Saturday, February 22, 2014

Change Is Coming For High School Swimmers

2 Things happened in Canadian swimming this week that made me tremendously happy. First, Swim Ontario decided not to sanction the OFSAA (Ontario High School) Championships; after years of silly rules which I have publicly stated have been passively hurting our sport for years. Without restating my entire philosophy on the topic, I am happy that Swim Ontario has recognized that OFSAA's rules are not consistent with Swim Ontario's swimming policies and will no longer sanction the meet. I also like that Swim Ontario has stated in their announcement that "OFSAA and Swim Ontario will continue to engage in partnership discussion for future years," which implies that Swim Ontario is open to re-sanctioning, but that swimming in Ontario must be done in a way that is consistent with Swim Ontario's (the governing body in this sport) vision and that this decision is not an end point. Imagine how great swimming in Ontario could get if there was a bridge between High School and University!? If you want to read more on this topic, feel free to check out my post from a couple of years ago.

The second thing that happened was an announced partnership between VAS (Victoria Academy of Sport - Lead by Randy Bennett) and area high schools. This partnership entails athletes academic schedules being run around their swim schedules and provides for transportation and meals. Although this is not a revolutionary idea (many programs like this already exist in the USA and other countries), this is revolutionary for Canada because it now treats swimmers as serious athletes.

Historically, swimmers have been pegged as great students that have been able to manage many hours of training and work load and this has been accepted as fact without really examining if they would be doing better if they DIDN'T have such a high workload... which is akin to saying "Prisoners in this prison are really tough and don't mind eating dead rats... They must LOVE prison and dead rats." Just because athletes seem to be able to "handle it" doesn't mean that they wouldn't perform better or be happier if life were easier and catered to them. And honestly, if we are looking for those world class, top 3 performances, this is a great place to start! Kudos to Randy and to VAS for considering this a priority and getting it off the ground!