Florida Versus New Zealand: A Dual Meet

By David
In the last few weeks the Florida High School Swimming Championships have been held and Jan Cameron has been appointed to head New Zealand’s high performance swimming effort. Now you may think these events are unrelated. They are, I admit, 8071.52 miles apart. Florida’s event was just some high school kids playing swimming, while Cameron was harnessing the resources of her nation in an effort to storm the Great Swimming Wall of China.

Andrew Meeder, Florida State High School Champion

Those were not the only differences. Florida’s school kids traveled to their event in those yellow school busses favored by schools in the United States. Meanwhile Cameron was working out how to spend her share of New Zealand’s state funded investment of $32 million in high performance sport. Readers outside New Zealand are probably not aware that sport in New Zealand is a social welfare beneficiary equal to any of the state’s unemployed, infirm or uneducated.
In Florida I was invited to an after match dinner paid for by two working families while Cameron pondered how to best employ her career’s advisors, nutritionalists, physiotherapists, masseurs, ear specialists, doctors and orthopedic specialists. Preliminary rounds of the Florida State swimming competition took place in pools without starting blocks or in pools too shallow to allow dive starts. Cameron meanwhile urged her charges on to greater deeds in the state of art, pretentiously named, Millennium Institute.
I’m sure you get the point. The differences reflect the contrast between a planned socialist attack on world swimming and a high school curriculum option along side Chemistry and American History.
In spite of their humble resources I was impressed by what I saw at the Florida State high school finals. One of our guys, Andrew Meeder won the boy’s 100 freestyle and looks like he’ll go on to win a lot more than that before he’s done. We got a bronze medal in the girls’ 50 as well.
It got me thinking. How far down the field would these Florida high school swimmers be in the New Zealand Championships? How would they compare with New Zealand’s state funded, Cameron guided, elite. To make the age comparison fair I prepared a table that matched Florida’s high school results with the best 17 or under result from the 2006 New Zealand National Championships. Here is the table:

My God, the resources of a nation at her disposal and Cameron can do no better than our local high school; one win. She’s made some pretty big promises about Beijing. I’m beginning to think Florida will beat her there too.

NB: The 500 Freestyle times have been put through a conversion formula so that they can be compared to New Zealand’s 400m Freestyle times; this system is routinely used in the United States to allow swimmers to qualify for the United States Open, U.S. Nationals and other national competitions (conducted in metres) while competing in NCAA or high school meets, which are generally swum in a twenty-five yard pool. Anyone who has a problem with short course times or yards pools should take this issue up with USA Swimming.

In the United States, certain events, such as the 200s of strokes other than freestyle and the 400 I.M., are not swum at high school competitions. But we promise you that the Floridians are quite good at those, too.