As If Further Proof Was Required

Yesterday Swimwatch highlighted findings of importance to all aspiring sportsmen and sportswomen. Swimming New Zealand will almost certainly ignore the advice. The superior arrogance of Johns and Francis knows no limit. However I thought exploring the topic a little further might shine a light into their darkness – assuming they ever read anything written here.

First, let me tell you about Rhi Jeffrey. She could swim a bit. Almost as good, I expect, as Johns and Francis think they can. She began swimming for the small Aqua Crest Club in Delray Beach, Florida, coached by Scott Barlow. Her career was pretty stellar. She won eight state titles and at the 2002 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships she won a silver medal as part of the U.S. 4×100 freestyle relay team. While still a senior in high school, she won two gold medals in the 2003 World Aquatics Championships, swimming as part of the U.S. teams in both the 4×100 and 4×200 freestyle relays. She then swam on the USA Olympic team in Athens and won a gold medal as part of the 4×200 metre relay team.

A couple of years later I met Rhi when she came home to Florida and I was coaching at her old Aqua Crest Club. And when I returned to New Zealand Rhi decided to swim for another two years in Auckland. She is now Head Coach of the Cannonball Swim Team in Massachusetts. But besides all that Rhi is as sharp as a tack and has a huge understanding of what goes on in a swimming pool. I think the expression about “not tolerating fools” was invented for Rhi.

Anyway back to yesterday’s Swimwatch post. Rhi must have read the post and we had the following exchange of messages.  

Rae Rae: Get em David. Most Olympians here come out of small programs. I’m just one example

David Wright: I thought of you at AC when I was writing it. Perfect example lol

Rae Rae: My mom wanted to move me to Pine Crest when I turned 15 (right before I made Pan PACs) because she was concerned that I wasn’t getting enough competition being the “big fish”. I resisted so hard I remember that fight to this day, it happened right on the pool deck with me sobbing and screaming at my coach to help me and not let them take me. Glad I did because it paid off big time a couple months later. I got more individual attention than I would have at a big program and I’m not ashamed to admit that I needed it.

So there you have it Steve Johns and Gary Francis, from someone who has an Olympic Gold Medal. I know you would love to have someone, anyone, in New Zealand win one of those. Well, a good first step would be to listen to the science and to the words of someone who has actually done it. But my guess is you will be too stupid to listen. Rather than appeal to you, perhaps I should address swimmers out there who have parents desperate to move them away from their mates and home club to a flash big city coach – fight like Rhi! Your swimming success will depend on it.

Oh, and if Gary Francis comes knocking, with the same suggestion or of swimming in Australia, tell him to bugger-off.

My second “expert” is my daughter, Jane. She knew her way around a swimming pool as well. She swam 800 meters freestyle when she was three years old and went on to win Short Course and Open National Championships. She broke several age group and open national records and represented New Zealand at the Oceania and Pan Pacific Games. Jane ended her career by swimming for a living, for four years, at Washington State University in the US Pac10 Conference.

Jane too appears to have been reading yesterday’s Swimwatch post. This morning she sent me this message; Relevant:

I followed the link and this is what I found.

England have reached the World Cup semi-final for only the third time in their history – but many of their stars in Russia have had unusual paths to the top. Gone are the academy-raised, household names of the ‘Golden Generation’ and in their place is a squad featuring players who have plied their trade at the likes of Darlington, Alfreton, Halifax, Welling and Aldershot.

Three, in particular, impressed in the 2-0 quarter-final win against Sweden on Saturday.

Harry Maguire scored the first goal, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was named man of the match and Kieran Trippier was outstanding again.

Those three – not even in the squad when qualifying began and all uncapped in competitive games until October – topped your player ratings for the win in Samara. Here, we look at their remarkable rise.

Jane asks whether it is relevant. Too darn right it is. Johns and Francis take note of the lines “gone are the academy-raised. Gone are the household names. Gone is the “Golden Generation”. England has gone back to basics. Just like Steve Hansen, Duncan Laing, Arch Jelley, Dick Tonks and Arthur Lydiard. It’s what works. The sad facts are that Johns and Francis wouldn’t know basics if it bit them in the behind. And if they did see it, there is no way it would be good enough for their sophisticated targeting.

I’d love to hear Francis, Johns and Cotterill explain the missing $30 million, the ruined careers of two generations of swimmers and 25 lost years. How do they excuse the waste, the ignorance and the blind stupidity? But more importantly –  why does it continue?

The reality is New Zealand has some terrific swimming programs. Towns like Whangarei, Cambridge, New Plymouth, Flaxmere, Palmerton North, Matamata, Carterton, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill are truly blessed. In my view the problem is simply that good people are being screwed by goons at the top. Perhaps it’s time to follow the example of Rhi and to stand sobbing and screaming at the world to help us and not let them take us any further into oblivion.

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