When Privacy Means Tell The World

October 17th, 2017

I was interested to read the Swimming New Zealand “Long List” of swimmers eligible for Commonwealth Games selection. I was also interested to read various swimming commentator’s opinions. Thirty-six names are included in the list – fifteen female and twenty-one male swimmers.

What was a surprise was the amount of information provided by Swimming New Zealand. In fact I use the word surprise in the broadest possible sense. Words like amazed, stunned appalled and shocked better describe my reaction. For there, on the Swimming New Zealand website, published for the world to read are thirty-six names, thirty-six birthdates, thirty-six classifications of sex and – wait for it – thirty-six email addresses.

Now I have no idea whether publication of swimmer’s email addresses like this is legal or not. I suspect it is not. I don’t know whether Swimming New Zealand asked the swimmers for permission to share their contact details with the world. I suspect they did not. However the technicalities don’t really matter. What is of concern is whether disclosing that amount of personal information is wise, or safe, or caring or professional. And I do not think there is any doubt about the answer to that question.

There is no way swimmer’s names, sex, dates of birth and email contacts should be spread all over the internet. It makes it difficult for members to have faith in the organization when the Head Office pays no regard for the sport’s Code of Conduct. I would be delighted if anyone could explain to me how the publication of this private information complies with these Code requirements.

For example Swimming New Zealand is required to:

  1. Provide a safe environment for the conduct of the activity in accordance with relevant Swimming New Zealand policy.
  2. Members should recognise that at all times they have a responsibility to a duty of care to all Swimming New Zealand members.
  3. Do not disclose any confidential information relating to their athletes without written prior consent.
  4. Place the safety and welfare of the participants above all else.

Is Swimming New Zealand aware that fifteen of the names are young women? Are they aware that three of them appear to be under the age of eighteen, another two are under twenty and the other eight are under twenty-four? You may ask how I know all that. I know because Swimming New Zealand thought it important to give me their dates of birth. And if anyone wants to check Swimming New Zealand provided the girl’s private email addresses. You could write to them and ask.

It is bloody incredible. We have just witnessed the behaviour of Harvey Weinstein. There is no need to go on creepy chat sites in New Zealand. Just dial up the website of the organization responsible for competitive swimming and you’ll get a list of fifteen girls, their ages and their email addresses. Is anyone in Swimming New Zealand aware of how creepy that looks?

I know that when I had a family member swimming for New Zealand and when I was helping three other female swimmers represent the country if the National Federation had published their age and personal contact details I’d have gone crazy. I just hope the families of fifteen women are beating down Swimming New Zealand’s door this morning. Pimping out their family member’s contact details is beyond unacceptable.

But there are commentators who are not much better. I’ve read pages of stuff debating the merits of having this “Long List” of names. Lengthy discussion examines the value of the long list. The stunning revelation that only two swimmers on the list have actually qualified is questioned in detail. The work still to be done by the other thirty-four swimmers is analyzed. A thousand words debate the implications of the “Long List” for swimming as a sport.

As valid as that discussion might be, the real issue of the list; the real problem its publication brings into focus is not mentioned at all. At best the publication of the swimmer’s personal information is a mere footnote to the issue of whether New Zealand is going to perform well in the Commonwealth Games. Without the timely intervention, on Facebook, of someone called Emily I doubt the scandal of the publication of the email addresses would have been mentioned at all. Well done Emily.

Many years ago I accepted money from a Wellington strip club to pay airfares for my swimmers to compete in Europe. I got summoned to a Swimming New Zealand meeting to answer the charge that accepting the money had brought the sport into disrepute. The Swimming New Zealand case collapsed when I pointed out that the same strip club had advertised on the back page of the Swimming New Zealand quarterly magazine. SNZ had accepted the strip club’s money before I did. SNZ gave me the idea. However accepting money from a strip club comes nowhere near the irresponsibility and danger of publishing swimmer’s names, sex, dates of birth and email addresses. When it comes to bringing the sport into disrepute this publication is in a class of its own.  

Members have a right to expect better than this. The CEO and staff directly responsible for the publication of the “Long List” should be disciplined. Thirty-six swimmers and especially fifteen female swimmers have a right to be protected from potential abuse. If staff members are not seriously sanctioned, I guess we will all know the extent of Swimming New Zealand’s sincerity when it comes to member’s safety.          

     

So Did Swimming NZ Make Progress?

October 8th, 2017

The day before the New Zealand Short Course National Championships began Swimwatch published a post comparing the best entry times with the current world records. The comparison showed that on average the fastest swimmers entered in the Championships were 7.2% slower than the world record times. Men were 7.4% slower and women 7.0% slower.

The post discussed the length of time it would take for New Zealand swimmers to bridge the 7.2% gap. Assuming New Zealand swimmers improved at twice the rate that the world records improved it would take five years for New Zealand to have a world class program.

It is a huge ask. It requires action to begin straight away and to continue at a high level for a long time. Every opportunity to close the gap between New Zealand’s best and the world’s best swimmers needs to be taken. Without immediate attention New Zealand swimming will never catch up.   

Well the first opportunity to improve has come and gone. The National Championships were held last week. Did New Zealand swimming make progress? To check this out I have reprinted the table that compares the National entry times with the current world records. But on this occasion I have added the winning times swum at the National Championships. Based on entry times New Zealand swimmers were on average 7.2% slower than the world record. After the Nationals are we closer to our goal? Did we make progress? Or are we further away?

The data tells the following story.

  1. Far from closing in on the world’s best times New Zealand swimmers have gone backwards. We were an average of 7.2% behind. At the National Championships this got worse. New Zealand champions are now 7.5% behind. Women at the Auckland meet were 7.8% behind. Men were 7.1% behind.
  2. The drop from 7.2% behind to 7.5% behind might not sound all that severe. But when the gap is as big as 7% any lost opportunity to close the gap is very serious. Prior to the Championships, in an average 100m race, the best New Zealand swimmer was finishing about 6 meters behind the world’s best swimmers. This has increased. New Zealand’s best swimmer is now a further half meter behind.
  3. On a positive note Bradley Ashby has brought New Zealand swimming closer to world class in the medley and backstroke events. His 200m medley is now 4.9% (or about 10 metres) behind the world’s best.
  4. The problem for Ashby is that an improvement of 0.7% is not enough. At that annual rate world class times are about eight years away. Ashby probably won’t be swimming in eight years. Progress of more than 1.5%, or more than twice Ashby’s current improvement, is required for a swimmer wanting to be competitive in Tokyo in three years. And Ashby’s problem, is New Zealand’s problem. Swimmers are improving but not at a fast enough rate. In this meet only the men’s 50, 100 and 200 backstroke, and the 100 IM (not an Olympic event) improved by more than 1.5%. No women’s event came close to that level of improvement. To do well in Tokyo New Zealand swimmers are going to have to do better; a lot better.      

The Swimming New Zealand PR machine goes into overdrive to hide the facts. Sophie Pascoe’s swims are all over the organization’s website and trumpeted in the general media. Her swims have every right to be given maximum praise. She is, without qualification, an astounding athlete. But what is not right is to use her swims to hide a deep malaise in the main stream sport. For too long Swimming New Zealand used Lauren Boyle the same way; to deflect attention away from the sport’s serious problems.

One report begins with this paraphrased sentence, “Two world records highlighted the first day of the New Zealand Short Course championships in Auckland.” The report goes on to explain that the records were set by para swimmer, Sophie Pascoe. However the first sentence is a clear attempt to portray the meet as a hot-bed of world class swimming. And that is not true. It is fake news that does the sport no favors because it papers over fissures that need to be exposed and repaired.

At the National Short Course Championships swimming in New Zealand got worse. A major step towards addressing the problem is to acknowledge that a problem exists. But from this Swimming New Zealand Board I’m picking that might be too much to ask.       

Men

Event World Time NZ Time % Behind Nat Time % Behind
50 m freestyle 20.26 21.52 5.9 22.16 8.6
100 m freestyle 44.94 47.30 5.0 48.84 8.0
200 m freestyle 1:39.37 1:45.70 6.0 1:47.35 7.4
400 m freestyle 3:32.25 3:47.35 6.6 3:46.11 6.1
1500 m freestyle 14:08.06 14:47.85 4.5 14:50.61 4.8
50 m backstroke 22.22 24.94 10.9 24.29 8.5
100 m backstroke 48.92 53.57 8.7 52.39 6.6
200 m backstroke 1:45.63 1:56.57 9.4 1:54.58 7.8
50 m breaststroke 25.25 27.82 9.2 27.34 7.7
100 m breaststroke 55.61 1:00.76 8.5 59.95 7.2
200 m breaststroke 2:00.44 2:10.07 7.4 2:09.46 7.0
50 m butterfly 21.80 23.38 6.8 24.15 9.7
100 m butterfly 48.08 52.68 8.7 52.32 8.1
200 m butterfly 1:48.56 1:56.46 6.8 1:55.65 6.1
100 m IM 50.30 54.92 8.4 53.85 6.6
200 m IM 1:49.63 1:56.14 5.6 1:55.30 4.9
400 m IM 3:55.50 4:11.88 6.5 4:10.12 5.9
Average Gap 7.4 7.1

Women

Event World Time NZ Time % Behind Nat Time % Behind
50 m freestyle 22.93 25.21 9.0 24.95 8.1
100 m freestyle 50.58 54.19 6.7 54.96 8.0
200 m freestyle 1:50.43 1:57.58 6.1 1:58.31 6.7
400 m freestyle 3:54.52 4:07.80 5.4 4:08.98 5.8
800 m freestyle 7:59.34 8:28.27 5.7 8:38.20 7.5
50 m backstroke 25.67 27.75 7.5 27.71 7.4
100 m backstroke 55.03 59.51 7.5 59.66 7.8
200 m backstroke 1:59.23 2:09.40 7.9 2:09.62 8.0
50 m breaststroke 28.64 31.32 8.6 31.28 8.4
100 m breaststroke 1:02.36 1:07.79 8.0 1:07.35 7.4
200 m breaststroke 2:14.57 2:28.11 9.1 2:25.82 7.7
50 m butterfly 24.38 25.75 5.3 27.07 9.9
100 m butterfly 54.61 57.11 4.4 58.86 7.2
200 m butterfly 1:59.61 2:07.04 5.9 2:10.49 8.3
100 m IM 56.51 1:00.61 6.8 1:00.45 6.5
200 m IM 2:01.86 2:09.74 6.1 2:11.55 7.4
400 m IM 4:18.94 4:46.41 9.6 4:48.92 10.4
Average Gap 7.0 7.8

So Just What Is The Gap?

October 2nd, 2017

Swimming New Zealand is currently experiencing two closely related events.

First the organization is planning to move away from the centralised preparation of elite swimmers. For twenty years that policy has mindlessly absorbed Swimming New Zealand’s time and money. And the policy has failed miserably. The new plan proposes replacing the old structure with a Zone based program. Subject to knowing more about how the Zones will work the new structure should be more responsive to swimmer’s needs and should be more successful. Mind you that’s not saying much. The success bar in Swimming New Zealand is pretty low right now.

Second the New Zealand National Short Course Championships are being held this week.

The two events provide an ideal opportunity to take stock and evaluate just where the sport is at. We know the old centralised structure failed but what is the size of the problem being left behind? How far below world standards has New Zealand swimming fallen? What is the gap between the world’s best and New Zealand’s best swimmers? How long is it going to take to bridge the gap? And is the new Zone structure equipped to supply swimmers capable of lifting the sport to world class status?

Swimming New Zealand Board members frequently provide glowing answers to these questions. But we know from hard experience not to trust a word the Board says. The members know little about international swimming and it shows. For example we have been told that, “The vision of our High Performance Strategy is: inspirational swimmers, exciting the nation through exceptional results”. Unbelievably just before the Rio Olympic Games the CEO said, “resulted in bold decisions being taken and led to the development of a targeted campaign strategy aimed at improving our international performances in Rio.” And we know how that turned out. A few years earlier the same CEO provided us with this glowing testimonial, “The 2012/2013 swimming season resulted in some remarkable performances from our elite athletes. The largest ever Olympic swim team attended the 2012 London Olympic Games. New Zealand had its most successful World Short Course Championship to date.”

If you listen and believe the Board of Swimming New Zealand we should be tearing the Americans apart by now. International meets around the world should be tired of playing “God Defend New Zealand”. But how close to reality is the organization’s gloss? How fake is their fake news?   

Well the two tables below attempt to provide data-based answers to the questions. The tables show the size of the gap between New Zealand’s current swimmers and the current world record. The times shown for New Zealand’s swimmers are the fastest entry times for swimmers entered in each event at this week’s National Championships. The world records are the current FINA short course best times.

This is what the data tells us about the size of Swimming New Zealand’s performance problem.

  1. In all 34 events New Zealand’s fastest swimmers are an average of 7.2% slower that the current world records.
  2. Male swimmers are an average of 7.4% behind the current world records. Female swimmers are an average of 7.0% behind the current world records.
  3. The largest gap of 10.9% is in the men’s 50m backstroke. The closest gap is 4.5% in the men’s 1500m.
  4. The American Swim Coaches Association tells us that the ideal best rate of improvement for a good international swimmer is 3% per year.
  5. What this means is that the current gap of 7.2% between New Zealand’s best swimmers and the world record will take a minimum of 2.4 years to close – and that ridiculously assumes two things. It assumes the world record will not improve and it assumes New Zealand swimmers will improve at the American’s best rate. Neither of those things is guaranteed. In fact neither is even likely.
  6. To give you a more realistic idea of what that means – if New Zealand’s swimmers improve at twice the rate that the world record’s progress, on average, it will take five years for New Zealand swimmers to reach the world times.

And so we know the task before the new Zone structure is to create an environment in which local swimmers improve at twice the rate of the world’s best. Even at this rate it will take five years to bridge the current gap between New Zealand’s best and the world’s best swimmers. It is a big ask. The scale of the problem suggests New Zealand swimmers might struggle to be ready for Tokyo. Three years may not be long enough. Certainly New Zealand swimming will need to be at its very best over a long period to have a program that is anywhere near world class. However there is hope. It’s true the statistics make bleak reading. But as the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli said: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” The figures need not be the full story. It will be interesting to see what progress is made this week.        

 

Men

Event World Time NZ Time % Behind
50 m freestyle 20.26 21.52 5.9
100 m freestyle 44.94 47.30 5.0
200 m freestyle 1:39.37 1:45.70 6.0
400 m freestyle 3:32.25 3:47.35 6.6
1500 m freestyle 14:08.06 14:47.85 4.5
50 m backstroke 22.22 24.94 10.9
100 m backstroke 48.92 53.57 8.7
200 m backstroke 1:45.63 1:56.57 9.4
50 m breaststroke 25.25 27.82 9.2
100 m breaststroke 55.61 1:00.76 8.5
200 m breaststroke 2:00.44 2:10.07 7.4
50 m butterfly 21.80 23.38 6.8
100 m butterfly 48.08 52.68 8.7
200 m butterfly 1:48.56 1:56.46 6.8
100 m individual medley 50.30 54.92 8.4
200 m individual medley 1:49.63 1:56.14 5.6
400 m individual medley 3:55.50 4:11.88 6.5
Average Gap 7.4

Women

Event World Time NZ Time % Behind
50 m freestyle 22.93 25.21 9.0
100 m freestyle 50.58 54.19 6.7
200 m freestyle 1:50.43 1:57.58 6.1
400 m freestyle 3:54.52 4:07.80 5.4
800 m freestyle 7:59.34 8:28.27 5.7
50 m backstroke 25.67 27.75 7.5
100 m backstroke 55.03 59.51 7.5
200 m backstroke 1:59.23 2:09.40 7.9
50 m breaststroke 28.64 31.32 8.3
100 m breaststroke 1:02.36 1:07.79 8.0
200 m breaststroke 2:14.57 2:28.11 9.1
50 m butterfly 24.38 25.75 5.3
100 m butterfly 54.61 57.11 4.4
200 m butterfly 1:59.61 2:07.04 5.9
100 m individual medley 56.51 1:00.61 6.8
200 m individual medley 2:01.86 2:09.74 6.1
400 m individual medley 4:18.94 4:46.41 9.6
Average Gap 7.0

Thomas Ansorg

September 29th, 2017

Today was Thomas Ansorg’s last day as the Head Coach of the North Shore Swimming Club. He is retiring to his home on Great Barrier Island. As he was leaving the pool this morning he stopped to say good-bye. It is important swimming in New Zealand recognize his departure and thank him for the quality of his contribution.

Although I don’t know the details of his coaching career the bit I do know makes for impressive reading. He spent 10 years coaching at the Wanderers Club in South Africa before coming to New Zealand in 2002 as Head Coach of North Shore Swimming. Four years later in 2006 he was appointed Swimming New Zealand’s high performance coach. He spent another four years in that position before accepting the Head Coach’s job at North Shore Swimming. He has been Head Coach at the club for seven years until today.  

That career summary does not reflect the quality and uniqueness of his work. Good God, for eight years between 2002 and 2010 he survived with Jan Cameron as his boss. To the best of my knowledge no one else has ever matched that feat. In fact if Thomas hadn’t done it I would have sworn on a stack on bibles that keeping Jan happy for eight years was impossible. However not only did he keep Jan happy he did it in the Swimming New Zealand Millennium environment. That’s about as easy as lighting a fire in a bucket of water. A dozen others have tried and lasted a few months. Thomas did the job well for eight years – bloody unbelievable.

“How did he pull that off?” you may be asking. In my view he did it because of a German quality in his personality. He is tough and he is deadly straight. Most New Zealand coaches try and keep the peace. We don’t lie but we try and find a nice way to say difficult things. Thomas tells it as it is. There is no room for doubt. I think Jan liked that. I certainly have found it a refreshing quality in a New Zealand swimming world full of political clap-trap.

I recall a real problem swimmer in my club. One of my other swimmers described her manner of communication as “text-speak through a five dollar bottle of wine”. Much to my relief she decided she wanted to join the North Shore Club. Thomas knew of her reputation for trouble. He agreed to an interview, asked her the relevant questions and then said that he did not think she was what the club was looking for. I know of very few coaches in New Zealand who would firmly reject an open national swimmer. Most of us would try and make it work and cause unnecessary damage in the process.

If only Thomas had accepted the swimmer. She ended up staying at my club and was nothing but trouble.

In the 15 years Thomas has been involved in New Zealand swimming he has been an Olympic coach at three Games – Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008 and Rio in 2016. He has coached at three World Championships – Montreal in 2005, Melbourne in 2007 and Rome in 2009. And he was Commonwealth Games coach in Melbourne in 2006. He has been the personal coach of 15 New Zealand Olympic Game’s swimmers.

In the years Thomas has been Head Coach at the North Shore Club, the club has dominated New Zealand swimming. At junior, age group and open championships the club has consistently won the national points championships. By any standard his contribution to New Zealand swimming both nationally and internationally has been huge. But for me two things stand out.

Thomas has not always been treated well by Swimming New Zealand. I can recall occasions when he has been accidentally left off team announcements. Before the Rio Olympic Games he was the only domestic club coach of a team member. And yet he was not even invited to the press conference called, in Thomas’ home pool, to announce the team. He told me he didn’t care, but it must have hurt. Even his retirement seems to have been ignored. So far the Swimming New Zealand website has no recognition of his service and no thanks for his efforts.

Forthright straight talk has also been a characteristic of the Thomas international career. It is very easy for good swimmers to get ideas way above their station. I’ve seen and heard Thomas keep his swimmers well grounded. No one became a prima donna when Thomas Ansorg was around.  

Let me finish with a story about how good Thomas was as a coach with a story about the one and only time swimmers coached by me beat his team. It was the 4x50m freestyle at the Auckland Relay Championships. We had a good team – Olympic Gold medallist Rhi Jeffrey, NZ Open Medallist Jessica Marston, NZ Open Gold Medallist Jane Ip and NZ Open Relay Gold Medallist Lara van Egten. Our team swam above themselves and we managed to sneak the win ahead of the Thomas coached North Shore club.

You know when someone is very, very good when the one time you manage to beat them stands out as a highlight in your own career. And that race was a highlight for the four swimmers and their coach.

Thank you Thomas for your coaching career, for your advice and for your friendship even when your Swimming New Zealand bosses must have been warning you about the dangers of talking to that coach from west Auckland. Enjoy Great Barrier Island – you’ve earned it.          

 

The Devil is in the Detail

September 28th, 2017

My previous post discussed the Swimming New Zealand plan to replace the centralized Millennium high performance program with a program based on four Zones; three Zones in the North Island and one in the South Island. The proposed Zone based structure is progress. It recognises that it is the clubs that are responsible for nurturing champions. It offers the real prospect of management that is closer to and more responsive to the clubs.

I would recommend supporting the initiative BUT with one rigid qualification.

There is no point in introducing the Swimming New Zealand Zone plan without a lot more work being done on how the new structure is going to work. Right now Swimming New Zealand has provided us with a new IPhone but no operator’s manual. Without a detailed plan of how the new Zone structure is going to work it will fail just as certainly as the old one failed. The new structure needs a predetermined operating plan.

What we know so far is that the structure proposed by Swimming New Zealand involves “each Zone will have a Hub Coach.” This coach, we are told will be “responsible for collaborating with the coaches and clubs to deliver coach development opportunities, deliver combined squad trainings and other aspects of swimmer support, deliver intense competitions and develop new initiatives to engage our swimming community.” We are also told that the Hub Coach will be employed by the leading region in each Zone based on a memorandum of understanding agreed between all the regions in the Zone. Administration will be carried out by the lead region and all regions will share in the administration and coach costs.

All of that is good but does not get anywhere near the detail required before a plan like this can be approved or introduced. We need to know how this thing is going to work. Planning, that is detailed and specific, needs to be done in advance. The change needs to be properly and thoroughly managed.

Before committing money and swimmers to the new Zone scheme Swimming New Zealand members need to know specific and detailed answers to questions such as these.

  1. Who is going to be employed as a Hub Coach? How much are the Hub Coaches going to be paid? Are they provided with a vehicle?
  2. What is the Hub Coach’s job specification? We need to see a sample contract.
  3. What administration, clerical and travel support is required and what is the cost?
  4. How is a Hub Coach expected to manage the clubs in the Zone? What annual plan does the Hub Coach expect from each club? What reports are expected to compare performance to the plan?
  5. How are clubs and swimmers going to be rewarded for achieving their pre-planned targets?
  6. What combined squad training is proposed and what is its purpose?
  7. How are coaches in the Zone going to be assisted with further education and training?   

It will come as no surprise to hear that I have a view on many of these questions. But whether the way I look at each question becomes what happens does not matter. What does matter is that the questions are answered and agreed before anyone commits the lives of another generation of New Zealand swimmers to the new Zone program. The previous ill-conceived Millennium program resulted in two generations of wasted talent. Swimming must not make the same mistake again.   

Here is how I would answer some of the questions. By necessity my answers are not as thorough as Swimming New Zealand should provide before implementing a Zone based program.    

The recruitment of the four Hub Coaches must be from within New Zealand. For too long Swimming New Zealand has sucked the heart out of New Zealand’s domestic coaches by appointing foreigners as the National Head Coach. It’s about time the body responsible for swimming in New Zealand showed some trust in local coaches. New Zealand coaches do not seem to have done any harm in athletics, rugby and rowing. And before the Millennium era New Zealand coaches did well in swimming too. It’s well past time that New Zealanders were again given responsibility for swimming.

Each Hub Coach should get an annual plan from every club in their Zone. In general terms the plan should provide information of each club’s annual training plans and competitive goals. It should show the training periods planned during the year and the training volume planned for each period. The annual plan should nominate goal times and competitive results. The plan should also rank the clubs swimmers into the following categories.

  1. Those ranked in the world’s top 10 swimmers.
  2. Those ranked between 10 and 50 in the world.
  3. Those ranked between 50 and 100 in the world.
  4. Those not ranked in the top 100 in the world but ranked in the top 10 in NZ.
  5. Those ranked between 10 and 50 in NZ.
  6. Those ranked over 50 in NZ.

It is expected that at least three plans will be required, one for the first three categories, one for categories 4 and 5 and one for category 6.

Known and published financial rewards should be paid to athletes achieving the goals specified in the annual plan. Cash payments to swimmers in the first three categories should be paid by High Performance Sport New Zealand and Swimming New Zealand. Much of this is already covered by Prime Minister’s Scholarships and the like. Cash payments for those ranked in category 4 should be paid by the Zones. Swimmers in categories 5 and 6 should not be eligible for cash payments. No distinction should be made for age – only ranking.    

Money for the first three categories needs to come from High performance Sport New Zealand. We are told High Performance staff are hugely supportive of this Zone initiative. I hope this is not just Millennium coffee shop talk. Their support needs to come in the form of financial investment.

Having access to detailed plans and the offer of financial rewards will give Hub Coaches the authority to influence training and racing throughout their Zone. We all know that training and competition rules are being broken all the time. Swimmers are not doing enough aerobic training. Swimmers are doing too much anaerobic training. Swimmers race too often. And so on it goes. Rules are broken that ensure early retirement and unfulfilled potential. Detailed plans supported by tangible rewards should allow the Hub Coach to monitor and control performance and avoid these errors. The result will be improved international performance.

The devil is in the detail. And so before anyone votes for the Zone proposal the details of how the proposal is going to work should be known and be recorded in writing; a fundamental prerequisite of the Zonal plan.