Archive for September, 2011

A Step Too Far

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

By David

I have no idea who writes the comments posted by “A step too far.” Whoever it is, I like what he or she has to say. The first post censured me for being too extreme. For example when I suggested taking Swimming New Zealand to Court in an attempt to determine the definition of a member, “A step too far” told me, “I think the latest initiative you have declared for next week is plain outright crazy. Don’t proceed with your High Court action.” In spite of the warning, I did attend a meeting with the lawyer who helped me obtain court approval for a West Auckland Aquatic’s swimmer to compete in the Auckland Winter Championships. You will never guess what the lawyer told me. He said, “I think the latest initiative you have declared for next week is plain outright crazy. Don’t proceed with your High Court action.” And so ended that good idea :)

Today “A step too far” has provided equally sage advice. There is a suggestion as to how I might best lay a complaint about the lack of notice Swimming New Zealand and the Coalition of Regions provided everyone that the Annual General Meeting was being delayed until 30 October 2011. There are two things wrong with what Butler and his new Regional mates have done in this case. First of all, Rule 15.1 of the SNZ Constitution says the Annual General Meeting must be held prior to 30 September. Second, Rule 19.2 of the SNZ Constitution says that to override a Constitutional rule requires 40 days notice. The new meeting is set for 30 October and we were all given the news one day before the first scheduled annual meeting. It seems like Butler has already convinced the Coalition leaders to adopt the same disregard for the organization’s constitution that he has. I have said before that a previous generation spent four years in German POW camps and lost body parts defending, in part, the rule of law. They would be appalled at the Coalition of Regions expression of contempt for the organisation’s rules.

And the recommendation of “A step too far?” He or she says that our first “port of call might be the Registrar of Incorporated Societies.” The Registrar’s website is closed until Wednesday, this week. First thing on Thursday though the Registrar will have a complaint about the Coalition of Region’s behaviour.
Sadly “a step too far” believes our chances of success are slim. The correspondent says, “in this case according to the SNZ release the deferral has the tick from the Board and over 90% of the Regions, as well as at least the implicit tick from SPARC, then it might be hard to get the Registrar to want to act in any way.” I just hope “a step too far” is wrong. I also hope that the prior notice of one day provided to the members buries this arrogant new union.

“A step too far” then makes a few interesting observations about SPARC. For example, “from things I have seen in other sports, I have no doubt that SPARC has a Head Office, centrally controlled business model in place for all sports. I am sure they don’t like the federation of regional or local association’s model and far prefer the unitary model.” I agree with the position of “a step too far”. I think that’s exactly what’s going on – suck the Regions in, join them in the process and screw them blind. In this case sex with a SPARC led SNZ inevitably results in the birth of another unitary governance model. That proposition has far more credibility than Sensible Swimming’s naïve idealism – all that clap-trap about a SPARC review moving Rugby League “forward into a place which is genuinely better than where it came from”. The stunning success of the Warriors has had more to do with the growth of Rugby League than any SPARC review. Besides for every Rugby League story Sensible Swimming carefully avoids mentioning Canoeing New Zealand or Surf Live Saving New Zealand who also had SPARC reviews and are now facing financial and competitive ruin. Sensible Swimming must be a mate of Ross Butler. He is even beginning to sound like him.

The comment by James T is also worth mentioning. At heart this is a plea for understanding, James T argues that the Coalition of Regions had to cozy up to Butler, Byrne and McDonald because they were threatening to obliterate the sport. McDonald knew exactly what he was doing. Constantly up the ante, act all hurt and aggressive and eventually the junior players in the Region’s team would fold. And he was right. He read his opposition well. Boys and girls were sent to play games with some pretty tough men and women. McDonald, Butler and Byrne would never have been allowed to clear-fell the sport of swimming. It would be more than SPARC was worth to allow that to happen in an Olympic and an election year. The threat though was enough to roll the Chamberlains sent to represent the Coalition.

“A step to far” then puts this view of the way ahead, “Sports organisations should organize in the way that best suits themselves – there should be competing models across sports. Otherwise, why not just let SPARC takeover all the NSOs.” Of course that is right. Don’t count on it happening in swimming anytime soon. The key battle in this war was fought last week and the good guys lost.

And finally “a step too far” offers this sad prospect for the future of Swimwatch, “I suspect you personally are in for 4 weeks of angst as you agonize over the possible outcomes. I suspect Swimwatch has been cast into the role of enemy of everyone, which means you are unlikely to be the recipient of any leaks from the talks.” I imagine “a step too far” is right. We will be swimming’s public enemy number one. That’s a good thing though. The Coalition of Regions has clearly shown us the staggering cost of cuddling up to McDonald, Butler and Byrne. Compared to that prospect, “the role of enemy” sounds pretty good to me.

Just What The Hell Are They Up To?

Monday, September 26th, 2011

By David

Silence is golden. Except in a situation like this, it is dark and ominous. It reeks of compromise, deception and defeat. Gone are the almost daily reports from Swimming Bay of Plenty. Vanished are reams of suggested improvements to New Zealand swimming from Auckland Swimming. The opposition has been silenced. Even the daily vitriol being posted on Swimming New Zealand’s website has faded. A conflict both sides once happily described as a battle is now a love-fest of reason and common sense.

The Miramar Golf Club chardonnay and cheese tutorial didn’t work, so my guess is that, someone somewhere decided to do a backroom deal. Lots of pats on the back, lots of “we have responsibilities to our members,” lots of muttering about being the sport’s last chance, secret meetings in corporate Board rooms in Wellington or Auckland and the leaders of the Coalition of Region’s folded. And I think it stinks.
The climax of the new union between Swimming New Zealand and the Coalition of Regions came in the form of a press release posted on the Swimming New Zealand website. This is what they are going to do.

  1. “We plan to work towards the development of a business case to SPARC. We believe that the review should consider our governance, the basis of membership, the role of our Board, Regions / NZSCTA and Clubs, and the way we engage with our stakeholders including the swimmers. The review would consider our Constitution and other guiding documents, and would take account of best practice developments in other sporting organisations.”
  2. “However, we are committed to working together in a productive and responsible manner, consistent with our Swimming NZ values of respect and integrity.”
  3. “We propose to do so away from the glare of publicity, and we will therefore not be making any further public statements.”

All this effort and the best the Coalition of Regions and Swimming New Zealand can offer is another bloody review. All this time spent naval gazing – no wonder there is never time to do anything. But before considering the number of reviews, I am obliged to comment on the following wording – “and the way we engage with our stakeholders including the swimmers.” Swimmers tacked on as an afterthought. Butler would never write this insult if he had watched swimmers labour through 10,000 meter swims or applied Vaseline to their stinging chlorine burns. Swimmers are not stakeholders in this sport. They are the sport. It belongs to them. It is their journey. Anyway back to the number of reviews. In the last six months this is review number four.

  1. Swimming New Zealand has already spent $250,000 on review number one – called Project Vanguard. This is still described on Swimming New Zealand’s website as a project to determine, “how should we organize and run swimming in New Zealand to support growth and success in this new decade” – pretty much the same words used by Butler to describe this latest bit of visionary management.
  2. The second review was the Ineson Report. I have no idea what it cost, but it certainly would not have been cheap. The objective was to “analyse Swimming NZ’s current high performance programme.” Although the Report was aimed at the High Performance program it did reach a number of conclusions on the incompetence of the current Board and its senior management.
  3. The third review was the fortune spent by Butler wandering around the country as Chairman of the High Performance Governance Committee. Swimming New Zealand’s website tells me that was, “to ensure clear reporting lines and greater board oversight, accountability, and contestability of SNZs HPP.”

I really love the second comment about “Swimming NZ values of respect and integrity”. Remember, it is Butler writing this stuff. He’s the guy who stood up in a Nelson Annual General Meeting recently and promised to do all in his power to destroy the personal reputation of anyone who questioned his management of the organization. That’s his idea of respect and integrity. And, as for the Coalition of Regions, they have done a deal with people they believe show little respect or integrity. What does that say about their judgement?

The third comment is a gem of great value. Swimming New Zealand and the Coalition have decided that their work is going to be “away from the glare of publicity, and we will therefore not be making any further public statements.” Are these really the same people who said just four weeks ago that because, “this is a serious issue affecting all members of SNZ, the board has determined that in the interests of openness and transparency that all correspondence regarding this matter should be available on the SNZ website.” Four weeks and suddenly “openness and transparency” don’t matter. Now it’s about staying away from the “glare of publicity”. And, in this regard, the Coalition of Regions is no better. What does it have to hide? What skulduggery is it up to? If the Coalition can’t tell us what it is doing, it shouldn’t be doing it.

This announcement essentially confirms that the Regions have been duped by negotiators far, far more skilled in getting their way. For the third or fourth time in a decade, good but naive Regions have fallen short of their goal. Perhaps it was always too much to expect Regional officials to take on the chief executives of Brierley Investments and Comalco. During the next month these men will tack on important Project Vanguard changes to the minor revisions they concede. That’s the way these men operate. Suck in the Coalition of Regions, join them in the process and screw them blind.

Thanks to their powerful friends the insurance salesman from Nelson and his mate, Mike Byrne, could well survive. The really bad thing about all this is that any compromise that results from this month of negotiations will leave New Zealand swimming worse off than when the struggle began. Without question I would prefer Cameron and Coulter back at Swimming New Zealand than accept a conclusion that is three quarters Project Vanguard, one quarter Regional idealism. Regular Swimwatch readers can imagine the effort it took for me to express that thought. I have fought for ten years to see the Cameron regime replaced by something better. However, there is no satisfaction in seeing Cameron go when the prospect is that Byrne, Butler and McDonald will be designing its replacement. Are we worse off right now? Yes, without question.

Those who began this fight had an obligation to see it through. Remember the line, “We began this thing. I guess we’d better finish it.” Any malcontent can initiate a rebellion. It demands courage and vision to reach a conclusion; to put in place a better regime. I thought the Coalition of Regions had that vision; offered that resolve. Instead, this episode in Swimming New Zealand’s history will be known as another victory for central control. Mike Byrne and Ross Butler will go on the record as bringing a few disruptive Regional lightweights into line. By bailing out to the prospect of negotiation the Coalition of Regions has abandoned the sport of swimming. Worse than that, New Zealand’s best swimmers have been deserted by those they should have been able to trust. Our youth have a right to expect more of their elders. There was a duty to, “finish it.”

However Swimwatch has stood alone before and is happy to stand alone again. I have two goals. I want to see honest people replace the crooks that currently run Swimming New Zealand. I want to see New Zealand coaches empowered and given the responsibility of producing world championship swimmers; a regime Swimwatch has labelled “rugged individualism”. It was heady stuff when the Coalition of Regions looked like they were pushing hard in the same direction. It now seems that the Coalition of Regions has chickened out; has agreed to compromise and negotiate with those they once sought to depose. That is a shame. Perhaps next time we will find leaders with sufficient character and talent to lead this sport properly. New Zealand’s swimmers deserve no less. On this occasion the swimmers have been let down by those who promised a brighter future. That is a shame. It is a setback, but it is not the end. Swimwatch is hated because SPARC and Swimming New Zealand know we cannot be bought, we cannot be intimidated and we will not be compromised out of our beliefs. We will not negotiate with those who are responsible for the shortcomings identified by Ineson. The dark side may have nullified a weak Coalition of Regions but that just makes the battle ahead more interesting and more important.

You see this battle was not begun in the past twelve months. Lincoln Hurring, Duncan Laing, Tony Keenan and Ross Anderson were pushing for the independent delivery of elite swimming long before many of today’s Coalition of Region officials were drinking out of elite swimming’s socialist trough. But this announcement means reform will have to wait until another generation of swimmers has been failed by New Zealand’s socialist method of delivering elite sport; failed by the Millennium folly. Byrne and Butler will blame the disappointment of missing their London goal of five finalists and one medal on the disruption of the rebellious Coalition of Regions. SPARC will agree and will deliver Butler and Byrne four more years of funding. The next call for reform will not be until 2016 when New Zealand swimming fails again in Rio.
Those responsible for the Coalition of Regions have condemned this sport to five more years of socialist failure. They cannot be trusted. Soon they will move on to other things. They will leave behind a broken sport that they tore apart but lacked the character to put something better in its place. To promise and then fail to deliver is worse than Cameron and Coulter. At least we knew not to expect anything from them. The Coalition offered a better way. Just read the documents on the Swimming Auckland website. Instead, my guess is that they have sold out to the dark side and have the sport’s GPS firmly programmed to deliver a socialist destination.

However, there is a way out. Independent coaches around New Zealand can work harder to produce more international champions from outside the system. We can do it the old way – the way Duncan Laing, Arthur Lydiard and Arch Jelley did it; without SPARC’s money or Byrne’s interference. Private enterprise does deliver elite swimming best. I guess its up to us to prove that’s true.

Rushdee Warley Appointed Olympic Campaign Manager

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

By David

The future of the present Swimming New Zealand Board is uncertain. Mike Byrne too is hanging on by his finger tips. The term “lame duck” was invented to describe their situation. Wikipedia tells me the term means an “official who is approaching the end of his or her tenure.” That sounds like the Swimming New Zealand Board and Mike Byrne to me.

However their lame duck status is not stopping Swimming New Zealand and Mike Byrne making seriously important decisions. In the circumstances, making decisions that affect the long term health of the sport is irresponsible and unethical. Take this most recent announcement:

Swimming New Zealand has secured the services of an experienced high performance manager to fill the role of Campaign Manager through to the 2012 London Olympic Games. With the Olympics fast approaching, Swimming NZ last week approached High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) to ask if performance consultant Rushdee Warley would be available to take on this role. Rushdee has been a performance consultant, firstly with SPARC and now with HPSNZ, for the past four months. Prior to that, he was High Performance Manager for Swimming South Africa. He held this role from 2004 until earlier this year, when he moved to New Zealand.

Apart from Swimming New Zealand’s brief resume, I have no personal knowledge of Rushdee Warley. I know South African swimming has been through some rough times. To say that the USA based South African swimmers have not been too happy with their national federation would be a serious understatement. It left me wondering if Rushdee Warley had played any role in his home country’s swimming troubles. I contacted a friend of mine in South Africa. She recommended that I read three articles. And here is what I found.

First article:

The SSA executive will need to sort out a mess that is fast getting out of control after an incident that occurred at the World Short Course Swimming Championships in Manchester in April. Sprinter Shaun Harris admitted this week he was involved in the incident. He was sworn at by the manager of athlete development, Rushdee Warley, when he asked for a swimsuit. When he asked national coach Dirk Lange why Warley did not like him, he was told it was because he is “white and Afrikaans”. Harris approached Warley on the pool deck in front of Lange to confront him, and Lange slapped him. Harris was warned not to take the matter further and is reluctant to tell SSA about it. But with further reports that both Lange and Warley did not perform well in Beijing, swimmers have started coming forward in an appeal to the SSA executive to get rid of them.

That all sounds a bit physical and racist to me. I’m not sure how long I would last as a coach if I swore at swimmers who asked for a swim suit or defended coaches who assaulted their swimmers. Mellissa Ingrim, Daniel Bell and their friends would be well advised to get in a good supply of togs before asking for a new pair becomes a high risk endeavor. The reference to “white and Afrikaans” is especially repugnant. He had better not come up with that sort of crap around here. His tenure will be as short as those who employed him. And then there is this quote :

Cape Town – Swimming bosses on Sunday prohibited Western Province from playing in the final of the inter-provincial water polo tournament because they did not have enough players of colour in the side. Chairperson of Swimming South Africa, Rushdee Warley, said that the requirement was that either one of the thirteen water polo players making up a squad had to be of colour, or one of the team management had to be of colour. “If waterpolo as a sport, refuses to transform, we need to take drastic steps like this”, said Warley. According to Warley, though, it was very difficult to tell which players were of which colour based on just the team lists that were submitted.

I’m happy to reserve judgement on Rushdee Warley but he had better not try and impose his country’s racism on our sport. That is not and never will be the New Zealand way. Our little country has been through several periods where defending South African racism caused us some very unhappy moments. We will not be party to anymore interference by South Africans in New Zealand’s race relations. Keep your racist views to yourself, Rushdee Warley.

And then in 2008 a Commission of Inquiry was set up to investigate the turmoil in Swimming South Africa. Sound familiar? Members of the Commission were the highly respected, Norman Arendse, Kirsten Van Heerden and Rowen Meth. Here is part of what they had to say about Rushdee Warley:

However the swimmers’ complaints were regarding the special and unique needs of high performance swimmers that were not being met by Warley and his less-than-satisfactory people management skills. – This being said, there is no doubt that Warley’s (at times) overzealous and robust approach had angered many. While it may not have been his intention to do so, the sentiments of some swimmers, coaches and officials have substance. To his credit Warley has conceded he has shortcomings as a Performance Manager.

Well I’m blown away. It sounds like Swimming New Zealand searched and searched until they found another Jan. Has Mike Byrne really appointed someone to be the performance manager of the New Zealand swim team to the London Olympic Games who has confessed to a Commission of Inquiry that he has “shortcomings” in that job? Does Mike Byrne know that Rushdee Warley shares with Byrne “less-that-satisfactory” people management skills? It seems like the South African Inquiry found all the same shortcomings in Rushdee Warley that Ineson found in Jan Cameron and her program. Well done Mike Byrne. It sounds like all New Zealand’s best swimmers are out of the frying pan, into the fire.

One With The Law Is A Majority

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

By David

I am concerned. I have no doubt that the Coalition of Regions wants the best for swimming in this country. It wants to see a change in the management of the business. It wants a diversified approach to the coaching of elite athletes. It does not want the socialism proposed by Project Vanguard or whatever its new name might be.

We have seen Swimming New Zealand and SPARC portray these legitimately held views as “smears”, as “chaos” and as a “battle”. SPARC and the Swimming New Zealand’s Board have declared war on the membership of the sport of swimming. They will use their financial power and political muscle to beat the sport into submission. The CEO of SPARC, Peter Miskimmin, has long and loudly proclaimed the independence of swimming to arrange its own management affairs. But he does not mean that. If it looks like the Regions are about to replace his mates, he will use taxpayer’s money to save their skins. He will lie of course and tell the world he is acting to prevent the sport descending into chaos.

But for the Swimming New Zealand Board and SPARC this is not about right and wrong. This is not about winning a swimming race. Most of the Swimming New Zealand Board has no idea what is involved in elite sport. This is about power and that’s a game Kerry McDonald and his minions have been playing for fifty years. Winning the Board Room is the only winning that matters to them. So how are they going to do this? With the majority of Swimming New Zealand’s membership firmly stacked against them, how are they going to save their disgusting hides? That is a question that has exercised my mind for the past week.

My guess is they will do what all Board Room bullies do. They will use threats. They will use money and they will use the law to kill off the legitimate changes wanted by the Coalition of Regions. The threat will always be the same. They will threaten to withdraw SPARC funding of the sport. That will scare many. It shouldn’t. All SPARC’s money is spent on the Wellington office and Jan Cameron’s barren folly in Auckland. The vast majority of swimming would not be affected by Miskimmin spending his dole money somewhere else. As Swimwatch have said before, swimming would be poor but would have its pride and independence intact; qualities that have won New Zealand more Gold Medals that SPARC’s money ever has.

The use of money and the law is an inseparable union. My guess is that legal counsel will be employed to challenge every move made by the Coalition of Regions at the Annual Meeting on 25th September. I’m picking special emphasis will be placed on the Coalition’s voting power. SPARC and the Swimming New Zealand Board will get some Judas Iscariot Region, like Wellington, to challenge everything. Were the remits properly submitted? Were the Region’s delegates properly appointed? Are the Coalition’s proxies correctly prepared? Is the number of members claimed by each coalition Region valid? Nothing will go unchecked.

I am especially concerned about the challenge to the number of members in each Region. Why? Because, in the same position as SPARC and the Swimming New Zealand Board, that is where I would concentrate my attention. I would make every effort to castrate the Coalition’s voting power.

My guess is the axis of power will contest the membership numbers, especially of Auckland, to rip the heart out of the Coalition of Region’s voting power. How will they do this is the question? They can’t dispute the fees paid by the members. Presumably they are paid properly. Then I wondered if there was any clerical process they could question. And this is what I think they will do. I think they will pick on some small clerical process required by the Constitution and will attempt to disenfranchise every swimmer who has not complied; or whose Club or Region has not met the letter of the Constitution.

For example the Constitution requires that Clubs and Regions submit membership forms each year in addition to the fees and contact details. For years this has never been done. The fees and contact details have been submitted of course but most Clubs, including ours, don’t ask members to fill out a new form every year. Will Butler, Byrne and Miskimmin challenge Auckland’s membership numbers? You bet they will. You bet they will use our money to screw a thousand Auckland swimmers out of their right to be members of this sport. They will do this to win what they call their “battle”.

Well, I have decided not to let them off without a fight. I have been to a benefactor who has helped me with swimming expenses before. We have put $60,000 into an account to pay for legal expenses. Next week I will make the first payment from the account. It will pay for a swimmer who has been a member of swimming New Zealand for seven years but who does not have a registration form in the Wellington office to ask the High Court to rule on the validity of her membership. Swimming New Zealand will be issued with the papers requesting High Court clarification next week. I wonder if they will oppose the action. They shouldn’t. Isn’t it a good thing to go into the AGM with a clear idea of who is a member and who is not? Our legal case will accomplish that objective and avoid the unpleasant spectacle of SPARC and the SNZ Board challenging the legitimacy of thousands of its members. The request of one swimmer will bring clarity for everyone.

I expect this week’s action will cost us about $10,000. The balance of $50,000 we will spend defending the right of the Coalition of Regions to represent their members. SPARC have a lot more money than that. Eventually they will spend more and they will win. In the process, though, our spending will be sufficient to prove them frauds and losers.

Byrne Goes Public

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

By David

Last weekend Mike Byrne, the Chief Executive of Swimming New Zealand, decided to bare his soul in public. In a Sunday paper’s article he told us about all the horrible things that had happened to him and the sport of swimming. But before we look at the specifics there is a tone about Byrne’s comments that is as annoying as all hell. Anything Butler says has the same aggravating quality. And, when they were around, Cameron and Coulter were no better. There is a constant primary school teacher arrogance about what they say. Everything is the Region’s fault. Swimming New Zealand is the victim of an unscrupulous and pretty stupid band of renegades, hell bent on destroying the sport. They never tire of telling us that they know best. Byrne has even gone as far as to explain, to anyone who will listen, that the Regions have tried this rebellion lark a couple of times in the past but he has brought them back into line. His arrogance knows no limit.

The Regions are not blameless in all this. Because they have tried to bring some discipline to the Board and have failed two or three times, the Wellington gang have learned. All they need to do is send out a few harsh emails, mutter dark stories about SPARC funding and notify a journalist from the Sunday papers that the organization is about to fail and the Regions will give up the fight. To this extent Wellington’s bad behaviour has been caused by the Regions mismanagement. But this time there is a difference. The people leading the Coalition of Regions are wiser, smarter, more experienced and more determined. This time Coulter, Cameron, Byrne and Butler have met their match.

Here are extracts from Byrne’s newspaper report that caught my attention.

“I’m dealing with a committed and motivated staff who are under a barrage of attack and are affected by the current situation,” Byrne said.

In the reports published in newspapers and on the Swimming New Zealand website; in the thousands of words written on Swimwatch, I have never seen a “barrage of attack” on Mike Byrne’s staff. Sure, the performance of the Board, Cameron and Byrne has been seriously questioned. Ineson said they were the problem and he was absolutely right. No one questioned SNZ’s staff. From what I’ve seen the chap Kent who deals with the Regions on a variety of issues is efficient and always pleasant. The lady from Swimming New Zealand who was selling t-shirts at the Division 2 meet in Rotorua was always warm and welcoming. Even to me! This has never been about Swimming New Zealand workers. Byrne is making it up in order to give the impression we pick on the rank and file. But that’s a lie. This is about you, Mike Byrne. This is about getting you out of Swimming New Zealand as quickly as possible.

We didn’t agree with all of the findings of the report. What was disappointing was that the report attacked the leadership of Swimming NZ for not having done anything about those problems when the report didn’t do any analysis or discovery into what is actually being done.

Swimming New Zealand has made the most incredible u-turn in relation to the Ineson Report. When the Report was published Coulter and Byrne were all acceptance and contrition. Do you remember? The findings were about to be actioned, committees were formed and SPARC welcomed the positive vibes coming from Byrne and company. You would be well advised not to rely on Mike Byrne in a tough position. Two months later and his warm welcome has become, “We didn’t agree with all of the findings of the report. What was disappointing was that the report attacked the leadership of Swimming NZ.” He didn’t have the guts to say that two months ago. SPARC really should be finding out why he’s saying it now. More important than the change however is what this little bit of history says about the character of those involved. Best not to buy a used car from this lot.

“So we’re now in a bit of a Mexican standoff situation,” Byrne said.

This is an important insight into the Byrne psyche. A Mexican standoff describes a confrontation that neither side can foreseeably win. Byrne clearly has no appreciation of the fact that he works for the Regions. They are his boss. He is not their equal. He is there to do what the owners, the Regions, want. The most basic rule of “chief executive 101” is to promote the interests of the shareholders and Mike Byrne has not a blind clue what it means. My guess is that eventually Mike Byrne will be out of a job because he picks a fight with those he was appointed to serve.

Byrne said he was making sure regions and clubs had access to information in an “open and transparent manner.”

I guess that’s why Byrne published North Shore’s letter to Swimming New Zealand but forgot to post the Auckland reply. It may also explain why Byrne published Swimming New Zealand’s criticism of the Annual Meeting remits but overlooked the Bay of Plenty and Auckland response. I wonder if changing the 2010 Annual Meeting minutes or including the North Shore letter in AGM general business are “open and transparent”. The truth is that “open and transparent” are as far away from the conduct of Swimming New Zealand just now as it is possible to get.

“So we can all work to one strategic plan. One direction, one vision, regular networking and phone calls as a team so that we can discuss all the common problems and all sing off the same song book.”

For seven years this website has fought Swimming New Zealand socialism. If the word socialism seems too strong, what else should “one strategic plan, one direction, one vision” be called? With stunning foresight Mike Byrne has just described all that’s wrong with the Swimming New Zealand’s plan and with him as its CEO. In world class sport, the socialist model does not work. Seven years of Jan Cameron proved that. Diversity is what works. Diversity that offers New Zealand swimmers Paul Kent’s program, Gary Hurring’s program, my program and a dozen other good New Zealand coaches all singing off a different song books; all offering alternative paths to the same world championship goal. Byrne simply does not understand that there are a hundred different ways of preparing an Olympic champion. One way does not suit all. Salo does not prepare his swimmers the same as Bowman. They sing off very different song books. They both produce world champions and world record holders though. The fact that I sing of a different song book from Gary Hurring, Paul Kent and Greg Meade is good and is a New Zealand strength. Except that, in a flight of idiotic fantasy, Mike Byrne wants to kill all that. We have just got rid of the architect of central control and Byrne wants to drag us back into the abyss. His lack of product knowledge will destroy any prospect New Zealand swimmers have of winning an Olympic championship.

“As we continue having to battle the regions and go through the sort of problems that we’re going through now, we’re never going to grow the sport.”

So, there we have it. Byrne admits he is conducting a battle with the owners of the sport; with his shareholders. When that happens; when a CEO admits he is in public disagreement with his bosses it is time for that CEO to leave. By making this admission it is time for Byrne to pack his bags and bugger off. No CEO can possibly stay when he accepts there is open warfare between himself and his shareholders.

“Auckland, which has 25 per cent of the votes, and Wellington are in favour of the changes.”

Where on earth did Byrne come up with this idea? Certainly Wellington obey the Swimming New Zealand Board in everything. But Byrne is claiming here that Auckland is also in favour of Project Vanguard. I’ve never seen any information to support that allegation. In fact the meetings I’ve been to in Auckland suggest huge opposition to the Vanguard idea. Auckland is also one of the eight Regions asking for the Swimming New Zealand Board to resign. It sometimes seems that Byrne just makes this stuff up. Truth, lies, certainties and maybes all merge into a grey mass of Byrne-isms.

“All I can do at the moment is pray for common sense and hope that some of the people involved in this smear campaign realise that what they’re doing is damaging the sport.”

Mike Byrne – you may be a catholic from Francis Douglas College but we do not want your prayers. We are insulted that you should bring your religion into this debate. God is not on your side. How dare you suggest divine support for your position. How dare you mix your version of Christianity with the accusation that we are conducting a smear campaign and damaging the sport. You are disgusting.

Mohammed Ali was quoted as saying, “If it’s true, it ain’t boasting.” Well Mike Byrne, if it’s true, it ain’t a smear either.