Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Division I Team Championships, 2011

From Friday April 15th to Sunday April 17th, 40 swimmers from the Halton Hills Blue Fins competed against some of the best and deepest teams in Ontario. We got to this level from months and months of smart training. Despite having less pool time (and length of pool) than other top teams in the Region, Province and Country, HHBF has produced some of the best swimmers in the history of Canadian Swimming. We have come a long way as a team.

At the beginning of this season, I began preparing swimmers for what a challenging task this was going to be. Many of the top 8 times were significantly faster than the provincial standard. National team members, Tobias Oriwol, Warren Barnes, Andrew Ford, Colin Russell, Sinead Russell, Erica Stellenrich-Hodgeson and Tara Van Bielen would all be competing. Teams take this meet VERY seriously and we were going to engage them all in competition. We needed to come prepared and I took the task of preparation very seriously.

Sadly, the meet did not go as we planned. I was disappointed with the result, but not for the reasons that one might think. Generally, I was very disappointed with over half of the team for their attitudes, comments and punctuality. I cannot fault swimmers who gave 100% and put the effort forth (which was almost half of the team - I wish not to ignore that). I was upset with athletes who were routinely late, did not follow standard meet protocol (warmup, pre-race strategy, etc), missing our meetings and making generally negative statements about their own and others races. I see nothing wrong with pointing out my disappointment with these things; I see it as a fundamental part of my job.

I am not upset that we're moving out of the division. I would have been happy with wherever we placed if all 40 members of that team did the absolute best that they could. I simply do not feel that they all did and that is where my disappointment lies. We win and lose as a team, and as such I do not feel that it is out of line to address these issues as a team.

Next season HHBF will return to Division II. I do not think that this was necessarily a bad thing for us; Sometimes getting knocked backwards gives us a better perspective as to where you really were and what needs to get done to arrive where you thought you were. Ultimately, life will go on; The sun will continue to rise, dogs will still hate cats and taxes are still due at the end of April. There was some invaluable experience gained at this championship which will be used to help HHBF forge further ahead. If we fail: Watch Out! We'll come back twice as strong. Its not how many times you get knocked down; its how many times you get up.

Perhaps lost in the mix were some swimmers who did do as much as they could, swam outstandingly and cheered their hearts out. I would like to acknowledge those athletes and say to them, the following: Please don't stop doing what you do, you are this clubs most important resource.

Clearly, I improperly prepared some of these individuals for a team event. I am not sure exactly what went wrong in the preparation, but I am moving forward in the hopes of correcting these errors. We must get our team back to this level armed with the experience and thicker skin that this meet has given us. Things did not go our way this time... or maybe it did, in the long run. Regardless, we need to get past it and get back to what we do best: rapid improvement.