Archive for June, 2022


Thursday, June 30th, 2022

I have just read this:.

“Eventually Swimming NZ staffers will wake up and ask why Wellingtonians, who have a decent long course pool in the region, have no decent long course times and why so many qualifying times for new NAGs swimmers in the region are short course conversions.”

I have no idea of the author’s name, occupation, or location. Possibly, it’s a lady called Mildred from Hokitika on the West Coast of the South Island. I’m told she may swim a 1000m double lap of the Hokitika River every day.

The author goes on to blame declining numbers of young swimmers in Wellington on not enough racing, not enough long course records, not enough competition. Now normally I would not comment on opinions like that. However, Mildred’s call is so dangerous, something just has to be said.

If Swimming New Zealand paid any attention to Mildred’s advice this is what would happen. It is a long and heavily edited quote from my most recent book on swimming, “Shaping Successful Junior Swimmers”.

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.

Eight events in a week is 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 was also a grown man, aged 23.

But, as it turns out, the Phelps’ Beijing schedule was an easy week compared to the race programme followed by many junior swimmers. For example, in two recent meets, Susan, the swimmer mentioned earlier in this book swam in ten races in two days and six races in one day. Her schedule makes Phelps look positively lazy.   

But in case you are thinking Susan 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.

Each column shows the number of swimmers entered in between eight and sixteen events. 

8 Events Enter 9 Events Enter 10 Events Enter 11 Events Enter 12 Events Enter 13 Events Enter 14 Events Enter 15 Events Enter 16 Events Enter Total Events Enter
  New Zealand 2017 Age Group Championships
55 29 17 2 2 1 0 0 0 106
  New Zealand 2017 Age Group and Junior Championships Combined Total
226 154 111 54 24 4 1 1 0 575

So, what does this table say?

It tells us that at the combined Age Group Championships and the Junior Championships a total of 575 swimmers swam in programmes the same as or harder than Phelps’ Beijing programme. Two swimmers came within one event of doubling Phelp’s Beijing total.

This is a stunning number of young people flogged through an impossible number of events and facing an early exit from the sport. Phelps was a hardened international competitor. The 575 swimmers in this group are all at school: many of them at primary school.

It is ironic that at the same time as Mildred is acclaiming the deeds of swimmers competing in multiple events world tennis authorities have imposed a limit on the number of tournaments players under eighteen years of age can play in a year. Limiting the number of tournaments young tennis players can enter is credited with an 85% drop in premature retirements prior to age 22 and careers lasting 24% longer. Tennis players are 73% more likely to enjoy a 15 year career today compared to 1994.

Mildred actually sees 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.

Scientists at the American Aquatic Research Centre agree. In one study they scanned the hand joints of every member of the American Olympic swimming team. Their purpose was to determine what portion of the swimmers had been early developers, on time and late developers. 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. 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.

Take Ashley Rupapera for example. In 2006/07 she was amazing; at 14 years old she claimed her second New Zealand 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. That’s ten more races than Phelps in six fewer days. 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.

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 is 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 the place and make sure no swimmer of mine ever goes back.

Several years ago there was a good article on the USA Junior Nationals in the magazine “Splash”. In it USA Swimming seems to be aware that their event needed to avoid the problems promoted by Mildred. 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, their junior event is not a normal age group meet. There are no separate annual age groups. Everyone up to a relatively old 18 years of age can swim in the event. This avoids youngsters being over exposed at too young an age. Second, 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. Third, names included on the meet’s list of alumni suggest their “Juniors” are working as a transition between Sectional and International swimming. “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.

In an earlier chapter we discussed the distances swum by Jane Copland Pavlovich through her career from junior to international competitor. In this chapter we have cautioned against entering swimmers in too many races and have recommended a limit, for senior swimmers, of 50 races in a season, 100 races a year. Junior swimmers should swim fewer races than these senior maximum numbers. The table below shows how many races Jane swam before she left New Zealand to attend Washington State University.

Season Age No. Races Races Per Annum
1 12 16  
2 12 16 32
3 13 26  
4 13 19 45
5 14 19  
6 14 68 87
7 15 55  
8 15 42 97
9 16 46  
10 16 36 82
11 17 45  
12 17 37 82
13 18 36  
14 18 32 68

You can see how we kept the racing load quite light when Jane was young; only 32 races in her first year. Great self-control is needed to keep the number down and avoid early career drop-out. Over seven years Jane averaged 70 races each year. As a comparison I entered Olympic Gold Medalist, Rhi Jeffrey, in an average of 58 races each year. Fifty second 100 meter swimmer, Joe Scuba swam an average of 40 races a year. Remember these three swimmers were world class, adult athletes. Now let’s compare their annual number of races with the race numbers swum by some junior swimmers. 

Emma is an example of a swimmer whose racing program illustrates the point. In her early career I entered Emma in about 30 races a year. She then left to swim in a Mildred program. The number of races immediately more than doubled to 70 and then doubled again to 137. For Emma’s swimming career it was to prove lethal. I imagine her parents could not understand why Emma’s career began to struggle. Three years later she gave the whole thing away.

Phase Year Age Time Time Discussion No. Races
Balanced Aerobic 2006 10 1:33 A period of aerobic training and steady but not spectacular improvement. Emma improved by an average of 7% per annum in the 100 and 4% in the 200. 10
2007 11 1:16 2.45 25
2008 12 1:11 2.35 27
2009 13 1:06 2.23 25
Exploitation 2010 14 1:03 2.14 Emma changed clubs and quickly dropped by about 5% per annum. 70
2011 15 1.01 2.10 137
Struggle and Drop-out 2012 16 1:02 2.12 For three years Emma struggled to improve. At the end of 2014 she dropped out 87
2013 17 1:00 2.10 70
2014 18 1:00 2.09 67

In the case of Emma, her training was reflected in her competition program. Competition hurts. When a person gets hurt often enough, they eventually go off to do something else. The rule of thumb for a senior swimmer is a maximum of 100 races a year and for junior swimmers a lot less. Stick to that rule. Your swimmer’s future probably depends on it.


Wednesday, June 29th, 2022

The name anti-abortion supporters give themselves – pro-life – is a ridiculous absurdity. In New Zealand and the United States, they are no more pro-life than a hungry hyena. The same pro-life people support the US Second Amendment – “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,” That right killed 45,222 Americans in 2022.

The same pro-life people support executions. That policy has killed 1547 men and women in the United States since 1970.

The same pro-life people support their country spending $801 billion on the national killing machine. That policy killed 176,000 in Afghanistan, 268,000 in Iraq and more than 3 million in Vietnam.

But it is not only the United States that has a gang of pro-life nutters. New Zealand has its fair share. In opinion polls on the subject 70% of New Zealand adults support abortion being legal and treated as a health issue. That is 2,616.384 of the 3,737,691 people over age 18. It still leaves New Zealand with 1,121,307 abortion reactionaries. And that is a terrifying thought.

But it is not the general population that is a concern. The people that matter are those who can affect change. In the USA it only took 5 people to destroy the country’s abortion law.

In New Zealand we get some idea of the opinions of those in power by how they voted when abortion liberal reform was being passed. In particular we can analyse the 51 MPs who voted against the reform and find out the size of the enemy and where they live. The table below shows the numbers.

Category Number % of Current Caucus
Current National Party MPs 17 52%
Current Labour Party MPs 9 14%
Retired National Party MPs 17 Not Applicable
Retired Labour Party MPs 0 Not Applicable
Retired NZ First Party MPs 8 Not Applicable
All Total 51

So, what do those numbers mean? And where does the danger lie? Let’s look at the National Party first.

17 of 33 members of the current National Party in parliament voted against abortion reform in New Zealand. That’s 52%. But add their leader, Luxon, to that list. He wasn’t around to vote, and the parliamentary National Party has 18 reactionary bigots out of 33 MPs or 55%. In other words, a majority of the current Parliamentary National Party MPs would vote with the American Supreme Court. They agree a woman does NOT have the right to choose. 

And make no mistake some of those guys are real mad buggers. Guys who have posted Tweets comparing abortion to the WW2 holocaust. Guys who post messages praising the USA Supreme Court. Women who click like on that message. And a leader who said the Lord will bring vengeance on anyone who voted for New Zealand’s abortion reform.

So Luxon can stand up and swear blind that the National Party will never change New Zealand’s position on abortion, but when a majority of his Party are full on mad fruit loops on the subject, can we believe him?

Here are the names of the 17 National Party creeps who enthusiastically voted to destroy women’s rights. Beware of this lot. If you are female, they have power and they have you in their sights – Bayly, Brown, Brownlee, Dean, Goldsmith, Hipango, Lee, McClay, McKelvie, Muller, O’Connor, Penk, Pugh, Reti, Upston, Molen, Woodhouse.

Then there is Labour. 9 current Labour MPs voted against the New Zealand abortion reform. 9 from a Labour caucus of 65 or 14%. No question, Jacinda can keep that percentage under control. At 14% there is no danger there.

And so women’s freedom to choose in New Zealand is most at risk by the National Party, who want to take New Zealand back to dark alley abortions and blood poisoning deaths. The National Party who want us to follow their USA Supreme Court heroes. The National Party member who insisted on flying a Donald Trump hat in his parliamentary office. And the National Party leader who became part of the adoring mob at Ted Cruz rallies. That is where the danger is. For 500 years women have fought, often to the death for their rights. Next New Zealand election don’t scorn their work. Do not vote for a right-wing reactionary bigot leading a majority of right-wing reactionary bigots.   


Monday, June 27th, 2022

I seldom disagree with Shakespeare. But the quote that is the title of this post concludes with “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. In the United States this week we have certainly witnessed a “tale told by an idiot”. Sadly, though this tale was not, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. No indeed the United State’s Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe V Wade signifies a huge amount.

I do not see much merit in discussing why the Court’s attack on women’s rights is such an abomination. We all know the distress, deaths and suffering about to result from the decision. Five pagan, religious zealots attacked every shred of decency in a woman’s life. For 500 years women have struggled to gain rights and respect. They have come far. And then five American friars from Washington DC rip it down with the ruthlessness of the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition – the Spanish Inquisition. The fact a woman, Amy Coney Barrett, took part in the decision is appalling. What a traitor. Mind you, since she was in high school, she has been a fruit loop – trolling in and out of religious communities. She would love Gloriavale.

All five inquisitors are blatant liars. All five told Congress, at their appointment hearings, that they supported the importance of establish law – a concept called stare decisis. And all five have voted to overturn Rowe V Wade, a law that has been settled law for 50 years. When your Supreme Court has a majority that lie, without shame, you are in deep trouble.

Never again use the word Justice before the names of Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. In the course of their justice, none of us should see salvation. I have no difficulty imagining this lot would revel in implementing the Salem Witch Cake Test in which a witch was ordered to make a cake with her urine and fed it to a dog. If, the dog had an adverse reaction – behold a witch. In Salem two dogs were also executed for their contribution to witchcraft rituals. Yes, this lot would do that too. Metaphorically, they just have.

However, while ranting about their moronic behaviour may make me feel better, it does not achieve much. So, what can be done. Well, it seems to me there are three ways to handle a situation as serious as this.

Protest, protest, protest  

Don’t let up, not for a minute. The Supreme Court wanted to tear women’s rights apart. Then show them what tearing things apart really looks like. On Facebook and Twitter, on the streets, in malls, with graffiti on walls and on the steps of the Court, show them what they have done. Make them face their shame. Make them realise there is meaning to the quote, “The devil whispered in my ear, “You won’t make it through this storm”. I whispered in the devil’s ear, “I AM the storm.”

The Democratic Way

 I hate this option. But it is probably the only one we’ve got. Two years ago, America assembled 38 million citizens and got rid of Trump. In five months can America assemble that army and more to get rid of his legacy? Can 40 million Americans stack the House and the Senate with overwhelming Democrat majorities? Can 40 million Americans provide the House and the Senate with sufficient power to sweep away the rotting corpse of the Supreme Court decision? American has salvation in its own hands. It will take 40 million votes. Can the country raise that army again? The world with all its fears, lies breathless at thy fate.


This is where my heart lies. I have a dream. In my dream Biden acts. Stuff the law. Stuff democracy. Stuff the rules. This is so bad Biden sends the army in to arrest the five inquisitors and drag them to Alcatraz Island never to be seen again. And if he needs a reason – all six lied to Congress. They said Roe V Wade was settled law and they would never change settled law. That lie to Congress is a crime. No trial, no justice just lock them away on Alcatraz Island. Give them the justice they happily dished out to the world. Start the Supreme Court over with nine liberals. That’s how bad this is. Oh, that I could stay asleep with this as my reality.

But perhaps there is hope. In their dissenting opinion three judges said this.    

“Withdrawing a woman’s right to choose whether to continue a pregnancy does not mean that no choice is being made. It means that a majority of today’s Court has wrenched this choice from women and given it to the States,”

Amen to that.

PS – I see New Zealand too has its inquisitors.  In a Facebook post Simon O’Connor, National Party member and the MP for Tāmaki, said: “Today is a good day.” Party leader Luxon has denied that a National Government would reverse the New Zealand abortion freedoms. But remember well, five American Supreme Court Justices, just as upright, just as pompous, and under oath, said the same thing. They lied. Is Luxon in the same camp – lying to get the power he craves to change our abortion law?

That might sound farfetched. But remember these four facts.

  • Luxon says his private anti-abortion views do not affect his public policy decisions. I doubt the truth of that. However, his private view that women should not have the freedom to decide, tells us all we need to know about his attitude to women. Whether his views are public or private Luxon is a revolting creep. Never forget when he ended his parliamentary speech on the subject with the quote “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord”. Won’t affect public policy? “Yea right” saith the Lord.
  • Luxon’s role models are highly suspect. For example, Luxon has attended rallies in the United States supporting Republican Ted Cruz. Cruz is the guy who has called the Court’s decision, “momentous, absolutely correct and Row V Wade was egregiously wrong”.
  • Luxon’s National Party has MPs such as trained Catholic priest and MP for Tamaki pushing for National to follow America’s inhuman abortion lead. His voting record includes opposition to same sex marriage, opposition to prostitution law reform, opposition to end-of-life reform and opposition to banning conversion therapy. Can he be trusted to protect abortions? I don’t think so.  
  • We know that the decimation of the National Party at the last election, concentrated power in the hands of male Christian evangelical conservative MPs, – for example Luxon and O’Connor. That power block has succeeded in making the National Party the sole main New Zealand political party not to publicly denounce the US Supreme Court’s decision.  

Seems best to avoid the problem by keeping Jacinda exactly where she is.


Saturday, June 25th, 2022

Over the years coaching swimming and track athletics around the world I have made some pretty catastrophic coaching mistakes. Finally, I decided to address the problem by going back to school and earning a Level 5 American Swim Coaches Association certificate and picking up the phone and asking, master coaches, Arch Jelley and Arthur Lydiard for help.

The decision to get help pointed to one major personality weakness. Arch said it clearly but with some regard for my sensitive ego. Arthur said it clearly with no regard for my sensitive coaching ego. I was pushing too hard. Over and over again they told me to ease back – do not push so hard. They both said the same thing – it’s training not straining.

The two best examples of my early ineptitude were with Alison’s training prior to flying to New Zealand to run in what was then the hugely popular Pan Am Track Series. And the second was in the final stages of Toni Jeffs preparation for the Barcelona Olympic Games. Here is what happened.

Alison was about to leave our home in Scotland to fly to Australia for the first of the track series meets. She was running very well. But that was not good enough for me. I decided she needed one last really fast training session. And so, on a freezing cold night in mid-winter Scotland we went to the track to run a session of 4x400m with a 400m jog between each fast run. The rules, I said, were that each fast 400m had to be run in well under 60 seconds. And Alison did it. Two 58s, one 57 and one 59, that I growled about. In the conditions with snow on the track it was brilliant running.

And do you know what? Through the next three months in Australia and New Zealand Alison never ran as well again. She had left it all behind in Scotland. That is all it takes to tip a fast runner over the edge and lose an entire season’s work. The only solution was to come back to Scotland and begin some 18k easy aerobic runs around Gleneagles golf course – to put right the damage done by me on a training track three months earlier.

Clearly though the lesson had not been learned. A few years later I was preparing Toni Jeffs to swim in the 50m and 100m freestyle at the Barcelona Olympic Games. Toni was swimming well. She had just placed third in what was then the World Short Course Championships. A bronze medal or better at Barcelona was a real possibility.

A week before flying to Spain I decided Toni needed one more hard training session, in Wellington’s Freyberg Pool. She should swim a main set of 10x66m with 66m easy swim in between each fast swim. Each fast swim had to be below 40 seconds – that’s 60 seconds 100m pace.  All the swims were from a push, no dive.

Toni got through the set brilliantly – 36s and 37s all the way through. And in Barcelona her 3rd in the World Championships ended as 27th in the Olympic Games. I had done the same thing again. I’d pushed too hard in training. Toni’s best swim that season wasn’t at the Olympic Games. It was in Freyberg Pool on a Saturday night with only the lifeguard there to watch.

After a training camp in Canet, Toni was so drained by the time we got to Barcelona, she would faint and fall off her chair eating dinner. She would throw-up after training. How she managed 27th in the Games was incredible. In a way, swimming as well as she did was probably one of her better swims. Certainly, her most courageous. And it was all squarely my fault. Her best had been left in the training pool.

I do not want what I am about to say to be misunderstood. I certainly do not want to give the impression that I know best or of pompously telling coaches how they should coach. Rather my purpose is to discuss what seems to have been a problem. Two years ago, Swimming New Zealand handed back to New Zealand coaches responsibility for preparing national teams – a good decision. Open discussion of problems is one way of maximizing that opportunity.

This most recent European trip seems to have highlighted a problem swimming personal best times (PBs). From 253 swims at Mare Nostrum only 18 (7.1%) were PBs. That is a poor PB performance especially when you consider that 6 of the 18 PBs came from one swimmer (Godwin). At the time of writing this blog, with one day to go, the World Championship team (I have included Eyad even though he swims for the World Refugee Team. But New Zealand is his home, and he has had the same travel experience as the rest of the New Zealand swimmers) has swum 29 individual swims (that includes 3 relay starts) with only 4 PBs (13.8%).

Three of the PBs were not exactly swum by two “typical” New Zealanders. Two were swum by Eyad (100%), who is in Budapest as a member of the FINA Refugee Team. The other by, Carter Swift who was born in New Zealand before his family moved to Australia where Swift learned to swim. He competed on the Arizona State swim team and currently lives and is coached by Michael Phelps’ old coach, Bob Bowman, in the United States. He is a good and welcome addition to New Zealand swimming, but as I say, not exactly typical. The fourth PB was swum by Eve Thomas in the 800m heats. Thomas lives and trains in Australia    

So, why did the New Zealand based team swim no PBs, and how can we improve?   

Well, from everything I’ve read New Zealand seems to have had an overtraining problem. For example –

  • Sickness
  • Not swimming PBs
  • Scratching from events
  • Short tempers
  • Slower times later in the meet

All classic symptoms of overtraining – just what I did with Alison in Scotland and Toni in Wellington. Here are two emails I sent to Eyad before and during the pre-championship training camp.

“As a result of watching your swims in Mare Nostrum I think it is important for you to do some more steady recovery swimming at the training camp. It has been a very long racing season leading up to the LC Nationals and then extended out twice more with Mare Nostrum and the World Champs. There is only so much blood to wring out of a stone. I think you will definitely swim better in Budapest by changing the emphasis in the camp from even more speed/anaerobic sets to easy recovery aerobic swimming with a short speed up just before Budapest.”

And a week later.

“Well done on a first recovery week at the camp. That has been very worthwhile. Make sure you do the same thing this week. Swim easy. Keep the tiger in the tank for one more week. Even if others are sprinting in their training, do not be tempted to follow. Hold back until next week. Remember that old, but true, quote – It takes very little to sharpen a fit body.”

Arch Jelley said the same thing to me before Eyad began this trip.

“Remember on a tour like Mare Nostrum and the World Championships there is seldom any reason to do speed training. The races will provide more than enough speed training”.

But what does easy training mean? Well set out below is a copy of what Eyad swam in the first week at the pre-Championship training camp.

Date Training AM Kms Training PM Kms
Mon 30/5 Drive to Barcelona. Fly to Vienna 0 Drive to Barcelona. Fly to Vienna 0
Tue 31/5 Training Camp OFF Sleep in and have an easy morning to relax   0 Training Camp  WU 400/4×100/4×50 swim  MS  400/4×100/4×50 pull  400/4×100/4×50 with fins 3
Wed 1/6 Training Camp OFF Sleep in and have an easy morning to relax   0 Training Camp  WU 400/4×100/4×50  PS  3 x 200 IM with fins done as 25m swim 25m easy kick 4 x 50 easy DPS all fly MS 1 x 1000 easy swim free 1 x 1000 easy swim done as 50 fly 50 free 1×1000 with fins swim IM – 250m each stroke 4.8
Thur 2/6 Training Camp  WU 400/4×100/4×50  MS 1000 easy swim with fins  MS 500 kick no fins       2.5 Training Camp  WU 400/4×100/4×50  PS  4 x 100 IM easy  3 x (2×25 fly + 50 breast + 100 free + 50 back + 2×25 fly) Your rest all the way through. Easy effort. MS All done as easy effort 4 x 150 Breast – Kick 100. + Pull 50. 3 x 100 Freestyle – Aim for 8 strokes per 25m or 20 per 50m  2 x 75 Backstroke – done as 25m easy back + 25m double-arm back + 25 easy back 1 x 50 Fly – done easy with fins MS 100 warm down 3.5
Fri 3/6 Training Camp  WU 400/4×100/4×50  MS 1000 easy swim with fins  MS 500 kick no fins 2.5 Training Camp WU 400/4×100/4×50 MS 1000 easy swim with fins done as 25 free 25 fly MS 500 kick no fins 2.5
Sat 4/6 Training Camp OFF Sleep in and have an easy morning to relax 0 Training Camp 40 x 100 on 1.45 easy 4
Sun 5/6 Training Camp OFF 0 Training Camp OFF 0

By anybody’s standards that’s a pretty easy week. And it worked. In Budapest Eyad swam a 2.8% personal best in the 50m fly and a 0.01 second improvement in the 100 fly.  

In other words, are New Zealand’s coaches trying too hard? I suspect that may be the case. If it is true, there is nothing wrong with making the error. It is easy to do. But it may be worth trying an easier approach. Next time leave the stopwatch, calculator and laptop at the hotel. Enjoy European coffee, and croissants and hot olives soaked in melted butter. Chat with the locals while your swimmer does a set of easy aerobic swims. I bet PB times will follow.

Certainly, pay no attention to stupid internet advice to “harden up”. That will only make the PB problem worse. When I first sought out the guidance of Arch Jelley and Arthur Lydiard, I frequently hung up the phone thinking both men were getting old. They were going soft. I always did what they said but my heart still clung onto the harden up thought. Gradually though as swimmer after swimmer swam better the penny dropped. The advice of Arch and Arthur was right. European coffee, and croissants and hot olives soaked in melted butter was the way to go – take it easy, works


Monday, June 20th, 2022

What is Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) going to do about the new FINA transgender policy? The answer seems pretty clear. But more of that later.

Because there are politics involved. For example, what does the money lady think? Is she, that’s Sport New Zealand, Raelene Castle, on board with the new rules? Does she agree that all transgender male to female athletes must start their treatment prior to the age of 12 and show evidence of continuous testosterone levels below 2.5. Does her with the power want every sport in New Zealand following FINA’s lead? It will be interesting to see if SNZ has the courage to do what is right, and what its Constitution demands, or will SNZ fold and go along with whatever Castle tells them to do. We will see.

Oh, and slightly off the subject but how did SNZ vote on the Policy at the FINA Congress that passed the Policy with a 71.5% majority?  

There should be no question about what should be done. The SNZ Constitution is very clear on the subject.

Clause 3 says, “SNZ is bound by and must observe the rules and decisions of FINA”. But you wait and see. If SNZ are told by Castle that FINA’s policy is not to be imported into New Zealand, SNZ could well twist and turn to ride roughshod over the Constitution. Remember three members of the SNZ Board owe their loyalty to Castle. They will say FINA’s Policy is not a rule or a decision – it’s a Policy. Therefore, the document does not necessarily apply – but.

Clause 7 says, “A member is bound by this Constitution and by all rules policies and decisions of SNZ and where applicable those of FINA. Ah, the dreaded “policy” word. I have no idea how anyone could wriggle out of this clause. Every member, that’s us, are constitutionally required to be bound by FINA policy decisions. Goodness knows what we should do if the three Castle sycophants on the SNZ Board tried to prevent the members complying with the sport’s Constitution. It would certainly merit a legal challenge. I guess someone determined not to be bound by the new policy will say it is not “applicable”. It is applicable, of course, but those desperate enough to follow their leader will say anything.

Clause 7.3 says, “Any member disobeying any rule or failing to give effect to any decision of FINA is liable to suspension or expulsion”. And so, there is a constitutional punishment for disobeying the FINA transgender policy. That legal challenge against the Castle gang just got a whole lot stronger.

And so, that’s what the SNZ Constitution has to say about falling into line with FINA policies and decisions. But does the policy itself give us any clues about what FINA expects from its Federation members?

It sure does. In Section G the FINA Policy says,

  • FINA recommends that each Member Federation adopts its own gender policy to determine eligibility to compete in events taking place under its jurisdiction.
  • Member Federations may use this Policy as a guideline for national-level and age-group competition.
  • For the avoidance of doubt, however, any policy applied at a national level will not determine the eligibility of athletes to compete in FINA competitions. Instead, that will be determined exclusively by reference to this Policy.
  • Any policy adopted by a Member Federation remains within the jurisdiction of the Member Federation. Any decision taken by a Member Federation is not considered a FINA decision.
  • FINA recommends that organisers of recreational events consider local circumstances in their determination of whether or not separate sex competition is necessary for them.

There it is. FINA has shown it is not to be messed about. In pretty blunt terms FINA has said, “SNZ can publish their own gender rules based on the FINA Policy. But whatever SNZ decide the rules governing international swimming will be the FINA Policy”.

There we have it. Both the SNZ Constitution and FINA are telling SNZ to adopt the FINA gender Policy. But that direction should not be needed. The right thing to do is to make the sport fair. We can do without a Lia Thomas in our midst. My view is that the SNZ Board members who owe their loyalty to the membership will want to adopt the fair gender rules set out in the FINA Policy.

However, we will not know what the Board members who owe their loyalty to Sport New Zealand think until Castle tells them how to vote. There is an opportunity for SNZ to become the most progressive force on this issue. There is also the possibility it could become the most reactionary.

Which way will it go? Right now, that’s a 50/50 bet. I have no idea.