Of Course I’d Trust Swimming New Zealand… Yeah Right

By David

West Auckland Aquatics spent last weekend in Sydney at the New South Wales Swimming Championships. The meet was all that I remember: well run, good swimming and in one of the world’s truly most impressive swimming pools. Getting there this time was better than in the old days. It was my first experience on an Emirate’s A380. That’s the double deck flying mammoth built by Airbus. It’s a super airplane. Even the economy seats are spacious and comfortable. The food is good and the entertainment system is the best I’ve come across. Being an amateur pilot the camera showing the pilot’s view of our take-off, cruise and landing was irresistible.

It was good to get away from the petty politics of small town Swimming New Zealand. Watching Huegill and Rice ply their trade was a breath of fresh air. It’s the way I used to feel about swimming in the United States. Good people doing good things. One day, I hope, competitive swimming in New Zealand will be conducted with the same open honesty. It’s a vital ingredient in the preparation of champion athletes. But swimming in New Zealand is not like that, not by a long chalk; it’s secretive, scheming and political. It reflects the character and personality of those responsible for its management and direction.

I think I may have mentioned before that I have never met Jan Cameron. Well that’s no longer true. On Saturday morning in Sydney I became aware of a stunningly thick Australian accent behind me saying, “Hello David.” I wondered who on earth it was. A quick look around and those incredible red glasses Cameron wears revealed the mystery caller’s identity. Jan Cameron had stopped to say hello. Whether it was me or the Club’s newest member, Athens Olympic Gold Medallist, Rhi Jeffrey that she wanted to talk to is still being debated by members of the West Auckland Aquatics team.

However, if it was me and if the purpose of saying hello was to proffer an olive branch, let there be no misunderstanding, the damage wrecked by Cameron on the sport of swimming in New Zealand will not be excused by a poolside chat. For a decade Cameron’s regime has won nothing at three Olympic Games. She has taught a generation of New Zealand’s best swimmers how to lose. Winning and losing are both learned behaviours. Cameron has taught the sport of swimming in New Zealand especially well. We have become masters in losing Olympic swimming races. Responsibility for New Zealand’s barren performance lies exclusively at Cameron’s door. She demanded the right to be in sole charge. She walked over and discarded good people in her quest for power. And now it hasn’t worked; now she’s sitting on top of a pile that’s beginning to pong; now she can accept sole responsibility. No amount of poolside small talk can excuse the destruction Jan Cameron has wrought.

While she was wandering around the Sydney Olympic Aquatic Centre I did wonder what her mates in New Zealand were planning. After all, the SPARC review is imminent. Perhaps Coulter and Byrne were scheming a way of avoiding asking the Regions for permission to move to the next stage of Project Vanguard. Perhaps they were planning a sting. We are nearly in March and we have still not heard how they plan to obtain Regional approval to progress their pet Project. Something is not right. They are up to no good; of that I am certain. It’s the way they do things. I bet every Region in New Zealand Swimming that Coulter and Byrne are working out a way of dodging the need to have prior approval and force through the abolition of the Regions. The only problem is I have no idea what their plan could be. Few, if any of us, think the way they do.

However, if I did think the way they do, how would I try and sneak Project Vanguard’s abolition of the Regions through with minimal accountability. Perhaps I might wait until the Annual General Meeting and in one hit seek the approval of the meeting to move to Stage Four and approval of Stage Four. That way the risk of rejection would only be faced once. That way the intent of Project Vanguard to abolish Regional powers might get lost in all the other Annual Meeting affairs. It stands to reason the attention paid to Project Vanguard at an AGM will be less than at a meeting called to address only Project Vanguard. The more I thought about it, the more certain I became. Something along those lines is what they will try. It’s the way devious buggers work. Every action they take confirms the importance of holding on to a Regional structure. The passion with which individuals like Coulter, Byrne and Cameron pursue the abolition of Regional power confirms starkly the importance of its preservation.