Archive for January, 2013

Worse Than Cameron

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

By David

In a decade of writing for Swimwatch I never thought this was possible. The organisation that has replaced the Cameron, Byrne and Coulter era is worse; worse by far. It is not even close. Remember I used to call the leaders of Swimming New Zealand in those days, the Coulter Gang. Today that phrase sounds like a term of endearment, three soft teddy bears that kept us interested and occupied through this swimming journey.

The new occupiers of power are not teddy bears. They are a far more dangerous species; tough and able, they deserve the utmost respect. They also deserve our full attention to their termination. For certainly, they are bad for swimming. The effort that went into replacing the Coulter Gang will need to double. The skills that saw Coulter, Cameron and Byrne move on will need to be far sharper; far better-honed.

Swimming New Zealand’s new owners are the best of Miskimmin’s hired guns. They have been hardened in a tough, competitive, commercial world where mass redundancies, strike breaking and disposable foes are their daily fare. Miskimmin used their likeness to assume power. He now expects them to use that power, ruthlessly to crush any discontent; to consolidate the ownership rights of Sport New Zealand. Things are going to be done the Miskimmin way – whether the members like it or not.

So, how do I know all this? Well, here is a story of events that took place last weekend. I am still trying to find out all the facts but this account is accurate enough to give you the idea. If there are any errors of fact Swimming New Zealand can let me know and Swimwatch publish their full correction.

Last weekend one of the largest swim meets in New Zealand (5,000 starts) took place at the West Wave Pool in Auckland. National Champions, Hayley Palmer, Samantha Richter, Jane Ip, Steven Kent and Orinoco Faamausili-Banse were there. So was eight year old Kate Logan who swims 50 metres freestyle in the same number of seconds and Oliver Avis, he’s eight as well, and will soon break a minute for 50 metres breaststroke. The meet was big. It was universal. It represented all that is good and important in sport.

Last weekend, less than 50 meters away from the West Wave Pool, at the exclusive and expensive Falls Restaurant, Swimming New Zealand met the Millennium Institute swimmers. I know this because I was told they were there and went across to check it for myself. Sure enough, the new Chairman, Brent Layton, nicknamed Dr Who by the less than respectful swimmers in Auckland, the new Director of Coaching, Luis Villanueva, two new Board members and the new Acting CEO Mark O’Connor, were in Auckland.

To his credit Villanueva made the effort to come to the West Wave Pool for a few minutes to introduce himself and check out what was going on. To the best of my knowledge the others just didn’t bother. In their CVs they all make great play of the importance of grass roots swimming. For two days they were less than 50 meters from the nation’s largest demonstration of grass roots participation and they couldn’t leave their posh restaurant for long enough to say hello. Why? Probably because they didn’t care.

You see, their precious Millennium Institute was all that mattered. That obsession killed this sport in the Cameron years. It will do so again. But this time it will be quicker and more severe. To give Cameron credit I doubt she would ever have spent a weekend wining and dining Millennium Institute swimmers at the Falls Restaurant without visiting the country’s biggest swim meet going on 50 metres away. In my view Cameron had her faults. Many of them have occupied the pages of Swimwatch. Treating a thousand swimmers with the contempt that appears to have been shown by those who are now in charge of swimming in New Zealand was not one of them. I see Dr Who’s CV says he was a competitive swimmer in his youth. That must have been some time ago. This weekend the polished wooden floor opulence of the Falls Restaurant appears to have had more appeal than eight hundred members of this generation, toiling at the sport that is his responsibility.

So what was it about the Millennium swimmers that brought Dr Who and his Tardis companions to Auckland? The truth is, I don’t know. But here is my best guess. It has to have had something to do with the resignation of Mark Regan. My guess is that the Millennium Institute swimmers were concerned that their coach was about to leave. Possibly they had a plan to keep Regan in New Zealand. If that is the case, they were wasting their time. There is no way this Swimming New Zealand Board will compromise on anything. Dr Who and companions want Regan gone and they have the backing of Miskimmin’s millions to get whatever they please. Corporate bosses don’t tolerate even mild rebellion. The Millennium swimmers needed to be taught a lesson. My guess is that Dr Who told them that if Regan stayed they could kiss goodbye to their Swimming New Zealand pay. I told you, these guys play hard ball.

My guess is: that was it. Rebellion over; lesson learned. New Zealand’s Millennium swimmers crept off back across the Harbour Bridge now fully aware that what the State says, the State gets. If I’m right I have little sympathy. Swimwatch has told them for years the day would come when they would regret their affiliation. Last weekend was that day.

But then, I wondered, where was Lauren Boyle in all this? If she was backing a call to retain Regan that would have made Dr Who’s task more difficult. I was aware that Boyle had entered a number of events in the Auckland Swim Meet but hadn’t swum. An email I got today from a swimming friend in Europe may shed light on that subject. Had I heard, the email asked, that Boyle had been despatched to Europe to train at a high altitude training camp. The only high altitude training camp I know in Europe is the French facility in Font Romeu. I’ve been there twice with swimmers preparing for the Mare Nostrum meets. I know several staff who work at Font Romeu. I’ll find out tomorrow if a New Zealander is currently enjoying their pool and cramped bed rooms. If my informant is correct Dr Who has done well. New Zealand’s best swimmer is 13,000 miles away from the Falls Restaurant; high in the French Alps as near as it makes no difference out of communication with the goings on in New Zealand. Difficult to cause a problem from that distance.

So there you have it. I know the meeting was held. I saw some of those who were there and guessed the others. What went on is all guess work. But knowing how the corporate brain works I bet this account is pretty much what went on in the “Falls’ beautiful heritage building and grounds” last weekend.

I’m Not Sexist, But…

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Last week I wrote a blog post on Peter Miskimmin’s claim that his meddling in the affairs of Swimming New Zealand had resulted in a more “diverse”, female-friendly board room. His claim is difficult to believe when the “old” board included three women and the new Miskimmin board has only one. The facts make Miskimmin look silly, guilty either of blind ignorance or a bad case of corporate spin.

But there was something else in the New Zealand Herald story that disturbed me; something more sinister than manipulating the truth; something that the CEO of Sport New Zealand should never be part of. In case you missed last week’s story here is the New Zealand Herald’s account of the Miskimmin philosophy on gender issues.

A lot of sports have been hamstrung by their own constitutions, which don’t make it easy for women to go on boards. Most old constitutions have used an electoral system, whereby to get on a board candidates have to get voted on. This system tends to favour men, who look within their own networks to fill roles.

“Typically, women have not fared so well in that process – going to AGMs, putting themselves up there, doing the lobbying to get themselves voted on, is something that women don’t necessarily gravitate towards,” said Miskimmin.

As sports change their constitutions, allowing for a more even ratio of elected and appointed directors, it will provide more opportunities for women to be placed on boards.

It’s an article full of insufferable arrogance. It’s hard to escape the impression of a white male sitting in his plush Wellington office, quaffing Chardonnay with his Institute of Directors friends, craving all the power and sycophantic reverence his job of distributing our money can yield.

Read his words carefully. Miskimmin doesn’t like old, electoral constitutions. That is hardly surprising. Miskimmin can’t control democracy. None of the tax payer’s money Miskimmin distributes ever reaches the grass roots members who voted for the board of Swimming New Zealand when the sport had an electoral system. What Miskimmin thinks or wants was of little import in the decisions making process of grass roots members. Swimming got the representatives its members wanted – and Miskimmin certainly did not want that. He’s just said so, in the New Zealand Herald.

Miskimmin wants power. He wants to appoint directors. He wants Boards and management structures that depend on him; stacked full of people just like him – middle aged, white guys. He told the New Zealand Herald that the “old” electoral “system tends to favour men, who look within their own networks to fill roles.” That’s just sick. Take a look at the facts of Miskimmin’s recent appointments to positions of power in Swimming New Zealand.

Kerry McDonald – Miskimmin representative on the old Swimming New Zealand Board – middle aged white guy from the Institute of Directors

Nelson Cull – Miskimmin representative on the old Swimming New Zealand Board – middle aged white guy from the Institute of Directors

Chris Moller – Miskimmin representative to the Swimming New Zealand Review Committee – middle aged white guy from the Institute of Directors

Sue Suckling – Miskimmin representative to the Swimming New Zealand Review Committee – middle aged white woman from the Institute of Directors

Brent Layton – Miskimmin representative to the new Swimming New Zealand Board – middle aged white guy from the Institute of Directors

Bruce Cotterill – Miskimmin representative to the new Swimming New Zealand Board – middle aged white guy from the Institute of Directors

Geoff Brown – Miskimmin representative to the new Swimming New Zealand Board – middle aged white guy possibly from the Institute of Directors

Diversity obviously had a different meaning at the school Miskimmin went to. The rest of New Zealand thinks board room diversity means including a mix of ethnic, gender and class members. Miskimmin clearly believes diversity is a measure of how long you’ve been a member of the Institute of Directors. If swimming is anything to go by Miskimmin makes his appointments from an old boy’s network of Miskimmin clones. Building and holding power in that situation is very simple. They are all mates together supping from the same state trough.

Miskimmin would do well to remember that many of us had parents who went to war and came back damaged and broken in the defence of the concept he is so willing to trash – the concept called democracy. I do not like the oligarchy Miskimmin has created in swimming. I will do everything I can to cause it harm. I like it even less when he claims his grab for power is actually a move to defend the rights of women. That’s just the arrogance of power, characteristic of many flawed leaders.

A few years ago I did the MA course in Recreation and Leisure Studies at Victoria University in Wellington. Part of the program discussed the question of gender involvement in the administration of sport. In my first book on swimming here is how I described what happened.

When I coached Alison, I saw myself as being in the vanguard of liberal-thinking coaches. I set schedules identical to those of international male athletes. I said things like, “You can train as hard as John Walker.” She did. She regularly completed her 10-week build-up, averaging 160 km or more each week. Her anaerobic sessions included 8-lappers, 10 x 400 metres and 20 x 200 metres. “Brilliant,” I said. “You’re now training as well as Walker, Rod Dixon and Dick Quax.”

And I was wrong. Discussing my enlightened views with Alan Laidler, lecturer in recreation and leisure studies at Victoria University, in Wellington, I was asked, “Why did you make the comparison? Why was it necessary to compare her performance with some man?” He was right. In setting up champion men as role models, I was as guilty of a serious put-down as those who say, “You can’t train as hard as men. Do something less.”

I was well-intentioned — but misguided. I never make these kinds of comparisons today. Athletes are capable of what they are capable of, irrespective of their sex, which is a non-relevant variable.

And that’s the problem with Miskimmin. He says, “Most old constitutions have used an electoral system, whereby to get on a board candidates have to get voted on. This system tends to favour men, who look within their own networks to fill roles. Typically, women have not fared so well in that process – going to AGMs, putting themselves up there, doing the lobbying to get themselves voted on, is something that women don’t necessarily gravitate towards”.

What a load of insufferable arrogance. Ask Margret Thatcher, Helen Clarke, Hillary Clinton, Jenny Shipley, Indira Ghandi, Golda Meir, Mabel Howard or any of the 39 female MPs in the current New Zealand parliament if they need Miskimmin’s male assistance to avoid the rigors of democracy. It’s male egotism at its worst. It is certainly unworthy of an individual whose job involves spending millions to promote the participation and success of women and men in New Zealand sport. But then Miskimmin would most probably defend himself by saying, “I’m not sexist but…”


Miskimmin: Liar, Stupid or What?

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

By David

I’m lost for words. Let me explain what happened yesterday. Then you can decide whether the guy running Sport New Zealand is fit for the job. Are Sport New Zealand the “real enemy” as they were described to me by a senior sport’s administrator recently? Here are the facts. You decide.

On Tuesday 2 January 2013 Dana Johannsen wrote an opinion item in the New Zealand Herald, headlined “NZ women sidelined from governing roles”. In the article Johannsen reports on an interview with the CEO of Sport New Zealand, Peter Miskimmin. I’ve copied quite a long extract from her story as it is important to know what Miskimmin had to say. After all, it would be most unkind to offer a biased account of the Miskimmin thought process. So, here is what the CEO of Sport New Zealand thinks about women in the sporting board room.

A lot of sports have been hamstrung by their own constitutions, which don’t make it easy for women to go on boards. Most old constitutions have used an electoral system, whereby to get on a board candidates have to get voted on. This system tends to favour men, who look within their own networks to fill roles.

“Typically, women have not fared so well in that process – going to AGMs, putting themselves up there, doing the lobbying to get themselves voted on, is something that women don’t necessarily gravitate towards,” said Miskimmin.

As sports change their constitutions, allowing for a more even ratio of elected and appointed directors, it will provide more opportunities for women to be placed on boards.

Miskimmin said league and swimming are two sports that have recently revisited their constitutions, on the back of a wider review into the state of their respective organisations, and have been able to achieve better diversity on their boards.

Clearly it is the last paragraph that is of interest to Swimwatch. Miskimmin is telling New Zealand that his review of swimming resulted in a Board with better diversity. In the context of this article every one of the New Zealand Herald’s daily 818,000 readers will read this and will believe that Swimming New Zealand now has a Board that includes more women than it did before Miskimmin worked his magic. Miskimmin is saying his rush to abandon democracy is validated by the benefit it bestows on the representation of women on the Swimming New Zealand Board. And that’s not true. Oh, Miskimmin compromised democracy alright but the claim of a better place for women is just rubbish.

Before Miskimmin meddled in the affairs of Swimming New Zealand the Board included three women. And they were women of some stature, experience and principle. Here is a short biography of the three women on the “before-Miskimmin” Swimming New Zealand Board.

Alison Fitch was a New Zealand swimming competitor. She won a bronze medal with in the 4x200m freestyle relay at the 2006 Commonwealth Games. She competed at the 1996 and 2004 Olympic Games.

Suzanne Spear has been involved over the last 8 years with her 4 children in competitive swimming in Auckland. 2003 to 2005 Suzanne was a member of the Events Management Group and is an Auckland referee. Outside of the swimming world, Suzanne and her husband Robert have a Town Planning and Resource Management consultancy firm.

Jane Wrightson became New Zealand’s first woman Chief Censor, in 1991. Before her appointment as Chief Censor, Wrightson obtained a BA at Victoria University and a Master of Business Administration with Distinction at Massey University. Wrightson became Chief Executive of New Zealand on Air in 2007. She is also a member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors. She retired from the Board of Netball New Zealand in 2007 after an 8 year stint, and was appointed to the Swimming NZ Board in 2007.

Those are three pretty talented women. I’ve never met Jane Wrightson but Suzanne Spear and Alison Fitch have always impressed me. Of all the problems that plagued Swimming New Zealand in recent years the representation of women was not one of them. Both the number and the quality of the female members of the “pre-Miskimmin” Board were beyond reproach.

But Miskimmin says his new constitution has done better. His new Board has “achieved better diversity”. But is that true? Is Miskimmin wrong? Is he stupid? Is he telling lies? Is he dealing in corporate spin? Or is he just plain corrupt? Well you decide. Because the truth is that Miskimmin’s new Board has just ONE female member. Here is a brief version of what Swimming New Zealand has to say about its current lone female Board member.

Gabrielle Rush has worked in the private and public sectors as a senior lawyer. She has served on a number of councils and boards, and is currently on the board of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Gabrielle has had a connection with the sport of swimming as a former competitive swimmer and swim teacher, and more recently as a board member of NZ Swim Coaches and Teachers Association. One of Gabrielle’s children swims competitively for North Shore Swim Club in Auckland.

How on God’s good earth Miskimmin can tell the country’s largest newspaper that he has provided better diversity for women to the Board of Swimming New Zealand is beyond me. Previously three women with experience in international swimming, administration and business management from Hawkes Bay, Hamilton and Auckland represented women on the Swimming New Zealand Board. Now one woman with limited swimming knowledge from, where else, the North Shore Swimming Club is the sole, female voice.

One of the key problems in the old Swimming New Zealand was that no one could believe a word they said. Every communication needed to be checked. Every action analysed. The American President, Ronald Regan, once said about the Russians, “Trust but verify”. In the old Swimming New Zealand that was certainly sound advice. But at Sport New Zealand, if this sort of communication is the standard, it looks like just “verify” might be a wiser course of action.

Editor’s note – Despite the weird irony of there being fewer women involved in the management of NZ Swimming now than there were before this diversity drive, it bears mentioning that making generalisations like “women don’t gravitate towards doing x, y and z” is one thing, but analysing why women – or any group – often do or don’t do these things is the second half of that conversation. Currently in my industry (tech, internet marketing) there is a debate about why there are always startlingly few women speakers at conferences. I’ve tried to point out a number of reasons why some women are turned off attending and speaking at events. I won’t go into them here (if you’re interested, I documented them in a rather heated blog post on my site here), but there is no point in making an observation and not asking both “why is this the case?” and “what can we do to fix it?”

I don’t know the whys or the hows in NZ Swimming: I dare say the reasons are very different to those I’ve encountered in tech! But simply saying “change the constitution” doesn’t address any underlying issues as to why a norm of having few women take part might have developed in the sport. And a sweeping measure to require quotas won’t fix any underlying problems or reasons either.


When Reform Fails

Monday, January 21st, 2013

By David

Almost always efforts to reform swimming in New Zealand have failed. Usually those in power simply waited until the reformers ran out of steam; a condition that never took all that long. Occasionally, a determined opposition successfully demanded that a token remit be passed at an Annual Meeting. Flushed with success, the revolutionaries trooped off back to New Plymouth, Napier, Nelson and Auckland confident that this time things would be different. Of course they never were. The remit was either never ratified or was stamped and forgotten. Life in Wellington went on as normal. Swimming New Zealand knew full well that even the most determined reformers were too tired to go through all that again.

However the effort to bring about reform in 2012 was different. In this case the opposition was made of sterner stuff. It was better organized, its leaders were determined, it had generous popular backing and it had the support of a sympathetic media. The revolutionaries even had a name. They called themselves The Coalition of Regions. All the conditions necessary to ensure victory were in place. Success on this occasion was not going to require the skills of a Lenin or a Castro. This should have been a walk in the park. But alas it was not to be. The opportunity was there; the conditions were perfect; it was the chance of a generation and The Coalition of Regions blew it.

At first The Coalition of Regions was formed to oppose an effort by Swimming New Zealand to sell a concept called Project Vanguard. This scheme proposed that the sport change from a federal diversified structure to a form of central unitary management control. Massive resources were poured into promoting the plan. I’m not sure how much Swimming New Zealand spent trying to persuade its members that Project Vanguard was the way things needed to be done. There certainly would not have been much change out of $500,000.

But The Coalition of Regions had right on its side. Wellington never stood a chance. The Regions were not about to vote themselves into oblivion. Swimming New Zealand was in a corner and knew it. If you will excuse the pun, Project Vanguard was dead in the water. If Project Vanguard was going to succeed a change of direction was required. Sport New Zealand, in the form of its CEO, Peter Miskimmin, was called in. After all if Project Vanguard failed Miskimmin’s organization had much to lose. It was clearly going to be more difficult for Miskimmin to control a federation of strong swimming Regions than govern a handpicked Board in Wellington. The Coalition of Regions was flown to Wellington. Earnest discussions were held and important Confidentiality Agreements were signed. In every way the Coalition members were wined and dined, patted and preened. In a skilful display of persuasion, flattery and coercion Miskimmin did in one day what Project Vanguard had failed to do in six months. He rolled The Coalition of Regions.

By the time the Coalition members were in a taxi on their way back to the airport it was all over. The sport of swimming had been sold out by those the membership had charged with the task of their defence. The poacher had turned gamekeeper. The freedom fighters had thrown in their lot with the occupying power; had become collaborators. And then Miskimmin did what he does best. He got the members of the Coalition of Regions to sign a water tight confidentiality agreement. No one could talk to anyone. Coalition administrators went to Wellington as representatives of their regional membership. They came away not willing or able to talk to their members. That was treasonous and should not be forgotten. And it took one day.

From then on it was all pretty simple. The hard work had been done. The opposition had been silenced. A skilled operator called Chris Moller was hired to write the new Project Vanguard Constitution. A Special General Meeting was called. Subtle and not so subtle threats were made to ensure the Special General Meeting vote would not be a problem. Not that any threats were necessary. The Coalition of Regions was over. There was no opposition. Oh, Auckland tried to make much of the fact that it abstained from voting for the new Project Vanguard Constitution. But abstaining only made New Zealand’s biggest region look weak and a touch pathetic. If Auckland had sufficient reservations to abstain, then it should have had the courage to vote no.

And that’s pretty much where we are today. You see the problem with losing a battle like this one is you end up in a worse position than you were at the start. That has certainly been the result in the case of swimming. Skilled operators like Miskimmin and Moller saw the turmoil in swimming as an opportunity. And the naivety of the Coalition of Regions did the rest. Sport New Zealand was allowed to impose a far tougher, far worse Project Vanguard Constitution than Swimming New Zealand had been plugging for in the first place. The Coalition of Regions’ ineptitude was stunning. The sport ended up with a Project Vanguard Constitution. The opposition was defeated and in disarray. Gone was the determination to fight. Gone was the resolve to do what was right. Game, set and match to Miskimmin and Moller.

Or was it? No, I do not think so. Long before there was a Coalition of Regions, long before there was Miskimmin or Moller, there was this sport’s loyal opposition, searching for a better way. And there still is. We have not been rolled. Swimwatch has not been silenced. We may be of no concern to Miskimmin and Moller but we will continue to champion the cause of federalism and independence in sport. We will continue to oppose centralization and state control of swimming in New Zealand. To their cost, Jan Cameron, Mike Byrne and Murray Coulter discounted us once. Let’s hope Miskimmin and Moller make the same mistake; with the same result.

I have written this potted history of what went on last year as an independent record. The spin – there are some who would call it lies – that comes from the Swimming New Zealand PR machine should not be the only record of what went on. The Coalition of Regions’ account of these events will be no more reliable. Their spin is understandably coloured by embarrassment at their abdication, collaboration and certainly failure to manage the business.

Time To Turn Out The Lights

Friday, January 18th, 2013

By David

So now Regan has deserted the Millennium Institute. In what could be his most important contribution to swimming in New Zealand, he has resigned. Sport New Zealand’s wholly owned subsidiary, Swimming New Zealand, must be the only national sporting body on this planet with a multi-million dollar high performance center and no coach. Jan Cameron went, Scot Talbot-Cameron followed his mother and now Regan has had enough.

I’m delighted. It is no secret that I find the centralized delivery of elite sport abhorrent. The more damage that can be done to Swimming New Zealand’s so called elite program, the better. I have no time for anyone who has supported, swum in or worked in that place. All those who have participated in the Millennium program in any capacity have aided and abetted an organization that has done immeasurable harm to the sport of swimming. Those who have coached there should be ashamed. The Cameron and Miskimmin program has done nothing but damage those it was charged to serve.

I am not silly enough to think that the departure of Regan will sink Swimming New Zealand’s love affair with the centralized delivery of sport. It will cause damage, and that is good, but it will not be fatal. We will need to see more failures; we will need to fight more battles before this sport sees true reform. The Coalition of Regions did their best but, as we predicted, they were out classed by a guileful foe. Defeated and without hope they have given up the fight. That is sad and reflects badly on the Coalition’s leadership. And so it is left to those of us who, six years ago, began this fight to see it through. And that is what we intend to do.

But, there is some light. We are not alone. Have a read of this article copied from the New Zealand “Stuff” news website.

“A former rugby representative and septuagenarian has turned a passion for the national game into a PhD. Tom Johnson, 74, who once played for Hawke’s Bay, completed his doctoral thesis – A case study of the Winning Ethos and Organisational Culture of the All Blacks (1950-2010) – at Massey University last year.

In November he became a doctor of philosophy in management. His 276-page thesis involved extensive interviews with captains and coaches of our most successful sports team, and investigated its organisational culture over three 20-year periods.

“It summarises the culture of New Zealand rugby over a 60-year period and looks at why it has been successful,” he said. The combination of a strong culture and an ability to adapt to change had been key to the team’s success since its first game in 1903.

He said the 2004-11 coaching team of Graham Henry, Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith formalised an existing ethos of team leadership and was a recognition that “the old leadership principles of ‘one leader, one way of doing things’ wasn’t going to work”.

He said he had also found recent events within the national cricket team interesting. “One thing is very evident and that’s that there are leadership problems and that leadership group must bear responsibility for the dysfunctionality that has occurred, which is of course reflected in results. “I’ve always followed New Zealand cricket but I’ve always thought following our national team was the surest way to cure constipation,” he said.”

You have probably guessed already that the line that struck home to me is the one that says, “the old leadership principles of ‘one leader, one way of doing things’ wasn’t going to work”. Amen to that! Our argument has always been that the strength of USA and French swimming lay in their diversity. Strong swimming programs in Canet, Nice, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Gainesville, Marseille and a dozen other clubs, towns and cities produced almost every London Olympic swimming Gold Medallist. For ten years in New Zealand it’s been the Cameron, Ansorg, Talbot-Cameron, Regan way or nothing. And it didn’t work. They and it failed. It will not work in the future either. It is a structure that will never be strong enough to beat the swimmers that learn their trade in independent, private enterprise, entrepreneurial programs in the United States, France, Germany or Holland. Cameron was wrong and the coaches she employed compounded her error and the hurt it caused. Swimming New Zealand needs to read Mr Johnson’s thesis. On the wall of every club room, pinned to every coach’s white board, read out loud before every swimming Region’s Board Meeting should be his observation:

“The old leadership principles of ‘one leader, one way of doing things’ wasn’t going to work”.

Not as important but still relevant to the plight of swimming in New Zealand is Mr Johnson’s observation that “I’ve always followed New Zealand cricket but I’ve always thought following our national team was the surest way to cure constipation,” You see cricket and swimming have quite a bit in common. Winning is a distant memory, both sports can’t find or keep a decent coach, swimming and cricket love the idea of autocratic central control and their current management structures, at least that’s what they insist on calling them, are the product of the same man – Chris Moller. There is nothing more certain than the on-field disasters that have befallen both sports, reflect and are the product of, poor management. Peter Miskimmin seems to court failure. He appointed Chris Moller to sort out swimming’s problems knowing that Moller’s cricket empire is the laughing stock of world cricket. The new constitution, imposed by Moller and Miskimmin, and the management it spawns will lead this sport to the same sad state – the laughing stock of world swimming and most likely a second sure way to cure constipation.