16th August 2016
As taken from the IOC website;
The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised without discrimination or any kind, in a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say am both inspired and frustrated by recent week of swimming at the Rio Olympics.
I’ve been inspired by
- an appreciation of the sacrifice of swimmers and families for athletes to even get to Rio,
- Seeing swimmers whom our swimmers have competed against in recent years, like Chelsea Gubeka battling on in the 10k Marathon, giving it their all (including drinking Brazilian ocean water) to represent their country,
- the strength of character to pick themselves up after not getting the result they had dreamed of to go at it again,
- the inhibition of youth so not to be overcome by outside pressure
- the admission that our top swimmers are only human, and can be overcome by illness, emotion and even the occasion.
But likewise, I’ve felt frustrated by;
- The way the American broadcasting rights can influence scheduling of medal presentations and races
- the way our media, in an effort to build hype, interest and ratings, set up our athletes and our community to believe that nothing less than Gold can be a success
- The journalists call for more passion, aggression and self belief, when 4 years ago they hung James Magnussen out to dry for having the same thing.
- The arrogance of “people in the know” that think just because there is “$38million spent on Australian Swimming” that other countries aren’t investing the same if not more into their programs and also expect results.
- The way the Couriermail this morning is calling for heads to role within the leadership of Swimming Australia as a result of their “lacklustre” efforts where “they didn’t win any bloody thing”, and didn’t get anywhere near their predicted 10 gold medal hall.
Just in case I haven’t made my point, the swimmers, their character, their effort, their humbleness in defeat, their anguish for letting themselves and their supporters down, has all made me proud to be part of swimming over the past week. I am also so glad, that my kids have been able to sit on the couch, watching their heroes, their role models succeed, and watch them fail, and how they have had to deal with both these extremes. I have been embarrassed however, of the way that a scapegoat is needed. How there must be someone to blame. Swimming (as is all sports) is a science, but there are no guarantees. But as a parent, and someone involved in club swimming, what I am most passionate about is the growth and strength of character of our athletes as they pursue their dreams. Therefore, I feel that despite the results in the water not being quite what they were after, the Australian Swim Team should heartedly congratulated for their efforts not only in Rio, but also the 4 years (and many more) leading up to it.
Now we climb out of competition on the world stage to the pinnacles of competition at Grace Club Nights which are only 7 weeks away. For our kids, no doubt they will be dreaming of Cate Campbell, Kyle Chalmers or even Michael Phelps as they take to the blocks on that first clubnight. They will be wanting to give it their all and swim their little hearts out, hoping to improve on their swims from last season, or make that qualifying time. As a club, we should be continuing to celebrate each of these achievements, but also look at ways to continue to build club + team culture. Encouraging newcomers (and maybe some of those that were around last year), and senior swimmers, to be part of our volunteer army is always a good way of building up our club culture. Celebrating the collective and the achievements of the team is another. Looking at ways of acknowledging our swimming members for their commitment to the club out of the water is an example of what makes us Grace.
BSA swim meets do that inherently, but to further enhance the experience, the team bus to Chandler on both Saturdays and Sundays for our swimmers to partake in a "team warm up session" prior to the commencement of racing seemed to work well. Each day saw a good contingent of our swimmers on the bus, allowing them to also spend time together in the stands as Team Grace. The bus is certainly something we should consider do again for future meets. It also enabled our team to arrange themselves in the stand together, and allowed them (from what I understand) to be very vocal with their support for their team mates.
At these champs, we saw 24 swimmers competing in over 135 different events. This year, competing against some real powerhouse clubs, saw us finish in 9th place in the Premiership Division. It will certainly be a tough year, but I am sure we are far from conceding our spot in the top tier.
The BSA open water champs is the next event on the list held on October 1st, and as a committee, we should be encouraging as many of our capable swimmers as possible to be involved. They also serve as a qualifying event for next years Australian Open Water Champs in Adelaide, where in the past we have typically sent a team of 10-12 swimmers. These national titles have also been something our younger swimmers have always aspired to.
Thanks again for your commitment, dedication and leadership to the Grace Swimming community. I’m so looking forward to getting into the coming season with you all.
Yours in Swimming