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Swimming SA in “murky” waters

April 20, 2013
MURKY WATERS: Top SA swimmer Roland Schoeman tweeted last week, “First photo of the SA trials swimming pool. Trials start tomorrow.”

MURKY WATERS: Top SA swimmer Roland Schoeman tweeted last week, “First photo of the SA trials swimming pool. Trials start tomorrow.”

What transpired at the SA swimming champs in Port Elizabeth this week is nothing short of a disgrace and an international embarrassment.

A green, murky pool delaying the gala, which also serves as a World championship qualifier, was the talking point for several days.

But as usual, no-one will accept responsibility.

Swimming South Africa (SSA) blamed the Nelson Mandela Municipality and in the end, probably the lowest possible person on the totem pole will take the fall. In this case, a pool attendant at Newton Park.

SSA CEO Shaun Adriaanse said: “Obviously we are not too happy, our stakeholders are not too happy, but also these things happen and no-one could have planned for a filtration pipe to burst and then a pipe that supplies water to the area to burst. It was an unfortunate sequence of events that just happened.”

Yes, these things do just happen, just like SSA bosses meeting behind closed doors in 2011 as allegations of fraud, corruption, misuse of funds and financial mismanagement was drowning the organisation. The Sunday Tribune reported in July 2011 that “Martie Belotti, an executive assistant to Adriaanse, resigned a week ago, but left as her parting shot a letter stating that the organisation was “rotten from the top to the bottom”.

The allegations were conveniently swept under the carpet, Belotti went quiet and the same officials are still running SSA today.

It does beg the question why SASCOC has not placed SSA under administration?

Is it perhaps because the SSA President, Jace Naidoo is on the SASCOC board, co-opted by good friend and SASCOC CEO, Tubby Reddy at last year’s rigged SASCOC elections?

SSA has no sponsor, no funds to send our swimmers to the World championships, continued allegations of corruption and maladministration within the organization, but it’s business as usual.

Needless to say, putting any code under SASCOC administration doesn’t achieve anything. It’s just a bully tactic. Just ask Athletics South Africa (ASA), which is now under SASCOC administration for the second time in four years. A SASCOC “buddy” gets to be the administrator, they get well-remunerated and in the middle of it all, the most important people, the athletes, are forgotten. ASA has never recovered from the last SASCOC intervention and so much was hidden, especially with regards the Caster Semenya controversy. Some medical staff should have lost their licenses.

The national swimming champs were always in Durban, until three years ago, when they moved to Port Elizabeth as some current and former SSA officials are from the Eastern Cape and have “good” contacts in the Nelson Mandela Municipality.

But surely, there needed to be a back-up or contingency plan.

Is there only one championship pool in PE and did SSA fly in any pool experts after realizing they had a real problem on day one?

Also, what was SSA trying to hide by not allowing some journalists into the venue?

Times reporter, David Isaacson said: “I have covered SA swim champs @different venues for 15 years. Today, at Newton Park, for 1st time ever, I have been refused entry.”

And EWN’s, Jean Smyth: “I’ve now been asked to remove myself from the pool complex and am being escorted off ‘municipal property’ by security.”

Swimmers vented their obvious frustrations as well.

London gold medallist, Cameron van der Burgh on Twitter: “People misunderstand, athletes are not like players. We peak for specific days not week in/week out. You can’t just make trials a week later.”

The Olympic swimmers like Chad le Clos, Roland Schoeman and van der Burgh would have other opportunities to qualify for the World championships if need be, but for the majority, this was their one shot in a pool that didn’t meet FINA requirements.

It’s the responsibility of SSA or the organizing committee to ensure that the facility is up to standard.

So, is SSA going to compensate the swimmers and parents who have broken the bank to pay for flights, accommodation and extra days in Port Elizabeth?

“We have insurance which should hopefully be applicable to all of our members affected by this,” said Adriaanse.

Be interesting to see that insurance policy and when it was taken out?

But how do you claim for the handwork of the swimmers, how do you claim for a dream that has been shattered by the incompetence of sports administrators?

Heads should roll.

The dreams of South African sportsmen and women are being shattered week after week under the current, corrupt SASCOC regime that turns a blind eye to the sporting codes run by themselves and friends.

The conflict of interests are an outrage and it makes me blue with anger.

More blue than the pool in PE, but that’s not difficult.

Catch Graeme Joffe on SportsFire every Monday and Thursday at 17:30 SA time (16:30 BST) on Radio Today, 1485AM in Johannesburg, National on DStv audio channel 169, and streaming worldwide onwww.1485.org.za. To listen to all previous shows, log onto PodOmatic.

Follow Graeme Joffe on Twitter: @joffersmyboy

Disclaimer: ZwemZa encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on ZwemZa are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of ZwemZa.

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One Comment
  1. Well said! Mr Adriaanse “thinks” their insurance will cover it? Excuse me? He should KNOW what his insurance covers! It’s his responsibility to KNOW this sort of thing! Just like awarding a gala of this magnitude to the Nelson Mandela municipality means it was SSA’s responsibility to make sure the pool had been properly maintained! It’s time people like Mr Adriaanse and SSA started being more pro-active and less reactive!

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