Burning Lies Led To My Silent Cries

By David

I desperately hope this post is a bunch of lies. I want the story to be a colossal misunderstanding; an error based on misinterpretation and ignorance. Because, if I have not made a mistake; if this post is true, the Coulter gang have plunged to depths I would never have imagined possible.

In previous articles, Swimwatch has identified examples of the Coulter gang’s deception. Remember the Project Vanguard committee that the AGM ordered to be made up of three Swimming New Zealand appointments and three representatives from the Regions. Annual General Meeting remits, however, have never worried the Coulter gang. That Committee now has five Coulter gang “yes-men” and only one Regional appointee. Remember the assurance given by Coulter and Byrne and Hemsworth that their Project Vanguard had no intention of stripping the Region’s assets. They told us the assets would remain in the disbanded Regions. And yet while they mumbled their assurance they knew that the law requires all Regions to have a clause in their Constitutions, that in the event of the Regions being wound up, their assets will be transferred to SNZ. That is the law. Remember the famous minutes of the Project Vanguard meetings posted on the SNZ website. When the Regions complained that the “minutes” bore no relation to what had gone on in their meetings, Hemsworth wrote back declaring that the “minutes” were not “minutes”; they were simply “notes” of what she thought the meetings had decided. The whole Project Vanguard exercise has been marked by deception and dishonesty.

However, if my discovery today is accurate, the Swimming New Zealand Board and their management team have stooped to a new low, way below the dishonesty of anything we have published before. If our findings are true the SNZ Board must not survive. It cannot be trusted. Here is what I think I found.

On Tuesday, 18 January this year, I wrote a Swimwatch story called “In the Vanguard of Political Intrigue”. The story began like this.

Approval from the membership will continue to be sought at the end of each phase of the project seeking continuation to the next. Any resulting outcomes or recommendations requiring constitutional change will need to be considered and approved by a Special General Meeting of SNZ.

“On Sunday 12 September 2010 this remit was passed at the Swimming New Zealand AGM. There are 22,000 members of Swimming New Zealand. Everyone should pin a copy of the resolution to their bedroom wall. It is the sport’s lifeboat on a sinking Titanic. The Board, its Chairman, Byrne and Cameron are required to obtain the permission of the regions before they can move Project Vanguard to the next stage. The current stage will conclude in February when Cathy Hemsworth submits her report to the SNZ Board.”

I think you will all agree that seems pretty clear. On Sunday 12 September 2010 the AGM of Swimming New Zealand passed a remit requiring SNZ to seek the approval of the membership before Project Vanguard could proceed to a new stage. The Regions ordered the Board to follow a clearly defined course and the Board is compelled to comply. Well, Hemsworth has now handed in her report and there is no sign of the Swimming New Zealand Board recognizing the obligation that – “Approval from the membership will continue to be sought at the end of each phase of the project seeking continuation to the next.” Instead the Board is giving every indication it intends to ignore a specific instruction from the membership. They are acting illegally.

So, I decided to write a story about the Board’s cavalier disregard of an AGM remit. I just hate it when people disregard the rules of the game like that. Their arrogance puts us all at risk. We live in a society where the “rule of law” provides a framework that keeps our daily lives honest. When people operate outside the “rule of law”, none of us are safe. This was clearly fertile territory for a new Swimwatch post.

So I went again to the Sunday, 12 September 2010 AGM minutes posted on the SNZ website. And do you know what I found? THE MINUTES HAVE BEEN CHANGED. THE REMIT REQUIRING REGIONAL APPROVAL IS GONE. HISTORY HAS BEEN CHANGED. This is what Swimming New Zealand has put in its place.

“Project Vanguard

Mr Berge tabled a retrospective motion:


“That project vanguard seeks the ratification from this Annual General Meeting to continue this process recognising the independent regional funding streams. Any resulting outcomes or recommendations requiring constitutional change will need to be considered and approved by a Special General Meeting of Swimming New Zealand”

Chairman Project Vanguard Committee/Taranaki”

No mention any longer of “approval from the membership” continuing “to be sought at the end of each phase of the project seeking continuation to the next”. The original wording is still available in this document on Swimming New Zealand’s website, at the bottom of page one and the top of page two. In the event that Swimming New Zealand remove the remit from this document as well–as they have with the contents of the minutes–we have taken a screenshot of the paragraph:

Would you believe it? Coulter and his conspirators consciously resolved to take down the Minutes of an Annual General Meeting and eliminate a clause they found difficult. They knew they would lose a vote so they changed the rules; at the stroke of a pen they altered history. They replaced what actually happened, what was actually approved, with a bald-faced, deliberate lie. The original words now only exist in this supplementary document.

Does their arrogant disregard for the rules, for the Constitution, for the membership and for the sport, know no limits? They are no better than common criminals. They have relinquished all moral authority to be anywhere near the Board Room of an important New Zealand sport. They are despicable and deserve only our contempt.

So, what should happen to a Board and management team who alter Annual General Meeting minutes; who don’t like the instructions given to them by their stakeholders and who consciously ignore orders by obliterating them from history? Is that the sort of management team, is that the standard of honesty expected from an organization that takes $2 million a year from the public purse? On the Board of SNZ there are lawyers and commercial people who are expected to maintain ethical standards way superior to this example. What on God’s good earth are they doing? This is not the way SNZ’s main sponsor, State Insurance, runs its business. I’m pretty certain the executives of State would be appalled to learn their $300,000 was going to a bunch of crooks. SNZ’s Wellington Head Office is in need of a clean out. The top floor of the organization is broken beyond repair. It stinks. They should leave now before they cause any more damage.

  • While we are discussing the lies told by Swimming New Zealand here is a quote put up on their website tonight

    “The 23 year old Boyle, coached by Mark Regan,”

    I would imagine Regan must be wondering why Boyle doesn’t turn up to training all that often. Perhaps it’s because she lives and trains at Cal in California.

    Why is SNZ incapable of telling the truth?

  • Chris

    Hi David

    Speaking of watching the SNZ Opens on TV …. am I the only one who was particularly disturbed by some despicable behaviour in the Mens 100m back?

    When is SNZ going to stop indulging Mr Bell who just continues this long string of vile behaviour, playing up to the cameras (no doubt) and acting like a spoilt child? With a form book that includes discipline issues on at least 3 senior tours, any other national sporting body with any integrity would have insured that he was not eligible for the next senior tour, regardless of consequence.

    Watching his petulance on TV, the easily detected “f-words” (it beats me why Sky didn’t edit all that) at the end of the race, and then a boorish interview, full of excuses (has he ever done an interview that wasn’t full of excuses), it was just embarrassing.

    But added to that, why did the Starter let him get away with coming up very very late onto the blocks after the others were being held? I am sure (if my memory serves me correctly) that he should have been stood down. I just get the feeling that people are too scared to put their foot down when it comes to Mr Bell. This does our sport (and him) no favours.

  • Chris. Thank you for your comments. It has been an interesting week. I plan to do a SW round up this weekend. The men’s 100 backstoke and the disgraceful selection bias of the Coulter gang will feature prominantly. I must say my heart goes out to Garath Kean and his Coach Gary Hurring. They deserve better.


  • swimfan

    I too saw the swimming on TV, disgraceful behavour by Daniel Bell… not sure what is happening with Garath Keen, Jan and John said he was going, can you enlighten us

  • Chris

    I have only just picked up on the selection issue.

    I read the SwimNews article again because I hadn’t registered what that meant, and then saw the Herald article. So are you saying that potentially Gareth Kean can be bumped off in the 100? There doesn’t seem to be any provisions for bumping in the selection criteria.

    My friend (the one that hates Swimwatch!!) says that a couple of Australians have also come out of retirement and are in stand-down and can’t swim in their Trials, but there is no way that they could potentially bump someone who has earned a place in their Trials.

  • olivia k

    long time listener, first time caller…

    wait so… you can now qualify at the national meet and now be de-selected or not selected for someone who wasn’t there? Isn’t that a complete reversal of the idea that came out a few years ago that you have to be able to perform at the right time on the right night? I am confused.

  • We are all confused. Even the Coulter gang don’t seem to know what they are doing. I know anyone who swims at the Millennium Institute and can blow bubbles under the water – you’re on the team. It’s got a name. NEPOTISM.

  • I see of the 22 races swum so far at this Nationals 8 races have been won by Millennium Institute swimmers and 14 have been won by swimmers trained elsewhere. $1.6 million to win eight races – thats $200,000 a race. Gee – that’s money well spent.

    True we have a couple of days to go, but the stats are not looking good.

  • Legally Swimming

    Swimming has become a joke!

    It is no small wonder that there are smaller crowds at this years Opens, then I would expect at a lawn bowls competition. Where have the crowds gone?? Is it because they are sick of the drama? I guess watching a swimmer swear and carry on like a prized brat would put most parents off. But where are the rest of the crowds? No wonder SPARC have asked for a review of SNZ and more importantly the High Performance Centre – they will continue to have to bail this flagging sport out for ever if they continue with this regime.

    I use the word regime to describe SNZ because that is exactly what it is. They have the puppets on the board and the boss pulls all the strings from her High Performance chair. Byrne sits in Wellington just to say two words “Yes Jan”. She reminds me of Benito Mussolini in the way she runs SNZ and the swimmers. Swimmers are taught to fear and grovel to her wishes because if you get on the bad side of Jan Cameron (Mussolini) your swimming career is over…

    Lets compare two swimmers from the High Performance Centre who I have found out actually live together – Daniel Bell and Kane Radford. Now Bell is a talented swimmer do not get me wrong, but after being sent home from three International events and watching his performance in the 100m Backstroke you would think SNZ would have actually sat this kid down and said ” look Daniel, pull your head in and do what you do best and just swim”. Your not on Shortland St, everyone doesnt need to see you perform like the proverbial “prized prat”. He is lucky he actually qualified at all for the 100m Back clearly moving after the whistle. Why was he not DQ?? One guess – Jan Cameron (Mussolini). He is her and Scott Talbots poster boy. How else can you explain why he was the only swimmer put forward for the NZOC scholarship. Dont worry that Gareth Kean or Natalie Wiegersma are ranked higher in the world. When you put a sport into dispute not once, not twice but three times and get a scholarship of that substance it stinks of favouritism of the highest degree.

    Now everyone knows in earlier posts that Kane Radford has had a run in with Jan (Mussolini). However while i was one of a handful of people watching the Sunday finals i heard over the PA that Radford had been selected to go to the World Champs for the 5km. This is the same race that Mussolini and her cronies had said that Radford wasnt fast enough to attend even after beating all of the Aussies. What has happened there? Maybe i thought, Jan and Radford had patched everything up. How wrong was I. Watching the 800m Freestyle finals last night on TV i was watching the swimmers being called out with names and their ambitions and titles with Jans voice ringing in my ears, until Radfords lane where his name was stated and that was that.. Was my TV sound broken?? Oh no – Mussolini just had nothing to say about the kid – not that he was going to the World champs for the 5km, or looking to go to the London Olympics like Jonathan Pullon in Lane 3 for the 10km… Someone who im pretty sure has always finished behind the likes of Phillip Ryan, Radford and even Bryn Murphy in Open Water… It was plain to see that Radford was looked at with disdain and disgust by Jan (Mussolini).

    Two swimmers, identical age and talents (Radford would have to be in the Top 6 in the World to go to the World Champs for the 5Km) and yet treated so very differently. It was initeresting to see Jan defend Daniel on TV… How about pull the kid in line Jan or maybe use the NZOC scholarship to go to classes on behaviour. If any of my employees acted like he does, no matter how good they are they would be looking for new jobs. He is employed by SNZ – they need to sort him out before he becomes the Todd Carney of swimming.

    Something needs to change especially when some of our best swimmers from the past decade are disgusted in the way that Cameron (Mussolini) treats some of the current swimmers especially Radford. Lets hope that this SPARC review comes out and tells us what really needs to be said – Cameron you are poisoning the sport and are past your used by date. If not i know that there will be a lot of swimmers, and club officials that will be lost to SNZ.

    For the good of the sport, get rid of Jan Cameron!!

  • Chris

    Mmm. I must have missed that one.

    So they announced that Kane Radford is going to the World Champs Open Water? Hooray, some sense at last. In the 5km only? What about the 10km? Or is that just a sop to take the pressure off? He (and in my view Rhilip Ryan as well) needs to do the 10km at Worlds because as that Sports Tribunal case argued, a non-nomination to the Worlds is also a non-nomination to the Olympics.

    Frankly, Open Water at the Olympics is the one event that we have a genuine prospect of doing really well in, if not medalling. Why? It is new on the Olympic programme, it is an event tailor-made for Kiwis (i.e. nutter sports) and the vagaries of Open Water (just like Triathlon) are such that anyone on their day can medal – very, very different from pool swimming.

    The problem is that the people who have the power and control (aka Cameron), know nothing about Open Water.

  • After another night of finals the score card between swimmers coached in the Regions and swimmers coming out of Cameron’s Millennium Institute is 10 to the MI and 17 to the Regions. Perhaps now Cameron will see why Lydiard promoted the concept of strengthening the Regions – they do it better there. With no support, no money, on their own, the Regions right now are producing 70% more national champions than Cameron’s $1.6 million per year white elephant. And the Coulter Gang still believe in Project Vanguard.

    Oh, and by the way; I come from a family whose wife earned the silver fern running for this country and whose daughter earned it swimming for New Zealand and I have to say – it is obscene to see the way three Australians over at the Millennium Institute hand out Siver Ferns over there to any swimmer that trains in their pool. That emblem was earned by generations of New Zealanders the hard way. It is not for a trio of bloody Australians to demean.

  • Paul Kent

    I totally agree 150% about the silver fern… I didn’t win at Olympic level. I did, however, achieve an A standard QT.

    I was disappointed in coming 12th but extremely proud to represent NZ and to achieve wearing the silver fern .

    To see the silver fern given to HPC swimmers before representing NZ is extremely disappointing….it only cheapens our national emblem and the effort put in by our forbearers to achieving it.

    imagine giving every rugby player an all black status before they achieved the all blacks – it wouldnt happen.

    SNZ spent big $$ with the SNZ branding Logo (the “S” thingy)……why not sick with that for HPC and earn the silver fern!

  • Chris

    And another thing – talking about little white lies!

    Have you noticed that SNZ refers to the FINA World Champs in Shanghai as “a fully funded SNZ event” or words to that effect, which could carry the implication that SNZ fully funds the team travelling to the event. Right?

    Wrong. In fact … FINA pays for the entire cost of sending any team from anywhere in the world to its World Champs. Which includes all travel and accommodation, entries etc. SNZ pays absolutely nothing!! (I had previously asked you that question David, and I did some more research).

    So you would think that they would be trying to send the biggest team they could, particularly relays, given that if a relay team gets 12th place or better, they get an invite to the Olympics 2012 – a free ticket! Common sense would say “let’s do whatever we can to get those teams to the World Champs and you never know what we might achieve, just as we did 4 years ago in Melbourne”.

    Hmmm, note that I did say “common sense” and we are talking about SNZ, after all!

  • Chris, thank you for your comment. Our next Swimwatch story will discuss the aweful mess that passes for Cameron’s NZ team selection policy. SNZ may think her nepotism in selecting her staff is just fine. When the same motive dominates her selection of New Zealand’s national team, it’s a step too far.

    Today Swimwatch hired a firm of lawyers to investigate whether the SNZ wrongdoing of altering the AGM minutes was an act that could be legally challenged. We’ll let you know.

  • Chris

    Good on you David. To now elevate the deception of PV into the bastian of AGM minute taking and recording is breathtaking!!

    BTW – apparently, the reason why, miraculously, Kane Radford is now going to FINA OW World Champs in the 5km is because he is being represented by the swimmer’s association who are putting pressure on SNZ’s farcical selection policies. Word has it that SNZ caved in trying to avoid a challenge in the Sports Tribunal and that the swimmer’s association is pushing on for the 10km as well.

    A funny aside – a friend who was at the Opens last night was telling me that when Jan Cameron was making the team announcements (I assume some of the minor ones) they overheard someone saying “I do hope this is the last time we ever hear that horrible voice announcing our national team”.

  • Sensible Swimming


    If we are truly seeing the dying days of a discredited regime then my question for you is this – when the Coulter Gang as you call them (Cameron Byrne and Coulter) are all consigned to history, what are you going to write about then? If it wasn’t for the Greek Tragedy which is playing out at the moment I will almost miss reading your trenchant views. Lets not risk getting too far ahead of ourselves, I look forward to reading your observations about Opens and selection; not to mention your note above re. legal advice. Incidentally do you have any progress on getting hold of the Sweetenham report yet?