Archive for the ‘ Racing ’ Category

The Extent Of The Challenge

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

In a month the Swimming World Championships will begin. We have been given the normal assurances by the Swimming New Zealand Board that the New Zealand results will be better than ever. Before every international event the message coming from the Board is the same. “Boy, are we going to kill it this time.” And after the event the Board Chairman either seriously addresses the media, promising a full inquiry into why swimming has not progressed or assures everyone that the team’s performance had, in some way, been “the best ever”. It is becoming as predictable as Christmas.

There have been more tax payer funded inquiries into the malaise at SNZ than I can remember. In the recent past millions have been spent on reports from Sweetenham, Ineson and Moller. And it’s still a mess. Especially when they could have read Swimwatch for free.     

If New Zealand had actually swum “the best ever” as many times as Swimming New Zealand’s spin, we’d be beating the United States by now. In fact the country’s “best ever” result, at an event of this standard, was at the Atlanta Olympic Games, 20 years ago when Danyon Loader won two Gold Medals.

For this Belgrade 2017 World Championship the lead up by SNZ has been no less positive. Here are some of the quotes from the Head Coach Jerry Olszewski and others.


  • The nine swimmers to attain individual qualification in the pool is the highest number since 2005.
  • Jerry Olszewski was pleased with the promise of the team.
  • Basically all of this team and a number who just missed teams we have a healthy group of swimmers as we prepare for Tokyo 2020 and beyond.
  • The young swimmers are exciting for the future.
  • Swimming New Zealand is confident in the swimmers they have in the high performance system as well as their youth program.


And the Board Chairman Bruce Cotterill joined in the songs of praise.


  • This has been the most successful swimming era since the mid-1990s. We won five world championship medals. In the aftermath to London we had eight top-50 athletes, of whom four were seen as Rio targets. Post-Rio we’ve got 16 in the top-50 of whom 12 look capable of going to Tokyo. ”
  • “I think we’ve got the right coaching in place and a new facility [at the Millennium Institute].”


In the last two years, in support of this confident outlook, you and I have paid Cotterill 2 million tax payer dollars. Like obedient puppies Swimming New Zealand have persevered with the Baumann policy of centralized preparation. For twenty years the policy has not worked but evidently it is going to work this time. The predictions of success have not changed.

Let’s look at the results of the last three World Swimming Championships. Then we will have a basis on which to make a comparison.   


Number of Swimmers on Team: 12

Number of Gold Medals: 0

Number of Silver Medals: 0

Number of Bronze Medals: 0

Number of Finals: 4

Number of Semi-Finals: 5

Average Place over all team members: 19th

NZ Position on Medal table: Did not appear


Number of Swimmers on Team: 14

Number of Gold Medals: 0

Number of Silver Medals: 0

Number of Bronze Medals: 3

Number of Finals: 6

Number of Semi-Finals: 5

Average Place over all team members: 19TH

NZ Position on Medal table: 27th

2015 KAZAN

Number of Swimmers on Team: 8

Number of Gold Medals: 0

Number of Silver Medals: 2

Number of Bronze Medals: 0

Number of Finals: 2

Number of Semi-Finals: 1

Average Place over all team members: 23RD

NZ Position on Medal table: 20th


Number of Swimmers on Team: 11

Number of Gold Medals:

Number of Silver Medals:

Number of Bronze Medals:

Number of Finals:

Number of Semi-Finals:

Average Place over all team members:  

NZ Position on Medal table:

The numbers appear to highlight three trends. First, the extent to which swimming in New Zealand has relied on Lauren Boyle. From 2011 when she made up the bulk of the finals swum, to 2013 when the three bronze medals were won by her and in 2015 when she won the two silver medals. Certainly the improvement from not being included on the medal table to 27th and then 20th is all down to Lauren Boyle. Her performances papered over a lot of cracks that remained unaddressed because of her efforts.

Second the performance of the team apart from Lauren Boyle has got worse. From an average place in each swimmer’s event of 19th in 2011 and 2013 this dropped to 23rd in 2015. Of course Lauren Boyle is not going to be at this meet. She wisely decided to get her hip repaired in advance of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. We will now get an insight into what swimming in New Zealand is going to look like in the post-Boyle era. We will see whether Cotterill has spent our tax dollars wisely. We will be able to measure again whether the centralized coaching policy works.

Ironically swimmers that have done best have had the least to do with Swimming New Zealand’s centralized Millennium program. Boyle spent most of her time in the USA or Australia, Mains trains in Florida and Snyders has Salo in Los Angeles as his coach. Swimming New Zealand have no shame. They think nothing of claiming credit for swimmers trained thousands of miles from Auckland as proof that their policy of centralization is working.   

When the 2017 Championships end we will complete the table shown above. We will see whether the Cotterill and Olszewski confidence that New Zealand swimming is on the up and up is well founded. Or is their opinion as delusional as it has been prior to every other recent World Championships and Olympic Games?

PS – You never can tell with Swimming New Zealand. If they come out with some superlative, always check. They are masters of alternative facts. Even Trump could learn from these guys. Their published claim that, “the nine swimmers to attain individual qualification in the pool is the highest number since 2005” may or may not be true. What I do know is that in 2011 ten swimmers competed in individual events. In 2013 nine swimmers swam in individual events. In the 2016 Rio Olympics nine swimmers swam in individual events. And when I went to school nine and ten are the same as or more than nine.


I Told You So

Monday, May 15th, 2017

During the seven years I spent coaching in the United States there were a number of disruptive parents. One of the worst was a Florida mother called Julie Reiser. She was incredible; the gold standard when it came to causing trouble.  

With that history imagine how I felt when I read the following headline in the May 19 2014 Boca News – “Made In USA Founder, Reiser Jailed.” Evidently Reiser had fallen out with and had left her husband. She visited the family home while he was out and removed two bags of his belongings and took them to her car. Then, according to the report, Reiser “came back into the house and took a 12-pack of Michelob beer” that she broke and poured over her ex-husband’s possessions in the driveway. Afterwards, the report said, Reiser was found by police in Boca Raton, Florida and turned over to cops in Delray Beach.

That has to be karma or as a committee member from the Florida club said to me in an email on the subject – “Four greatest words in the English language:  I told you so.”

Well we have just experienced another one of those moments. In a recent Swimwatch post we commented on the Swimming New Zealand’s high altitude training junket to a mountain in Arizona. This is how Swimming New Zealand announced the event.  

“The team of 7 guys and 9 gals with support staff of Jerry Olszewski, Mat Woofe, HPSNZ S&C Specialist Stephen Hill-Haas and Team Manager Susie Prince will today head home from the 3 week long training camp at the Flagstaff Altitude camp after competing in the USA Pro Series events in Mesa and the Mission Viejo Swim meet of Champions over the last few days. Watch the FB page for some updates on PB’s!”

We analysed the results and discovered that in the Mission Viejo meet of Champions the New Zealand team swam in 64 races. The team had 4 personal best swims; Gasson in the 400 IM, Ashby in the 400 freestyle and McIntosh and Deans in the 1500. Four swims from 64 races is a personal best ratio of 6%. That is pretty ugly especially when all four PBs by the New Zealand swimmers were in the swimmers’ off-events

We went on to comment that “no doubt Jerry and Suzie (coach and manager and Arizona natives) will say the team was in the middle of hard training and so PBs were never expected. They had just been to the Arizona mountain. They had experienced travel delays. Trump protesters were rioting outside the team hotel. The hamburgers had caused sickness. Blaa, blaa, blaa. Coaches have an endless list of excuses to explain a 6% PB result.

Finally last week the Swimming New Zealand website reported on the trip. Here are some extracts from their report.  

“Some of the USA’s top swimmers, such as Katie Ledecky, Nathan Adrian and Simone manual were amongst the athletes competing at the meet.”

It is as sad as all can be that Swimming New Zealand cannot get out of gee-whiz mode. When Katie Ledecky is telling her coach she got to swim in the same meet as the New Zealand team then we can be impressed. Until then advertising the coup of being allowed to enter a meet that included these swimmers hardly seems like the attitude of champions I’ve ever met. We are so wonderfully naïve.   

And then Swimming New Zealand treated us to the stunning news that at the training camp everybody completed the training “admirably” and:

“A highlight of their trip included a visit to the Grand Canyon on their afternoon off.”

I have absolutely no problem with visiting the Grand Canyon. Indeed on swimming trips I have been to the Eiffel Tower, visited Red Square, sailed around Monaco Harbour, been into the not-yet-finished Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, visited Osama Bin Laden’s home in Jeddah, sunbathed on a Caribbean Beach and timed swimmers in the snow at an outdoor pool in Malmo. But I would never describe these events as the highlights – that’s such a tourist thing to do. The highlight is what Swimming New Zealand exactly mean by “training admirably”.

And then comes the bit that did interest me. After waiting for a week, how was Swimming New Zealand’s going to spin their “updates on PB’s!”? This is their report.

“The competition was hosted by the Storied Club Mission Veijo (sic) Nandadores. The whole team swam well after an intense 11 days of training and made several finals with multiple athletes winning titles.”

Here again we are subject to this insufferable “famous by association” naivety. Mission Viejo is certainly a stunningly famous club. In the 1984 Olympic Games club members won 13 medals; 10 of them gold. I just think the constant breathless reminder that we swam in the same pool as Katie Ledecky, had a highlight visiting the Grand Canyon and wow, got to swim in the Mission Viejo pool is elementary school nice but not the way seasoned professional athletes go about their trade.

And then, of course we come to the four PBs. Well we don’t actually because the closest Swimming New Zealand get to telling us about PBs is to say “The whole team swam well after an intense 11 days of training”.

Remember what we said a week ago, “no doubt Jerry and Suzie (coach and manager and Arizona natives) will say the team was in the middle of hard training and so PBs were never expected. They had just been to the Arizona mountain.”

You have to admit “after an intense 11 days of training” is pretty close to what we predicted. Or as the committee member from the Florida club said to me in an email on the subject – “Four greatest words in the English language:  I told you so.”

As an aside, “Simone manual” is actually Simone Manuel. People’s names normally begin with capitals; “manual” means by hand or physical. Her name is Manuel. And while we are on the subject of capitals, adjectives don’t normally need one. The “Storied Club Mission Veijo Nandadores”, spelled correctly, would have been perfectly well described as the “storied club, Mission Viejo Nandadores”.


Did The Altitude Camp Achieve Anything?

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

In a recent Swimwatch post we questioned the value of the high altitude camp sanctioned by the Swimming New Zealand Board. Of course having an approved camp in Head Coach, Jerry Olszewski and camp team manager, Susie Prince, home state did provide a much appreciated, I would hope, trip back to their roots. I accept there could be nothing amiss, but having a high altitude camp in the home state of Jerry, the coach, and Suzie, the manager, does have an uncomfortable feel. Perhaps keeping things close to home is becoming the accepted norm in Trumps’ America?   

But really this business of running the sport like amateur hour for five year olds has to come to an end. Year after year the Monty Python circus rolls on. Thousands are spent on Mediterranean junkets, fees are set and cancelled, we are told plans for the future will be announced shortly and they never are, thousands are spent on lawyers trying to keep a good swimmer out of the Olympics, and now they follow like sheep the juvenile fashion of wandering off to a mountain in America to impress High Performance Sport New Zealand that they have training plans up with the in-crowd.

And for what? What has any of it actually achieved? Nothing is the answer. Atlanta in 1996 was the last time swimming won anything and that was Danyon Loader who was coached by Duncan Laing, a man who could not stand the goings-on at Swimming New Zealand, even back in those days.

But back to the Board of Swimming New Zealand’s latest folly; the Arizona high altitude camp. We got an email from Swimming New Zealand telling us about the camp. First of all – it’s good to get the information. Well done Amanda. More communication, any communication, is a huge step forward. All you need to do now, Amanda, is convince the Board to give you something worthwhile to report.

This is what Amanda tells us about the high altitude camp.

The team of 7 guys and 9 gals with support staff of Jerry Olszewski, Mat Woofe, HPSNZ S&C Specialist Stephen Hill-Haas and Team Manager Susie Prince will today head home from the 3 week long training camp at the Flagstaff Altitude camp after competing in the USA Pro Series events in Mesa and the Mission Viejo Swim meet of Champions over the last few days. Watch the FB page for some updates on PB’s!

“Guys and gals” is a bit too chummy for me. I’ve had an Olympic female gold medallist on my team. I’m not sure she fitted the “gal” label. I’m not sure she would have wanted her Olympic status associated with the term gal. She and many other respected international sports women have fought for years to be treated as professional, independent, strong women. The sport in NZ needs to grow up – men and women might be better or even 16 swimmers would have done.

Amanda concludes her report with the teaser, “Watch the FB page for some updates on PB’s!” Let Swimwatch put you out of your breathless anticipation. But before I tell you what happened – nothing said here is a criticism of the swimmers involved. Our point is only that these souls are just the latest sixteen names in three generations of young New Zealanders who have been short changed by the national federation.  

The Mission Viejo meet of Champions was held last weekend. The New Zealand team swam in 64 races. The team had 4 personal best swims; Gasson in the 400 IM, Ashby in the 400 freestyle and McIntosh and Deans in the 1500. Four swims from 64 races is a personal best ratio of 6%. Especially when all four PBs by the New Zealand swimmers were in the swimmers’ off-events. I’m not sure 4 off-event PBs justify whatever the Board of Swimming New Zealand spent on sending Jerry and Suzie home.

Every club coach in the country would be sacked for a 6% personal best result. Clubs are looking for figures in excess of 50% and frequently score in the 80% range. It will be interesting to see how Amanda is told to spin this “guys and gals” result. My guess is we will hear no more.  

What is of concern is the gap between the times swum by the New Zealand team and their personal best. The average gap at the Mission Viejo meet of Champions between the New Zealand swimmers and their PBs was 2.0%. What does that mean? Well to put it into perspective the average time gap between first and last in the Rio Olympic finals was 2.4%. So 2% is a lot. Over a good women’s 100 meters race it is about 2 meters behind their best. That’s going to take some catching. Jerry and Suzie have a problem it seems.

Now I have no doubt Jerry and Suzie will say the team was in the middle of hard training and so PBs were never expected. They had just been to the Arizona mountain. They had experienced travel delays. Trump protesters were rioting outside the team hotel. The hamburgers had caused sickness. Blaa, blaa, blaa. Coaches have an endless list of excuses to explain a 6% PB result. Well they have three months before the World Championships. We shall see. My money is still on Lauren Boyle who stayed quietly at home preparing for events that she knows full well how to swim.     

Too Many Races

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

Most of us would accept that the leading example of a swimmer capable of swimming multiple events is Michael Phelps. In the Beijing Olympic Games he entered and won eight events – the 100 butterfly, 200 butterfly, 200 IM, 400 IM, 4×100 free, 4×200 free and 4×100 medley.

The ABC News website recorded the event in these glowing terms  

Phelps already made history by matching Spitz’s seven golds — Now he’s one-upped Spitz’s record count, cementing his place as one of the best athletes of all time.Superman. Magical. The King. The Dolphin. The Fish. The Phenomenon.

These are just some of the words being used to describe the face of the XXIX Summer Olympics in Beijing, Michael Phelps

Few of us would disagree. Eight events in a week: what an incredible feat of application, training and commitment. By the time he swam in Beijing Phelps had been swimming at an Olympic level for eight years. He was an internationally hardened competitor. He had to be, just to survive.

But as it turns out the Phelps’ Beijing schedule was an easy week compared to the race program followed by many junior swimmers around the world.

For example in two recent meets, Alley, the swimmer mentioned earlier in this book swam in ten races in two days and six races in one day.    

But in case you are thinking Alley might be an unrepresentative anomaly I looked at the 2017 New Zealand Age Group Championships and the 2017 New Zealand Junior Championships. I noted the number of races entered by every swimmer and made a record of the number of swimmers who entered and swam eight or more events. In other words swimmers who matched or exceeded Michael Phelps Beijing schedule. The results were stunning and are recorded in the table below.

The regions shown on the table represent different areas of New Zealand. All Stars are clubs from the lower North Island, Harlequins are clubs in the northern North Island area, Aquaknights are clubs from the centre of the North Island and Makos are clubs from the South Island. Each column in the table shows the number of swimmers entered in between eight and sixteen events.

So what does this table say?

It tells us that at the combined Age Group Championships and the four regional Junior Championships a total of 575 swimmers swam in programs the same as or harder than Phelps Beijing program. 349 swimmers (60.7%) had programs with more events than Phelps. 226 swimmers (39.3%) had the same number of events as Phelps Beijing schedule. Two swimmers came within one event (15 events) of doubling Phelps Beijing total. The Harlequins region had the highest number of big entries with 145 swimmers. Harlequins is also New Zealand’s strongest and culturally most diverse region; lending weight to the idea that the better the junior the more they will be exploited.

Doing the analysis I was surprised at the disproportionate number of names that appeared to be of Asian or Polynesian origin. Of course it is not appropriate to draw conclusions from a name. However of the 575 swimmers entered in eight or more events a far higher proportion than the general population appeared to have Asian and Polynesian names. If that is true I suspect it reflects the well-known Asian reputation for pushing very hard for results; sometimes too hard it appears and the early physical maturity of many Polynesian young people.

However the ethnic conclusions are tenuous and unproven. What is not tenuous or unproven is the stunning number of young people flogged through an impossible number of events and facing an early exit from the sport.

Over racing is not only a New Zealand problem. Swimmers everywhere are over raced. For example, a quick look at the results of the first six finals in the 2107 Florida Gold Coast Junior Olympics showed that the sixty swimmers involved swam the following number of events.  

Here again the numbers are stunning. Thirty three percent of the swimmers competed in sixteen or more races in just three days. What Phelps took a week to do these guys do every day – or close to it. And still administrators, coaches and parents wonder, why do we have and 80% to 90% drop-out rate?

Entering this number of swims in an age group championship is bad. The fact it doesn’t work as a development tool for the sport is clearly demonstrated by the failure rate of junior championship winners to progress to Open National success. And yet here are the headlines that get printed by the national Federation in support of mass entries.

The pair finished with seven gold medals each to top the individual medal count. Freesir-Wetzell gained two further wins today in the 10 & under division 200m medley and 100m freestyle. She was the leading medalist overall with nine medals, comprising seven gold and two silver.

Tawa’s Jack Plummer had the most medals with nine comprising four gold, four silver and a bronze with today’s sole win in the 11 years 100m breaststroke.

Short sighted administrators actually see merit in the news that a teenager has been flogged through a dozen races in two days. And as for the clubs that participate; that too is a scandal. I wonder what their committees think of the 18th century custom of using 12 year olds in British coal mines. Oh, I understand the motivation; as parents flock to the clubs that exploit the most in the hope their child will be the next junior champion.

There may be some who find this opinion less than persuasive. Let’s see what the experts say. Several Olympic Games ago the American Aquatic Research Centre in Boulder, Colorado scanned the hand joints of every member of the American Olympic team. Their purpose was to determine what portion of the swimmers had been early developers, on time and late developers. Evidently the rate at which the hand joints close can measure an individual’s physical maturity. Of the forty athletes tested only two had matured early, five had matured on time and the majority were late developers.

The American scientists concluded that the probable explanation for the stunning failure of swimmers who develop early is the almost impossible burden of handling their early success, followed by the struggle to stay ahead of late developers who were such easy beats a few years earlier. Over and over again it happens; junior winners find it impossible to handle the “shame” of being beaten by slow swimmers who used to be miles behind; often didn’t even make finals. Interpreting it all as a failure on their part the early superstars go off to the local surf patrol or to a water polo team. And it’s absolutely understandable.

Take Ashley Rupapera for example. In 2006/7 she was amazing; at 14 years old she claimed her second national age group record with a 100IM time of 1:05.30. In the Junior Championships she entered 13 individual events, swam in 22 races and won four gold medals and two silver medals. I don’t know what Ashley is doing today. However, sadly, it does not include elite New Zealand swimming.   

Age group championship meets are the scene of too much hurt. At the beginning of the week keen, enthusiastic, happy young people arrive full of anticipation, coached and honed to a competitive edge. Parents dash around the pool checking that their charge’s start list seed times have been properly entered and locating the town’s best source of pasta. Coaches patrol the pre-meet practice with all the intensity of an Olympic warm up. International swim meet promoters would die to be able to create the nervous energy present at the beginning of your average age group championship.

By the end of the first morning’s heats you can detect the mood beginning to change. The problem is thirty swimmers enter an event, eight make a final, three get medals and one wins. Potentially there are twenty nine disappointed swimmers and fifty eight disappointed parents who can’t wait to get back to the motel for their treble gin and tonic to ease the pain. It’s a disappointment born out of expectations set far too high.

As each day goes by the mood darkens and deepens. An adult’s most valuable skill is providing comfort to another sobbing teenager. The transformation is stunning. The tremendous high of the first morning slumps during the day; is momentarily revived at the beginning of day two, only to slump even further. By day four all I want to do is get out of there and make sure no swimmer ever goes back. For someone whose heart is in seeing athletes soar, junior championships are no fun at all.

Several years ago there was a good article on the US Junior Nationals in the USA Swimming magazine “Splash”. In it USA Swimming seem to be aware that their event needed to avoid many of the problems characteristics. This is what they said:

“Along the way, however, many coaches and others within USA Swimming saw a disturbing trend. Instead of a whistle stop on the way to senior national and international competition the Junior nationals were embedding themselves as a destination.”

The Americans have done some good things to avoid damaging the nation’s youth. First of all their junior event is not a normal age group meet. Everyone up to a relatively old 18 can swim in the event. This avoids youngsters being over exposed at too young an age. Secondly, the qualifying standards are really tough. They reflect the “older” cut off age. An athlete has to be pretty quick just to make the cut. There’s a fair chance swimmers that fast will have the experience and maturity to handle the occasion. Thirdly, names included on the meet’s list of alumni suggest their “Juniors” are working as a transition between Sectional and International athlete. “Splash” tells me that Gary Hall, Aaron Peirsol, Ian Crocker and Michael Phelps all swam here. That’s a pretty impressive list. It appears that winning is not essential either. For example, Phelps never won the event, but he seems to have come through unscathed.

Competition hurts, which means that when a person gets hurt often enough they eventually go off to do something else. The rule of thumb is 100 races a year. Stick to that number. Your swimmer’s future probably depends on it.

As Racist As Trump

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

I think that most New Zealanders view their country as a warm and welcoming place for visitors. And there is evidence to support that view. In February 2017 the World Economic Forum listed New Zealand as second behind Iceland in a ranking of the world’s most tourist friendly countries. Certainly for years I basked in the belief that my country was open, honest and a decent place to visit.

But then I got involved in a Syrian refugee’s application to visit New Zealand. His name is Eyad Mosoud. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and I am his swimming coach. He is the fastest swimmer in Saudi Arabia. He recently won the Saudi University Championships and the Saudi Fins National Championships. I encouraged Eyad to swim in the New Zealand Open Championships beginning on the 4 April 2017. To do that he needed a visitor’s visa. As a Syrian refugee living in Saudi Arabia his application for a visa needed to be pre-processed at the New Zealand Embassy in Dubai. I agree with the pre-processing. New Zealand can do without some of the bad buggers who fight in that part of the world.

But Eyad is not one of those. He is a 21 year old third year Marine Engineering university student. He is bright, honest and hard working. His father is a surgeon and with his family live in Saudi Arabia to get away from the bad buggers fighting in Syria just now. So Eyad applied for a visa to visit New Zealand and I wrote to the Dubai Embassy and Immigration New Zealand in Wellington explaining the purpose of Eyad’s visit and supporting his participation in the Open Swimming Championships. I expected the application to be approved. But instead Eyad had his passport returned and received an email, written in some appalling English, asking a bizarre series of questions.

I have copied the questions below together with my reply. The information requested is so odd and so incapable of being answered it is difficult not to reach the conclusion that the New Zealand Immigration Department are exercising a Trump like ban by deception. In some ways Trump is more honest. He comes right out and says, “No Syrians allowed.” New Zealand it seems feigns a welcoming smile but makes entry impossible.

Anyway judge for yourself – here are the Dubai questions and my answers.

Visitor Visa Application

Att. Chutamard.Paibullert

Question One: There is no evidence of your travel arrangement to depart New Zealand

Eyad will answer this question.

Question Two: There is no evidence that you have registered an entry to the swimming competition in New Zealand

There is plenty of evidence Eyad is in the process of entering the Open Championships. Firstly I have told you he is entering and as coach of several Olympic athletes and a two country National Coach I would have hoped my word would have been sufficient. Secondly Eyad has been accepted as a member of Swimming New Zealand and a NZ club, the Waterhole Swimming Club in Auckland. Eyad’s entries will be processed with the other Waterhole swimmers at the appropriate time. He has paid $100 to join Swimming New Zealand and $50 to join the Waterhole Club. For your further information the qualifying times for the Open Championships are 50 free 25.48 (Eyad 24.62) 50 fly 27.66 (Eyad 27.17) 100 free 55.50 (Eyad 54.08). And finally no one in New Zealand or elsewhere has any further evidence of their entry than I have provided here, until the start lists are published one week before the competition.

Question Three: The letter from University provided does not show that you are a current student and that you will continue your bachelor degree when you return.

I have not seen the letter you refer to but I must say the fact you have a letter together with Eyad’s superior academic performance for two years suggests to me that your question is bureaucratic nonsense.

I know of no university in the world who would be prepared to vouch for any student’s further study one, two or three years into the future. If you think about it – what you are asking for is ridiculous. I don’t know about your university but the one I went to in NZ would never have guaranteed my future study ahead of time. Certainly I know Eyad is committed to completing his Marine Engineering degree.

Question Four: There is no evidence to support where will you be staying while in New Zealand, and/or any other activities you may be doing other than swimming competition during the period of 3-7 April 2017.

Eyad will be booked into the Quest Motel, Henderson, Auckland for the period of his visit – unless as might be the case we can arrange private accommodation through the club prior to his arrival.

I have no idea what you mean by other activities Eyad may be doing. He is coming here for an Open Swimming Championships. That means he will be training, sleeping and competing for all or most of the time in New Zealand. He is an international athlete who wants to win his events. Swimming, eating and sleeping are about all people like Eyad can manage. I do wonder if Venus Williams had to tell you what other activities she was going to do when she visited recently. I have no doubt that if she was her reaction would have been the same as mine. Oh, and we plan to visit the Artisan Vineyard in Henderson for lunch on the day Eyad arrives. If I take Eyad for a day trip to Waiheke Island I undertake to write to you asking permission first.

Question Five: There is no evidence to proof why you are selected to come and compete the swimming competition in New Zealand.  A letter from David Wright only says that you are the best swimmer in Saudi Arabia.

I have no idea what this question even means. The New Zealand Swimming Championships are open to any swimmer who can swim faster than the qualifying times. Eyad did not need to be selected. He only needed to swim faster than the qualifying times. And he has done that. And as for your comment referring to my letter saying Eyad is only” the best swimmer in Saudi Arabia – what is that supposed to mean. I told you that to highlight the fact that this is a serious sporting visit for which Eyad is eminently qualified. His visit to New Zealand will benefit Eyad and his competitors in New Zealand. This question along with some others appear like a Trump type Syrian ban – by deception.

Question Six: Please also provide a colour copy of all pages of your passport.

Eyad will do this. But please can you tell me why you require colour copies and why you did not ask for colour in the first place.

In conclusion I would repeat the comment I have made a dozen times in relation to this visit. Eyad is a good, serious athlete who wants to develop and expand his career. I was upset at the way a good person was treated a year ago. I do not want my country doing the same thing again to someone I respect and have coached for some time.

David Wright

Coach Jeddah Aquatics

Saudi Arabia  

PS – I have just been told that Eyad’s passport has been sent back to Jeddah. This is probably in order for him to provide colour copies of its pages. Given the distances involved (1700 kilometers), not to mention the cost, wouldn’t it have been easier for you to colour photocopy the pages and ask Eyad to send you money for the cost. I would have been happy to pay from New Zealand and indeed am happy to visit Immigration NZ offices in Auckland tomorrow to make the payment.

Your actions and questions smack of someone intent on making it difficult and possibly impossible for a good person to visit my country and my home. I know you have to assure yourself that bad people do not visit or overstay in NZ. I support that totally. However what you are doing is way over the top and reflects badly on the hospitality of the land I call home.

By any standards Eyad would be a welcome visitor anywhere. Your action of sending the passport  back have caused distress to a good person and for that you are not acting in the best interests of New Zealand.

David Wright

Head Coach

Jeddah Aquatics