Bringing The Sport Into Disrepute

By David

I’ve just read the Notice sent out by Christian Renford calling the 2013 Annual General Meeting of Swimming New Zealand. This is what it says:

Notice of the 2013 Annual General Meeting
of Swimming New Zealand

In accordance with clause of 15 of the constitution of Swimming New Zealand, notice is given of the 2013 Annual General Meeting.

Date and time Sunday 29th September 2013 beginning at 10:30am
Location Brentwood Hotel, 16 Kemp Street, Kilbirnie, Wellington


On the surface of it Renford’s Notice seems just fine. Except there is another Swimming New Zealand document published on their website that says:


29 Sept – 3 Oct 2013

Day 1 – Sun 29 September

Session 1 – Heats

Warm-up 7.15 – 8.45 Start 9.00am

That’s right Christian Renford and Brent Layton scheduled the 2013 Swimming New Zealand Annual Meeting on the same day and at the same time as the first session of swimming at the New Zealand Short Course Championships. Someone must have protested that incredible and disgusting decision because I see in the last few hours the meeting has been put back to 1.15pm; after the morning session of heats has ended.

However the facts are that Layton and Renford were initially quite happy to sit in the Brentwood Hotel having their annual meeting while the National Championships were being swum; sipping chardonnay at lunch while Lauren Boyle and a generation of future Lauren Boyles toiled a few hundred yards away.

The message it sends is as distressing as it is predictable. It says the bosses of this sport do not care. This is not about swimming. This is not about Boyle or Stanley or Snyders. It most certainly is not about Ip, Marston, Van Egten, Frink, Johns or Tonkins. That’s the six West Auckland Aquatics swimmers at the National Championships. This is about meetings, money and power. This is about the good life for Miskimmin’s foreign coterie.

Every good swimmer in New Zealand and especially Lauren Boyle would be well advised to remember this incident and take from it one clear message; do not trust those who run this sport. Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. While you were plying your trade, while you were hurting through another four hundred meters of effort, while Boyle was demonstrating the skills that put her among the world’s best, while Boyle showed New Zealand the speed that secured the government’s funding of swimming for another three years, the guys who run the sport could not be bothered turning up to watch. They don’t care. Lunch at the Brentwood is more important to the current bosses of swimming than anything Boyle might be doing in the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre.

The message from Renford and Layton is that we should all go to the pool and play our games. They, however, are real men with real business to attend to. Whenever either of them asks anyone, and especially Lauren Boyle, to put what happens in the pool first; to do the hard yards, to swim their heart out for their nation, remember what they put first; and it wasn’t what happened in a swimming pool. My guess is they probably thought a video feed of the heats through to the Brentwood Hotel would be ample involvement with the distraction of national swimming. Watching the kiddies swim on a TV screen would avoid interrupting their wine and cheese. Besides the Brentwood Conference Room hasn’t got any of that horrible chlorine smell that goes with pesky swimming pools. But best of all an early meeting would see those horrible trouble-makers from the Regions off home on an early afternoon flight. Everyone knows it’s difficult to cause trouble at an Annual Meeting when you have a plane to catch. These men are not swimming people. Everything they do smacks of all that’s bad in the corporate world. They are suits devoid of a sporting soul.

Lauren Boyle swam at Cal Berkley in San Francisco for four years. She was coached by the current USA National Coach, Teri McKeever. For much of Boyle’s time in the United States the man responsible for the national team was Mark Schubert; often referred to as the world’s most successful swim coach. Well, consider this. Is there any way on God’s good earth anyone can imagine McKeever or Schubert programming or attending an Annual General Meeting during a session of the US National Championships? Is there any way a meeting about anything would take precedence over what the country’s best swimmers were trying to achieve in a swimming pool. The answer is, of course not. There is no bloody way. And just perhaps that might have a little bit to do with why their program is so very good and why the one run by Miskimmin’s men, stinks.

I see that one of the items of business at the Annual General meeting is to elect two new Board members. In the new Swimming New Zealand, of course, the word elect carries with it all the democratic freedoms of Soviet Russia. The politbureau of New Zealand swimming says there are two vacancies and offers just two nominees – now vote. Democracy in swimming died when Moller arrived.

I would not vote for Ian Hunt. He was involved in preparing the current Constitution. I’m told he advised Moller not to allow the Regions to make any changes or the floodgates would open. There are plenty of Miskimmin preferred autocrats involved in swimming these days. It would be best to avoid adding another. His Resume says he is actively working to implement the recommendations of the working group. And yet he was on the Board that overturned one of the key working party recommendations adopted by the SGM; that SNZ get out of learn to swim. Then he along with the other members of the new Board says all that is just fine; no new authority is required from a General Meeting because the Board has the power to over-rule a General Meeting. I’m sure you’re right, General Soviet Secretary Hunt.

Margaret McKee is a more complex subject. We swam together in the Comet Swimming Club in Gisborne. Margaret was a good swimmer. Swimming New Zealand of course can’t resist padding her Resume by calling her a National Champion. She wasn’t. What she did win, was a New Zealand age group title. Shortly after winning that race she was sent to Wellington to board at the Samuel Marsden Collegiate School in Wellington.

I happen to know a bit about that establishment. My daughter Jane spent (she may prefer the word suffered) eight years at Marsden. Two types of girls graduate from Samuel Marsden. The best are very good indeed; polite, well educated, kind and sincere young women. The worst are spoilt, rich kid brats, devoid of any breeding, selfish, status-obsessed snobs. When Margaret left for Marsden the members of Comet, including me, lost any meaningful contact. It will be interesting to see which type of Marsden graduate Margret McKee became. A year on the Swimming New Zealand Board will reveal all.