What Would I Know?


Breeding Ground of Champions – The Pool at NPBHS

I suspect Steve Johns tells his mates over a latte bought from the Millennium Pool’s Wholefood Café that the old bugger drinking tea in the far corner knows stuff all about swimming. Compared to Steve Johns that’s probably true. When you have won the something-or-another freestyle at the New Plymouth Boys High School swimming sports, when you have played a dozen waterpolo games for Taranaki, what more is there to learn?

Level Five ASCA coaching, one Olympic Games, 95 World Cups, three World Championships, three Commonwealth Games, three Pan Pacific Games, a Central American Games and a Gulf States Championship hardly compares with the honours available at New Plymouth Boys High School. Consider what their web-page has to say.

New Plymouth Boys’ High has a history of producing great Swimmers and Surf Lifesavers.

The highlight of the school year for the sport of Swimming, is the school Swimming Sports competition, which is held in February. Swimming Sports is a battle for honours for the students respective houses on this hugely popular day, and is supported by the whole school in house colours, often with an element of costume. The champions of this day go on to represent the school at the annual Taranaki Secondary School Association Swimming Sports in Stratford and in the TSSSA surf lifesaving competition in New Plymouth.

The author of that obviously failed Level 11 English. The first sentence is a breathless 55 words. The apostrophe in student’s is missing in action. I suppose it’s arguable whether Sports should be “is” or “are”. It seems that Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) might have learned their English skills at this fine New Zealand establishment.

But, on a serious note, Steve Johns has had a swimming experience that fills me with envy. Did you see this acme of Johns’ swimming history includes “an element of costume”. What I want to know is; what did Steve Johns swim as? Donald Duck would seem to me to be most appropriate. But perhaps the well-known Hagfish could have earned an appearance. I’m told their “slime producing capability is what makes the hagfish so special”.

But on a serious note did you hear that last week the Chairman of SNZ, Bruce Cotterill, invited senior SNZ staff to dinner on his beautiful new yacht. Bruce Cotterill, I’m told, drank too much, walked on the deck and fell over the rail into the water and was calling for help. Steve Johns said, “Oh no the sharks will get him.” All of the party lined along the rail and noticed the sharks were swimming around Bruce in a circle. Gary Francis said, “The sharks are not even bothering him!” A shark lifted his head out of the water and said, “Professional courtesy.”

But there is something Steve and Bruce may be able to explain to me. Seriously I do not understand – and that is this para-swimming classification business. I mean the principles seem pretty straight forward. I understand it is a function based classification system designed to allow for fair competition in disability swimming. Swimmers are divided into ten classes based on their degree of functional disability: S1, S2, S3, S4, S5, S6, S7, S8, S9 and S10. The most severely affected are in class S1; these swimmers, I am told, normally use wheelchairs outside of the pool.

But what I do not understand is, what is Sophie Pascoe’s classification? She was in S10 and now is S9. Why is that? Did her disability all of a sudden get worse? Does getting older count in the para world? Did she want a new and slower set of world records to break? Was she wrongly classified when she swam as S10? Is this correction necessary to put her in the correct classification? Have SNZ and Para Swimming manipulated her classification in order to convince Miskimmin to give them more money on the basis of a string of Pasco world records?

The circumstances of Pascoe’s classification do need to be explained. The way it is just now is probably perfectly up-front and honest. But to an ignorant punter like me it looks bad. It gives the appearance that someone has decided to drop Pascoe down a classification to make life easier, to break more world records, to solicit more funding, to lead a more affluent lifestyle. For those of us WHO DO NOT KNOW it looks like cheating – and that’s not good – because I’m sure it is not. But the impression is a bad one and needs to be explained.

My email is nzdaw@yahoo.co.nz – anyone who has a moment to explain why Pascoe’s classification has changed, who approved the change and why, I’d love to know and publish the reasons.

And seeing it was the shortest day yesterday here is a midwinter’s story. Steve Johns arrived at work and texted Gary Francis, “Windows frozen, won’t open.” Gary texts back: “Gently pour some lukewarm water over it and gently tap edges with hammer.” Johns texts back 5 minutes later: “Computer really messed up now.”

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