It was last year when my wife took the NCCP (National Coaching Certification Progam) Level 1 Triathlon course. On the course, in addition to a pro triathlete and a handful of athletes wanting to learn more about how to coach triathletes was none other than the Swim Ontario Executive Director. Having a son who competes regularly in triathlons, why wouldn’t the ED of Swim Ontario want to learn about coaching so as to help out his son? Its an interesting contradication though how the sport of triathlon permits parents to coach their children and allows them to compete “unattached” from a triathlon club, whereas the sport of swimming stands firmly against such an arrangement. Its interesting how this same ED of Swim Ontario fought against any and all requests of removing the policy of mandatory attachment to a club in the sport of swimming yet himself wants to take advantage of this opportunity in the sport of triathlon, at the same time… Swim Ontario and its ED have never had an issue with holding a double standard so one can not be truly surprised.

But unattached status of athletes isn’t the focus of this post, the focus is a series of statements that the Swim Ontario Executive Director made while attending the triathlon coaching course.

As in all NCCP coaching courses, the topic of liability comes up in some manner. The level 1 triathlon coaching course is no different, and when the topic arose… this is when the Swim Ontario Executive Director just couldn’t keep his mouth closed. My wife returned home from the course sharing how the Swim Ontario ED went on and on and on about how many legal issues Swim Ontario faces, and faces continuously, and then went on and on and on about the legal costs associated with dealing with all the legal issues.

Kinda makes one wonder…

How much money does Swim Ontario actually pour into the sport of swimming, and how much of Government of Ontario funding, which is in fact taxpayer dollars ends up at legal firms covering all the fees Swim Ontario racks up in defending its policies & procedures?

As an aside… I actually tried to find out, but Swim Ontario is as transparent as a brick wall and its refusal to release any documents forced me to seek Swim Ontario’s financial statements via a Freedom of Information Act request. That was of little help as Swim Ontario released only as much as absolutely required to comply with the FIPPA request, and what was released was non itemized ensuring no one could piece together any aspect of its operations.

Which brings me back to the prior post… on “experts” and how “experts” because of their belief that they are all knowing develop inane exclusionary, discriminatory, and self serving policies and procedures with the result being: exactly what the Swim Ontario Executive Director admitted to while on the triathlon course, namely that resources – tremendous amounts of time and money – are spent by Swim Ontario defending its own policies and procedures.

Understandably, no policy or procedure will make all the people happy all the time, BUT… there is a common denominator if Swim Ontario is having to constantly deal with legal issue after legal issue.

First… why does it have to become legal? Are there no processes that allow for resolutions to arise without the involvement of a legal team? Does everything have to escalate to the point both sides have to lawyer-up in order to solve issues related to the sport of swimming? If you review Swim Ontario’s P&P manual you will find that the Swim Ontario has placed every obstacle and obstruction imagineable to prevent anyone from even filing a complaint… so it is any wonder why everything has to escalate when complaints are not accepted (and when they are the ED has the sole authority and without appeal to dismiss any complaint without so much as an explanatory statement).

Second… shouldn’t it be a hint that there is a problem if lawyering-up is the go-to for Swim Ontario and anyone who has a complaint against Swim Ontario? From the perspective of Swim Ontario… not at all. Although difficult to imagine, when you are dealing with an egotistical maniac who believes that they are “the government appointed expert on the sport of swimming” thus the one and only say on all things related to swimming… no resident of Ontario has the right – in the mind of the ED of Swim Ontario – to have a complaint and if they do, then only if its good enough for a lawyer to take seriously, will Swim Ontario take it seriously (because after all the ED of Swim Ontario is the proclaimed dictator and only with a legal coup will their say ever stand a chance of being overturned).

Any reasonable person would understand that such a state of purposeful conflict and confrontation is not an appropriate use of government funding nor the effective and efficient use of the resources of a sport organization, BUT this is not what the Executive Director of Swim Ontario expressed as their belief. To them, all the legal woes are only additional proof that their existing inane exclusionary, discriminatory and self serving policies and procedures are not sufficiently inane and even stricter exclusionary, discriminatory and self serving policies and procedures have to be written.

This is the doom-loop of Swim Ontario and its Executive Director operate in… policies & procedures which are never capable of completely eliminating complaints yield never-ending legal woes.

The existence of this doom-loop proves only one thing: the Swim Ontario Executive Director and its Board are partly or wholly incompetent in managing the operations of the sport.

Why masters would want anything to do with such a s#!t show… I have no idea.

Why Dan Thompson is bent on working trying to reunite masters and Swim Ontario (as it stands now)… I have no idea.

That FINA – the International Swimming Association – is amongst the lowest scoring international sport federations in terms of corporate governance standards should immediately raise a red flag in regards to the quality of governance of both Swimming Natation Canada and Swim Ontario.

The corporate governance standards evaluated as part of this study were:

  1. Few or weak audit and ethics committees
  2. No term limits in most federations
  3. Regular and frequent general assemblies
  4. Insufficient transparency

The work that needs to be done first…

Goal #1 needs to be replacing the Swim Ontario Board with an entirely new and most importantly skilled and competent Board of Directors who then replace the Swim Ontario ED with one who is equally skilled and competent.

Goal #2 needs to be to rebuild Swim Ontario’s reputation through good corporate governance initiatives, including but not limited to full disclosure of all Board Meeting Minutes, and immediate rewriting of policies and procedures to eliminate all which are exclusionary, discriminatory, self serving and those which create a double standard or pose a conflict of interest.

Goal #3 can be to reunite with Masters Swimming Ontario and with OFSAA.