What does it take to be banned from Facebook? Remember Donald Trump did enough. At the time Facebook reported that, “experts will work together to assess the damage that Trump could do if his account is reinstated. If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded.”

Does anyone reading Swimwatch know someone at Facebook who could make the same evaluation of the rubbish posted on the Kiwi Swimming Facebook page. Oh, I don’t think that page is going to motivate anyone to storm the walls of Antares Place. I can’t see Kiwi Swimming motivating a disgruntled Bay of Plenty member to put his feet up on Steve Johns’ desk. I doubt Kiwi Swimming has enough of anything to cause a sullen Wellington member to break the glass door into Gary Francis’ office to steal his laptop. Even tying Swimming New Zealand staff to the Millennium Pools’ plastic chairs and re-enacting the Salem witch trials is beyond Kiwi Swimming.

But really – while the rubbish published on the Kiwi Swimming Facebook page might not rise to the heights of a Donald Trump rally, most of it, in my opinion, is disjointed, illogical and bad for swimming. Oh, like Trump supporters, I can hear Kiwi Swimming followers demanding to know whether I’ve ever heard of free speech. There will be some who make the case that irrespective of the damage Kiwi Swimming might cause its views should still be heard.

Believe me I do understand that. Very few have fought Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) as hard as I have. In the early 1990s I took them as far as the High Court and won. That case secured the right for Club coaches to coach swimmers at the National Championships. Prior to that only one coach per region was allowed on the pool-deck. That was a battle worth fighting.

But this stuff on Kiwi Swimming is not in that category. It really isn’t. The sport of swimming and the Antares Place staff do not deserve this trivial Kiwi Swimming nonsense. It is rubbish and it causes harm.

There is no need to call Steve Johns, a “scarecrow”. He’s not. I don’t agree with everything SNZ does especially if their plans for learn to swim are as bad as I think. But Steve Johns is not a scarecrow. In fact, when you get to know them, Steve Johns and Gary Francis are good guys. They certainly know more about swimming than the “scarecrow” who writes Kiwi Swimming. Besides Steve Johns is about 6 foot 2 inches tall. Some scarecrow, I’d say.

And then the Kiwi Swimming Facebook page says, “this is what happens when you have a sport with no vision and no plan. Swimming is that sport.” That’s not true either. The only one with no vision around here is the author of Kiwi Swimming. 

I’m no expert on Wellington swimming clubs. But the putrid posts on Kiwi Swimming went way too far in September when Kiwi Swimming had a shot at clubs who didn’t have swimmers attend national championship meets. In the view of the genius author of Kiwi Swimming this meant there was “no point even being registered as a competitive swimmer.”

Now that is dangerous. That hurts swimming. If swimming was the US capital that opinion is the same as beating up the police, stealing a laptop and putting your feet up on a desk. I was taught to swim at the Haitaitai Club who seldom had swimmers attend national competitions but probably taught more children to swim and saved more lives than any club in the country. For years I swam in the Wairoa Swimming Club. It also seldom has members attend national meets. But the value it provides to the town in learn to swim and modest competitive swimmers is beyond measure.

When I was responsible for Wellington City learn to swim and competitive swimming, we taught 1900 lessons every week. Included in that 1900 were national champions like Toni Jeffs, Michelle Burke and Mark Haumona. But by far and away our biggest contribution was the 1800 who would never swim in a national competition.     

And then Facebook’s Kiwi Swimming tells the world this, “The region’s second and fifth most powerful clubs – in terms of voting rights at a Swimming Wellington General Meeting – have no competitive swimmers at all.” What on God’s good earth is wrong with that? Their voting rights are clearly based on the fantastic job they do teaching children to swim. Probably the only income they receive is the swimmer’s registration. And Kiwi Swimming slags this off by wanting their voice at the AGM silenced. And that is literally, deadly dangerous. Children could drown because of that attitude.

So, Mr. Zuckerberg, if you are listening, “Ban the Bugger”.  

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