Swimming bosses in hot water over slap

2008-08-29 00:00

The Swimming South Africa AGM takes place in Johannesburg today amid disturbing news about their management team.

The SSA executive will need to sort out a mess that is fast getting out of control after an incident that occurred at the World Short Course Swimming Championships in Manchester in April.

Sprinter Shaun Harris admitted this week he was involved in the incident.

He was sworn at by the manager of athlete development, Rushdee Warley, when he asked for a swimsuit. When he asked national coach Dirk Lange why Warley did not like him, he was told it was because he is “white and Afrikaans”.

Harris approached Warley on the pooldeck in front of Lange to confront him, and Lange slapped him. Harris was warned not to take the matter further and is reluctant to tell SSA about it.

But with further reports that both Lange and Warley did not perform well in Beijing, swimmers have started coming forward in an appeal to the SSA executive to get rid of them.

Weekend Witness contacted former national coach Wayne Riddin this week for his views about the incident in Manchester.

“This is shocking news — I cannot understand why Swimming South Africa did not listen to us a long time ago. … This same attitude seemed to lower the morale of the team in Beijing.

“I honestly believe the management of the SA team are the ones that must be accountable for not giving the swimmers every opportunity to be at their best in Beijing,” said Riddin.

“The problem is that a group of coaches met with the president, Jace Naidoo, and the CEO, Shaun Adriaanse, way back at the 2007 National Championships in Durban to highlight the issues facing SA swimming from their side. It is sad that there was no response after this meeting and that the situation got even worse with a clash that eventually took place in Korea at the training camp between Gerhard Zandberg and the U.S.-based swimmers.”

With the South African Short Course Championships in Germiston next week, there is likely to be an inquiry into the conduct of Lange and Warley. But morale still seems to be low because a number of swimmers are missing from the entries, including world champion Roland Schoeman and Lyndon Ferns.

Pietermaritzburg star Darian Townsend, who will be there, said” “Lyndon is ill and undergoing tests at the moment and Roland does not seem to be too motivated since we got back”.

“I am hoping to do well in a few events next week. I want to see if I can get some more best times before I fly back to Arizona after the championships.”

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