Club New Zealand In The USA League

I understand those who dismiss Swimwatch as being too negative; too down on swimming in New Zealand. As you would expect I do not agree with their opinion. I think we do have a problem. We have a management who lie to the membership. Remember Steve Johns telling us that the Commonwealth Games team was “up to the challenge”. And when the team only won one bronze medal closed the door of his office in stony silence. Remember when Gary Francis told us his appointment was the dawn of a new era. Remember when social media sites, like NZSwim, cultivated the fiction of the Francis appointment by posting breathless updates of reforms about to be announced. Remember that, as at today, nothing has changed. Everything is the same old, same old, except we now have the additional cost of Gary Francis salary to get the same shoddy product.

The reality of the gulf between New Zealand swimming and world standards was brought home to me last weekend at the North Shore Golden Homes SwimFest Meet. I was sitting with a friend watching the men’s 100 freestyle.

My friend asked me, “Wow, how do they swim so fast?”

I explained that our swimmers do not swim fast. Anywhere else in the world the Auckland winners would not place in good overseas competition. My friend was clearly suspicious. Perhaps David was turning into a grumpy old bugger.

And so I decided to test my theory. In the United States, this weekend, the current round of the TYR Pro Swim Series is being held. The meet is in the historic town of Indianapolis. The last time I was there was for the USA National Championships. It was a good meet for our team with Rhi Jeffrey and John Foster both making finals. But it stood out to me because of events away from the pool.

I was buying breakfast in a café across the road from the pool. Ahead of me in the queue was Michael Phelps. As I stepped forward to pay the cashier said, “Oh I thought you two were together. Mr. Phelps paid for your breakfast.”

I ran after Michael and apologised and offered him the cost of my crumpets. Phelps laughed and said, “Don’t worry about it. Your turn next time.”

Actually not even that was true, because the next morning Phelps was again buying food in the same shop. This time he was several people ahead of me in the queue. When he got to the cashier he turned around, pointed at me and said, “I always pay for his breakfast as well.” And he did.

Anyway back to the TYR Pro Swim Series. I guess you could say the meet is an American version of the Golden Homes SwimFest Meet. I wondered how New Zealand’s national Commonwealth Games team would get on in this American inter-club competition. Was the New Zealand team, as Steve Johns has told us, “up to the challenge” or was the grumpy old bugger right?

The table below shows the best swims of each New Zealand team member at the recent Commonwealth Games. The table then shows the place that time would achieve in the American interclub event. I have excluded 50 metre stroke events from the table because these events are not included in American club meets.

So what are the key results? How would New Zealand’s best swimmers perform in an American club event? Here are the key findings.

  1. No one would win a medal of any colour.
  2. The best positions would be fourth and three fifth places.
  3. The worst placing would be two swims at 32.
  4. The average place of the New Zealand national team members in the Indianapolis club event would be 14th.

Whatever way that result is spun there is a lot of work to do. Our national team is about the equivalent of a mid-table average American Club team. As ironic as this sounds Jerry Olszewski decision to abandon the NZ National coaching job to become an American club coach could very well have been a step up in quality. Steve Johns is not right. We are not up to the challenge. The Gary Francis new dawn is proving to be as elusive as winter daylight at the North Pole.

Name Event Time Place in Psych Sheets
Carina Doyle 200 Free H 2:00.01 22
100 Free SF 56.18 29
400 Free H 4:13.33 21
100 Free SF 49.11 5
50 Free H 22.31 7
Samuel Perry 100 Free SF 49.83 12
50 Free H 22.93 12
Bronagh Ryan 100 Breast 1:10.78 19
Corey Main 100 Back F 54.88 5
200 Back H 2:01.73 10
Georgia Marris 100 Fly H 1:00.43 19
100 Free SF 56.48 32
Helena Gasson 100 Fly SF 59.70 12
200 Fly 2:13.25 9
Matthew Stanley 200 Free 1:48.75 10
100 Free SF 49.61 12
Laticia-Leigh Transom 50 Free SF 25.95 23
100 Free SF 56.26 29
Bobbi Gichard 100 Back H 1:01.33 12
200 Back 2:17.88 32
Lewis Clareburt 400 IM F 4:14.42 5
200 Fly H 1:58.32 10
200 Back 2:01.54 10
200 IM F 2:01.13 8
Bradlee Ashby 400 IM F 4:18.61 6
200 Fly H 2:00.30 12
200 Back H 2:02.32 13
200 IM F 1:59.59 4
Average Place     14


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