“The Opportunity To Show The World How Good They Are”

The title of this post is a Steve Johns’ quote published by Swimming New Zealand (SNZ). It’s Steve Johns’ idea of showing support for the New Zealand team about to start the World Swimming Championships in South Korea. Clearly the CEO of SNZ has no idea how to discuss an athlete’s chances in the week before a championship. What you never say is anything remotely associated with showing the world how good you are.

The arrogance of that thought is stunning. It may be an interesting look into the soul of it’s author. The pressure it puts on the swimmers is unnecessary and damaging. Not to mention how easy it is to misinterpret the quote if things go badly. Good can mean good or bloody awful.

Besides which the implication of Steve Johns’ arrogance is not true. Next week New Zealand is entered in 16 individual events and two relays. Now, I know the psych sheets need to be read with a grain of salt. However the average New Zealand entry is placed 29th. With only eight swimmers making a final New Zealand’s average chances are not looking good.

The best chance is Lewis Clareburt in the 400m IM. He is ranked 11th. The gap between his best time and making a final is only half a second. To win it would take an impossible PB of 14 seconds.

The next best is Erica Jane Fairweather ranked 18th in the 400m free. The gap between her best time and making a final is 4 seconds. To win it would mean beating Olympic Champion and world record holder, Katie Ledecky, who is 12 seconds faster.

And the third closest is Ali Galyer in the 200m back. The gap between her best time and making a final is 3 seconds. To win it would mean beating the Italian, Panziera whose best time is 4 seconds faster.

Like all generalisations what I’m about to say has many faults. But it is interesting to note that on average New Zealand swimmers are 2.8% behind the 8th placed swimmers in their events and 4.9% behind the world’s best. What does that mean? The American Swim Coaches Association tells us that a good average rate of improvement is 3% per annum. That suggests that on average New Zealand’s best swimmers are 11 months training behind making a final and close to two years of improvement behind winning a world championship.

Here again the closest to making a final is Lewis Clareburt who is only 0.2% away from making a final. Even he, however, is almost a year away from winning his best event.

ASHBY Bradlee 100m Back 54.48 29
100m Fly 53.75 42
200m IM 1:59.59 21
CLAREBURT Lewis 400m IM 4:14.27 11
EDWARDS Chelsey 50m Free 25.88 40
FAIRWEATHER Erika Jane 200m Free 1:59.37 26
400m Free 4:09.33 18
GALYER Ali 100m Back 1:01.61 40
200m Back 2:09.77 19
HUNTER Daniel 100m Free 49.11 33
50m Fly 23.87 37
PICKETT Michael 50m Free 22.34 38
REID Zac 400m Free 3:50.61 24
800m Free 7:57.40 24
STANLEY Matthew 200m Free 1:48.34 34
THOMAS Eve 800m Free 8:41.31 24
RELAY Men’s 4x200m Free
  Women’s 4x200m Free

That’s the theory of it all. Let’s see what happens. However there is one improvement SNZ could make today. Steve Johns could leave Gary Francis to wish future New Zealand teams well. Gary knows how to do that. Steve Johns clearly does not. That’s a failing fact he has just shown the world.

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