Archive for May, 2011

The Plot Unravels

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

By David

A comparison between the dishonesty that infected President Nixon’s White House and the goings on in Swimming New Zealand may appear to be a little farfetched. Certainly the international implications are very different. However the behaviour is extraordinarily similar. You may struggle to believe that, but consider this.

In the Nixon case the House Judiciary Committee voted on the 27 July 1974 to impeach the President on the grounds of obstruction of justice, abuse of power and contempt of the people. In the past four weeks correspondence originating from Swimming New Zealand demonstrates that this organization is equally able to obstruct justice, abuse power and treat its membership with contempt. Here is what happened.

On the 14 April 2011 the Bay of Plenty Region wrote to Cathy Hemsworth. It was a long email so we will only quote the relevant sections. Bay of Plenty’s email said:

At no stage in the process, have we been told that the record being kept was not for the purpose of keeping a true and accurate set of minutes, but rather to simply keep notes of relevant points. We do not accept that the practice meets the high standards of transparency and accountability required.

You will understand that we suspected that PV has deliberately set out to deceive the readers of PV material by leading those who did not attend PV meetings to a view that a free and open invitation had been extended to all who wish to participate in your next working group phase. We no longer have any confidence in the integrity of the process.

The motion passed at the SNZ AGM. The motion as recorded in the draft minutes is not recorded accurately Here is the correct motion:

Project Vanguard seeks the ratification from this Annual General meeting to continue this process recognizing the independent regional funding streams and the need for continued consultation and communication with all stakeholders. 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

We suggest that the draft minutes be removed as they are not accurate and their placement is likely to be construed as deliberate deception.

We ask for your confirmation:

  1. That it will be the regional delegates who will be voting at the end of Phase 3 with respect to the “Go/No Go” Vote.
  2. When that “Go/No Go” Vote will take place.”

The email was sent to Cathy Hemsworth. She was smart enough to realise answering an email like this was a minefield. She had travelled the length of New Zealand telling everyone that go/no go votes were an integral part of the Vanguard process and now her bosses denying their existence. That was too hot even for Hemsworth. Instead she passed it on to Coulter and Berge. I suspect their arrogance is such that their only thought was to put Bay of Plenty in its place. Here is their reply.

4 May 2011

Karen Nixon

Administration Officer

Swimming Bay of Plenty

Dear Karen,

Thank you for your email regarding the Project Vanguard process and how you think this can be improved.

Cathy Hemsworth, Project Manager, Project Vanguard, has referred your email correspondence to us. We apologise for the delay in replying but the changes in governance of the project, introduced recently, and the organisation of the next steps necessary to bring the project to the next delivery point have consumed a lot of our time.

We feel we have moved on, so have noted your comments on last year’s workshop notes and process, Cathy has explained her process well and we see most value in spending our efforts on moving forward. To that end we are now focussed on gathering data through our people participating in the new workshops.

Your requests as to what is published on the site regarding your meeting have been met and your people have been invited to engage in the new workshops. We are sorry if our attempts to do the best job possible and run a transparent process have been subject to some misunderstandings and we will endeavour to provide clearer expectations in future.

We believe we have little option but to notify draft minutes, clearly labelled as draft, of both the AGM and SGM, as that was what the SGM of October 2010 and Communication Strategy has clearly sought from the National Office. As to their accuracy, that remains a matter for the next General Meeting to determine, but they are as recorded by the minute secretary and the resolution is exactly what was presented on the PowerPoint slide at the AGM, that motion was moved by the Chair of Project Vanguard Committee seconded by Taranaki and passed with one vote against and one abstention being Bay of Plenty whose delegate we recall stated to being confused by the proceedings.

The Project continues to work under the guidance of the two remits 2008 and 2010.


Murray Coulter

SNZ President
Mark Berge

Chair of Project Vanguard Sub Committee

Here at Swimwatch we simply cannot comprehend the deception of this letter. Are Coulter and Berge crooks? In particular we refer to the following lines.

but they are as recorded by the minute secretary and the resolution is exactly what was presented on the PowerPoint slide at the AGM, that motion was moved by the Chair of Project Vanguard Committee seconded by Taranaki and passed with one vote against and one abstention

That is a lie. It is not true. The original draft minutes contained the remit as it is recorded in the Bay of Plenty letter. That is what was put to the Annual Meeting. That is what was passed by the Annual Meeting. That is what was included on the SNZ website. That is what was taken down and replaced by an altered version. The altered version did not include the requirement for a go/no go vote. SNZ altered a properly passed minute in order to replace it with a minute they found more convenient.

So let’s return to the President Nixon analogy. In that case the crime was breaking into the Democrat Party Headquarters. The serious mistake though was the President’s attempts to cover up the crime. It was for that he was about to be charged with obstruction of justice, abuse of power and contempt of the people.

In President Coulter’s case he has sanctioned the alteration of a properly passed remit. The serious mistake though is the President’s attempted cover up; for that is what this letter to Bay of Plenty is – it’s a cover up. We will wait for our lawyer’s report but our first impression is that President Coulter is about to be found as guilty as hell of a New Zealand commercial version of obstruction of justice, abuse of power and contempt of the stakeholders.

If that does prove to be the case, President Coulter should be under no misunderstanding, we will pass on the information we have to the Minister of Sport, to SPARC and to the Commercial Section of Auckland Central Police.

We recommend that any Board Member, any employee or any member of Swimming New Zealand being asked to participate in the deception that has become Project Vanguard seriously consider their position. Prudent Board members should resign. Employees and members would be wise to excuse themselves from Vanguard duties. The last thing any of them deserve is to become accessories to the folly of some very silly and misguided people.

The Sweetenham Report

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

By David

Well, it’s taken a while but we have finally obtained the Sweetenham Report. Swimming New Zealand published it on their website 20 days after being asked to provide it to Swimwatch. Of course there is no way Mike Byrne was ever going to admit it was our Official Information Act request that forced him to make the Report available. Instead of telling the truth his feeble email to the Regions sought to convey the impression of an in-touch organization sharing information with its stakeholders. It really is pathetic the way they forever choose spin over veracity.

Here at Swimwatch we were struggling to understand why Swimming New Zealand was intent on keeping the Sweetenham Report secret. The Report seemed pretty simple. It was written to set up a situation where Clive Rushton could be removed and Sweetenham’s mate, Jan Cameron, could take over high performance swimming in New Zealand. The Report provided SNZ with a philosophical basis to eliminate Clive and promote Jan to queen of the high performance realm. However, there didn’t seem to be any real need to keep that secret. Even the most casual observer of Swimming New Zealand politics understood that dynamic – Cameron’s burning ambition had made the path of her ascension to power very obvious.

And then we came across a couple of predictions that provided instant clarity; that would have caused Swimming New Zealand to bury the Sweetenham Report forever. On pages 54 and 58 Sweetenham makes two predictions that must have made his recommendations irresistible to a Swimming New Zealand and SPARC audience. Here is what Sweetenham promised. If Swimming New Zealand followed his recommendations and promoted the Millennium Institute, with Cameron in charge, he predicted this would happen.

“New Zealand’s performance at the next Olympics should be judged on 70% (minimum) of all swimmers attending the Games (all relays a must) make finals and the other 30% or better achieve semi-final status.”

It is not very well worded but what this meant was that with Cameron in charge of the Millennium Institute 70% of the swimmers attending the Beijing Olympic Games would make a final and the others would make it to the semi-finals. It’s stunningly bizarre, but do you know what? Coulter and Byrne believed him; they made Clive redundant and put Cameron in charge. Even worse they got SPARC to pay for the fairy tale.

So, what actually happened at the Games? Well, there were fifteen swimmers on that team. Two (Burmester and a relay) made finals. That’s 13% of the team compared to Sweetenham’s promise of 70%. Four (Snyders, Swanepoel, Coster and Ingram) made a semi-final – he got that right. And nine, only swam in the heats; something Sweetenham did not consider was even possible. His prediction of Cameron’s performance was 82% wrong. Is that because Sweetenham has no idea what he’s talking about or Cameron is not up the job? An error of that magnitude is probably a large chunk of both. Certainly Swimming New Zealand and SPARC bought into a con of Newman and Redford “The Sting” proportions. They financed Cameron’s Millennium experiment on a prediction that was never going to happen; that was delusional. And when the prediction was proven false – they hid the evidence. They refused to give the stakeholders the Sweetenham Report. Refused, that is until Swimwatch asked them to comply with the law of the land.

Sweetenham’s second promise was equally ridiculous. On page 54 here is what he said.

“Identify and set expected targets for 2010 Commonwealth Games, and sell to all stakeholders, “HAVE A FINALIST IN EVERY EVENT AT 2010 COMMONWEALTH GAMES”.”

Clive Rushton lost his job and Jan Cameron took over New Zealand’s High Performance program on the basis of a prediction that New Zealand would place a finalist in every event at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. It’s off the subject but if I was Clive Rushton I’d be asking for Sweetenham’s fee in “unfair dismissal” compensation. But, strange as it sounds, the Coulter Gang and SPARC swallowed the Sweetenham story – hook, line and sinker.

Not only that, but remember this is the Games that the Coulter Gang and Cameron tried to sell to New Zealand as a stellar success. In her Final Bulletin from New Delhi Cameron describes the New Zealand result in the following terms. “I believe that this was a successful campaign.” Now remember, when she said that she knew that hidden away in a Swimming New Zealand vault was a prediction that she would place a finalist in every event. So, was Cameron right? Was this a successful campaign? The table below shows all the events in New Delhi and the events where New Zealand placed swimmers in a final.

Who would have guessed it? Sweetenham had over predicted and Cameron had underperformed again. Instead of 32 finalists the New Zealand team had 13. That’s an error of 60%. How on earth could Cameron possibly describe this as a “successful campaign”?

So, there you have it. Cameron’s ascent to Millennium power was based on two predictions made in the Sweetenham Report. We now know that she delivered 82% and 60% short of those promises. The real problem though is that so many lives were changed as a result of the fabrication. Good people lost their jobs. Sons and daughters from all over New Zealand left their homes and moved to Auckland in pursuit of a dream and woke up to find out that’s all it was – just a dream. The whole thing was based on shifting sand.

I don’t have a lot of sympathy for SPARC. They had access to Sweetenham’s Report. They knew what it was predicting and obviously agreed that Cameron could deliver on those promises. They probably believe in Santa Claus as well. The waste of $4-$5million since then is really their own fault. Anybody who believes in a deception of Nigerian banking proportions deserves to lose their shirt.

At Swimwatch we have consistently supported investing in the infrastructure of good coaching that exists in New Zealand – of placing responsibility for New Zealand’s swimming performance on the huge coaching talents of Kent, Winter, Horst, Duncan, Speechley, Hurring, Bouzaid and a dozen others.

And so here are two Swimwatch predictions. Invest in New Zealand’s regional coaches and we will.


These predictions are a thousand times more realistic than the rubbish SPARC and Swimming New Zealand believed last time. How do we know this? Well, New Zealand’s best coaches are easily twice as good as the Cameron family. SPARC and Swimming New Zealand, you should try us. Unlike Cameron and Coulter and Byrne, we will not let you down. We have always over performed on our predictions.

Ineson Is A Mile Too Late

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

By David

At Swimwatch we are well aware that many people view our criticism of Swimming New Zealand and Jan Cameron as negative and destructive. Their loyalty to the Cameron cause is short sighted and misplaced. It certainly does nothing for those swimmers currently working to forge a successful swimming career. Here is an example of what we mean.

Just like every meet in the world; just like our Open Championships, the Olympic Games have qualifying standards. In the past few days FINA have published their 2012 Olympic “A” qualifying times. That’s the times FINA says have to be swum to get into the meet. These times won’t win you anything. In fact they won’t even get you in a final. But they are the times you must achieve to be allowed to go to the meet. The table below shows the qualifying cuts for the London Games.

The next table shows the winning time for each event at the recent New Zealand World Championship Trials. We have shaded the boxes where the New Zealand winner managed to record a faster time than the FINA qualifying cut; a time that would allow them to go to the London Olympic Games. Not to win remember; but sufficient for them to start the race.

What this means is, that one year from the Olympic Games, New Zealand has three swimmers fast enough to swim in the event. Bell equalled the qualifying time, Melissa Ingram was half a second inside the time and Lauren Boyle was inside the qualifying time in both the 400 and 800 meters. Boyle’s 400 swim was a healthy 1.74 seconds faster than the Game’s standard.

In the other events New Zealand’s best swimmers vary between 0.3% behind the qualifying time and 4.6% behind. The average deficit between our national champion and the time required to catch the London bound Boeing 747 is a pretty daunting 2.4%. What does that mean? Well, the American Swim Coaches Association says that a swimmer who averages 3% per annum improvement is making very good progress. If that’s true, it will take New Zealand’s best swimmers ten months to bridge the gap between where they are now and the FINA cut times. But wait – we don’t have ten months. There are a thousand things wrong with averages, but in most of the swimming program New Zealand will not have a representative at the London Games.

What is certain is that one year out from the London Olympic Games to have just three swimmers inside the FINA qualifying standard is a disgrace. Cameron has had close to ten years and $15 million dollars of our time and money and all she can show one year out from the Olympic Games is three swimmers qualified to attend the event. Remember also that one of them Lauren Boyle has spent the past four years training in the United States, about as far from Cameron as you can get.

While Cameron has anything to do with New Zealand’s best swimmers we have no chance. The whole program is in disarray. Coaches don’t talk to each other, personal dislikes are aired in public, personal relationships get in the way of performance, participants lead inappropriate lifestyles, swimmers abandon the program and shuttle between coaches, the Head Coach gets left off the World Championship team – Cameron’s regime has it all. It should be aired as a Sky Television lunch time soap, “How the Cameron World Turns” or perhaps “Rosedale 632”. For those of you who don’t know, that’s the address of the Millennium Institute.

Cameron’s program is long on spin, full of slogans and devoid of results. The sign on the side of the Swimming New Zealand equipment container says, “Off to Another World Class Swim Meet”. Swimming New Zealand claim their goal is “Excellence in Every Pool”. SPARC uses the word “podium” as a verb, adjective and noun to describe what they expect from Cameron for their $15 million dollar investment. But it is all a fraud, “a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” For London, it is too late. SPARC waited far too long to review Cameron’s regime. They should have ordered their review of Cameron’s performance years ago when Swimwatch first started pointing out her shortcomings. I guess they thought they knew better. I guess they believed the spin. In many respects, SPARC negligence makes them as guilty as Cameron. And now, London is lost. Palmer and Boyle have a chance because they are well coached in the United States. Ingram’s prodigious talent may be enough to earn her a result.

But for swimming in New Zealand it is time to turn our attention to Rio de Janeiro. It is time to give New Zealand’s best coaches the power and the money that has been concentrated and lost in Cameron’s hands. This time SPARC needs to listen to what we are saying. They didn’t last time and just look at the mess the sport is in. Here at Swimwatch we guarantee that men and women like Duncan, Speechley, Hurring, Winter, Kent, Miehe, Bouzaid and a dozen others, given the resources and the power, will take up the challenge and in the spirit of Lydiard, Robertson, Allen and Laing will deliver New Zealand their podium finishes. These are good and honest people. They will not let you down.

It would be fair to ask, “How come Swimwatch is so sure New Zealand’s regional coaches can do the job for us in four years time?” Have a shot at looking at the problem like this.

Swimming in New Zealand has a longer and larger experience of professional coaching than any other New Zealand sport. Sixty years ago New Zealand had an established pool of professional coaches; Krause, Doig, Hurring (Senior), Parkhouse, Keenan and Hamilton. Thirty years ago Anderson, Brown, Naylor, Beaumont, Cotterill and Laing assumed responsibility for New Zealand’s swimming performance. They did a pretty good job. Four of their swimmers won Olympic medals or broke world records. And today the group we mentioned earlier in this article have taken over coaching the sport. No sport in New Zealand can match that depth and history of coaching professionalism.

So what went wrong? Well, Jan Cameron is what went wrong. She came along and sold Swimming New Zealand and SPARC on a Project Vanguard of coaching. Effectively she said if New Zealand gave her all the money and all the power and concentrated resources on Auckland’s North Shore, success was certain to follow. The sport would perform better if it was centralized and socialized. Swimming New Zealand bought into that idea and SPARC said they would pay for it. To our eternal credit, Swimwatch said it would never work. And it hasn’t. Swimmers flocked to the Millennium honey pot. They came from Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Bay of Plenty, Wairarapa – from everywhere, chasing their swimming dream; believing Cameron’s spin and they won nothing. Of course they won nothing. The structure they had bought into was wrong.

What should Swimming New Zealand and SPARC have done instead? Instead of pouring money into the bottomless pit of the Cameron’s family employment agency they should have strengthened the structures that gave us world class swimmers like Loader, Moss, Kingsman, Jeffs, Kent, Winter, Simcic, Langrell and others. These swimmers were developed by professional coaches with no central money and no central power or support. The current structure needed to be improved and strengthened – that is certainly true. What it didn’t need was a Project Vanguard style take over by Cameron and her family. But that is what we got and the result is a mess of wasted talent and lost resources.

Where do we go from here? Well, we relegate Cameron’s High Performance Project Vanguard to swimming history. We ditch the whole thing. It’s time to move on. And we restore faith in the massive resource of coaching talent available to swimming in New Zealand. We invest Cameron’s millions in what Duncan is doing in Invercargill, Speechley is doing in Christchurch, Hurring in Wellington and so on. We strengthen our capitalist, federal structure of coaching. It is the philosophy that works in the United States. It is the structure that Lydiard used for running in Finland. It will work here as well. As we have said already – we will not let New Zealand down.

So there it is. That’s why we feel so strongly that the Cameron form of central control has been bad for New Zealand swimming. That’s why we support a return to a SPARC supported federal, free enterprise model. It is also why we stand so firmly against Project Vanguard being applied to the rest of the sport. Swimming New Zealand have made such a hash of running the elite program, why on earth would anyone consider for a second ceding them the rest of the organization.