We always like to hear from you. To make it easier to get in touch we’ve brought some of our popular letters to the editor feature online. Every month we’ll feature one of the letters that appears in Swimming Times magazine online to allow you to have your say and leave comments on issues that relate to you.
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This year, as for a number of years past, Swimming Times has reported (page 14 of the June issue) a conflict regarding clubs in the National Arena League ‘borrowing’ swimmers that do not genuinely belong to them to enhance their performance and reputation.
This is a major problem throughout the league and the dispute at the national final is merely the tip of a massive iceberg. Many clubs for many years have been ‘borrowing’ swimmers whose only real connection with the club is that they get on the bus on the way to the Arena competition.
They do not train with the club. They do not pay a club membership fee. They do not swim for the club in other competitions, such as county championships, regional championships and open meets promoted by clubs. Yes, they are registered as members of the club but that is merely a paper exercise to enable them to swim for the club under Arena rules. The League is brought into disrepute.
One of the unseen consequences of this behaviour, especially where the club ‘borrows’ a substantial number of swimmers (perhaps more than half its team), is that the club’s own swimmers, who trained with it and swim for it in other competitions, are left out of the Arena League. They become disheartened. Conflicts arise. They leave the club. The club declines and becomes more and more dependent on ‘borrowed’ swimmers for its unjustified reputation.
I am merely reporting what I have seen for many years. Can it be stopped? Dream on. My own answer would be to say that you have to swim for the club that paid your fees to the ASA at the beginning of the year. That is a unique club and almost certainly the one you swim for in other competitions. (Of course there will be a need to allow for exceptional circumstances, such as when a swimmer moves from Aberdeen to Southampton.)