Anna Williams

December 10th, 2018

Last week I watched a documentary on the work of Anna Williams. In her Wellington studio Anna repairs Persian rugs. As you can imagine it is a specialist occupation. But the program was doubly interesting because I know Anna. We were at university together. I knew many of Anna’s high school friends. There was Jenny whose family owned a farm outside Raetihi. Her Dad was best known for shipping wool bales down the Wanganui River on a jet boat. I’ve been on the jet boat; sparse and powerful would be its best description. Then there was Jude. She was the daughter of a Gisborne farming family. Alison and I went to her wedding in Gisborne and enjoyed every minute. And there was Rosemary whose father was a local Gisborne doctor. I saw him three times; once for help with some bad sunburn, once to sew up my knee after a crash off my bike and once to check my health before the Hawke’s Bay Poverty Bay Open Water Championships. I ended up second in the race behind Allan Christie the New Zealand open water champion. Anna was also the daughter of an East Coast farming family. In fact the William’s family was East Coast aristocracy with a kind and caring sense of community. But more of that later.

Besides knowing the subject of the documentary the feature I enjoyed most was Anna’s trip to Iran to renew her contact with Persian rug weavers, distributors and repairers. This is how Anna described her trip.

As I neared the end of a 15-year stretch as a rug repairer, I was desperate to go back to Iran. I badly needed to stock up on yarns and tools and I wanted to find some colleagues.When I arrived in Tehran last November I stayed with Ali, who is part of a second-generation family rug export business. He has a large complex on the outskirts of Tehran, where old and new rugs are washed, then stretched and repaired.He employs about 15 repairers, all of whom sit on a concrete floor in a large shed, surrounded by dishevelled piles of rugs. At this factory there are only men, who welcomed this middle aged woman with smiles and handshakes, and gave me the first cups of tea in the best cups they could find.

I visited the Carpet Museum in Tehran and I admit I got teary-eyed as I looked at these dazzling rugs and wondered about the people who made them.

I was unsure of how to get around Iran on my own, so I employed a travel agency in Shiraz. I travelled on local transport with male guides. It was a brilliant time to be in Iran because there were few tourists. I always deviated from any prescribed tour itinerary to spend time in the bazaars on my own, searching for tools, wools and cottons.

Then I would bully the guide into finding the rug dealers, who had repairers on site or restorers who were working away in attic rooms in the bazaars.

In Yazd my guide found another guide to take me to a desert village to see rugs being woven. There I spent time with a woman who had an enormous vertical carpet loom in her dirt-floored home. I wove two knots into her carpet of many millions of hand knots.

As I was saying goodbye to two of my guides, they admitted they had learnt much about rugs from me because they had never travelled before with such a rug obsessive. Their flexibility and responsiveness to my needs meant I learnt even more about rug restoration, which has eased my professional isolation.

For a political junkie like me I am forever hearing Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo and John Bolton describe Iran in derogatory terms. It is all about Isis, espionage, sanctions and nuclear missiles. What a relief then to watch Anna’s journey meeting good people doing wonderful work, providing the world with unique and beautifully designed rugs. Good people doing good things is not a side of Iran often heard in the west. Without saying as much Anna’s program provided much needed political balance – and I suspect she knew exactly that was the message being sent.

But there is a swimming side to this story. You see in the very early 1970s our club trained in Gisborne’s McCrae Baths. It was open-air, unheated, and old. So old that water from the estuary outside flowed into the pool through a crack in the bottom during high-tide. I know that’s true because for a summer university holiday I had the job of Pool Manager.

Our coach, Mrs Beth Meade, had accepted the task of raising money to build a new pool close to Midway Beach. It was not an easy task. Raffles brought in a few hundred dollars. Cake stands at swimming competitions earned a little bit more. Sausage sizzles on the beach every Saturday were good but were not going to see a new 50 meter pool any time soon.

Then one evening Beth got a call from Mr. Williams’ lawyer. Would Beth come to his office? Mr Williams, Beth was told, would like to make a donation to the pool building fund. I went with Beth to the lawyer’s office. We were excited at the prospect of a healthy donation. Possibly as much as a thousand dollars was our best guess.

We arrived and Mr. Williams said, “I’ve heard about your fundraising and would like to help. We were wondering if a hundred would be of assistance.”

I could tell Beth was disappointed. She covered it up well and thanked Williams for his donation. Clearly the lawyer detected her reservation and said, “I don’t think you understand what Mr Williams meant was one hundred thousand dollars.”

And that’s how the current Olympic Pool in Gisborne was built. It is a lovely facility; possibly the best indoor /outdoor pool in the country. Beside the beach it looks out across Poverty Bay towards Cape Kidnappers. I love going to swim meets in the pool Anna’s family built. I don’t know whether the Mr Williams involved was her father, grandfather, uncle or a distant relative, but whatever the connection the generosity of the family was outstanding. A quality that it seems, from the Iran documentary, Anna has carried on to today.

I know that if you have a Persian rug that needs some care and attention, Anna will give it the same care and attention her family showed to the Gisborne/Poverty Bay community.  She is in Wellington: www.rugrepairs.co.nz or anna@rugrepairs.co.nz

 

Swimming New Zealand’s 2018

December 8th, 2018

And so the 2018 year of Cotterill, Johns and Francis is coming to an end. The first two acts involved the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the Pan Pacific Games. Act three, the World Short Course Championship, is about to begin. I have no doubt Cotterill and Johns will write a glowing report in their 2018 Annual Report. Their reports always distort the truth; best filed in the Auckland City Library as works of fiction

How has their competitive year actually gone? Is this what they are going to write? Or will their report require our further willing suspension of disbelief?

The year began with the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Steve Johns, the CEO of Swimming New Zealand, was confident. He said that, “the 2018 Commonwealth Games will be a successful campaign.” “Swimming NZ is delighted with the team that has been announced. We are confident in the swimmers who have been selected and know that they are up for the challenge.”

New Zealand’s performance in the six days of competition (excluding Paralympic swimmers) is summarized in the table below.

Day Swims Gold Silver Bronze Finals PBs PB %
Total 65 0 0 1 11 18 27%

The result does not make good reading; one bronze medal and a 27% PB ratio. The most lowly club team in the country would expect better than a 27% PB ratio. Any coach delivering that result regularly could expect to be out of a job. For an international team at a Commonwealth Games it is an appalling statistic. Not winning can depend on all sorts of outside factors. But a 73% failure to meet personal bests is an internal team problem. Johns and Cotterill have delivered a catastrophic result. And it is down to them. In my view they played ducks and drakes with the selection of the team, they picked a terrible support crew, they screwed up the pre-Games camp, they approved an appalling pre-Games competition schedule and they persisted in a flawed training program. Their deficient decision making has been cruelly exposed and punished. Now it is time for them to take responsibility. It is time for justice.

Set out below is a table that shows how bad the 2018 Commonwealth Games swim team was. The table ranks each Games in order of success.

Rank Games Gold Silver Bronze Total Medals
1 Edinburgh 1986 2 3 1 6
2 Auckland 1990 2 2 3 7
3 Edmonton 1978 2 2 2 6
4 Christchurch 1974 2 1 4 7
5 Victoria 1994 1 5 2 8
6= Auckland 1950 1 2 3 6
6= Kingston 1966 1 2 3 6
8 Vancouver 1954 1 2 1 4
9 Melbourne 2006 1 1 4 6
10 Glasgow 2014 1 1 0 2
11 Delhi 2010 0 3 2 5
12 Hamilton 1930 0 2 0 2
13 Perth 1962 0 1 2 3
14= Hamilton 1958 0 1 1 2
14= Manchester 2002 0 1 1 2
16 Kuala Lumper 1998 0 0 2 2
17= Sydney 1938 0 0 1 1
17= London 1934 0 0 1 1
17= Brisbane 1982 0 0 1 1
17= Edinburgh 1970 0 0 1 1
17= Gold Coast 2018 0 0 1 1

You can see that Edinburgh in 1986 was New Zealand’s most successful result. That team won 2 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze medal. From that high the results gradually get worse until at the bottom there are five Games where the teams won only one bronze medal. Included in that trailing group is the Gold Coast 2018 team. But there is a major difference between the disaster of 2018 and the other teams that only won one bronze medal. The difference is money. In 1934, 1938, 1970 and 1982 there was none of the millions of dollars, none of the SUVs, none of the flash offices and corporate plans that have gone into the 2018 fiasco. At a cost of $14millon Clareburt’s Bronze Medal is the most expensive medal in history.

When a disaster of this magnitude occurs it is necessary for those responsible to accept the blame and act with honour. It is time for Johns and Cotterill to accept that the buck stops with them – not with the regions, not the coaches, not the swimmers, not the clubs, but with them. The 2012 Constitution gave them great power. That power carries with it great responsibility. When the activity they manage does worse than ever before it is time for them to resign. They were told a thousand times that their policies would have this result. They were given an alternative plan. They ignored all that and their failure has been total.

According to Steve Johns the link between money and medals is simple; win more medals, get more money. It appears that winning medals is not so simple; not for Steve Johns anyway. This team returned empty handed. As I have often said that is not the fault of the three swimmers. This barren performance was a long time in the making. Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) was told over and over again that this would be the result of the policies it followed; of money it wasted. SNZ ignored our counsel and in 2018 the result is in plain view.

But before looking at the results, SNZ must be ashamed at a team of just three pool swimmers. Four years ago New Zealand sent a team of eight pool swimmers. That’s a 300% drop in team size. SNZ has won the double; it has lost quality and quantity.

In the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific Championships combined, New Zealand swimmers won one Bronze medal. Well done Cotterill. Well done the SNZ Board. Well done Steve Johns. I do hope you are proud of bringing a fine sport to its knees.

I thought it might be interesting to compare how the New Zealand 2014 Pan Pacific Games team performed in comparison to the 2018 team. The table below shows how far down SNZ has brought us in four years.

Pan Pacs B Final Final Gold Silver Bronze Av. Place
2014 7 10 0 2 2 8.6
2018 3 5 0 0 0 10.3

Four years ago New Zealand swimmers competed in 10 finals and 7 “B” finals. This year the team managed 5 finals and 3 “B” finals. Four years ago New Zealand swimmers won 2 Silver medals and 2 Bronze medals. This year there were no medals of any sort. Four years ago the average place of a New Zealand swimmer was 9th place. Four years later that has slipped to an average of 11th. Take a bow SNZ. That sure looks like a great result for four years work.

Probably the most positive quality of New Zealand’s performance was the percentage of PBs. From 16 swims the team recorded 5 personal best swims; a not spectacular, but better than normal 31%.

It is probably worth remembering that in four years from 2014 to 2018, the SNZ Board was given in excess of $4,000,000 by the New Zealand tax payer. That’s you and me. We gave the Board and the CEO, Johns, $4,000,000. We were entitled to expect them to spend it wisely. We were entitled to expect a return on our investment. Instead they delivered no Pan Pacific medals compared to four medals last time. There is not a commercial company in New Zealand that would tolerate that performance. The shareholders of a properly run company would demand accountability. Resignations would be expected from any Board that delivered SNZ’s 2018 results.

But this lot have no honour. They will trot next door asking High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) for their 2019 beneficiary handout as though this year’s performance was all part of a well-designed master plan. Cotterill will write an Annual Report that will tell us about another group of juniors about to stun the swimming world; and sadly he will get away with the lie. If HPSNZ was really doing what is best for swimming they would turn Cotterill and Johns away without a cent – nothing at all. HPSNZ must see that the $4,000,000 they have spent has been wasted. There is an old expression that says, why pour good money after bad? Why indeed?

For the final act three of 2018 SNZ have selected a team of eighteen swimmers. How does that work? From only three swimmers being good enough to qualify for the Pan Pacific Games, Johns and Francis have found eighteen that merit selection to a World Championship. Shouldn’t it be the other way around especially when two of the three swimmers who went to the Pan Pacific meet are not even on the World’s team?  I guess logic is not a SNZ strongpoint.

So how will the team perform at the World SC Championship? My guess is it will not compare with the Majorca championships where every NZ team member returned with a medal. After Cotterill, Johns and Francis have done their best, my guess is no medals, no finals and a 30% PB ratio. We will soon see.

With Corrupt Intent

December 6th, 2018

British Journalist, Craig Lord, has earned the respect of us all. Lord writes for the highly respected newspaper, The Times. A few years ago he took up the cause of the flotation bodysuits that were distorting world swimming records. It took a while but eventually Lord managed to convince FINA to change the rules and ban the suits. Swimming today is a better and more honest sport because of the success of Lord’s campaign.

More recently Lord has turned his attention towards the corrupt leadership of FINA. His attacks are loud, powerful and valid. Like American healthcare, the state of FINA leadership is a cause in serious need of reform. Here is a copy of Lord’s most recent Facebook Swimvortex post on the subject.

Fina did not respond to interview requests by BBC Sport relating to the criticisms they have faced in recent months and that’s long applied to just about any media putting ‘the wrong question’, as Cornel Marculescu, the FINA director said to Craig Lord in 1998 when responding to news that teenage abuse victim Yuan Yuan had been arrested at Sydney Airport with enough HgH in her kit bag to feed a small army. “It’s a balloon, you will bring down your own house,” said Marculescu. I reminded him that it wasn’t my house – nor was it his house, either. FINA HQ and leadership have been ignoring athletes, their major stakeholders, media etc not in ‘recent months’ but for many long years when the questions and issues are inconvenient to the status quo that must be preserved at all costs, including athlete welfare, safety and wellbeing; and in that culture, they even break their own rules through interpretations that simply do not stack up, neither in fact, intent nor language.

I seldom comment on FINA’s problems. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I would hate some ill-informed opinion of mine to damage the cause of reforming swimming’s world governing body. The work of people supporting the call for reform has too much integrity to be upset by anything written in Swimwatch. Besides, when people like Adam Peaty, Dawn Fraser, Cate Campbell and Craig Lord are all singing from the same hymn book there is little need for me to add my toneless voice.

But what I can contribute is a New Zealand perspective. And that is valid. Why? Because the corruption being attributed to FINA is amazingly and accurately reflected by what goes on in Swimming New Zealand (SNZ). Every criticism levelled at FINA could be equally aimed at SNZ. For example Cate Campbell decided to express her discontent. This is what she said;

“The world governing body is doing a disservice to the very people that they are supposed to advocate for and protect. FINA is not supporting us, they are putting swimmers at the bottom of their priority list. I think you need to stand up to it because there are a lot of people getting very rich from swimming but it’s not the athletes.”

Cate Campbell is right. There are a lot of people getting rich from swimming and it is not the athletes. Miskimmin gets paid close to $500,000 a year. Francis is probably paid in excess of $120,000. The SNZ accounts clerk takes home more than $100,000. Steve Johns is up around $150,000.

Meanwhile Lauren Boyle at her world championship best was paid $40,000. Dame Valerie Adams has won more Olympic and Commonwealth medals than most athletes can win New Zealand National titles. But Miskimmin decided she was only worth $80,000. My guess is the average New Zealand swimming international earns about $6,000. Now tell me Cate Campbell doesn’t have a point.

But it is not only financial abuse that causes concern. It is the way Johns, Cotterill and Francis treat SNZ members that is of equal concern; sufficient concern that it could reasonably be called enslavement. What about charging swimmers $5,300 each to represent the country at a World Championship while Francis flies for free? Is it right that SNZ can make slanderous accusations about someone and when SNZ is found to be at fault refuse to let the accused read the report? Beware SNZ if that report clears the accused there will be a court case for defamation. Is it fair that SNZ should pigheadedly refuse to give a Syrian refugee a national ranking in order to allow him to apply for recognition from the International Olympic Committee? I wonder how often the Russians have bombed and destroyed Steve Johns’ home. He is disgusting. Is it okay to lie on a world record application about the specification of the pool used? Is it right for SNZ to lie to sponsors about the numbers attending domestic championships? Consider for a moment 99% of the swimmers in your local club and then try and name one thing SNZ has done to make their experience positive and rewarding. That’s right – nothing. They are too busy feathering their own nest – that’s why.

I could go on but I imagine you get the idea. The culture promoted by SNZ is toxic and corrupt. SNZ is no better than FINA and possibly worse. Without question any administrator from the regions who cares for the welfare of swimming and swimmers should be using every opportunity to clear out the deadwood in Antares Place. Swimming in New Zealand needs reform; needs a revolution. It is time to sack Johns, Francis and the Board.

North Shore Good & Bad

December 1st, 2018

Over the years I have seen up close and personal a good many swim schools. From the BGI, where at our biggest we taught 4000 lessons a week in seven pools, to a small school with about 150 swimmers operating out of the Quality Inn pool in Wellington’s Willis Street. I have been responsible for swim schools in the Virgin Islands, the United States, New Zealand and Saudi Arabia.

An inevitable product of that experience is a feel for the qualities that make for a good and bad swim school. Good lessons have a quality that is as hard to define as it is easy to detect. They might be quietly serious or boisterous and loud. But in all cases constructive learning is the end result. Bad lessons are equally obvious. They too can be quietly serious or boisterous and loud. But the feeling of students wanting the half hour to end is impossible to escape.

The swim schools I watch most these days are the Waterhole Swim School in West Auckland and the Millennium Swim School on Auckland’s North Shore. Without any reservation I would recommend both these schools. If you want your child to learn to swim you will not find no better home in Auckland than these two schools. Today however, for reasons that will become obvious, I want to focus on the Millennium Swim School.

The school is big. Possibly not as big as we were at the BGI but, with three pools on the go, it is one of New Zealand’s biggest. It is not easy to maintain size and quality. Anybody who achieves that deserves our respect. At the Millennium Swim School that’s Rachel. She is the boss. She is one of those gifted people who, no matter how busy she is, always seems to have a heap of time. Time to say hello, time to ask about your day, time to listen to your answer. She manages to find the difficult balance between efficiency and care, between discipline and fun, between friendship and leadership. They say good and bad things start at the top. At the Millennium Swim School that is certainly where good things have their beginning.

Eyad teaches at the school. I actually took Eyad through the course that ended with him earning his swim teacher’s certificate. He was an excellent student principally because he knew the product and taught it with genuine care. I don’t know whether his concern is an act or the product of a genuinely nice person; maybe a bit of both. My mother was a good teacher and freely admitted to putting on her grease-paint to perform each day’s teaching duties. I guess the source of Eyad’s success does not really matter. The end result is students who love their teacher and would do anything to earn his praise. As a refugee Eyad has been fortunate to find such a good swim school to begin his working life in New Zealand. The swim school too has been fortunate to find a very good Syrian swim teacher.

One of the swim school supervisors is Jane. That is not her real name; for reasons that will become obvious. She too is a good boss. She comes across as a bit busier than Rachel but never too busy to say hello to that “controversial” David Wright and stop to find out how training is progressing. I suspect she does no always agree with the more critical stories printed on Swimwatch. However that certainly is not a fault. A year ago I had a real problem at the pool and was ill several times. The care Jane showed for my health was above and beyond the call of duty.

The North Shore is fortunate to have a swim teaching jewel at the Millennium pools. If you are looking for a place for yourself or your children to learn to swim, I doubt you will find a better choice than the Millennium Swim School.

But back to Jane. Jane has a daughter Mandy. I’ve met Mandy. She is fifteen and comes across as a well brought up hard working teenager; a decent and balanced young woman. I was horrified to read the following report on the “Stuff” website.

The mother of a girl who was randomly attacked at a McDonald’s restaurant in Auckland says she is appalled more wasn’t done to help them. A 15-year-old North Shore girl and her best friend went into the McDonald’s by Glenfield Mall around 4.30pm on Monday. Within minutes, two girls jeered at them from across the restaurant, asking what they were looking at, the mother said.

Kate* and Mandy* moved tables but the pair followed them, Kate’s mum told Stuff. They were attacked from behind. Kate’s mum said her daughter was pulled by her hair and yanked down onto the floor of the restaurant, where she was repeatedly punched.

Kate’s nose piercing was ripped out along with damage done to a piercing on the top of her ear, she said. Mandy hit her head on the table, Kate’s mum said. The “horrifying” attack went on for about two minutes. “Hysterical” and “sobbing”, the girls walked out of the restaurant by themselves, phoning their dads for help. The two attackers remained in the restaurant, Kate’s mum said.

McDonald’s spokesman Simon Kenny said the franchise owner was assisting police with the investigation into the incident. Police confirmed officers attended an assault at the McDonald’s and were looking into the incident.

So there you have it the best and the worst of society. The best coming in the form of good people running a first class swim school. And the worst coming from two low lifes who can’t handle their lives or control the urge to spread hurt and pain. I guess all we can hope is that the former prosper and succeed and the latter are caught, disciplined and reform. Sadly I am optimistic about the first and pessimistic about the prospects of the second.

A Problem With Authority

November 28th, 2018

 

Hataitai Beach

On Tuesday morning I was sitting in the Millennium Pool Whole Food Café with the four swimmers I help just now. Actually they are not all swimmers. Eyad is the only swimmer. Two of the others are triathletes and the fourth is a runner, using swimming to recover from an injury. I enjoy our after-training morning tea. The Whole Food Café staff are warm and friendly. They make a superb pot of green tea and cook delicious potato wedges that, my doctor warns me, I should not be eating.

There is never a pause in the conversation. The four of us talk way too much for that. One of the triathletes has a PhD in some obscure subject. She has read my three books on swimming and like all good university brains underlines the bits she thinks need further explanation. I enjoy the challenge of being asked to explain myself. A coach who cannot justify his or her training should not be coaching. If it is good enough to ask someone to swim six or seven kilometers, it’s only fair to explain why the two hours is good for them.

Normally the answers to her questions are not difficult. When you have spent countless hours discussing training with coaches like Lydiard, Jelley, Laing and Schubert most of the ground has been covered before. In fact a common quality in all those master coaches is their unstinting willingness to share their knowledge. Lydiard said a coach should always call himself a teacher. It put into context the responsibilities of the job. Jelley, of course, was a teacher and for years was principal of one of New Zealand’s leading “normal schools” used for training teachers. His deep knowledge of education clearly influenced his coaching. It certainly had a profound effect on my coaching life.

But back to Tuesday. My triathlete friend came up with a question that did cause surprise. “Do you,” she said, “have a problem with authority?”

Today is Wednesday and I’m still considering how to answer her question. I guess the fact that thirty-six hours have gone by means the answer is probably, yes. But it is not my fault. It is all because of swimming.

I’ve decided my rebellion began when I was four. I was a member of the Hataitai Swimming Club in Wellington. We didn’t have a pool but swam on a Saturday morning between two jetties at the Hataitai Beach. In those days, learners were awarded stickers for each stage in their swimming progress. By four years of age I had all the stickers except the last one given for completing an 800 yards swim. One Saturday I asked a club official if I could have a shot at swimming the distance. He said yes and off I went. To this day, sixty-six years later, I can remember that swim like it was yesterday. It went on forever. Thirty-two widths of Haitaitai Beach is a long way to swim when you are four years old. Eventually I finished and went to the officials to get my sticker. But no I was told my laps had not been officially counted. The official counting my laps had to go home for lunch. I would have to do the swim another time.

I was devastated. I pleaded my case with the officials to no avail. I explained I had been swimming for close to an hour. I had counted every length. “Bad luck. Come back next Saturday,” was their response. I walked up the hill, behind Hataitai Beach, to my home and explained to my mother the injustice of my cause. To her eternal credit she took my side. We went back down the hill to the beach. My mother was a pretty eloquent individual. She argued my case with considerable conviction – and she won. I was given the 800 yards sticker. My swimming certificate was complete. .

So, I guess, the implication in my triathlete friend’s question is probably right. From four years old I have had a problem with officials. Too often in the sixty-six years since I have come across officials who should not be in the job. They cheat and they lie without care or remorse. Sadly, it seems that these days, the more they are paid the worse they get. Much of what goes on in Swimming New Zealand is exactly the same as denying a four year old his 800 yards certificate. These bad buggers have made me wary and have encouraged the Swimwatch blog.

Fortunately their negative influence is matched by some wonderfully fair and good people. People like Beth Meade, Jo Draisey, Jennie Siburn, Judith Wright, Gwen Ryan, Duncan Laing, Lincoln Hurring, Jay Thomas (he’s from Florida), Maria Hartman (she was from the UK) and a dozen others stand out as honest and good people who have done swimming and athletics proud. Without question it is the influence of these people that has kept me in the sport.

There is a postscript to my 800 yards story. Thirty-five years after I swam the 800 yards my daughter Jane was three years old. On the way to Moana Pool I told her the story of my swim. She asked if she could try the same distance a year younger, at three. I agreed. For a long time that morning Duncan Laing and I stood beside the Moana Pool while Jane swam her 800 meters. She swam a slightly longer distance and a year younger than I had been. Fourteen years later Jane was selected to swim for New Zealand in the Pan Pacific Championships. Duncan Laing was coaching the team. When Jane arrived at the airport Duncan smiled and said, “Hello blondie. I remember when you swam 800 meters in the Moana Pool at three years of age.” And that’s a good bloke – a bloody good swimming official.