Follow us on:

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn YouTube


Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo, Japan Swimming official Paul Fanchette feels honoured to represent Seychelles |02 August 2021

Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo, Japan     Swimming official Paul Fanchette feels honoured to represent Seychelles

A proud Fanchette

All Seychellois athletes at the rescheduled Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo, Japan, reached the end of their campaign on Friday, but for swimming coach and official Paul Fanchette he was still in action until yesterday when the competition ended. He surely has surpassed the performances of many fellow local coaches and officials at these Games.

Since the Olympic Games are seen as the pinnacle of sport, it’s the dream of many to represent their country at these Games. For many, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but for Fanchette it is a different story. He has missed just one Games since making his debut in 2000 when he accompanied swimmer Kenny Roberts and Benjamin Lo-Pinto to Sydney, Australia as coach.

Four years later (in 2004) in Athens, Greece, he was there as coach for swimmers Bertrand Bristol and Shrone Austin.

He again made the Seychelles team as swimming coach in 2008 in Beijing, China and the two swimmers were Dwayne Didon and Shrone Austin.

After missing the 2012 Games in London where his daughter Aurelie Fanchette competed in the 200m freestyle clocking a personal best a time of 2 minutes 23.49 seconds (2:23.49) at the age of 14, coach Fanchette travelled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with swimmers Alexus Laird and Adam Viktora in 2016.

And in 2021, he is in Tokyo, Japan competing in the rescheduled Games originally slated for 2020 but postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. This time, Fanchette is on the other side of the fence as one of the international officials. He is a member of the Fédération Internationale de natation (Fina) technical swimming committee.

Since July 25, Fanchette has been roaming the deck of the Olympic Aquatics Centre and Sports NATION caught up with him on Whatsapp for an interview which he gladly accepted.

Asked to describe his Olympic experience as coach and official, 55-year-old Fanchette said:

“As a coach apart from not supposed to be on pool deck during competition there are designated places you can watch and monitor your swimmers during competition. Apart from that you can be at the warm down pool at any time. However, you want to be with your swimmers to analyse/discuss race strategies, for consultations, and during the time of celebration and also deception after races,” Fanchette told Sports NATION.

He added: “As an official it's completely different as you are present to ensure that the rules of the sport are respected, ensure that all swimmers are treated fairly and equally, ensure that all swimmers respect each other and treat each other fairly at least in the call rooms prior to their competition.

“You have to be and stay neutral during competition, help create the ideal environment to ensure that all swimmers get the chance to perform to the best of their ability. Deception comes whenever you are involved in a disqualification of a swimmer, especially those with chances of winning medals. Our responsibilities are very challenging especially nowadays where the media and technology are concerned. One good example is when you look at big events, example the World Championship, the amount of technology involved on the pool deck, above and in the water, when and if you have to call for a disqualification you have to be ready to prove to everyone that yes the swimmer(s) did breach the rules. There is this process of team manager making a protest, making an appeal and finally you have to explain and convince the Fina bureau of appeal committee that yes rules were breached. One needs to be and stay focus and alert and you must be 100% convinced and sure before making a call for disqualification. You must be updated with the rules at all times.

“The best thing about officiating is it depends what duties you are assigned and your position of the pool deck, so you get to see the swimmers, interact with them and may get their autograph.”

In fact, Fanchette has travelled around the world to officiate at many swimming competitions since 1993.

His first major international coaching accredited certification was in 1996 through a three-month coaching course through the Olympic Solidarity in Hungary followed by various local and international short coaching courses through both Olympic Solidarity programmes and Fina.

In regards to officiating, he’s been a Fina accredited official since 1993 when Seychelles hosted the Fourth Indian Ocean Islands Games (IOIG). He has been a member of the Confédération Africaine de natation (Cana) swimming technical committee since 2013 and since 2017 is the secretary of the Cana swimming technical committee which also qualified him since 2017 as member of the Fina technical swimming committee.

The Fina technical swimming committee also comprises Carol Zaleski (chairman). Virendra Nanavati (vice chairman), Andrea Thielenhaus (honorary secretary), Aaron Peirsol (athlete representative), Raúl José Araya, Ryan Arblaster, Daphne Bird, Lesley Huckins, Louise Leblanc, Sonia O’Neal, Shigeo Ogata, Ivan Varvodic, Haoran Yuan, Tatiana Zhukova, Craig Hunter (events sub-committee), Camelia Potec (events sub-committee), António Silva (events sub-committee), Mae Chen Tang (events sub-committee), Dale Neuburger (bureau liaison).

He had before 2017 been selected on some occasions to officiate at some Fina championships but since 2017 as a Fina technical swimming committee member he has taken part in all Fina championships as referee, judge and also act in other positions associated with championships.

In 2019 in Jinan, China, he officiated for the first time in one of the swimming world cup series as a Fina delegate.

The next championship will be the Fina World Short Course in Abu Dhabi in December 2021 where he will be one of the four referees.

“I feel honoured and privileged to have had the opportunity to represent Seychelles over the past few years and I hope with the support of the Seychelles swimming will be able to continue for some more years. I thank everyone for the support expressed throughout the years, especially the Seychelles sports authorities and my family,” said Fanchette who also followed a five-month coaching course in Reunion in 2007.


Gerard Govinden

More news