The Rules

By David

Regular Swimwatch readers will be aware of the ease with which Swimming New Zealand ignore inconvenient rules.

Remember when they overturned a vote of the Directors and appointed Butler and Wrightson to the Board because Miskimmin and his hired help demanded obedience. It is hard to imagine the rules that were broken on that occasion. Rules of meeting procedure, rules of democracy and the organization’s constitution were put to one side; were treated with contempt.

I did hear that Swimming New Zealand think nothing of taking funds for an approved purpose to pay non-approved expenses. That is unconstitutional and in some circumstances may be illegal.

Changing the minutes of an Annual Meeting is hardly ethical behaviour. Any sporting code would class that as a red card offence. But not Swimming New Zealand. They just waited for the next Annual Meeting to correct the deception and moved on as though nothing unusual had occurred.

The decision to form a High Performance unit in Wellington slap bang in the middle of a full scale review of the sport is a certain breech of the rules of good corporate behaviour. In authorising the new venture, Butler, Byrne and Miskimmin approved corporate cheating. Does that make them cheats?

The regular reappointment of Ross Butler is a breach of Clause 10 of the Swimming New Zealand Constitution. Ross Butler has been reappointed for three, two year periods. Clause 10 only allows for one additional two year period. You would imagine that would disqualify Butler from membership. Not in Swimming New Zealand it doesn’t.

Swimming New Zealand has failed to file its annual accounts in 2005, 2008 and 2010? The law is clear. Here is what it says –   “Every society shall deliver annually to the Registrar, a statement containing the following particulars: (a) The income and expenditure of the society (b) The assets and liabilities of the society (c) All mortgages, charges, and securities. In three of the past five years Mike Byrne’s Swimming New Zealand has failed in its statutory duty to provide the Registrar with a set of accounts.

While it would be possible to list a further dozen examples of Swimming New Zealand’s dismissal of fair play rules, I’m sure you get the idea. Butler, Byrne and Miskimmin lead an organization that has treated the rule of law with contempt. That’s why I always felt it ironic that Mike Byrne used to claim the Swimming New Zealand Constitution prevented him doing his job. When you don’t give a damn about the rules, why should the Constitution hold you back?

With this history it will not surprise you to hear that I was stunned to hear a story today of Swimming New Zealand demanding absolute compliance with the rules of swimming. Was it possible that this organization could be both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when it came to enforcing the organization’s rules? Or perhaps the key to enforcement is convenience.

Here is what happened.

Sometime last year, I’m told it was in July, there was a swim meet at the Greerton Pool in the Bay of Plenty. The meet was well attended and provision was made for disabled swimmers to take part with able bodied participants. That’s called mainstreaming and is a policy that has my 100% support. Australia has encouraged mainstreaming in swimming for years. New Zealand arrived late but now, in Auckland at least, has many disabled competitors competing successfully in predominantly able bodied events. There is no doubt that every sports person should have an inherent right to participate in swimming in the most inclusive setting possible. And this I am told is what the Greerton Meet was trying to do.

Attending to the rules at the meet were two Swimming New Zealand national officials. The meet began with a men’s breaststroke event. Two disabled athletes were competing in the first heat. It was swum and, I am told, much to everyone’s surprise both the disabled competitors were disqualified. Swimming New Zealand’s officials were asked to explain.

The first disabled competitor was disqualified, they said, for breeching Rule SW 7.6. This says, “At each turn and at the finish of the race, the touch shall be made with both hands simultaneously at, above, or below the water level.” The disabled competitor had not touched with “both hands”. He had touched the wall with only one hand; a fact that is hardly surprising. The young man only had one arm.

The second disabled competitor was disqualified for violating Rule SW 7.4. This says, “All movements of the legs shall be simultaneous and on the same horizontal plane without alternating movement.” The disabled competitor was certainly guilty of violating rule 7.4. He was also an amputee. He only had one leg.

An appeal was made to Swimming New Zealand for leniency. Given the lack of an arm and a leg couldn’t some compassion be shown and the athletes reinstated. But Swimming New Zealand’s officials stood firm. Dispensation could only be considered if the meet organizers had printed on their programme a note that made it clear that disabled athletes were taking part and their performances were subject to modified FINA rules. Because this had not been done Swimming New Zealand expected the one armed swimmer to touch with both hands – and the swimmer with one leg to kick with both feet. The disqualifications could not be changed.

As each day goes by the Mike Byrne, Peter Miskimmin and Ross Butler led organization becomes increasingly irrelevant. They ban me from their National Championships because I dare to suggest that disqualifying amputees is the behaviour of sick minds. They ride rough shod over rule after rule in their own corporate lives while they beat up on members of the disabled community who want to take part in the sport of swimming. On the evidence of this story it is these men who are a danger to competitors in swimming and should be banned from the Olympic Trials.

  • Rhi Jeffrey

    This is f*cking disgusting. I was appalled when I first heard this.

  • James T

    Welcome back David. I was thinking that maybe Ross Butler’s connections to the underworld had closed your site down, or SNZ had put in another line item in their budget, a “David Wright silence fee”.

    Why does this sport attract such ridiculous people? I heard about this incident last year and am so glad you highlight it. Is it any wonder competitive swimming in this country is in such a dire state.

  • This is both hilarious (it’s like Monty Python IRL) and sad.

  • kiwipom

    Sick, mad and sad!!@

  • jeff peacock

    what a bloody joke. i am a greymouth amature swimming club official and believe it or not i have one arm. my left arm is missing at the shoulder due to a saw mill accident. i dont swim but id like to, lack of funds prevents me, yeah yeah but it is hard cash wise. if any body did that to me i would show them just how capable i am with one wing and make the disqualification worth it. i have no doubt at all that if the officials ignored the rules nobody would care, the fact that they didnt has proberly had a deterimental effect on these guys to the tune of “why bother” and “up yours and how bout pulling the carrot out of your arse, ya wankers”