Hamilton Progresses By Four Inches

Swimming New Zealand has published the following statement on the New Zealand Secondary School Swimming Championships

The New Zealand Secondary School Swimming Championships is a chance for secondary schools from across New Zealand to battle it out in the pool for Swimming supremacy.

 Recently there has been some concerns raised with the depth of the pool at Waterworld, Te Rapa facility. Swimming New Zealand is pleased to confirm that the meet will go ahead as planned.

Hamilton City Council is this week conducting urgent remedial works to pool to increase the depth to 1.205 metres (from 1.15 metre) to bring the pool into line with Swimming New Zealand’s position statement on dive entries (June 2017) given that the starting blocks are less than .75 metres (the height of the blocks is .64 metres) from the water line.

Steve Johns CEO of Swimming New Zealand says “Hamilton City Council have done a great job moving quickly to find a solution which enables long course meets to be conducted at Waterworld and we look forward to working with Swimming Waikato to hold a successful secondary school meet”.

Well done Hamilton City Council. I am sure this week is the first time most councillors were aware that the pool had a depth problem. The timing and evidence suggests that someone in Hamilton has acted quickly to address the problem. And for that the Council deserve full credit. Once those in charge knew there was an issue with the depth of the pool, the safety of users was not compromised. No reasonable person could have asked for or expected more – thank you.

I would not be as gracious towards Swimming New Zealand. Their statement is full of mistakes and irony. Let’s get the trivial question of grammar out of the way first. Swimming in the first paragraph should not start with a capital letter. The word “has” in the second paragraph should be “have” – concerns is plural. The word “the” is missing before the word pool in the third paragraph. The third paragraph is an amazing 60 words long making it hard to read and difficult to understand. In paragraph four commas are missing around Steve Johns’ job title. Also in paragraph four, Hamilton City Council is singular which means “have” should be “has”. Someone needs to proof read Swimming New Zealand’s emails.

But now for issues of more substance. The second paragraph says, “Recently there has been some concerns raised with the depth of the pool at Waterworld, Te Rapa facility.” Where on God’s good earth did the idea that this was recent come from? Twenty two years ago I was within twelve hours of asking the High Court to rule on a Swimming New Zealand injunction over this very issue. That hardly meets the definition of recent. Of course Swimming New Zealand wants to convey the impression that all this is a new issue that they have acted promptly to address. That is simply not true. Preparing the injunction and obtaining a High Court date was an expensive exercise. Swimming New Zealand may have forgotten but those of us that paid the bill have not.   .  

The third paragraph says, “Hamilton City Council is this week conducting urgent remedial works to pool to increase the depth to 1.205 metres.” Once again Swimming New Zealand uses the word urgent to continue the fiction of a rapid reaction to the pool depth problem. The Council has certainly acted promptly and deserve full credit. But “urgent remedial works” would not have been necessary if Swimming New Zealand had acted properly; had done the job they are employed to do. Make no mistake it is Swimming New Zealand’s negligence that has made the repairs urgent.

It is difficult to reconcile this glowing statement by Swimming New Zealand with their reaction to the decision of the Porirua City Council to ban diving in the very shallow Cannons Creek Pool. This is the reaction reported by the Stuff website.

The ban was opposed by Swimming New Zealand, which said that not allowing children to dive-start in shallower pools – common around the country – could “greatly affect competitive swimming in New Zealand” if the move set a precedent.”

How Swimming New Zealand can find any moral equivalency between perfecting a dive start and a broken spine is both beyond my comprehension. Certainly the position taken in relation to Cannons Creek appears strangely at odds with the pious concern expressed today.  

And finally in the last paragraph Steve Johns says, “Hamilton City Council have done a great job moving quickly to find a solution.” I agree Hamilton City Council has moved quickly. I guess Swimming New Zealand has as well. For the administrators of swimming twenty two years is positively rocketing along. One of New Zealand’s best runners, Rod Dixon, told me once that a New Zealand cross country manager took longer to make the wrong decision than anyone he had ever known. God knows what Dixon would have made of Swimming New Zealand’s decision creep.

However, the right thing has been done. Swimmers using the Te Rapa Pool are going to be safer. And for that we are grateful and thankful.           


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