Tuesday, 7 July 2009

You can't teach an old dog new tricks

I paid a visit to the swimming complex at the University of Nottingham the other day.

I went down to see Nova Centurion head coach Bill Furniss as he put his charges through their paces.

Stood poolside, I looked on as double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington effortlessly clocked up the lengths.

Dozens were in the pool, of all ages, and I spoke to a few teenagers like Georgia Hohmann, Ann Morris and Dan Mills (top right) who are all heading to this week’s European Junior Championships in Prague.

Bill pointed out that this was a nice easy session, almost like a warm down.

But as the youngsters glided through the water, doing a variety of strokes, they made it look so easy.

With a smile and almost looking like they were not moving, they were covering the 25m lengths in a time I could only dream of. And they were not even trying.

With less than four weeks to go until I battle the London Triathlon, I spent a few minutes looking on to pick up on their clinical technique.

For my 1,500m swim on the first leg in the Docklands, I will probably be doing mainly breaststroke. It will hardly help my time, but it might ensure I complete it without being plucked from the water.

So the following morning, armed with the knowledge of watching Nottingham’s elite and world’s best in Adlington (bottom right), I headed for my local pool.

Goggles on, I went about my repertoire of strokes and it felt good. For about 50m.

Then I began to lose all coordination, I tired rather quickly and ended up splashing around in the water like my old mongrel dog Rebel when we used to let him play in the Hardwick Lakes as kids.

It is too late in the day to teach this old dog new tricks.

Who was I kidding. Watching on for five minutes at a Nova training session was hardly going to help me swim like any of them.

They are reaping the rewards of years of total dedication, week after week of gruelling training to rival any other competitor in any other sport.

Me, I have just been doing enough to ensure I have it in the locker to get over the finish line in the ExCel Arena.

It will be hard. It might look clumsy and a little awkward and lacking the finesse of a Nova swimmer, a Notts AC runner or top biker.

But I don’t care, as long as I make it.

To follow Stevie's progress on Twitter, click here or for the full story behind Stevie taking up the London Triathlon challenge, click here

Visit www.justgiving.com/stevieroden to sponsor Stevie.

American-based sports giant Under Armour have backed Stevie in his quest to complete the London Triathlon and raise cash for When You Wish Upon A Star by agreeing to become his official sponsor.They have provided him with a whole range of their latest hi-tech training gear to help in all weathers, and a new tri-suit for the race itself. For more information visit http://www.underarmour.com/

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