November 17, 2004

Swim Canada Continues Shake-Up

Swim Canada has been under a lot of pressure to make changes since the poor performance at the 2004 Games. And the performance was poor, although it's simplistic and unfair to just keep trotting out the "no medals" mantra.

This past weekend's annual general meeting is being widely reported as some kind of failure of nerve because "only" three of seven members of the board of directors were replaced.

Replacing three of seven board members is actually a huge change; I don't really know what more the members were hoping for. I hope that at least a few of the cowardly former swimmers who called for a housecleaning during the Games put their money where their mouths are and stood for election.

In September, Swim Canada fired 12-year head coach Dave Johnson; they're also searching for a new director general and a new national team director. Altogether, that's a major purge, and a very real opportunity for a fresh start.

I have served for four years as a volunteer for one of Canada's most successful NSFs, and briefly with the COC, and I'll tell you my impression of Swim Canada from here; it's an overweight organization with bitter internal politics and unclear long-term goals. The national body doesn't get along with the provinces, or the clubs, or the universities, and for the most part they don't get along with each other either. The poor performance in Athens stimulated a lot of unproductive whining, but could also provide an impetus for significant change. If they get the right people in charge, there is no reason why Canada can't again be a significant player in high performance swimming. But it's going to be a lot of work.

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