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Newsletter eptunes

Newsletter No. 3 - March/April 2016

Meeting Lisa Cini & Timothy Hansford Easter Meets 2016 Training & Studying! New Equipment at Neptunes



elcome to the third issue of our newsletter. The sunshine is now staying a while longer each day, extending the light and calling us to live more fully. It’s the same theme of Easter, as with Christ’s resurrection, it marks a new beginning, new life and new hope. As everyone is aware there are changes within our team. As we gave farewell to our Head Coach Gail Rizzo and Team Manager Neville Pace, we welcome our new Coaches Andy Colbourn and Edward Caruana Dingli. This marks a new beginning for Neptunes Swimming. Andy brings with him many years of experience and knowledge providing all swimmers with the very latest developments and training methods in swimming, a keen eye for technique and a master at pushing swimmers to reach their maximum performance. Edward offers a youthful energy with a disciplined spirit and an understanding of a swimmers life. He spent many years competing at the top level locally and has represented Malta abroad on so many occasions.

Both Keith and Monique cannot go unmentioned with their vast experience with swimmers, raising them through the stages and giving them a solid foundation so that all swimmers reach their full potential. It is without a doubt that the coaching team, under the dedicated and hard working Team Manager Vince Demicoli, will offer all Neptunes swimmers all the necessary skills and tools to perform from a very young age all the way up to the highest levels and continue to make Neptunes Swimming Team a major force in local swimming whilst striving to continue to raise Malta’s name in international swimming. As we celebrate Easter with revived energy, keeping in mind the Pascal mystery, we urge you to enjoy celebrating with your families, friends and team mates whilst renewing and refreshing yourselves. Happy swimming!

Upcoming Events 17th April

26th April


Meeting Jonathan Boffa

28 / 29 May

1st June

Sicily Meet

Swim Gala followed by a BBQ


End of Season Event

Award Ceremony

On 16th January Neptunes Swimmers, parents and friends came together to celebrate 2015 successes and achievements both at a TEAM level as well as on individual swimmer level.

The event was held at Castello Zamitello in Mgarr. The weather was marked by a hail storm and heavy rain but the team spirit was alive and kicking. It was a special event where the team could share their achievements and help encourage each other to strive for more. The celebrations, joy and warmth of the whole group were evident.

It was also an event to thank Gail Rizzo and Neville Pace. During the celebration the swimmers gathered and presented what proved to be an emotional message of thanks for all that Gail and Neville have given to Neptunes swimming. The unparalled achievements throughout the years were all relived. Each swimmer shared his or her individual experience as they lived those moments and also gave a message of hope and well wishes for all the other team mates. It is without a doubt that the official farewell of both Gail and Neville will not see the end of them, as they have pledged to continue to offer their support and encouragement towards the team. Gail and Neville, once again, we thank you. Apart from awarding all team members, special commemorations were given to Amy Micallef, Mya Azzopardi, Nicola Muscat and Neil Muscat for their outstanding individual achievements - group age/national records and ASA league winners - and Laura Demicoli for her continuous dedication and commitment to team and coaches.

Meeting...Lisa Cini When I was 8 years old, I wanted to start a sport discipline. Since I enjoyed swimming during Summer I began my swimming adventure at the Ta’ Qali MFA Swimming School. In September 2010, the coach encouraged me to join a club to continue developing my skills. And here is where my life at Neptunes begun. I started improving my strokes thanks to Monique. The National Championships of 2011 were the highlight of my first year at Neptunes as I managed to win a bronze medal in the 50m Freestyle. The swimming lessons got much more interesting when joining the Junior Squad under the guidance of Keith. My strokes were getting better and racing times improved a lot. In December 2013, I had my first experience abroad at the International Christmas Swim Meet in Berlin. I got 7 personal bests out of 8 races and I enjoyed it to the full together with my teammates. Thanks to Keith’s training I achieved my very first gold medal in the 50m Backstroke. In August 2014, aged 12, I was promoted to Top Squad. Training with Gail Rizzo was something I really wished and worked hard for. When you’re part of Neptunes Top Squad it fills you with pride and my passion for swimming grew even bigger. Training got much more intense but with Gail’s help and my team mates’ support, I was enjoying it to the full. This year changes happened within the club and none other than Andy Colbourn (former National Coach) and Edward Caruana Dingli became my new coaches. I’m sure that with Andy’s knowledge, Edward’s experience and the Neptunes environment, great and exciting events are yet to come!

How long have you been swimming with Neptunes? I have been swimming with Neptunes for five years. I spent a year in Group A with Monique, two years with Keith in the Junior Squad and a year with Gail in Top Squad. This is my second year in Top Squad, under the guidance of Andy and Edward.

What do you enjoy most in your training sessions? You always get to learn new things in every training session. It’s amazing how very minor changes in your stroke can make a big difference. Getting feedback from the coaches during and after training is my preferred part as you learn a lot, even when doing mistakes.

You had a particularly fantastic 50m Freestyle swim in Berlin last December. Can you describe what that meant to you? On that day, the morning session in Berlin was not so good for me unfortunately. I was very disappointed but Gail had a good word with me and filled me up with determination again. I really wanted to do a good race not only for myself but also to thank Gail for always believing in me. Dad wanted a Christmas present too, so with that race I made everyone happy including myself.

You seem to have a particular bond with your team mates. You are competitors in the pool yet great friends outside. What’s the secret to the bond? I think there’s no particular secret. When I started with Neptunes my team mates welcomed me and made me feel at home immediately. I try to make the same thing with the new ones joining our club. The coaches never singled out anyone and this helped

a lot to keep a healthy environment between us swimmers.

It is noted how, despite other pressing commitments, your family is always present. How important is the support from your family? I think that when your family is present at your training and especially during competitions, this helps you a lot because you’ll know that they are there to cheer for you but also comfort you when things go wrong. The most important thing is that they know that they are not coaches but parents. And I’m lucky that my parents realize that.

Swimming requires immense dedication. You undoubtedly have that dedication towards swimming. You have given so much to swimming. What would you say swimming has taught you? Swimming has helped me become more disciplined and it taught me that being patient and working hard throughout the season really pays off. It changed me to a better person; socially, mentally and physically. It taught me how to manage my time between studying and swimming and it also helped me to balance my food diet.

Who do you look up to and what motivates you? A present swimmer who I admire is Amy Micallef. Her concentration during racing is amazing and it shows in her results. Although I’ve never seen Gail Rizzo when she used to compete, her results and reputation as a swimmer always motivated me to work hard in and out of the water.

Meeting...Timothy Hansford I am 14 years and my passion for swimming is unquestionable. I started swimming at the age of 9. When I first started swimming I wasn’t keen on swimming, especially during the winter months. One day I woke up and said to myself I can do this and from that day onward I started taking it seriously. I haven’t looked back since. I started swimming with Neptunes under the good guidance of coach Keith Bartolo. During my period with coach Keith I experienced hard training which gave me the extra motivation i needed. Two years ago I moved up to join the Top Squad with Coach Gail Rizzo. Swimming under the guidance of Coach Gail was a dream come true. Gail improved my strokes and made sure I remained focused on the task ahead. This turned me into a more dedicated swimmer. It was heartbreaking seeing my coach quitting, Gail will always remain in my heart. Our new coaches Edward Caruana Dingli and Coach/Technical Director Andy Coulbourn have instilled new motivation in me. I now look to further my goals and look forward so that together with my team, we achieve our best results ever. Most would consider me as a quiet teen and one of few words, however who knows me well, knows that I have my days especially in the showers. Last but not least I would like to share my goal. My goal is that in the year 2020 I will manage to obtain a qualifying time to reach the Olympics and represent Malta in Japan. I am aware this is a difficult feat and may be even considered as far fetched but I believe it is possible. I am aware of my strengths and weaknesses and I train hard everyday building on my strengths and addressing my weaknesses. I am fully aware that for such a dream to become reality I must train hard and, above all, endure all the sacrifices needed to make it to that level. I take this opportunity to thank all my previous and present coaches.

So how long have you been practicing swimming and what do you love so much about swimming?

I have been swimming for the last five years. Swimming is a big part of my life. I feel it’s just what I was meant to do. There are no words how to explain my passion for swimming. During our training sessions I look forward in meeting my friends, I also enjoy the way we are training with hard sessions that make you feel tired but good.

If I had to choose just one moment throughout your swimming career which stands out, what would it be?

There are many but the best moment was last year during national championships where all the hard work and sacrifices paid off first. During the Nationals I managed to get 7 personal best times out of 8 races and also managed 6 gold and 1 silver in the process. This was achieved under Gail Rizzo’s coaching methods.

From the outside you are seen as a quiet and a very dedicated teenager. During training and races you are always strictly focused on the task at hand, yet it is noted you are a strong team player and highly respected by your teammates. How do you manage the balance?

Sometimes people say I am too quiet, trust me I have my days. My teammates are my second family I have been swimming alongside most of them for the past three years, although swimming is an individual sport we are one team. My teammates are always there to cheer me when needed. Basically I do what my coaches tell me do and get on with it.

If your little brother develops the same love as you have for swimming, what advice would you give him?

If my brother will have the same passion for swimming as I do, I would tell him to always set a goal and keep focus to achieve it! But I will remind him that this is not an easy sport where you have to have the dedication, love towards the sport and be willing to make sacrifices .

Do you look forward to tough intense training sessions? What would you consider to be one of your toughest training sessions?

If I don’t feel my muscles ache at the end of a session it means I should have given that bit extra. The hardest session is when we swim sets with our fins and paddles and have to hit our personal best time. To me, we are really tested to our limits when we do what we refer to as the broken 100’s. These are tough and push us to breaking point.

How is your relationship developing with your new Coaches Andy and Edward and what do you look forward in the future?

My relationship with coaches Edward and Andy is great. They are not just coaches to me but they mean a lot more to me. I have a dream that some or many may laugh at. My dream is that that I will represent Malta in the 2020 Olympics that will take place in Japan. I know that this might seem far fetched but that is my goal and I will not give up trying.

Who do you look up and what motivates you?

I look up to Adam Peety because he has shown that hard work pays off even if he has not been that long in the sport. My motivation comes from my parents, coaches and friends. They encourage me to always keep my head held high and never look back. My motto is one for all and all for one this Easter.

Easter International Swim Meet 2016 The Easter Swim Meets have come and gone. The build up has been tough. Endless hours of training have returned the desired results with countless improvements in swim times, including two new National Age group records! 58 born and bred Neptunes swimmers participated in the 2016 Easter swim meets. Neptunes was represented with swimmers ranging from the youngest swimmer at the meets to the more experienced swimmers. The atmosphere of the team was outstanding throughout the run up to the meets and during the meets themselves. The swimmers gave it all and managed to register some outstanding swim times. Listing all these achievements would be difficult and possibly boring. The whole team performed outstandingly. The particular races that cannot go unmentioned are the National age group records achieved by Andria Friggieri and Mya Azzopardi. Andria managed to shave off over 4 seconds from her personal best in the 200m Backstroke stopping the clock on 2:32.39. The record was exactly 4 years old and belonged to Neptunes multiple record holder Amy Micallef. On Saturday morning Mya Azzopardi walked into the pool with her foam roller in hand. She needed the roller to help ease a minor pain in her back. But despite the pain Mya put in an amazing swim setting a new age group record for the 50m Fly which now stands at 30.04. The record was 8 years old and was set by Neptune’s Nikki Muscat back in 2008. The joys of breaking a national age group record were evident to all and celebrated by the whole team. The moments served as a reminder as to why they train so hard. The accomplishments will continue to fuel not only the swimmers themselves, but the whole team to accomplish more and more. A couple of months ago the team Man-

ager Vince Demicoli reminded us of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous quote ‘what lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you’. This is exactly what he meant! There were many more outstanding moments, many evident, and others more personal. The hundreds of pictures of the Easter meets which may be viewed on Neptunes facebook page enables us all to relive the moments. What is certain is that the outstanding results of these meets are owed to the unconditional dedication of coaches Andy, Keith, Edward and Monique who have given the swimmers and the club so much coupled with the determination of each swimmer to reach their full potential, to succeed. It was a tiring weekend for all the coaches. All ended up exhausted, sunburnt, voiceless and super satisfied. Once again, on behalf of all swimmers and their parents, thank you. A note of thanks also goes to the amazing parents. Many have helped in different ways offering the club their valuable time and work to help make Neptunes a stronger team, a united team. The swimmers also managed to mingle with some of the swimmers representing Exeter City Swimming Club and Coopers School England, were rivals in the pool became buddies for photos and exchanged swim caps. The meets were bought to a close where Neptunes swimmers, parents and relatives all gathered for some light snacks, cakes and drinks for all. This was a small gesture for the efforts of the swimmers and their loving families who offer unconditional support to their children and the team. Last and not least the coaches and team manager awarded two prizes, for one female and one male swimmer for their team spirit, dedication to others throughout these Easter meets also taking cognisance of their achievements during the Easter meets. The awards were presented to Andria Friggieri and Timothy Hansford.

TritonWear Raising the bar! In our continuous endeavours to offer the best holistic training possible to our swimmers, Neptunes WPSC is proud to announce that it has now also invested in the latest swimming technology, TritonWear. The sophisticated technology has been developed in North America. We can guarantee it is very easy to use and will not hinder the swimmer in any way during training. All you have to do is put it on. There is no pressing of buttons, no starting, no stop, just swim. This technology will not make training any harder or easier, it will just make training smarter. It will help our coaches to analyse swimmers’ strokes, technique, progress and potential. We are sure that you’ve all heard the saying ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’. That is exactly what TritonWear does. TritonWear’s unique technology is able to capture 15 key performance metrics from each swimmer and sends the data in real-time to the coach’s tablet on pool deck. This is done via a small unit that attaches onto the back of a swimmer’s goggle strip and calculates metrics such as splits, stroke efficiency, stroke rate, turn time, breath count and time under water. The coach can see the data in real-time. This enables the coach to suggest improvements and analyse the changes and improvements over time. We look forward to using this technology in the coming days. We are confident that with this equipment, together with our coaching expertise and facilities, we will continue to provide our swimmers with the best opportunities to maximise their full potential.

Swimming and Studying . . . . . . can they coexist? As swimmers, who train practically every single day, it is guaranteed you have all questioned whether to skip training to study or otherwise. It is guaranteed you have all considered, and probably even proceeded to forgo a training session due to tests, exams or homework. School is important, very important, and whilst foregoing training to study may be an easy decision to those who do not train, this could be a dilemma for swimmers. The question is can swimming and studying co-exist? We have touched upon this topic in both Newsletters to date where we had asked our swimmers whether they find it difficult to balance their training time vis-a-vis their studying time. Our profile swimmers have confirmed that this is a challenge that every swimmer needs to face. We strongly believe that training throughout the year is beneficial in an endless number of ways, from releasing stress to teaching us the valuable lesson in life that hard work pays off. Whilst there is very little this write up can do to assist you in your decision on the eve of your exam, we can however help you to prepare in advance for that decision. We are listing the following tips to assist you:

Get organised and stay organised

Use a diary or calendar to plot your exam dates, important school assignments, training sessions and swim meets. Revisit frequently and amend as necessary. This will help identify clashes and help you prepare for them.

Manage your time

Know your schedules. Block those periods for training and studying in your calendar. Use free lessons at school to catch up on your work.


Know your priorities. You must continuously keep both you academic goals, swimming goals and general well being at the forefront. While priorities aren’t about ignoring your non-priorities, they are about simplifying your decisions when your decision becomes difficult. Most decisions don’t have to be difficult. Just make sure your time spent on an activity is contributing towards these goals, in your order of prioritisation.

Use your weekend wisely

Use your weekends efficiently. Whilst we use weekends to slow down a little and catch up on some rest we must ensure we also find the time to prepare for the upcoming week. Consider finalising any pending school work and review notes of the past week during weekends.

Use your time well, even travel time to school and training.

good use.

Have handy notes and review these notes during travelling time. Use the daily traffic jams to your advantage and make most of that time. Most of us spend at least 40minutes in traffic to and from training which adds up to over 6 hours per week. Put those hours to

Do not procrastinate

Do your school work as soon as it is given to you, rather than waiting until the last minute. Procrastination will create havoc in your diary and preparations.

Do not fall behind

As you all probably experience in training and races, it is easier to stay ahead then to play catch up. The same applies to school work. Plan ahead. Review notes in advance.

Talk to your Coaches

Whilst your coaches expect you to be present for all training sessions, they understand you have other commitments. Talk to your coaches about issues you may have. They have been through this process already and will undoubtedly assist you and offer you advice.

Every now and then take a break

As swimmers you can all enjoy your break at the pool!! Back to our original question as to whether training and studying can co-exist, our answer is yes... with a little planning. The points above will help make your lives that little bit easier. In reality it isn’t about working hard to strike the balance, it’s about working hard at whatever you do so that the balance is self struck. You are all dedicated athletes whose commitment is obvious, help yourselves through these points to achieve your goals. Keep working hard and do so wisely. Organising yourselves with a little planning, maximising your time and support from family and coaches will make swimming and school improve your overall wellbeing.

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New Year Swim!

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