Archive for September, 2013

Tell A Lie Frequently And It Will Be Believed

Friday, September 20th, 2013

By David

The title of this story is a modified quote from history’s worst liar. I was reminded of it when I read an article by Jonathan Millmow about the depth of the Kilbirnie Pool. Not that Jonathan Millmow is a liar. Certainly not. However the stuff he has been told by Swimming Wellington operations manager, Henrietta Latham, needs to be examined.

For example Latham told Millmow:

“For international competition pools must be a minimum of 1.35m deep out to 6m, according to world swimming body Fina. Kilbirnie was 1.25m for the Wellington short course champs, however it was not operating illegally because it was only a provincial meet.”

And that’s simply not true. FINA rules and SNZ Rules specify three different types of pools;

  1. Olympic Standard Pools – that’s pools used for Olympic Games and World Championships.
  2. General Standard Pools – that’s pools used for other FINA events such as Pan Pacific Games and Oceania Championships.
  3. Minimum Standard Pools – that’s all other events held under FINA rules.

Kilbirnie is a “Minimum Standard Pool”. Events held there, whether it is the National Short Course Championship or a Provincial Championship or the Lyall Bay Chocolate Fish Carnival are held under Swimming New Zealand and FINA Rules. According to FINA and SNZ Rule FR 1.3 that means the National Short Course Championships, the Wellington Provincial Championships and the Chocolate Fish event “should be conducted in pools that comply with all of the minimum standards contained in this Part.”

And one of the minimum standards (FR 2.3) contained in this part refers to depth and says;

“A minimum depth of 1.35 meters, extending from 1.0 metre to at least 6.0 metres from the end wall is required for pools with starting blocks. A minimum depth of 1.0 metre is required elsewhere.”

With that as the rules what are we to make of Latham’s assertion to Millmow? “The pool is not illegal. The facts are, it’s not too shallow.” Well Ms Latham it seems that FINA and SNZ rules do not agree with you. The pool is illegal and it is too shallow – no matter how frequently you say otherwise we do not believe you. In fact we think you have misled a leading New Zealand journalist. We think you are covering up misconduct by the swimming region you represent.

Quite unbelievably Latham goes on to tell Millmow, “We’ve run events at this pool for 15-18 years without an injury.” Now that’s not true either. I have no idea how long Latham has been involved in Wellington swimming but I’ve had swimmers competing there since the pool was built and frequently they have scraped their knees and tummies on the bottom of the Kilbirnie pool. Nothing as serious as lost teeth but certainly damage that satisfies the definition of “injury”. Always my swimmers have had to adjust their dive to a shallower and slower version to accommodate Kilbirnie’s dangerous and illegal depth.

Jon Winter, coach of the swimmer hurt in this incident, trained at the Kilbirnie pool for years after it was first built. He is reported as saying he “felt it was an exaggeration to say there hadn’t been injuries over the years at Kilbirnie.” Even Gary Hurring, a coach known for choosing his words with huge political care, is reported as saying, there have been few incidents.” So I’m afraid, Ms Latham, the three coaches who, in one capacity or another, were working at the Kilbirnie Pool when it was first built do not agree with you.

The misinformation given to Millmow is compounded by, what appears to be an attempt to transfer blame to the coaches of swimmers hurt at the Kilbirnie pool. She says, “Swimmer education would have avoided the problem. There were mistakes made on certain people’s behalf as well.” I think that comment by Latham is disgusting. How dare she try and excuse her sport’s negligent behaviour by shifting the blame onto good coaches. How dare she. All the education in the world will not make an unsafe pool, safe. I’ve coached national champions, world championship medallists and national representatives who have had bumps and bruises diving in that pool. Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte would have difficulty diving safely into the Kilbirnie pool. There is nothing wrong with their education. But there is plenty wrong with the shallow end of Ms Latham’s pool.

And the final indignity is Latham’s use of the money argument. This is what she told Millmow. “Shifting the booms around for the Wellington champs, would have cost $10,000, “It’s a very expensive exercise to turn the pool around.”

I must say I find the figure of $10,000 hard to believe. It might be true but I’d like to see a breakdown of Latham’s figure. But irrespective of the cost, what is the price of Emily Irving’s front teeth. What price does Latham and her Wellington Swimming Region mates put on her suffering? How can any responsible official compare money with the safety and health of those she is charged to protect? If a few scrapes and bruises don’t justify $10,000; if a lacerated face does not justify $10,000: if broken front teeth don’t justify $10,000 – then tell us Ms Latham what needs to happen before you and Swimming New Zealand will stop using the shallow end of this pool. A broken back – will that be enough? Or do you need a lifeless body lying on the bottom of your too shallow pool. Money is hardly the question. Raising it as an issue; using it as a justification, is beyond belief.

I actually think Millmow has done a good job. Without embellishment or exaggeration he has clearly reported Latham’s views. From that we can come to our own conclusions – and they are not good. We have the uncomfortable feeling that this might be a cover up; this could be administrators running for cover; this may be an effort to avoid an important responsibility.

Swimming New Zealand and Wellington Swimming change the Kilbirnie pool.




In The Interests Of Transparency

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

By David

There are events that are so devoid of civility that they render decent people speechless. Swimming New Zealand has just engineered one such event. So what happened on this occasion?

Well, they had an election. Except it wasn’t really an election. You see, the Board had two vacancies and Swimming New Zealand offered just two candidates. Two vacancies, two candidates – that’s an election every tin-pot dictator in world history would recognize. Robert Mugabe, Joseph Stalin, Kim Jong-Il, Idi Amin, Muammar Gaddafi, Brent Layton and Christian Renford clearly have or had no problem with unopposed “democracy”. One handpicked, state sponsored candidate for each vacancy is the form of democracy offered by Swimming New Zealand; promoted and supported by Christian Renford and his boss Brent Layton.
The two candidates were nominated by a selection politbureau, unbelievably comprised of Comrade Chis Moller, fresh from a sterling period of successful management at Cricket New Zealand, Comrade Brent Layton, the Swimming New Zealand Chairman, some Comrade from Sport New Zealand with the slightly pornographic title of Relationships Manager and a token junior comrade from Wellington. Their nominations, unsurprisingly supported by Swimming New Zealand, were Ian Hunt from Christchurch and Margaret McKee from Wellington. When these two realized they were the only candidates; that there was no contested election; no democracy, they should have withdrawn from the process. Perhaps their participation in this electoral sham raises serious questions about their values. Are there any other democratic principles Hunt and McKee are prepared to see compromised in the pursuit of power? I don’t know, but I’d love to hear them justify uncontested elections; elections in which they are the only candidates, elections where a soviet style politbureau replaces the will of the membership, as being in any way democratic or ethical.
Would Hunt and McKee find it at all strange if Len Brown was to have council officers declare him the only candidate in the – soon to be held – Auckland mayoral elections? How are Hunt and McKee any different? How is Swimming New Zealand any different?
But the questions do not stop there. The voting sham of the Board election took place a couple of weeks ago. Swimming New Zealand’s thirteen regions voted. Each region’s votes were sent to Pelorus House by email. Someone in Swimming New Zealand had the task of collating thirteen electoral returns, for or against two unopposed candidates. On a bad day that’s about an hour’s work.
In the New Zealand General Election the earliest results are declared an hour after the polls close; with most votes being counted by midnight and all 2,278,989 votes being accounted for the following day. But, at the new Layton, Renford Swimming New Zealand counting thirteen regional returns took them a week; that’s about twelve hours for each return; three and a half days for each vacancy; three and a half days for each candidate, seven days to count twenty-six possible yes or no votes.
And, after all that, they got it wrong.
Swimming New Zealand declared a result that was electoral rubbish. I have no idea what they did. I suspect they allocated some of Hunt’s results to McKee and could have even counted some negative results as yes votes for the candidates. Whatever, their incompetence resulted in Swimming New Zealand declaring a Board election result that was as much a work of fiction as Lord of the Rings. The Carter Centre for election monitoring could well be of use to this lot when it comes to deciding on what’s “free and fair”.
When Swimming New Zealand was questioned by regions unable to reconcile the votes they had caste with Swimming New Zealand’s first declaration of the official result, Swimming New Zealand replied with the email shown below. Like a school boy caught shoplifting candy from the corner store, Swimming New Zealand say, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to. I just made a mistake.”
Subject: Amended result of Swimming New Zealand Board Elections / Appointments
Swimming New Zealand Board Elections / Appointments
To Chairs of Regions, Regional Associations, Life Members and Swimming NZ Board and Staff
For your information and in the interests of transparency, due to an error in calculating the votes received by each candidate, we have had to review and recount the voting for the Swimming New Zealand Board Elections.
 As a result of that, I can confirm the following revised percentages received by each candidate:
 Votes Cast:                    7786
 Ian Giles Hunt                6935                    89.07%
Elsie Margaret McKee    5464 votes          70.18%
Under the SNZ Constitution, candidates needed to exceed 50.00% of the vote to be elected. Both Ian Hunt and Margaret McKee have achieved this and are therefore elected.
I apologies for the inconvenience caused.
Thanks / regards
What a joke. For a week they counted thirteen returns and got it wrong. So much for the Layton, Renford motto of “Excellence, Integrity, Accountability”. Is excellence taking a week to count to thirteen? Is integrity misallocating votes and waiting for a complaint before correcting the error? Is accountability promoting single candidate elections? I think not.
And then they had to “review and recount the voting”. And this is the organization that says it is the one that will lead us to world swimming excellence. Think about it. It takes them a week to count to thirteen and they want us to put New Zealand’s young swimmers in their care. Hell no. Anyone responsible for this electoral shambles is not going to get any swimmer of mine. In fact the suspicion of electoral misbehavior is sufficiently high I think it is essential that Swimming New Zealand be asked to publish the raw electoral returns from the Regions. I want to check the validity of what I’m being told. And if that leaves the impression I don’t trust the stuff that comes out of Pelorus House, with this as my experience, do you blame me? However better than all that if we can get Swimming New Zealand to publish the actual votes I promise that all by myself, with only a $5 calculator as help, I will have an accurate count in less than one hour – excellence, integrity and accountability.
Off the subject perhaps, but one final point, am I alone in finding the result of this election surprising? Here we have two handpicked candidates standing for two uncontested vacancies and 10.93% of the membership felt sufficiently negative towards Hunt that they actually voted against him. McKee had 29.82% of the membership vote against her bid for swimming power. Uncontested elections are normally won by 99% margins. Robert Mugabe would look on the performance of Hunt and McKee as a huge defeat – and so it is. In an uncontested election this result is about as bad as it gets. When there is no choice but a huge minority of the members still feel sufficiently motivated to vote against the candidate, then there is a problem. Layton and Renford would do well to take note. The message from this result is that the membership of Swimming New Zealand is not happy and is beginning to let it be known.           

A Swimmer’s Thoughts On The Commonwealth Games Qualifying Times

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

By a New Zealand Swimmer

Note: We received this article from a current New Zealand swimmer who wishes to remain anonymous

Swimming New Zealand has recently released the qualifying criteria for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.  On seeing the required times, three thoughts come to mind.

(1)  The times are really fast!

(2)  Why are the times so fast?

(3)  Why are there no 50m qualifying times except for the 50m free?

The qualifying times SNZ has posted are indeed very fast.  The men’s 200 and 400 free; women’s 50, 200, 400, and 800 free, 100 and 200 back, 100 and 200 breast, 100 fly, and 200 I.M are all faster than the FINA A times set for the 2012 Olympics, while the men’s 100 breast times are exactly the same qualifying times.  The men’s 200 and 400  free, 100 and 200 breast, 100 fly, 200 and 400 I.M; women’s 50, 100, 200, 400, and 800 free, 100 and 200 back, 100 and 200 breast, 100 fly, and 200 and 400 I.M. are all faster than the FINA A times required for the World Champs.  FINA is not known for setting easy times, and yet SNZ is setting even harder times.  SNZ makes it sound easy, though:

More than half of the men’s qualifying times for Glasgow are actually slower than for the recent world championships and while most of the women’s qualifying times are slightly faster, they are adjusted based on the current improving world standards of female swimmers from Commonwealth countries.

I would have expected these qualifying times to be slower than the World Champs qualifying times because there are no Americans, Chinese, Russians or French at the Commonwealth Games.  At World Champs, 52% of the men’s medals and 40% of the women’s medals were won by these four countries.  That’s not even mentioning the other European and Asian countries that aren’t members of the Commonwealth.

Now, let’s look at NZ swimmers compared to these times set by SNZ.  Only 17/26 NZ records are even within those qualifying times, and some of those swimmers are no longer swimming (i.e. Moss Burmester, Natalie Wiegersma, etc.).  If you take NZ records by current swimmers, we have five swimmers (Matt Stanley, Gareth Kean, Glenn Snyders, Hayley Palmer, and Lauren Boyle) qualified in 11 events (men’s 200 and 400 free, 100 and 200 back, 100 and 200 breast; and women’s 50, 100, 200, 400, and 800 free).  If you take the times that were swum at the 2013 NZ Open Champs, we only have four swimmers (Matt Stanley, Gareth Kean, Glenn Snyders, and Lauren Boyle) qualified in six events (men’s 200 free, 100 and 200 back, 100 breast; and women’s 400 and 800 free).  SNZ admits this quite freely:

Half of the successful world championship qualifying times recorded at this year’s national championships were faster than the required Commonwealth Games standard with the remainder only fractionally outside.

So, why are the times so fast? Here’s what SNZ said in an article that can be found on the SNZ website and NZ Herald’s website:

We have no issue with the criteria for the Commonwealth Games. Glasgow is not a development meet. It is our pinnacle event for 2014 and we would want our swimmers to be at this level if they wish to be successful in Glasgow and look forward to the Rio Olympics. Our aim is for our swimmers to continue to improve from last year to this year to next year and so on. If we want to be competitive and make finals in Rio in 2016, then achieving a top-six time in the Commonwealth based on times from last year is a realistic target.

Well, obviously they have no issue, or they wouldn’t have posted the times.  My question is, do the swimmers have an issue with them?  With only five swimmers qualified, I would think yes.  I understand that Glasgow is not supposed to be a development meet.  But most of the swimmers that rank in the top two or three in NZ are not exactly what you would consider flunkies.  Most of them have 800 FINA points or more.  Several have been to international meets, whether it is Junior Pan Pacs, Oceana Champs, World Cup, Mare Nostrum, or World Champs.

In one sentence they’re saying that it’s the peak event for 2014, and in the next they’re saying it’s preparation for Rio.  If it’s the peak event for 2014, wouldn’t they want as many swimmers as possible to go?  Having a team of five swimmers isn’t a very good look.  If they’re wanting it for preparation for Rio, yes, I can see why they would want at least a top-6 finish at Commonwealths.  But, that doesn’t mean that you need to have a top-6 finish to qualify for the Games.

Demanding qualifying times also go to the issue of not soft-soaping swimmers.
If they are expected to perform on the big stages, they need to prove they have the talent to do so before they get there, rather than sending swimmers off on a wing and a prayer.

I take this to mean that SNZ is afraid to spend money on swimmers they don’t think will make finals.  Fair enough.  However, I wonder if they’ve ever considered implanting a program where, if the swimmers go one time they receive full funding, if they go a slightly slower time, they receive partial funding, and if they go an even slower time, they may go, but they have to pay their own way.  That is, of course, up to the maximum of 3 swimmers per event.  That would save them money, and yet rising swimmers would still have an opportunity to go.  I’m sure that some swimmers would be stoked to be able to go, even if they had to do a little bit of fundraising to go. Who knows?  A swimmer might surprise everyone and do really well at the Games.  But if SNZ never let them go, how can we know how they could have done?

They could also do something like what England has done.  Basically, they are sending 36 swimmers, with a maximum of three per event.  They have times, and the swimmers inside those times get picked first.  Then they pick the swimmers closest to the said times, working their way out.  That seems like a pretty good system, too.

Now for my third thought.  Why are there no 50 back, breast, or fly times?  They have these events at Commonwealths.  In fact, Glenn Snyders won silver in the 50 breast in 2010.  Will no one swim 50’s for NZ at Commonwealths?  Or if you qualify in the 100 of your stroke will you get to swim the 50 as well?  I suspect the reason that there are no 50 qualifying times is that they aren’t Olympic events.  But they have them at every other major meet in the world.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they even have them at the Olympics soon.  Just because someone can only sprint doesn’t mean they should be denied the right to go to the Commonwealth Games.

Swimwatch Redundant

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

By David

The gang of international mercenaries Miskimmin employed to run New Zealand swimming are performing beyond belief. Every day new stories come to light. Every day words like bizarre, weird, curious and odd are becoming increasingly inadequate descriptions of their behaviour. Long gone is any semblance of “Excellence – Integrity – Accountability”. What the normal world calls management is but a distant memory.

Swimwatch is being made redundant. These guys are doing an outstanding job of displaying their incompetence. Advertising their deeds will soon need no help from this swimming blog.

Outstanding Display One: The Kilbirnie Pool

I have decided to file Disputes Tribunal papers requesting the Court order Swimming New Zealand to return my $50 protest fee. The Henderson Court accepted the papers on Friday. Swimming New Zealand will be served with my claim this coming week. There is no way the organization being run by Peter Miskimmin and Christian Renford can be allowed to get away with decisions that cause members injury and disfigurement. Their organization was warned by FINA and me not to use the shallow end of the Kilbirnie Pool. When we weren’t looking; when our backs were turned the Miskimmin and Renford Swimming New Zealand made a decision that has resulted in the harm we feared. If taking them to Court highlights their neglect then that is what we will do.

Here is the description of events contained in the Court papers Miskimmin and Renford will be getting this week.


“What do you claim happened?

On 6th August 2011 the New Zealand Short Course Championships began at the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre (WRAC). It was my first visit to the WRAC after eight years coaching in Florida, USA. I was concerned to see that the competition was still being conducted from the “shallow” end of the main pool. Water at this end of the pool is well below the depth of 1.35 meters required by the world governing body of swimming (FINA) rules.

Rule FR 2.3 Depth A minimum depth of 1.35 meters, extending from 1.0 meter to at least 6.0 meters from the end wall is required for pools with starting blocks.

WRAC does not comply with this rule. In most jurisdictions diving into water the depth of the WRAC “shallow” end would be banned. Because of the danger involved and the breach of FINA rules I submitted a protest together with the required protest filing fee of $50.

My protest was rejected by the Swimming New Zealand Jury of Appeal. They quoted FINA Rule 1.3

Rule FR 1.3 FINA minimum standard pools. All other events held under FINA rules should be conducted in pools that comply with all the minimum standards contained in this part.

Swimming New Zealand’s Jury of Appeal claimed that the word “should” in this rule meant that the requirement was not compulsory even for a National Championships. The meet could be held in the WRAC pool’s shallow end rather than shifted to the “deep” end of the pool where the water has a depth of 5 meters.

Because my protest was rejected Swimming New Zealand kept my $50 protest filing fee. If a protest is accepted the $50 filing fee is returned.

Two days after the meet the Head Office of FINA in Switzerland was contacted by the New Zealand Herald and asked for their view on my protest and Swimming New Zealand’s rejection of the protest.

FINA responded by saying they reserved the right to refuse to ratify any result achieved in a non-complying pool. The WRAC because of its depth was a non-complying pool. In effect FINA upheld my protest.

One year later the next, 2012 Short Course Nationals were held in the WRAC pool. But this time alterations were made and the event was held in the “deep” end of the pool.

I am claiming the return of my $50 protest filing fee because:

1.    Swimming New Zealand’s rejection of my protest was wrong.

2.    My protest did comply with the Swimming New Zealand Protest Rule 4.1.2 requiring a protest “if other conditions endanger the competition or competitors”. Competitors have been hurt using the pool’s shallow end. One eleven year old girl recently lost her front teeth diving into the shallow end at a local competition.

3.    FINA supported the content and intent of the protest.

4.    Most tellingly and as a result of my protest Swimming New Zealand altered the pool.

Swimming New Zealand may have verbally rejected my protest and retained my $50 but the organization’s actions, of altering the pool and holding the next championship in the “deep” end of the WRAC pool confirm the protest was valid and was in fact upheld. The approval of FINA and Swimming New Zealand’s own rules further validate my protest.

In these circumstances Swimming New Zealand rules require that my $50 fee be returned.

SNZ Rule 4.4. If the protest is upheld the deposit (of $50) will be returned.    

On the basis of these facts I am asking the Tribunal to rule that Swimming New Zealand return my $50 deposit.”

Whether I win or lose the case is of little consequence. Whether Miskimmin and Renford are made to pause for a moment to consider the harm caused when their organization ignores good advice – that is important. Before any local authority enters into discussions with Swimming New Zealand on the management or operation of a swimming pool they would be well advised to remember the mistakes made by the Miskimmin and Renford organization in Wellington. With the WRAC as my example I wouldn’t let Swimming New Zealand near the management of an inflatable spa.

Outstanding Display Two: Alex and Ashton

A blog like Swimwatch attracts gossip and speculation. I tend to ignore most of it. But occasionally I hear stuff that demands closer attention. Several of my swimmers have quite close ties with swimmers who train at the Millennium Institute either as members of the North Shore Club or Swimming New Zealand’s, so called, High Performance whatever it is. Well this week I’m told the High Performance group has a new member.

You see Alex Baumann is the boss of High Performance Sport New Zealand, the Government agency whose lofty vision is to see “More New Zealanders winning on the world stage”. Baumann spends about $1.6 million each year to fully fund Swimming New Zealand’s Millennium activity. In the name of promoting elite New Zealand swimmers, everything they do over there is paid for by our tax dollars.

Well, perhaps not, you see Alex Baumann has a son called Ashton. Ashton is a very good swimmer. He represented Canada at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona. He finished the 200 breaststroke less than a second behind New Zealand’s fastest breaststroker, Glen Snyders. Ashton Baumann used to train with the North Shore Swimming Club. However the story I’m told is that he has now left North Shore and has started training with the Swimming New Zealand’s High Performance team.

We need to know whether this story is true. Because if it is, we need to be told on what basis Miskimmin and Alex Baumann justify using New Zealand tax dollars to train foreign swimmers. Since when did those two decide that the vision of High Performance Sport New Zealand was going to become, “More Canadians winning on the world stage”? If the story has some merit, is there an element of unacceptable nepotism in Ashton’s present coach and training environment? The physical and personnel assets of the Millennium Institute belong to “we the people”. They are not the personal playground of Miskimmin and his imported mates. If Ashton is at the Institute, I doubt that training the boss’s foreign son was ever part of its founding mission.

Outstanding Display Three: Commonwealth Games Qualifying Times

There has been some quite heated discussion about the recently published Commonwealth Games Qualifying Times. This article is not going to look into the rights and wrongs of the times. That’s a big subject. We will save that for two articles to be published next week. Instead we will look only at the memo, titled “Food for Thought” sent out by Luis Villanueva. The memo discusses the qualifying times and provides a justification of the standards chosen to qualify for this meet. Or at least that’s what I think it does.

Villanueva’s English is better than my Spanish but his memo needed to be checked before he sent it to the general population. His message gets lost in the struggle to get through the maze of doubtful sentence construction.

However the content of this memo, “Food for Thought” is refreshingly honest; more honest in fact than anything I’ve seen from Swimming New Zealand since I came back to New Zealand three years ago. For example Villanueva says this:

“We have come from Barcelona with some memorable results, but you all know that the overall performance of the team has been far from what we aimed for.”

That’s the truth and it’s honest; qualities appreciated by New Zealanders way ahead of the normal crappy spin coming out of Pelorus House. The normal fare is this sort of stuff reported on the SNZ website one month ago.

“New Zealand swimmers have taken a significant step towards improvement on the world stage. These achievements should provide a major drive in the years leading to Rio.”

So, well done Villanueva. Swimming in New Zealand needs the honesty shown in your memo. Maybe there is hope. While you are in a mood for telling it as it is, perhaps you can explain why your organization orders its members to dive into a pool that does not comply with minimum FINA standards and whether and why the tax payer funded Millennium Institute trains the family of foreign employees to beat New Zealanders.

Trouble Eventually Finds You

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

By David

Fortunately most swim meets pass by quietly and without incident. Occasionally though some event occurs that is frustrating, annoying and even distressing. When this does happen, I seldom see it coming. All of a sudden a peaceful, enjoyable swim meet is transferred into a battle ground of accusation and conflict. I would argue that my involvement on these occasions is almost always in response to the actions of others. I can seldom recall actually initiating conflict.

Normally a peaceful afternoon’s sport is shattered by someone, usually a zealous swimming official, deciding to have a crack at one of my swimmers. A few years ago, an incident with Auckland official, Jo Davidson, was a classic example. Davidson dragged two National Championship referees down to the West Wave Pool’s underwater viewing windows. She instructed them to watch my daughter, Jane, swim in the 200 meter breaststroke heats. “Watch this,” she said, “this is what you will disqualify her for in tonight’s final.”

I protested of course. Jo Davidson was sadder but probably no wiser and Jane won the 200 breaststroke final without being disqualified. After her outrageous behaviour, the fact that Davidson continued to have a stellar career as a national and international swimming official reflected nothing but abject shame on Swimming New Zealand. It’s hard to respect an organization that promotes an official guilty of that conduct. Christian Renford’s pleas for integrity and honesty sound pretty hollow when one of his officials cheats and gets rewarded.

My protest at the depth of the Kilbirnie Pool was an exception. In that case it was most certainly my initiative that caused the storm clouds to gather. At its shallow end the Kilbirnie Pool does not comply with the minimum depth required by FINA Rules. In fact the pool is bloody dangerous. Along with my $50 filing fee, I lost the protest. However, shortly after the Championships, Swimming New Zealand received a rap over the knuckles from FINA. Events, FINA said, held in the Kilbirnie Pool ran the risk of not being recognized by the world governing body. FINA’s judgement made the officials that discarded my protest look stupid.

In association with the Wellington City Council, and at a cost of what I’ve been told was $250,000, Swimming New Zealand altered the Kilbirnie Pool so that competitions could be held at the deep end of the main pool. I might have lost my $50 but New Zealand swimmers were safe. At the next short course National Championships the races all began at the deep end of the Wellington Pool. FINA’s rules had been satisfied in full. The risk of broken necks, grazed torsos, black eyes and worse had been eliminated.

Of course I did not get any thanks for initiating the change. Quite the contrary in fact. Chris Moller and Sue Suckling, the authors of the 2012 Swimming New Zealand founding document, called me and interrogated my motives. For thirty minutes Perry Moller Mason tried to prove that my Kilbirnie Pool protest was frivolous; founded solely on a need to cause trouble; a baseless distraction; proof that I was a malcontent hell bent on causing harm. I thought Moller was pathetically ignorant. If he got a kick out of questioning my motives; if he thought the history of my protest was more important that the safety of New Zealand swimmers, he was stupid and of no concern to me. Wellington was having to pay $250,000 to provide a safe pool and that was fine by me.

Or at least that’s what I thought until tonight.

Unbeknown to me the idiots that run Swimming New Zealand and the Wellington Swimming Region continued to run local meets from the pool’s shallow end. I told them it was wrong. FINA told them it was wrong. But when we weren’t there, when our backs were turned they used the shallow end of the pool anyway. The deep end was reserved for the National Championships when the troublemakers were in town. These people are disgusting. Genuine safety concerns were either neglected or by-passed in their obsession to prove me wrong.

Well last week their chickens came home to roost. You see last weekend the Wellington Short Course Championships were held in the shallow end of the Kilbirnie Pool. I understand one club had four swimmers hit the bottom of the pool. One of them, an eleven year old girl, had her front teeth smashed out – gone, her teeth lying on the tiles at the shallow end of the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre.  Wellington City Council, Renford, Moller and Layton take note – I paid $50 to warn you that competitive swimmers diving into the shallow end of your pool was dangerous and you let the Wellington Swimming Region do it anyway. In my view, that’s criminal neglect. And I hope you are made to pay in full measure. Another one of the injured, a ten year old girl, grazed her face during the start of a 200 meter breaststroke race. She swam on to achieve an eighteen second personal best time. Instead of delight, she burst into tears that mixed with her cuts and blood. She hadn’t stopped because she thought her coach and family would be disappointed.

Apart from writing this article to highlight the disgraceful management of New Zealand swimming, I feel powerless to do anything that holds the guilty accountable. I might go to the Small Claims Tribunal and seek the return of my $50 protest fee. Clearly my protest was valid. The changes made to the Wellington pool prove that. But even if I lose; even if the Tribunal rules that Swimming New Zealand can keep my $50, the publicity involved in taking Swimming New Zealand to court may prevent another smashed mouth, another disfigured face. It may also provide guidance on what recourse the harmed have from the Wellington City Council and Swimming New Zealand. Renford, Miskimmin and Layton are at the top. The buck for a little girls teeth and another’s scarred face stops with them.