Clock Ticks On Shylock, Strategy & Status Quo; Time To Do The Right Thing, USA & Rest

New kid off the blocks - by Patrick B. Kraemer

“The Americans will always do the right thing… after they’ve exhausted all the alternatives.” Whether Winston Churchill actually spoke those precise words is a matter of debate and doubt among those who research such things, more certain is the fact that they have often been attributed to the British leader of yore and in war. In the context of swimming, let’s hope the words ring true, and not only from the USA

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“The Americans will always do the right thing… after they’ve exhausted all the alternatives.” Whether Winston Churchill actually spoke those precise words is a matter of debate and doubt among those who research such things, more certain is the fact that they have often been attributed to the British leader of yore and in war. In the context of swimming, let’s hope the words ring true, and not only from the USA



deeply disappointed in this analysis. Good people are in fact working to affect change. Pitchforks and torches against the castle are not the only tactics that work. No nation or federation has yet dared to close the loopholes in DC rules that we closed domestically. We deserve better.

Craig Lord

Separate issues, Pegasus. The analysis is at pains to note the good work, as reported elsewhere. The elephant in the room is being ignored. FINA is failing and is being propped up by the diplomacy of go along to get along, plus support for middle east influences that within two years will be in charge of world swimming. The clock ticks. If you can tell me that the good people are winning at USAS and it is only a matter of time before they speak up and force much-overdue change at FINA, I’ll listen to what you have to say. Until then, we have to assume that the status quo lives on. I look forward to a day when that is not the case. If you can tell me that you think it fair that the USA plugs an important loop hole but that same attitude does not prevail among the very people at international level that USA Swimming is propping up, I won’t believe you. The clock ticks, as I suggest – and the last Churchill quote in the piece is entirely pertinent to the situation, where ‘best’ simply won’t get the job done – you have to do what’s necessary … and we’re along way from that right now. Meanwhile, it was torches at the moat etc that changed the game in 1998 at the height of the China crisis; and it was the same on shiny suits and many other issues. Each time so-called diplomacy within the system is left to its own devices, change is either non-existent or slow enough to have those holding the torches catch up, zip by and continue to rally for change in timely fashion. Believe me, that is not how I would have it. I would much rather be writing about a world-class world cup season and all those excelling on it: that’s not where we are this season.

The world cup: obvious for many years that it is the wrong model; it is not working as a showcase for the sport … and yet there it is in all its mediocrity as the event offering the biggest prize money (and then only for a couple of swimmers a season)… and if there has been any efforts from USA, AUS, GER, GBR etc etc to change that, it is not at all apparent, for there the event still is many seasons on, same old, same old, with the news editors of the world almost completely ignoring it. This past season, Bill Sweetenham raised the issue of what swimming would look like not far down the line if the status quo prevails … what was the reaction? Silence, the man totally ignored by FINA even after Chuck W wrote of his support for what Sweetenham was suggesting. And FINA’s only reaction: take the world cup long-course in pre-Olympic season: yet another reactionary intervention that turned out to be a disaster for the sport, with just about every swim below the podium in every event across the board nothing that would constitute showcase if making a showcase of swimming is what they had in mind. Sorry, Pegasus, but I’ve heard the ‘good people are working at it’ line for a long time with no sign that any of that is turning into a desire to get FINA to do the right thing, submit to review and change its ways. As Sweetenham said, the intention was not to replace FINA, was not to sink it all, but to get the ship to change course in a radical and meaningful fashion. No sign of that whatsoever.

Deep disappointment is a very apt term but I think you’ll appreciate that it is a lot more appropriate to refer to FINA’s performance and the response of federations in those terms than this analysis (which accompanies a body of work that includes a great many acknowledgements of the fine things that flow from USA Swimming and its members).


I’m simply a distant observer but it has been obvious to me for some time that swimming is falling seriously behind(arguably it is irrelevant in the wider sporting landscape save for the Olympics) due to poor governance at the international level. The crux of the problem as I see it is that none of the leading federations make it a strategic priority to further the sport globally. USA Swimming is in a state of perpetual smugness because it is and has been since anyone could care to remember the number one swimming margin by a considerable margin. Swimming Australia mainly directs its efforts at challenging USA Swimming as the number one nation. British Swimming is overwhelmingly concerned with winning its fair share of medals at the major meets. Why, hell, they even won a relay at the recent WC’s! The disengagement of the major federations has created a vacuum which has allowed the peripheral nations to capture FINA which has inevitably led to mediocrity, a lack of accountability and decision-making that far too often fails to respect the traditions of swimming. The evidence is overwhelming: the lack of financial transparency, the suits debacle, the disaster that is the World Cup, the half-hearted efforts to deal with drug cheats, the cravenness of agreeing to midnight finals in Rio ……

If there is to be radical change it won’t come from the federations because whether it is USA Swimming, Swimming Australia, British Swimming, the DSV etc. we are talking about officialdom and officialdom whether it be in sports or other domains tends to stick with the status quo. It is up to the major stakeholders – swimmers and coaches. The coaches have set up the WSA and good luck to them. Now we need to see swimmers get better organized, become more vocal and to throw their weight behind the creation of a new governing body.

Craig Lord

Spot on, longstroke


The big picture is better seen from the distance. So to be a distant observer can be the best position to make a right judgement, longstroke 🙂
I would call myself a sidewalk observer and as such I would rather associate with pegasus. National Federations especially such large like US has plenty domestic things to do and whenever it comes to the issues with global governing it looks natural to me to leave it for the consideration of International Relations Commettee. This ship is too big to make sharp turns and nobody yet knows how WSA will evolves and if it is the only possible solution to current problems and if it is the only productive form of organization of International swimming community. It is a lot of uncertainties with WSA. For instance. Since FINA is officially recognized by IOC then young swimmers will willing to participate in FINA qualification process in order to be an Olympian. They are not professional yet and are too far from politics. Will the WSA coach refuse to work with such swimmer? There would be money loaded federations that will not recognize WSA and will stay with FINA. So the other WSA like oriented federations should develop special type of relationships with them. A lot of politics will be involved. If WSA as professional organization plans coexist with national federations regardless the associations they may form (like tennis model) then sidewalk observer will have less questions. No WSA wants FINA to be gone and that confuses me because I don’t see from my not involved position how technically it can happen. If some federations consider the situation cautiously then I would not blame them. What I know only that WSA organizers want to fix the problems with international swimming and they are saying right words so far and I wish them success in their noble endeavour.

Craig Lord

Yozhik, to be clear: no-one is expecting USA Swimming to jump ship immediately and put all its eggs in the WSA basket. What everyone should expect USA Swimming to do is speak out and show leadership. It has yet to do that with and, most importantly, within FINA for fear of paper tigers that might spoil its strategy. I find that approach illogical and also part of the problem. What USA Swimming and others should be insisting on, with no compromise, is the kind of review Mr Hershman (link below) and such people could bring to the table; they should be insisting on transparency; they should be insisting on professional management; they should be insisting that the Bureau and its director observe the rules and constitution of FINA (when they know very well that that has not been the case on several substantive issues of late). They are doing no such thing, thus placing at risk the very federation they are seeking to protect, while allowing the sport of swimming to be held back, to be damaged and to be on a bad course when it comes to the next 20 years of governance if the status quo prevails.
Mr Hershman and Co here:
TO ALL: worth listening to and watching all two hours of the video – indeed to any who truly want to understand what the problem at FINA is – yes, I do mean FINA – they should watch from beginning to end and observe the difference between Flynn and the other three panellists/ Flynn and Senators, particularly Mr Blumenthal – and think ‘accountability’ throughout …
The senator to Mr Flynn: “Sometimes inaction and silence signal complicity and there’ll be a point where in effect U.S. Soccer is complicit in the ongoing lack of reform and action. You may have no direct control of it but I respectfully suggest that may be something you want to consider more seriously.”

Meanwhile, pegasus has a right to his privacy in this world of monikers that betray no-one’s real identity if that is what works best but I can tell you that pegasus is no sidewalk observer; that pegasus is a reader with much knowledge – I feel for the emotion of that reader on this one but stick to the view that USA Swimming – which does so much more than so many other federations for the betterment and good of swimming – could do much more on the intl governance front, starting with the honesty shown in the video above, which requires avoiding the position taken by Mr Flynn – one guaranteed to keep a whole heap of bad stuff in place even though that may not be the intention.
I write all the above not as a sidewalk observer but as someone who knows how it works within FINA. Deals are done, decisions taken without reference to the people who have a right to a say under the rules and constitution, etc etc – and much of that activity comes down to what’s in it for those doing the wheeling and dealing and making sure they stay in their positions for life – It isn’t pretty and it is a long way from where it should be.


I feel like a stranger at the bohemian party who is getting in a very awkward situation whenever he opens mouth to say something streetwise. Do you actually want any “observers” (incompetent most of the time) to comment on your (angree or to put it calmly tense most of the time) articles and comments?

Craig Lord

Sure Yozhik, but don’t expect me not to give my opinion based on the knowledge of the situation that I have. I take it that you come here to be informed as well as fed obtuse views from the terraces 🙂 Believe me, I’m very calm: I see it very clearly and have done for many years. I am merely stating facts; they are not opinions nor lonely, isolated views… I would avoid thinking you know my mood and mind: you’ll get it wrong 🙂


🙂 🙂 You will be surprised by the reason I am here. And it is very imbarassing. As in Luigi’s case I started with water polo. Being a slow swimmer with a strong breaststroke kick I was put at goalkeeper position. When I was knocked out twice in the face by direct penalty shot (this sport can be very violant and cruel) my parents said that that is enough. Now as a long lasting consequences I am posting here. But some my friends are joking that it was blessing in disguise and those two shots put finally my brains in order 🙂

Craig Lord

🙂 ah, if only a few more FINA folk had played water polo and suffered blows to the head:

Lawrie Cox

Thanks Craig for the kind words. However I am sure that it falls on deaf ears. The campaign in Aus from the current Board is to continue the Status Quo (read mediocrity). As has been quoted to me by a number of key people we cannot support you as you challenge the current Board too much and are not a team player.
Words I totally agree with as a company director(in my paid employment) I am not there to be a part of ‘team noddy’ agreeing to all without question or challenge.
I guess the real challenge for WSCA is that nothing will change with current structure in the Federation other than tow the FINA line.
As Longstroke put earlier the Federations need change and to support the direction. A long road ahead.

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