Asinus Asinum Fricat

By David

This Latin motto was sent to me by an old school mate who lives a few kilometres outside Rome. She tells me the term is frequently used to describe the chaos that haunts Italian politics. However based on our last Swimwatch story my friend believes Swimming New Zealand may be just as deserving. In English it means: One donkey scratches another donkey. When two donkeys are scratching each other two equally foolish people are lavishing praise on one another for their talents and achievements.

She may just be right. The power brokers of New Zealand sport are certainly full of the wonderful job they have done reforming swimming; of saving it from extinction. They proudly tell anyone who will listen about the skill and management savvy it took to turn swimming around.

But they have the same problem that afflicts every totalitarian regime. Society (in this case swimming) is so complex, so intricate that the centralized model favoured by Miskimmin to run New Zealand swimming is not capable of efficiently handling the variables involved. For as long as Miskimmin is in charge, New Zealand will always be beaten by the diverse free enterprise structures that control competitive swimming in the USA, France, Germany and Italy. Miskimmin’s Olympic hockey career was a disaster and his foray into swimming will fare no better.

Last week we discussed mistakes made by Miskimmin’s swimming bureaucracy. The effort they put into ruling and controling deflects attention away from efficient performance.

This week Swimming New Zealand has done no better. They distributed a letter to New Zealand’s best 12-14 year old swimmers. Summarised this is what the letter said.

An Invitation from Swimming New Zealand to attend the 2013 North Island Regional Age Group Camp

CONGRATULATIONS Joe Blogs, you have been selected by Swimming New Zealand to attend the 2013 North Island Regional Age Group Camp – a part of the Youth and Age National Development Program. These camps are an integral part of the Swimming New Zealand national development pathway.

Selections have been made based on Long Course XLR8 performances between 1st November 2012 to 3rd March 2013 with swimmers competing at either the New Zealand Junior Championships or the New Zealand National Age Group Championships. The top 16 female and top 16 male swimmers between the ages of 12-14 and living in the North Island (age as of 30th April 2013) have been selected off XLR8 points.

Camp Information:

Dates: 3rd – 5th May 2013

Location: Rotorua Accommodations: Kiwi Paka

Training Venue: Rotorua Aquatic Centre         

There will be a subsidy from Swimming New Zealand to help keep costs down. The user pays component for these camps will be $250 per swimmer

Once again CONGRATULATIONS on your selection!

Kind Regards,

Philip Rush

Doesn’t that sound like a wonderful opportunity? Young Swimming New Zealand members, from all over the North Island, were breathless with anticipation at being recognized by the national body for their skill and their effort. Miskimmin’s organization had identified and selected those individuals poised to represent New Zealand in the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games. In future years these swimmers would recollect that their careers began in 2013 when Miskimmin’s men tapped them on the shoulder and issued an invitation to attend the North Island Regional Age Group Camp in Rotorua.

But, remember this is Swimming New Zealand – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You don’t believe me?

Well, the 2013 Rotorua camp might sound pretty good but Miskimmin’s hired help didn’t even get that right. A week after their invitations were distributed Phillip Rush sent out a second letter withdrawing the offer. Evidently Swimming New Zealand discovered invitations had been sent to some young swimmers who were outside the age limit. Really, the Miskimmin menagerie couldn’t organize a piss up in a Speights’ Brewery.

However having made the mistake of sending out incorrect invitations there is no justification in turning a group of young New Zealanders into victims. But Miskimmin’s chosen ones got that wrong as well. In a few short days the message Swimming New Zealand sent our finest young swimmers morphed from “you have been selected by Swimming New Zealand” to we made a mistake and we don’t want you anymore; a cruel emotional roller coaster. Fortunately, the young do not forget errors like that and neither should they.

But there is good news. Any swimmer who was going to Rotorua and then was told to stay home, has had a fortunate escape. Can an organization that can’t distribute an invitation properly be trusted to look after or coach anyone? I wouldn’t trust that lot to coach my pet goldfish.

The lesson to be learned from this fiasco is to treat every communication from Swimming New Zealand with the utmost caution. If it comes from Swimming New Zealand or Sport New Zealand or High Performance Sport New Zealand then it is probably too good to be true.

The performance of those swimmers at the National Age Group Championships proves that home coaches know how to look after these swimmers. Home coaches brought these swimmers to the attention of Swimming New Zealand’s takers and users in the first place. If home coaches were good enough to bring these swimmers to the attention of Swimming New Zealand they are probably also going to be good enough to bring them to the attention of the world. Something Swimming New Zealand, with twenty years of access to New Zealand’s most talented swimmers, has never been able to do. Those young swimmers rejected by Swimming New Zealand would do well to look at the career of Olympic gold medallist Danyon Loader. He wisely spent his entire career with his home coach; an uncomplicated man called Duncan Laing.

None of this litany of blunders will change anything. Right now, Miskimmin, Villanueva, Renford, Layton and Sweetenhan, (yes, he is back at the Millennium Institute and must be costing Miskimmin a fortune. But then Miskimmin has still to learn that gold medals cannot be bought) are flushed with the newness of it all and the abundance of Miskimmin’s money. Right now is a time of, asinus asinum fricat.