The Pony Express

By David

Swimwatch occasionally gets correspondence from readers who do not want to use the site’s comment’s facility. Most of this comes by email, but some is delivered by hand, by telephone or in conversation.

One of the nicest mothers on our team, in fact probably one of the nicest on any team constantly reminds me of the dangers of saying “stuff on the internet”. She prefaces many of her comments with the exclusion clause, “Now, this is not to be repeated on Swimwatch.” Telling you this has probably already got me into trouble. We had better move on.

One of our team’s ex-Board members, who, by the way, has intelligence to burn, is constantly pointing out areas where he thinks Swimwatch comments have gone too far. He took exception to the mention of Buck Shelford’s scrotum in a recent posting. Now I have to say that incident was a particularly proud moment in New Zealand sport. It was all the nation could do not to have illustrated highlights on bill boards throughout the country. My friend needs to realize that “down under” there is a tendency to refer to the male anatomy more than might be the case in the United States.

Just the other day the very good Australian runner Craig Mottram won a two mile race at the Prefontaine Track Classic Meet in Oregon. He was interviewed after the race by a very excited Dwight Stones, who asked, “What did you need to win a race like that?” The tall Australian did not hesitate, “Big balls,” he said. When Jane Copland first qualified for the New Zealand Open Championships she was only eleven years old. A good friend of mine was sitting next to us watching the race and was impressed with Jane’s efforts. When Jane climbed into the stands Pru jumped up, shook Jane’s hand and exclaimed, “You’re the only girl in the pool with balls.” Jane, who I must tell you, does not shock easily, did pause for a moment at that.

Several weeks ago we posted an item on Kate Zeigler’s world record 1500 meter swim. In it we discussed the comments Zeigler made about the importance of her faith. We said, “It is probably opportune to remind Zeigler and those boxing Christians of Mathew 6.6 “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” The scriptures appear to be saying that Zeigler’s prayers are best kept to herself.” Last week one of our Lutheran master’s swimmers went to her pastor seeking his views on the Swimwatch position. This morning she handed me a piece of paper which said, “Matthew 5:14-16, Acts 3: 21-23.”

I have consulted the recommended verses. Those in Matthew are commonly referred to as the “sermon on the mount”. In them we are told, “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Chapter Three of Acts makes a similar point. It says, “’A prophet will the Lord, your God, raise up from among your own kinsmen; to him you shall listen in all that he may say to you.”

So there you have it, the other point of view. There appears to be a contradiction. But I don’t think so. It seems to me to be perfectly reasonable to pray in secret and bear witness in public. It’s probably best at this point to take my team mother’s advice and move on.

Last week Swimwatch received a welcome email from New Zealand. It was in reply to a Swimwatch article called “Let’s talk about Contribution”. That article ended with the following point:

“Again, the North Shore experiment has failed to produce World Championship gold medals. It continues to demonstrate it is the wrong plan. Another losing performance in Montreal shows it’s time to change. New Zealand Swimming should get out of the Millennium Institute experiment. Develop a new national plan that strengthens swimming throughout the country – move away from the current narrow single site focus to a broad based national plan.

It’s all a distant memory now, but remember when Duncan Laing ( Dunedin ) showed us he could produce World Championship gold medals with his own five dollar bill and a decent swimmer. Moss (Stanford), Kingsman ( California ), Hurring ( Hawaii ), Simcic ( Christchurch and Berkley ) and Langrell ( Christchurch ) all did close to the same. Something Cameron and the North Shore Club haven’t been able to do with nearly all of New Zealand swimming’s best swimmers and most of its money.”

The email correspondence from New Zealand made the following additional point:

“Just thought I would back up the point made in LET’S TALK ABOUT CONTRIBUTION at the end of the article.
1 – None of the swimmers you listed ever won World Championship golds. All were wonderful swimmers
2 – The only quad of NZ swimmers to win World Championship Gold was Jon Winter, Paul Kent, Guy Callaghan and Trent Bray – all non Jan Cameron and North Shore.”

The correspondent is right. I apologize; Swimwatch should have included that team. By implication the email also points to a far healthier state of affairs when there was strength in New Zealand swimming from Dunedin (Loader), to Wellington (Winter), to Sydney (Kent) and south-of-the-bridge to Auckland (Callaghan and Bray). I understand Winter and Kent are both coaching in Auckland now. Winter did a great job coaching in Hawke’s Bay. Let’s hope he can do as well in Auckland. It would be great to see these two fine athletes produce a team that could take down the socialist backed North Shore. Don’t bet against them. They both have the quality Graig Motrum and Buck Shelford found so appealing.