Newsletter No. 4 - December 2016
Editorial Meeting Luca Falzon & Sam Fleri Soler Swimming league, points, categories... An explanation
Welcome to our 4th Edition of the Neptunes Newsletter. Much has happened since our last publication. Neptunes had a stellar performance in the National Swimming Championships of July 2016 with some outstanding performances where swimmers reached new heights following a restructured training program designed by Head Coach Andy Colburn. Records have been broken by our swimmers Amy Micallef and Mya Azzopardi; Neptunes WPSC have for the 9th consecutive year won the Swimming Shield; and the club had one of the most successful summer academies that finished with a lovely, charity aimed, swimming gala. The new season has also started in full swing with 7 swimmers being selected by Head Coach Andy to participate in two different short course competitions in the UK during October and November. The performances where solid ones with Amy Micallef managing to bring home a new short course national record in the 200-metre breast where she swam a 2.39,25 and 100-metre breast stroke course national record at 1.13,26 at the Guildford City open meet. Other exciting times are ahead as the team is now in full preparation for the upcoming Berlin meet where the club will be represented with 24 swimmers, all aiming for new personal bests. The New Year will then start with the traditional New Yearâ€™s Dip, introduced these last two years, and the Christmas Gala where all our swimmers will be recognised for their efforts and commitment. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone, swimmers and their very supportive families, for all their efforts throughout the year. The success of our club is built on these efforts through which we have enjoyed many successes. We offer our best wishes and happiness for the festive season to all our swimmers and their families and look forward to a successful 2017.
Meeting... Luca Falzon
Before I started swimming I used to train tennis from the age of 6 years. After two years of practising this sport I thought of trying a new sport. I chose the same sport which my father trains regularly i.e. swimming. At the age of 8 years I enrolled with Neptunes and started with my first coach Monique. She taught me to enjoy and love swimming which helped me improve and learn the different strokes. Last year I was called to join Junior Squad with coach Keith. This boosted my self confidence in this sport. I was so excited in this new journey with a new group. I was the youngest and my team-mates made me feel welcome with the squad. Today I am also coached by Edward, Amy and Alex. I am a proud member of the Neptunes family. Swimming with Neptunes has provided me with the opportunity to meet new swimmers. I have also been privileged to have already experienced racing abroad. This motivated me more to think about future competitions. It helped me to physically and mentally understand myself and work for my achievements. Intensive training builds more stamina to train hard and achieve new goals. Sometimes itâ€™s hard waking up early in the morning or having to attend for training after school. With the help of my family I try to discipline myself and make it a point not to miss training. I have a deep respect the all my coaches. This coming December I am going to take part for the second time in Berlin. I wish my Neptune team mates luck and hope we will rock it all together. Thanks Neptunes for believing in me.
Youâ€™ve been swimming with Neptunes for the past 2/3 years and have worked your way up and you are presently in the Development Squad. What has your journey been like?
This journey as from the beginning, as from my first dive with my team Neptunes, I realised that this is my sport and this is what I really enjoy doing. I never looked back and never considered any other sport. It is a wonderful journey.
You have a remarkable butterfly stroke. Is this your favourite stoke and why? Yes it is. Butterfly was always my favourite stroke. It came naturally and I feel I can
express myself with this stroke. The Butterfly stroke has a reputation of being hard to learn and quickly exhausting. Yet when you have mastered this stroke, swimming a few lengths of butterfly can be a lot of fun because of its spectacular and powerful movements.
Your made some huge steps last over your period with Neptunes setting quite a high bar for yourself. How do you keep yourself motivated?
First of all thanks to my coaches especially Monique and Keith and my team-mates for believing in me. Improving the strokes and setting goals motivated me to improve my good to better.
How do you balance school work and your training schedule?
I try to use my free time wisely. At break-time at school and during my free lessons I try to do some studying and revising so that I have more time for training in the evening. Time management is something I have learnt to do every day. In our busy and distracting world itâ€™s important to ground myself to my goal. My family give me a large boost when I feel discouraged. I think of what others have endured to reach their targets. I invoke the most hard-core endurance models I can think of.
Your coach gives you some tough sessions, can you mention one of your favourite training sets?
I really like fly sets. I feel like I can use all my strength in these sets. It helps you to develop a winning combination of speed and endurance.
Many may consider you as a little quite and maybe shy, is this the real Luca? Sometimes I look quiet and timid but I really enjoy the mates. I try my best to respect others and love being respected. I love feeling part of a team and enjoy making jokes especially after a training session.
How do you like to spend your time away from the pool and school? I, obviously, like to play online with my playstation in the company of my cat Maya who loves to sit on my lap. This relaxes me a lot.
company of my
Meeting... Sam Fleri Soler
For as long as I can remember I’ve always been obsessed with sports. I initially began training football with Melita FC and in that same year I began training swimming with Exiles during the summer months. Over the next few years I carried on training swimming in summer, football throughout the year and I even began training tennis! By the age of 11 I had given up on football and found my passion for swimming and began to train with SW Elite throughout the year. After four years of great swimming and progress with SW Elite, I decided that it was time to join Neptunes WPSC where I found an even bigger drive for me to improve my swimming.
Ever since I began swimming with Exiles, being a very competitive person, I had always wanted to race others in order to prove myself and I was always given this opportunity at the end of summer when Exiles organised their end of summer gala. When I began training at the beginning of each summer, I always trained with this gala in mind and was constantly asking when it was going to happen. In 2003 I raced my first ever race - 25m freestyle. I still remember this race very vividly, when I swam the first 20m underwater and only 5m freestyle and ended up getting gold! In 2010, I had had enough of waiting for the end of summer to race and, having just stopped training football, I wanted to take up another sport throughout the year. This is when I was introduced to Neil Aguis and Mark Buttigieg, whom at the time formed part of Neptunes but were in the process of setting up their own club, SW Elite. However we still were not able to take part in time trials for my first season as there were some complications with the club. Finally, in 2011 I took part in my first ever time trials when I swam 50m freestyle and breaststroke, clocking in a 36.5 and 45.6 respectively. Throughout the following years I kept on improving, always with the drive to be the best and to give my all in my training and races. I am a very strong believer in the line, “what you do in training reflects what you do in races” which Neil and Mark constantly told us so that we would train as well as possible. Because of this, I take training very seriously, rarely joke around when it’s time to train and do my very best to obey my coaches corrections as quickly as possible, which what I think to be the key to my success. A month before the 2015/2016 season, I decided that it was time to change club and
decided to join Neptunes as they had produced many of the best swimmers and had great swimmers training with the club alongside a simply amazing coach, Gail Rizzo. I sadly only trained with Gail for a few months but even in such a short time, I managed to improve tremendously! I would have loved to train with Gail for longer, but I was very excited to train with our current coaches, Edward Caruana Dingli and Andy Colbourn. I have made many great improvements under their guidance and I absolutely cannot wait to see what the future has in store, not only for me but also for my very talented team mates!
You’ve now been a swimmer with Neptunes for just over a year, how would you describe the atmosphere? From my very first session with Top Squad I easily realised that the group were all very friendly with one another and they all made me feel at home very quickly. However, after the first training camp, which was held during the last weekend of October, I saw that everyone became much closer with one another due to the bonding activities that were held over that weekend. Since then, everyone has remained as one closely knit team, always ready to support one another.
You seem to be an all-rounder, do you have a preferred stroke? And which/ why do you like it?
For as long as I can remember, I have always been inclined towards breaststroke. It was the stroke that came most naturally to me and I remember that in one of my first ever swimming sessions, my coach at the time, Mark, instantly told me that I will be a breaststroker. Breaststroke is a very technical stroke, meaning that with a small change in technique one may improve his/her time substantially and, being the perfectionist that I am, I’m always striving to perfect my stroke in any way, which is what I love most. Although I’m beginning to enjoy and improve my butterfly more and more, breaststroke will always be my main stroke.
You have also represented Neptunes in the open water swims, what was that experience like and how would you compare pool swims with open water swims?
Although I am someone who loves short distance sprints, such as 50 and 100 metres, I decided to try out the much longer 2k and 4k sea swims. These are totally different ball games. Going into the sea swims I had no idea what to expect but I was very confident in my ability and stamina so I wasn’t too afraid. Once the race began it all came naturally to me and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it as it was a pleasant change to the intense sprints that I’m normally used to. This year I did these swims more for the experience than anything else but I am definitely looking forward to
improving my times in next year’s races.
What’s the secret to your super slim physique? Are you super disciplined in your meals?
I’d love to say that my slim physique is thanks to a very strict diet, but quite frankly it’s thanks to my very fast metabolism and my intense training. It’s actually so fast that I struggle to put on weight, which is what I need to do. Because of this, I do have a diet plan, which was carefully planned out thanks to Maria Mifsud Bonnici and which helps me eat the right foods at the right times that helps me increase my muscle mass and therefore my weight.
What words of advice would you give to the younger swimmers working their way up through the ranks?
One of the best pieces of advice is to listen to your coaches – always remember that they know best. Your coach will do anything to see you improve so whatever they tell you is for your own benefit - so if they correct you, make sure that next time you do your best to correct what they told you. This also ties in with always training as well as you can. Whatever you do during training is reflected in your races, so train hard and well and it will show during your races.
How would you describe your relationship with your coaches?
I always do my utmost to maintain a good relationship with my coaches by obeying them throughout the session and also occasional joking around with them, as a good coach-swimmer relationship will make training a more enjoyable experience for everyone. When it comes to racing and even during the sessions I make it a point to respect them and I appreciate whatever they do since at the end of the day, it’s for my own benefit.
What would you describe as one of your hardest training sets?
Although I’ve experienced many tough sets throughout the years, there is one specific set that sits above the rest in terms of difficulty. The set consisted of 15x50m (short course) with fins; 25m freestyle sprint and 25m butterfly kick underwater sprint, with 30 seconds rest. This set truly made your lungs burn and it absolutely killed your legs. If you didn’t make the second 25m all with one breath, which no one managed to do for all of them, you had to come up, breathe and go back down to carry on the butterfly kick. This was a brutal set and I’ll never forget the pain that it put us through.
Swimming league, swimming points, swimming categories... An explanation Many parents and some of the younger swimmers have questioned an explanation on how the points system obtained by swimmers at time trials is awarded. Furthermore some have also queried the system by which medals at the Easter meets and Nationals are awarded. The Neptuneâ€™s Newsletter is giving its readers a breakdown of how the system will work for the season 2016/2017. The age groups are divided into three major categories referred to as the Open Category, the Junior Category and the Cadets category.
The Swimming league The Swimming league is a league of Time Trials organised by the ASA. They are based on consistency throughout the swimming calendar. Swimmers are awarded points for each swim event they take part in during the monthly time trials. The swimmers are then ranked within their respective age groups. Swimmers falling within the Open category may participate in a maximum of 17 events with points awarded on the best 4 events the swimmer has participated in. Swimmers falling within the Junior Category may participate in a maximum of 15 events with points awarded on the best 8 events the
swimmer has participated in. The 800 meter freestyle and 1500 meter freestyle are not considered for this category of swimmers. Swimmers falling within the Cadet Category may participate in a maximum of 13 events with points awarded on the best 11 events the swimmer has participated in. The 400 meter Freestyle, 400 meter Individual Medley, 800 meter Freestyle and 1500 meter Freestyle are not considered for this category of swimmers. Points are awarded on the following criteria. Prior to the start of the season the ASA takes note of the best swimming times achieved by FINA Swimmers at international events. Those times are considered as the fastest times and any Maltese swimmer who matches those times is awarded 1000 points. Swimmers are awarded points depending on how far off they are from those times. The faster the swim, and the closer to the FINA record, the higher the award of points for each individual time. The ASA then considers the top 10 swimmers of the different categories with the top swimmer awarded 10 points, the 2nd fastest awarded 9 points etc. The points go towards the club the swimmer swims for and the Club Aggregate Shield is awarded at the end of the season depending on the club which has obtained the highest number of points. The swimmers within each category will win the ASA Category Cups which they will keep for a year. The swimming league is updated periodically by the ASA and uploaded on the ASA website. It is to be noted that: a) No points are awarded for swims in the Nationals, Easter meets or other Races effected abroad b)
Relay swims do not qualify for the league
The age groups for the Swimming league are as follows: Open Category â€“ Males Born 1999 or before Junior Category - Males Born 2001 - 2000 Cadet Cateogory - Males Born 2002 and younger
Open Category - Females Born 2000 or before Junior Category -Females Born 2002 - 2001 Cadet Category - Females Born 2003 and younger
For more information and details on the fastest swim times in the different events please click on: http://fina.org/content/fina-points For detailed ASA regulations please click on: http://www.asaofmalta.org/ assets/files/rules-regulations/ASA_SW_Competition_Rules-Amended_11-10-2016.pdf
Easter Meet The Easter meet is international swimming competition held in Malta and organised by the ASA where both Maltese and Foreign swimming clubs can take part. Whilst no points are awarded for the local swimming league, swimmers are awarded medals for those placing 1st, 2nd or 3rd in their respective age groups. The age groups are as follows: Open Category â€“ Males Born 1999 or before Junior Category - Males Born 2001 - 2000 Cadet Cateogory - Males Born 2002 and younger
Open Category - Females Born 2000 or before Junior Category -Females Born 2002 - 2001 Cadet Category - Females Born 2003 and younger
Nationals are held at the end of the season, normally held in July of each year. These are organised by the ASA. Swimmers can only participate in events that have already been swum during that year. They will therefore be disallowed to race in an event for which they have not registered a time during that year. Whilst no points are awarded for the local swimming league, swimmers are awarded medals for those placing 1st, 2nd or 3rd in their respective age groups. Swimmers that do not have a Maltese passport will be allowed to race but will be considered as ‘out of competition’. In this respect they will not be allowed to race in those events that are straight finals.
ASA Swimming Records The ASA will give bonuses to swimmers for each record that is broken during the year; €50 for Age-group records and €100 for National records. Only one bonus will be given during the year where same swimmer breaks the same record more than once.
Neptunes Newsletter - No 4 December 2016