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Olbia Training Camp

In 2007 a group of 20 athletes went to Paphos in Cyprus for a warm weather training camp. This week, 2 years and a couple of months later, we return to the mediterranean for another warm weather training camp. This time our destination is Olbia in Sardinia.

While there, we hope to keep everyone back home abreast of our adventures on this blog. But first we need to say thank you to CIS for supporting the week and providing the shirts.

Our Week in Sardinia

And we're off ...

Probably the right pool 25 Oct (Sun): Well we set off this morning from Waterdale car park at around 7am to begin our training camp (note: this is not a holiday!) The pool we're heading towards is hopefully the one opposite. A 10 lane, 50m pool belonging to the same hotel complex that we're staying with, although a short walk from the hotel.

It looks fantastic, and if the sun shines all week we're sure the deck chairs down the side will be put to good use by Head Coach Andy and Assistant Coach Dave, not to mention Chaperones Pete and Leann while they enjoy their 2 hour break from the noise machines. In the unlikely event that it rains (touch wood, the forecast is looking good) there appear to be big umbrellas (okay, sun parasols) down the side too.

All sorted then.

As most of you will have heard, the kids will be training 2 hours every morning and 2 hours in the evenings. We tried to select those who regularly attend their LTAD recommended hours so that we can be confident the 10 sessions won't kill them. But rest assured, when they return they're going to be very, very tired.

We'll try to update this regularly through the week so you can see what we've been upto. First activity (for the coaches at least) is a run to the beach this evening (about 3 miles - and back again) to test the route before the swimmers do the same tomorrow.

Shhh, don't tell the kids, we want that to be a surprise.

Glorious Sunshine and Hard Work on Day 1

26 Oct (Mon): Sorry it's taken so long to make the next post but we've been busy. We've hardly had chance to stay in the same place for more than a few minutes at a time.

As I write this, Head Coach Andy has the swimmers on a run along the resort's main road in front of our 4 star hotel. Through the wide open patio doors myself and Pete are listening to their shouts of encouragment for team mates and happy laughter. Yes that's right, I've passed my coaching duties on to Leann for the running while I grabbed a quick half hour to update you all on our adventures.

They've completed two pool workouts so far, covering approximately 6,000m in both. We're easily on schedule for the week's 60,000m total volume. The high spirits suggest that the workload hasn't hit them yet, check again later in the week to see how long that lasts for.

We weren't entirely sure what to expect of the resort or the temperature in Sardinia before we left. Would we need shorts or something warmer. We were told that last week had dropped to a shivering 16C, similar to what it was in the UK, so we were slightly panicked. Judging by today, we needn't have worried. It may nearly be November, but the sky is cloudless and the sun is scorching.

The View from the plane

To give you some idea of the port town of Olbia there's a photo of the approach to the airport taken from the plane. The hotel is well outside the main town and needs a bus journey to get to the shops. Leann and Pete will be making the shopping trips while the kids do their morning training. It's not the most touristy of destinations, being an old fishing port, but the hotel is well deserving of it's 4 stars and is well equipped for sports teams.

So much so that our arrival was accompanied by lots of "ooohs" and "aaaahs" as we pulled up to the very posh main entrance.

Unfortunately the planned run to the beach last night by Andy and myself didn't actually happen. Nothing to do with us chickening out I hasten to add, by the time we'd got settled in and finished dinner it was pitch black and the roads are not lit!

The really impressive thing is how well everyone has bonded together. So far no one has shown much of a preference for who they hang out with. The older swimmers have mixed with the younger kids like old friends. It's a fabulous (although sometimes noisy) atmosphere.
Typically Dartes really.

Well judging by the noise they're all on their way back to their rooms to clean up for dinner so we'll leave things there for tonight. More again tomorrow.

Enjoy your peace while you can!

While we were travelling Dave Holmes (Arm) was breaking British Masters records at the Nationals in Sheffield. We've received word that he's been featured on British Swimming's homepage all day. Congratulations Dave, you've done us proud!

Freezing Fun Pool Frolics

27 Oct (Tue): While Pete and Leann went off to the shops this morning, Andy and Dave put the swimmers through a grueling 7,000m session. Our shopping chaperones left armed with lists of food from the kids and returned like pack horses with everything from strawberries, water melons, and other random fruit, to the obligatory Milka bars which appeared on practically everyone's list. Why Milka isn't sold in the UK is a mystery to all.

During their bus trip into town each day, Pete is getting rather chatty with the regular bus driver. A route to the best local beach has been established just in time for tomorrow's afternoon of rest. Between them they've also negotiated a lift to said beach in the hotel's minibus.

Back to today though, after a 7,000m morning session, lunch was spent by the fun pool in the gorgeous sunshine (see picture). We've discovered that sun cream doesn't help much against the freezing cold water in the unheated fun pool, but it didn't dampen our enthusiasm.

The saying "only mad dogs and English men go out in the mid-day sun" probably needs revising slightly on today's evidence. It should now read: "Only mad dogs and English kids go in the fun pool in October". English kids, coaches and male chaperones that is.

Coaches Andy and Dave had an early game of volleyball with Joe and Luke before the icy headache set in, whereas Pete braved a couple of big, heavy, running bombs to the amusement of all. Needless to say, nesh Leann stayed on dry land and soaked up the sun.

The kids were splashing around and challenging each other to make the longest, screaming jumps into the pool, much to the bewilderment of a couple of other holiday making families. How can the English so enthusiastically enjoy freezing cold water in the sun. It's a mystery -- we'll explore the same subject on the beach tomorrow.

After nearly 25,000m swum in two days the kids are now starting to show a little tiredness. The older guys are still looking strong, but then they're more used to the volume. The younger kids are starting to struggle, but they still seem determined to do a good job.

But now it's time for the evening's team meeting, so I'll wrap this up for now.

More again tomorrow, see you soon.

Day out at the Beach

28 Oct (Wed): After another 6,500m volume this morning, today was our scheduled afternoon of rest. First we hit the hotel's pizzaria and cleaned them out of panini sandwiches and ice creams. When we hit the centre of Olbia on Monday lunch time we caught the cafe staff rushing to the local supermarket for more, today was much the same. A couple of sandwiches had to wait for the resupply.

After lunch we rushed off to the hotel lobby to meet our waiting mini-bus for the short drive to the beach. We arrived 8 at a time as the mini bus was too small for a single trip, but no sooner had the first group been dropped off than a 4 a-side football match kicked off with hotel towels marking goal posts.

The locals sitting around drinking in the late October sun found this hilarious. A bunch of arctic white English boys (apart from bright red sun burn) running around bare foot and bare chested on the beach in winter. They sat around watching in coats and jeans.

The entertainment improved further with the arrival of a bus load of girls. Stripping down to bikinis to enjoy the sun while the locals continued to sit around in heavy coats. The sea was soon discovered, and the screaming girls were lead on a marathon swim by chaperone Leann.

The obligatory shouts of "SHARK!!!" or "Jelly Fish!" accompanied them as they slowly drifted out further and further from the beach. The boys, engrossed in their football match paid very little attention and rarely ventured close to the water.

The beach was largely deserted (being the beginning of the Sardinian winter as it is) but the water was reasonably warm. Alex would later lead both coaches out past the red buoys in a half hearted attempt to swim out to the shipping lanes and an entirely fake looking island beyond. The significance of the red buoys was probably No Swimming Beyond Here or something similar (here be sharks, perhaps), but the trio were stupid enough to venture forth.

After the long swims were over and the football match had died out we decided to bury Beth and Caitlin in the sand -- long over due (photos are bound to follow once we return home). There was long debate as to whether to let them out again, and their room mates suggested leaving them over night but in the end they escaped.

We finished the day off with a game of rounders. Big hitters deserving of a mention are Brucey, Max, and Elliott, regularly hitting the ball well into the sea. Poor hitting losers included Coach Wallace getting caught time after time or run out at the bases.

For anyone else planning a trip to Olbia, we strongly recommend insect repellent. It seems everyone other than Coach Dave and Emma are covered in bites. Max's eye did look like he'd walked into a door (don't panic Donna). Clearly English kids are a juicy delicacy in Sardinia.

The sunset each night from our balconies is something pretty special. We have a fantastic view of the harbour too, including the Moby ferries with their famous cartoon characters painted on the hull. It makes for an interesting sight bobbing through the waves.

Well we're about to leave for the evening meal. So far the hotel has done its 4 star rating justice; not that the kids have really noticed. Delicious minute steak yesterday, juicy lamb chops the day before, all served with unlimited amounts of salad, pasta, rice, and various potatoes. Can't wait for tonight's feast.

We've finally got one of the swimmers to leave a comment. Emma offered a little gossip for those missing their regular dose of club scandal.

Here's what she had to say: With mosquito bites and haribos everybody headed off to the beach today to enjoy a well earned afternoon off :) Elliot and Rachael headed off swimming to the horizon together whilst Max and a mystery girl headed in the opposite direction closely followed by Nik. Emma and Hannah remained to dance to the music from the beach bar.

Last Full Day

30 Oct (Fri): Last night we had problems connecting to the Internet so couldn't bring you an update. That's a shame because we finally talked a few of the kids into writing down a few comments. So just before we rush off for a Sardinian Sandwich, we'll leave you with a few.

Firstly, Caitlin wrote a few things which we can't publish exactly how she put it, but the jist of it boils down to wanting to say "Hello" to Alex Beech.

Then, in case anyone was in any doubt as to the mood of the group or the quality of the weather, Shannon would like to say:
Sardinia is the best ever! Sun, sun, sun, very happy I came. Every one's nice, we have the best room ever. All the boys are nice too, except when they throw me in the cold fun pool. And Andy has a bobble head.

Alex would like to inform everyone that Dave and Pete like pushing people in the pool. So far they've got Hannah, Emma, and Molly. After a little difficulty they managed to get Holly too. And after a long, long time, Leann found herself screaming in the cold water too.

Like everyone else, Alex just points out that she's missing everyone back home and would like to send a BIGGGGGGG HIIIIIIII to Kimi and Kell!

Well its sandwich time so we need to leave it there. More later ...

They Think It's All Over -- Not quite!

1 Nov (Sun): Well after a week of blistering sun, the lucky 20 swimmers returned home from Olbia yesterday and have probably woken up this morning afternoon to glorious British wind and rain. Parents probably haven't realised just yet, but their kid's bodies are now covered in mosquito bites (they'll be itching for days) and will be slightly more tanned than when they left (no that isn't just due to a week of not washing).

The important thing everyone needs to remember though is that this week was an intensive training camp! It was intended to kick start their early season training. The 60,000m covered by most of those who were fortunate enough to take part, must now be followed up with a full week's training starting Monday morning.

As Coach Andy stressed before we all disembarked from the bus at 1am this morning: Any participants not at training Monday morning are unlikely to be invited on any future training camp.

Coach Dave would also like to take this opportunity to pass an apology to Angie for the tee-shirt Luke brought home. It was either that or an "I ♥ Sardegna" shirt.

Over the next couple of weeks we'll be adding a lot of photos from the week. If anyone would like to produce a write up of the week or just send in a paragraph or two to complement the blog we published while we were there, please do so.

Finally, a big, big thank you to the two who organised the week behind the scenes. Julie and Pete did a lot of work to make this happen before the bus arrived last weekend to take us down to Gatwick. In the end it felt like little more than a day trip with no idea where the entire week disappeared to.

Next year's is already being researched. A different location is on the cards (we like to see new sights) so make sure you're all training hard to earn your place!

Oh and a little note for the loud and proud.
Saturday morning (just a few hours before catching the plane home) we held a bunch of intra-squad races and relays. It took a little while for the kids to warm up (their vocal chords that is) but by the end of the session we had a small audience of locals wondering what all the noise was about.

Young kids watched from their swimming lessons, adult lane swimmers hung on the walls smiling at the enthusiasm of our kids, and the pool's instructors pretty much gave up trying to be heard over the cheering.

We're pretty sure everyone around GeoVillage will miss us greatly next week ;-)