Last night Eyad swam in his heat of the 50m butterfly at the World Championships in Budapest. Before he left New Zealand to swim in the Mare Nostrum series of meets and in the World Championships, we discussed the purpose of his first international swimming trip. We agreed on two goals. First to gain much needed experience in the “real” swimming world and second to swim personal best times, culminating with his best swims at the Championships in Budapest.

And so, in the 50m butterfly, how has he done? Well, not too bad at all, I think, is the answer to that.

He has swum the 50m fly in four meets. The table below shows Eyad’s personal best time before leaving New Zealand and the results of the four races swum on the trip.

NZ PB 25.89
Monaco 50 fly 26.27 No
Barcelona 50 fly 25.95 No
Canet 50 fly 25.84 Yes
Budapest 50 fly 25.27 Yes

I have been fortunate enough to experience many athletes tour the world. Not one of them would be unhappy with that series of results. The following features stand out.

  • Every swim has been progress. Believe me that is not easy to do on this type of journey. Hotels, travel, strange food and new pools can upset the effort to improve. But Eyad has managed it well, especially considering this is his first foreign trip.
  • He has ended his 50m fly swims with two personal best times.
  • His result in the World Championships was a huge 0.6 of a second personal best.
  • Overall Eyad has improved from 25.89 to 25.27. That is 0.62 of a second, or 2.4%. To put that into context, the American Swim Coaches Association rule of thumb for a swimmer’s improvement is 3% per year. Eyad has improved by 2.4% in six weeks – not far short of twice the rate expected by the Americans.

So that’s the 50m fly done. Eyad has the 100m fly in four days. He has only swum the event twice. For his third swim to be a World Championship heat is, to say the obvious, unusual. His personal best is 59.79. I’m picking he will have a good shot at that time as well.

I will let you know. And finally, I would like to thank Team Manager, Gary Francis and Swimming New Zealand for their care and interest in Eyad during this trip. Eyad is a member of the Olympic World Refugee Team. Nevertheless, New Zealand has cared for him well. Their attention represents the very best in welcoming a refugee to New Zealand, in what New Zealand should stand for and what the best in sport is all about. Thank you.

PS – I watched Eyad’s race live on TV. It helps if you have a daughter who lives in the UK and can film her TV screen on WhatsApp and send it to New Zealand. The Brits are showing the Championships live.  Thank you Jane.

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