Canadian Men @ 2016 Olympic Trials & Rio Olympics

What has Swimming Canada done to the men’s swimming program? Canada sent 7 men to Rio. Only 5 men qualified in individual events, the other 2 in relay events. That 2 of the 7 (30%) of Canada’s Olympic men don’t live and train in Canada, and that the son (Ashton) of Canadian swimming icon Alex Baumann trains in Australia speaks loud:

Want to swim for Canada’s National Team…
then live & train outside of Canada!

Canadian Olympic Trial results for men demonstrate that the state of the men’s swimming program in Canada is a disaster. It says that Ontario which makes up approximately 30% of SNC’s total membership is an even bigger disaster when it comes to developing men into international level athletes. Ontario had 1 male swimmer qualify for the Olympics!

After the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, swim organizations were ecstatic with the results claiming it was a ‘good’ year for Canada. Really? If 2016 was a good year for men, then I don’t want to know what would be a bad year.

The results from the 2016 Canadian Olympic Trials should be an embarassment for SNC…

  • 7 swimming events where not a single male was capable of swimming the Olympic qualifying time (OQT), and

  • 4 swimming events where only 1 male swam an Olympic qualifying time.

Olympic medals and podiums may be a bit outside the direct control of SNC but having male athletes swim OQT and qualify for the Olympics, having enough male athletes swim qualifying times so that we could send a full team, having enough males swim qualifying times so that there is competition for spots on the Olympic team… those are all within the control of SNC. But none of those are a reality… and its not like SNC just got into the business of swimming… these results are the byproduct of how SNC carries on the business of managing the sport of swimming.

If Australia – with 2/3 the population of Canada – can send more than double the number of men Canada sent to Rio…

 Something is definitely wrong with the state of swimming in Canada.

And 2016 was a ‘bad’ year for Australia. In 2012 they sent 47 swimmers – of which 23 were men – to London versus the 34 that went to Rio. In 2012, Canada sent 14 men.

Santo Condorelli Switching to Italian Sporting Citizenship Jun2018

Canadian Women @ 2016 Olympic Trials & Rio Olympics

The state of swimming for females in Canada seems on the surface to be… well… OK. Question is whether ‘OK’ is the state swimming should be in considering Canada is supposed to be working to “Own the Podium”.  Ask any swimmer if OK training, OK racing, OK dryland workouts, OK eating & sleeping habits, OK anything is good enough to become an Olympian and they’ll laugh. If OK is not enough, then what are Swimming Natation Canada (SNC) and its provincial affiliates (PSOs) doing about the state of swimming for females?

Based on the story of Penny Oleksiak, Swim Ontario affiliated swim clubs are doing their part by turning away aspiring swimmers simply because they cannot swim. Makes perfect sense… why should clubs and coaches have to train athletes? Why not expect them to show up already capable of swimming lengths, all four strokes, able to do dive starts, even relay takeovers. Why stop there? Why not expect athletes to swim Olympic Qualifying Times (OQT) at their try-out!

The state of swimming for females in Canada lacks leadership:  we need coaches who are as hungry for peak performance as are our athletes. Problem is that SNC policies have allowed coaches to become so complacent in the safety and security of their impenetrable positions that they aren’t hungry for anything except the officials buffet at swim meet breaks.

The full potential of a swimmer – of our Canadian athletes – can and only will be realized when they are matched by coaches who are as eager to prove their abilities, their skills, their concepts as are our athletes eager to prove that their level of commitment, dedication, focus and perseverance will allow them to achieve the results they visualize.

That is what’s missing in Canada. Its missing because the system that SNC and its provincial affiliates have created breeds complacency, has led to conceptual inbreeding amongst coaches because there are no new ideas, no new coaches, yielding a closed mindset within the sport from top to bottom, from SNC to the clubs, to the coaches. Its at the point that top coaches are leaving Canada in search of opportunities elsewhere. Why stay? If there are few Canadian athletes to coach, and the few that there are go abroad to find coaching on par with their goals, then the state of swimming in Canada should come as no surprise.

Athletes and parents: if your coach spends more time swiping on their phone, sitting on their butt, swearing at you for not swimming faster… you are not the problem, they are. Find a coach who is as excited to see you, to train you, to coach you as you are to be on deck, at the pool, to learn something new, to try something new that will help you improve your stroke so that you do swim faster, longer, stronger.

Find a coach who works just as hard at coaching as you do at training. The pair of you will be an unstoppable force, achieving goal after goal.

Phelps needed Bowman to win; go find your Bowman!

SNC and Swim Ontario have failed to develop a system that offers Canadians the opportunity to thrive in the sport of swimming. Their involvement in the sport needs to be cutback and cutback significantly, to the point that there is new growth… new opportunities for new clubs, new coaches, new concepts and new training philosophies to enter the sport. If not, then at best we can expect only more of the same… less than half of a full Olympic team, occasional medals, with the rare exception of an Oleksiak making it through despite the policies and procedures of SNC, its PSOs and their affiliated clubs.

In the following blogs specific policies, procedures, and actions of Swimming Natation Canada (SNC) and Swim Ontario (SO) will be detailed demonstrating that the state of swimming is anything but excellent, and that these swim organizations are directly responsible for the lack of membership, the lack of leadership, the poverty in coaching, the lack of advancement in both physiological and psychological training. The blogs will demonstrate that these swim organizations have been strip-mining the sport of swimming to profit themselves and to protect the interests of those in positions of power in the sport.

The state of swimming is unacceptable. Its time for change in the sport of swimming in Canada.