Miskimmin Madness

By David

The sort of decision making madness that has brought swimming to its knees was demonstrated again this morning. The person responsible was Peter Miskimmin. His dark hand is clearly to blame for the current mess at Pelorus House. In my view the decision reported today is further evidence that Miskimmin is not up to his job. Here is a portion of the news item, written by Simon Plumb, and published on the internet Stuff website.

“Miskimmin rejected suggestions a condition of the review being authorised was that the Swimming NZ board had to accept whatever recommendations it produced – one of which is set to be a call for the board’s resignation. And he defended Swimming NZ’s decision to advertise for a high performance manager, saying the appointment did not need to wait until after the inquiry’s outcome.

“It’s a good decision, if you think it through,” he said.

“There’s no high performance manager in place at the moment, we’re a matter of days from an Olympic Games, and around the world there will be people considering their next stages.

“A lot of people contracted in high performance are on four-year terms, so they’ll now be looking for new opportunities, people who might consider a job here,” he said. Swimming NZ already has South African Rushdee Warley in a high performance role.

He was appointed its 2012 Olympic campaign manager eight months ago”.

Miskimmin is telling us that the decision to advertise for a New Zealand High Performance Manager is “a good one, if you think it through.” What planet is he living on? Can he think at all? Sixty three days before the London Olympic’s Opening Ceremony and Miskimmin is defending a decision to advertise for a High Performance Manager. When every person who meets the specification for this job should be focusing their full attention, their entire being, on what is about to happen in east London, Miskimmin thinks it’s fine to start a search for one of those coaches or administrators to come and guide New Zealand high performance swimming through the next four years.

I would have thought anyone who answered the Swimming New Zealand advertisement should be immediately excluded from consideration for the job. Anyone who has the experience to be the New Zealand High Performance Manager but thinks it’s okay to apply for a job in New Zealand sixty three days before an Olympic Games does not demonstrate the loyalty or application that is needed here.

Imagine how New Zealand would feel if, in four years time, Miskimmin’s High Performance Manager was out applying for jobs in Australia or South Africa sixty three days before taking the New Zealand team to the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. That’s the sort of person Miskimmin wants to apply for the New Zealand job. That’s the sort of person he is actively looking for. But then I should not be surprised. The decision to look for someone with that self interest; with that “to hell with the athletes I’m abandoning” attitude says all New Zealand ever needs to know about Peter Miskimmin. As he says in the Stuff report, “A lot of people contracted in high performance are on four-year terms, so they’ll now be looking for new opportunities, people who might consider a job here,” Well, Peter Miskimmin, if you really do “think it through” this is a bad decision. It will attract individuals who put self interest ahead of their athletes and their coaching responsibilities. It will attract people like you and New Zealand sport and swimming in particular has had enough of people like you.

I’m currently coaching a swimmer who has a chance at representing the United States in the London Olympic Games. Her name is Rhi Jeffrey. She leaves New Zealand to swim in the American Olympic Trials on Tuesday week. At this stage of her preparation, even though it’s only one swimmer, if I was out applying for other coaching jobs, Rhi should get another coach. Preparing any athlete for an Olympic Games is not a time for coaching self interest.

No wonder swimming in New Zealand is in a mess. The guy funding the whole exercise has no idea of the application, dedication and loyalty involved in the preparation of an elite athlete. Miskimmin is out there looking for an individual who is prepared to apply for a job in New Zealand when they should be applying their full attention to those they are charged with helping win a swimming race in sixty three days time.

The whole thing is pathetic, sad and disgusting. The real problem is that someone like me or Jeremy Duncan in Invercargill or Paul Kent in Auckland or Jon Winter in Raumati is going to work like mad for four years to prepare swimmers for Rio only to find that the high performance boss thinks his career is more important that our athletes. We won’t be able to trust him. He abandoned his or her last team before the London Olympic Games. Why should we be surprised if he or she also abandons our swimmers as well? And this is the guy Peter Miskimmin wants to find; wants to recruit. It is going to take a lot to convince me that, a candidate recruited in these circumstances has the right personal qualities to have anything to do with an athlete of mine. When I ask young people to swim 100 kilometres every week for twenty weeks every year it would be the height of irresponsibility to put their careers in the hands of someone who applied for a job in New Zealand sixty three days before the Olympic Games and sixty three days before their current responsibilities are at their most important. But, that’s the guy Peter Miskimmin is after.

In case Swimwatch critics accuse me of always being negative. What would I do? Well, I’d wait until after the London Games and I’d get Mark Schubert to come to New Zealand – no matter what it cost. Without fear or favour he’d sort out this mess. If you really want to win in Rio that is one certain way it can be done.