Swimwatch Redundant

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.

  • Ringo Battersby

    The Comm Games standards are pretty tough for what is a pretty average meet outside the finals. I imagine we will see some back tracking like we did for the Delhi 2010 games when they added lots of swimmers who did not meet the mark ( and rightly so) because they did not recalibrate after shiny suits. The PR team at Pelorus house needs to recognise that sport is entertainment and comm games is possibly the one chance every two years to get some faces on NZ TV, having young faces like Faaumsili would be invaluable at the games for the sport even if they do not qualify in an Olympic event. The swimmers association should be asking big questions about their national body which did not fight for coverage of the world champs on TV here, issued no press releases for a recent world junior championship winner that made any papers, have set a qualifying times that will see a tiny team with no relays. If you are a swimmer trying to build a profile for help with sponsorship you should be asking questions, unless you are winning a medal at worlds you will be forgotten. But under these qualifying standards Lauren would not have gotten her chance at Montreal 05, Melbourne 06 so may have disappeared. Danyon would not have taken 4 seconds of his PB at Barcelona for silver either. Comm Games is not a pinnacle event in world swimming, it is a marketing opportunity for us like no other, but it feels like this is just going to drift away again under the excuse of limited funding. Who cares take the first three in each event at the NZ champs make them pay their own way? How will that effect the high performance for worlds or Olympics?