Did The Altitude Camp Achieve Anything?

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.     

0 responses. Leave a Reply

  1. Swimwatch


    Be the first to leave a comment!

Comments are closed.