For The Good Of The Community

 A younger Rhi at work & play

My name is David Wright. I am an International Level Five USA Swimming coach. I have coached in the United States, the UK, the Virgin Islands, Saudi Arabia and New Zealand. One of the good swimmers coached by me in that time was Rhi Jeffrey. Rhi is currently the Head Coach of the Cannon Ball Swim Team based in the Portsmouth Indoor Pool, Portsmouth, NH, USA. You can read about the team here

I have no idea what the allocated pool space arrangements are for Rhi and her Cannon Ball Club. However I have just read a Facebook post that says this.

The fight to keep our pool space continues. We are meeting with a city council member and others who have been part of the process to try and plead our case to bigger ears. If that fails, we will be making an appearance at the city council meeting on Monday. If you would like to support Cannonball, please try and make that city council meeting at 7 PM at city hall in Portsmouth. Otherwise, if you would like to do something to help, a letter of support or recommendation (either about myself or any of my kids) would be great to add to our case. If you have an interest in writing a letter for us, please DM me through FB or shoot me an email to WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP! Swimming has been cast aside for far too long and the only way to move forward is together with ALL of our voices!

Of course I am not going to get involved in the detail of what pool space the club should have. I don’t know enough to wade in on that subject. What I can do though is assure those responsible for making those decisions that they currently have access to a huge swimming talent; a talent with the skills to pass her knowledge on to those she tutors.

I coached Rhi for a year in the United States and for two years in New Zealand. Before and while she swam in my team she was a 2004 Olympic Gold Medallist in the 4×200 Freestyle Relay, 5 time Olympic trial qualifier in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016, 2 time 2003 World Champion in the 4×100 Relay and 4×200 Freestyle Relay, American record holder in the 4×200 Freestyle Relay, 6 time NCAA finalist and a 2 time NCAA All-American, 8 time Florida High School State Champion and 4 time New Zealand National Championships medallist.

You get to know a person when you travel with them through that sort of journey. You share their victories and their defeats. You see them through amazing highs and terrible lows. You have a front row view into their character. It is not without reason that Rhi is an Olympic Gold Medallist. Normally success at that level requires huge integrity and resolute strength of character. Without question, in Rhi’s case, that is true.

A year and a half ago when I heard Rhi had been appointed Head Coach of the Cannon Ball Club I thought, “Wow, there goes one lucky team. Just sit back and watch it prosper.”

You see Rhi is a natural leader. Swimmers are drawn to her larger than life personality. In my Florida and New Zealand squads she was the team leader, dispensing encouragement and discipline. And the teams accepted both without question or dissent. It is a skill completely separate from her knowledge of things swimming. It is a skill that means she can communicate and inspire. Rhi’s knowledge of swimming is made effective but her leadership skills.

But more than that, Rhi cares. She is a good person. In my team in New Zealand one of Rhi’s best friends was a girl of modest ability. Rhi recognised her work ethic and encouraged and supported her career. Rhi showed that you don’t need to be an Olympic swimmer to earn her support and encouragement. I am sure this swimmer swam well above herself because of Rhi’s attention.

In the three years Rhi swam with me I frequently made use of Rhi’s swimming knowledge to solve other swimmer’s coaching problems. Rhi provided that help willingly and in the process contributed hugely to the success of our team.

And so I would encourage those responsible for the allocation of this pool space to consider carefully providing Rhi with the lane space she needs. Whether the purpose of a community pool is to be a venue for constructive recreation or to deliver an alternative activity for the town’s young and old or to provide tuition in elite swimming skills Rhi will not let you down. Give her what she needs and I am sure your town will be a better place.

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