So What Is Donna Bouzaid Going To Do?

By David

The answer is no one knows. We do know she has been appointed as Swimming New Zealand’s first “Elite Youth Development Coach”. But what that means is anyone’s guess. The job specification calling for applications was vague and provided little information about what the successful applicant was expected to do between nine and five each day.

The appointment of Bouzaid has done nothing to provide further information or clarity. Swimming New Zealand’s press release tells us all about Bouzaid but nothing about what she is expected to do in her new job. I mean I’m pleased Bouzaid swam Cook Strait in 1985 and had two swimmers on New Zealand’s Beijing Olympic team. I’m delighted that Lauren Boyle won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, 2006 and that Daniel Bell won three gold medals at the 2008 world junior swimming championships in Mexico. But all that tells me nothing about what Donna Bouzaid is going to do as the “Elite Youth Development Coach”. Is her job going to affect my life in any way?

Even Bouzaid appears to be confused. In an interview with the Taranaki Daily News she is reported to have said, “It’s a new role so we’re starting off with a blank piece of paper,” I wonder what that means? Is that code for “no one has told me what I’m expected to do yet,” or “I know exactly what I’m going to do, but I’m not going to tell you because I know you won’t like it?”

In the same Taranaki Daily News interview Bouzaid tried to avoid telling us anything more about her new job by saying the things Swimming New Zealand types always say; phrases that everyone wants to hear but that mean little and tell you even less. Phrases like “helping New Zealand’s young swimmers realise their full potential” and:

“My role is going around the country coaching the coaches who have swimmers 18 and under in their programmes,” she said. This is part of Swimming New Zealand’s talent identification programme. The goal is to turn those coaches and their swimmers into high performance coaches and athletes.” This means giving them the skills and knowledge to compete at the top level; the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and world championships.”

New Zealand take note. There is nothing in there, apart from Bouzaid’s admission that she is, “part of Swimming New Zealand’s talent identification programme,” that suggests Donna Bouzaid is about to prowl around New Zealand looking for Millennium Institute recruits. However I would like to hear Bouzaid specifically deny that she was not a Millennium talent scout. Why?

Well in the past week, two prominent members of the swimming community have told me they are convinced that is exactly what Donna Bouzaid has been hired to do. If that is true and Bouzaid is a scout looking to recruit club swimmers into the Millennium Program then I would prefer her to stay away from our club. Anyone who recruits swimmers for the fiasco that is Swimming New Zealand’s centralized state programme is not welcome.

However if Bouzaid’s new role is to strengthen what our club does with West Auckland swimmers then she will be more than welcome. However, because there is confusion, it would be best for Donna Bouzaid to clarify this aspect of her role, before we assume the worst and have “Do not enter” signs printed in preparation for her arrival.

I would be surprised and disappointed if Bouzaid had accepted a job as a Millennium talent scout. For years she fought tooth and nail with Jan Cameron over this very principle. I was coaching in the United States at the time and so have little knowledge of the detail of what went on. But, from what I’ve heard, Jan Cameron did not make life easy for Bouzaid when they were both North Shore Club coaches. Cameron prevented Bouzaid from coaching older and faster swimmers. Understandably frustrated, Bouzaid moved to West Auckland. A few years on and she was coaching some very good swimmers. But even then, I’m told, she had Jan problems. In spite of two Bouzaid coached swimmers making the Beijing Olympic team, Cameron put all sorts of obstacles in the way of Bouzaid’s appointment to the Olympic team coaching roster. Eventually Bouzaid was appointed.

With this history of fighting Swimming New Zealand, in the form of Jan Cameron, it would be disappointing if Bouzaid was about to cross the aisle; the gamekeeper was about to become poacher. The personnel at Swimming New Zealand may have changed but Bouzaid needs to understand that we still feel the same about our best young swimmers as she did about Daniel Bell and Lauren Boyle. Our swimmers are not for sale to Donna Bouzaid any more than Bozaid’s swimmers were not for sale to Jan Cameron.

The concern that Bouzaid may have conveniently changed her allegiances is heightened by the conclusion to the Taranaki Daily News interview. Here is what Bouzaid is reported to have said.

The sport of swimming is taking some great leaps and bounds. It’s really an exciting time for the future of our sport. It’s really good to see the new people at the top of our sport now. Everyone’s on the same wave-length and it’s looking good for the future.”

High praise indeed. But is this the first salvo in a Bouzaid case that argues that, now it’s fine for club coaches to send their best swimmers to the Swimming New Zealand programme because the organization to full of nice, new people – not at all like the horrible ones Bouzaid had to deal with a few years ago. Are Swimming New Zealand banking on Bouzaid being the perfect saleswoman for the new regime because she fought so hard with the old one? She knows what real bastards are like so you can trust her when she says these new guys are great. It’s all changed from Bouzaid’s day. These good people will really look after your club’s best swimmers.

I have a feeling that’s exactly what’s happening and I’d like to hear Bouzaid deny it’s true. And if she doesn’t calm our concerns? Then, before any club coach opens his or her club to Bouzaid’s approach it would be worthwhile asking her the question.

  • davidwrightsawanker

    you are such a wanker wright, I am surprised no one has taken to you with a baseball bat

    • Jane_Copland

      Guys – we get comments like this from time to time so there’s no harm in showing one every once in a while. I’m not sure why the criticism of swimming drives some people to violence, but there you go.

  • David

    It is amazing the stuff that comes to light when you write a story like this one. I’ve received several emails adding information to the story. One was of particular interest. It was from a friend who now lives in Asia but was in NZ when Bouzaid was at the West Wave Pool. Evidently there was a plan car Bouzaid and Paul Kingsman to ha e an elite squad at West Wave that would be made up of swimmers from all the clubs in tbd west – waq, waitakere, waterhole roskil and the like. If that is the case Bouzaid may have a history that accepts poaching. Certainly the fact that this story is out there requires Bouzaid to tell us where she stands. It’s time to come clean; time to set the record straight.

  • JamesT


    I would acknowledge that there have been times when you have been quite personal in the posts you have made on various topics. I understand why some might take exception to your tone from time to time. I am quite sure that you understand that and don’t take too much issue when people disagree or take exception.

    In this post while you name your protagonist I felt you were very balanced in laying down a challenge – please tell us Ms Bouzaid who you are and where you stand. If you are one, you will be welcome – if you are the other, you will nor be. Quite a simple message and I would expect no less from you.

    I fail to understand why your correspondent “davidwrightsa******” takes such strong exception to this challenge as to wish you actual bodily harm. I for one will be interested to hear if you ever get a clear answer from Ms Bouzaid relating to her intentions. Equally I would hope your correspondents might raise their game a little and contribute more meaningfully to a discussion than resorting to the intellectual vapidity which this mindless nobody displays.

    At least you always put your name to your opinions David and agree with you or not at least we all know where you stand. BTW, congratulations on sticking to your principles and allowing even your fierce critics to have their say, even when those are as pathetic as this nobody from nowhere.

    • Jane_Copland

      I think the violent / nasty aspect of comments like that has a lot to do with how long an industry has been “online” – where I work, online comments are pretty standard now, so we’ve been through the years of people being anonymous trolls, threatening violence, etc. Some folks still try it, but no one pays them any attention anymore. “The community” just won’t pay it attention anymore, especially if it’s anonymous.

      Case in point, there’s a guy called Jeremy Schoemaker who goes by the moniker “Shoemoney” in the online marketing community. He puts his name to what he writes. However, he has a person contribute blog posts to his site (which is very well-read) who goes by the name “SEObitch”. “She” (the writer claims to be female but who knows, really) won’t put her real name to what she writes. It’s a badly-written gossip column about what SEObitch thinks is going on in the online marketing world.

      Examples: and

      They started this five years ago. The online marketing world was intrigued and excited. Gossip! Bitchiness! I hated it immediately because at the time, I was a staff writer for another marketing blog, and people assumed SEObitch was me. They also assumed it was one of three or four other women who had similar jobs to me. Anyone with an ounce of critical ability would determine that the author was none of us: unless someone was doing a great job of disguising her written voice (which is much harder than it sounds), the SEObitch posts sounded nothing like any of us. They were, at best, poorly written. At worst, a failing grade in a high school English class.

      The posts received a lot of attention and comments and Twitter mentions. They went on for a while before petering out. People forgot about it until the author started writing on Schoemaker’s blog again last year.

      And you know what happened? In comparison to the furor and attention of 2008, no one took any notice. The most tabloid of the posts receive ~30 comments from people who visit the site regularly, but not the 100+ that they used to, and it’s talked about very infrequently in social media – an area where these things used to get discussed at length. If they had posted those two links above in 2008, the comment thread would have gone over 200, no doubt. There would have been hours of discussion elsewhere on the web and SEObitch would have loved every minute of it.

      Now, the only links she receives are from Twitter bots that auto-tweet posts that are put up on that site.

      The reason why is that no one has any time for dumb, badly spoken anonymous shit-stirring anymore. I understand that many of you feel that giving your well-written, constructive opinions here (agreeing or disagreeing with articles) is a danger to your social circle or jobs in swimming, and that’s fine. What I find really interesting is the fact that a maturing community went from lapping up the nasty rantings of someone who wouldn’t put her name to her words, to basically ignoring her.

      People who’d otherwise have left comments around the industry like the one below realised that no one was interested anymore and they wouldn’t get a reaction. Don’t get me wrong; it still happens from time to time. Just far less frequently.

      If someone feels like coming on here and suggesting anonymously that someone should get taken to with a baseball bat, why don’t they instead take five minutes to actually put together a coherent thought about why the author is wrong and what they’d suggest is the right course of action instead?

      Because anonymous threats of violence don’t make you look any better or the person you disagree with look any worse. Quite the opposite.

      I used to read comments like the one below in my industry about six or seven years ago, but they’ve died out. Getting that email a couple of days ago was like a step back in time ;)

  • The Truth

    This article is biased once again with your opinions David wright, good authors Di not take sides like you they should support both sides not pick one without showing both sides of the story.

  • David

    I am reluctant to discuss the moronic opinions of “The Truth”. They
    simply do not reach a level of sense that merits the effort of a reply.

    However, this last gem is so senseless; so devoid of veracity it should
    not be allowed to pass. Here is what “The Truth” said,

    “Good authors do not take sides like you. They should support both sides
    not pick one without showing both sides of the story.”

    Of course good journalists express an opinion. Take Bernard Levin CBE. He was an English journalist, author and broadcaster, described by The Times newspaper as “the most famous journalist of his day”.

    And this is what he had to say about taking sides.

    “I am barred by the governments concerned from entering the Soviet Union and the lands of her empire on the one hand and South Africa on the other. These decrees constitute a pair of campaign medals that I wear with considerable pleasure and I have a profound suspicion of those who rebuke me for partisanship while wearing only one”

    And believe me if taking sides; if being partisan was good enough for Bernard Levin, it’s just fine by me.

  • Ringo Battersby

    David, how about a united call to arms for Sky to change their mind and cover the World Champs later this month. We have had coverage for years and to go back to this is a major step back in this dfay and age. They will be feeling vulnerable having lost other sports. Please tell all your readers to protest to sky. It is a shame that no such campaign has come from SNZ head quarters, I bet they do not even know.