Games a waste of time – Smith
Bermuda's national swim coach Ben Smith believes it would have been pointless to enter the Island Games this summer, because all the results are meaningless.
Smith called the trip a waste of money, and said, in hindsight, the decision to travel to Aaland for the 2009 Games had been an equally bad idea.
The issue all comes down to the size of the pools which have been used in recent years, with most nations only able to provide a 25-metre pool. When timing pads are added the pool gets even shorter, making it illegal, meaning that times and possible records are not recognised.
“The issue that we are dealing with for this particular games is that the pool being used for the games is not the correct length,” said Smith.
“This means that any swim that is done in that pool will not be recognised for qualification purposes or for record applications.
“It would be very unfair to our athletes to train all year for the opportunity to compete overseas, to pay for this overseas opportunity and have the times not count.”
It was exactly the same two years ago in Aaland, and while Smith said called the Island Games ‘a great competition', he said the size of the pools was something that had to be rectified in the future.
“At the last Island games our team arrived at the competition only to find out that the pool was not legal and that their times did not count,” said the national coach.
“They (the team) won medals and represented Bermuda extremely well but the records they set could not be accepted and the times they swam could not be used for qualification to other meets.
“When swimmers have spent over 20 hours per week to prepare to race in the summer we need to make sure that their opportunity will count.
“This time around we know the pool situation before the planning for the team began so we could make the decision in advance.
“The Island Games is a great competition and we have been very happy with our involvement and our results in the past but the pool length situation needs to be rectified going forward to insure fair competition.”
Not that Bermuda's swimmers will miss out on international competition this summer, Smith is determined that the –Island's best will be tested at events that allow them to –develop
“All swimmers that would have been attending the Island Games will have another competition to attend that will suit their level of competition,” said Smith. “Although we won medals at the last Island Games we have to be aware of what is the best opportunity for our athletes to perform and to develop moving forward.
“We also won medals at our regional competitions and those opportunities are there again this summer.”
While swimmers won't test their mettle against the best from the other small islands, there are more important things on the horizon.
Olympic qualifying will be in its final stages, while other competitions such as the FINA Wolds, Pan Am Games, and Junior Commonwealth Games are all reachable targets for the local athletes.
“This is the final year before the Olympic games so we have different levels of competition for our athletes,” said Smith.
“Our elite swimmers will be attempting to qualify and will be participating at The FINA World Championships in July.
“They will be participating in several meets starting this weekend that will prepare them and also give qualification opportunities for Worlds and Pan American Games.
“The group following them, which has many of our junior elite level athletes and includes our new Junior athlete of the year Emma Franklin, will be participating in CCCAN which is a very high level regional age group competition.
“From this group we hope to have qualifiers for Junior Worlds and Junior Commonwealth Games which will be held in August and September.
“Our next set of competitors would be our development level that will be competing at the North Baltimore Aquatics Center Summer meet.
“This is the home team of Michael Phelps and will provide the perfect mix of competition and 50 meter pool exposure for these athletes.”
Swimming is scheduled to be back on the programme when the Games come to local shores in 2013.