 26th June 2014

The club will be running an end of season gala on Thursday 26th June from 4:45-7:15pm.

Those squads competing in the gala will be notified by their squad coach

As a result, training for NSQ, NJS, Development Squad 1 & AG1 Squad will be cancelled.

Club Training Group will train be as normal from 7:15-8:15pm. 

Posted in club news | Comments Off

Volunteers needed to assist at Triathlon event

Lisburn City Council have requested volunteers to marshal swimming at this years Triathlon

Date: Sunday 20th July 2014

Time: 8.30am-1.00pm

Venue: Lagan Valley Leisure Plex

Please contact Liza Watson if your are available -kennywatson1@hotmail.co.uk


Posted in club news, events | Comments Off

Cancellation of morning session Saturday 21st June at LVLP

Due to the Swim Ulster Novice Gala being held in Lisburn this Saturday, there will be no morning swim session for any squads in Lisburn.

Sorry for any inconvenience caused which is beyond our control

Posted in club news | Comments Off

6 Things to Remember When the Last Thing You Want to Do is Swim

We all have those mornings when we pretend we don’t hear the alarm clock go off. Or we conjure a long and detailed list of potential excuses we can issue to get out of the main set. Maybe the lack of progress towards our long term goals has us dizzy with stress and panic, to the point that quitting seems like the only viable option. Perhaps we are neck deep in stress from our significant other, school work, or the demands of work and family are pulling us in a zillion different directions.

In the midst of those situations the last thing we want to do is to suit up and head down to the pool and bang out a heavy mid-season set. The good news is this – not only does everyone else also have these days, but having these moments of overwhelming doubt, insecurity and abject stress are natural. Yup, it’s normal.

Here are 6 things to think about the next time you are about struggling with your desire to head back to the pool–

1. Learn to be okay with discomfort.

If life provided us with no discomfort, ever, it would be fantastic, wouldn’t it? Umm, nope. No discomfort = nothing worthwhile ever being achieved. If we did what our fleeting heart desired every second of the day we would live lives of bland, uninspiring dullness. The grind is part of the process, a necessary ingredient in your home-made batch of kickass. Accepting it, and realizing that it is simply part of the overall process means that you can stop fighting it, which burns up valuable energy and focus.

2. Commit to 5 minutes. Start small and commit to nothing more at first.

How many times have you gone to the pool, tired and achey, stressed out, and stared blankly at the set on the chalkboard with fatigued incredulity. To argue or to express disappointment at the daunting set ahead of you would simply require too much energy. But then you get in the water. Take a few strokes. Than take a few more. The cobwebs start to shake loose, blood starts to flow to your muscles, and you start getting into a rhythm in a few short minutes. Take things a couple minutes at a time, and no more.

3. Let go of your best case scenarios.

How often have you psyched yourself out because you felt there was no way you could live up to your desired or best-case result? If the fear of not achieving your best-case scenario was removed, you could focus on the process again, instead of busying yourself fretting over whether or not you are going to achieve the final result you want. This goes back to the previous point of taking things one step at a time; instead of placing focus and energy on results, zero in on only what is in front of you.

4. Stop thinking about your season end goals as one big thing.

This is our brain’s default way of thinking; it considers the goal as one, huge step. Thinking this way makes it so massive, so scary, so intimidating that we lock into the most comfortable thing that comes to mind – procrastinating. Your goals are achieved stroke-by-stroke, yard-by-yard, practice-by-practice. If the shadow of your season end goal seems to be never-ending, make a series of smaller, shorter goals. Instead of considering that massive goal time at the end, focus on the steps, one by one. This makes the process something a lot less intimidating, and by amassing a steady and consistent pile of small wins will you chip away at the big goal lurking in the corner.

5. Be mindful of feeling bad about feeling bad.

We expect ourselves to feel 100% ready to go, 100% of the time. This isn’t realistic. There are times where you are going to feel out of sorts no matter how much you sleep, how great you eat, or how much you warm-up. Beating yourself up over it won’t help you get back on track, and for many swimmers feeling crappy about feeling crappy compounds the initial problem (this point is the matryoshka doll of mental training skills). Accept that you feel off and give yourself some space mentally. Some days we will feel off, and this is okay. By embracing it, instead of fighting it at every turn – and getting frustrated and discouraged when you can’t get back to 100% soon enough – it slowly dissipates on its own.

6. Adopt a posture of gratitude.

This might feel a little contrived at first, but practicing genuine gratitude is one of the greatest additions you can make to your life. Numerous studies have shown that keeping a small gratitude journal (for example, a daily ì5 things I am grateful forî checklist) increased long term health and happiness by 10%. By taking some time out of your day to remember what is important to you it helps to bring your energy and brain back into focus, and giving you an extra step the next time you head to the pool.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off