Archive for December, 2013

“Too Good For You Now” – Club Swimmers & The Millennium Institute

Monday, December 30th, 2013

By David

Readers of Swimwatch will be less than surprised to hear that I despise the centralist policy of delivering elite sport. It is a policy conceived by Miskimmin at Sport New Zealand, nurtured by his new mates at Swimming New Zealand; Layton, Renford, Villanueva and Lyles and paid for by a fourth foreign import, Baumann.

Swimwatch has dealt at length with the policy’s lack of success. It is seventeen years since swimming won an Olympic medal. Through most of that time the sport has followed the Miskimmin centralized delivery plan. However it is not the failure of Miskimmin’s policy that is of most concern; it is its wanton destruction that is of perilous alarm.

I heard some news, from a swimmer, today that really pisses me off. So much so I probably should calm down before writing about it. Perhaps I should not write about it at all. You see, I get on well with one of the people involved. Mentioning her on Swimwatch may well mean she decides never to talk to me again. I hope not.

During the school term Michael Mincham trains in Australia. Until now, during the holidays, he has returned to New Zealand to train with his home club, the Waterhole Club in Auckland. Judith Wright is the coach at Waterhole. For years Judith has been one of New Zealand’s best coaches. From learn to swim to international athlete Judith Wright successfully nurtured Mincham’s career. In New Zealand he received world class attention from a caring and knowledgeable coach.

And today I hear that, when he is home in New Zealand, Michael Mincham has decided to swim at the Millennium Institute. Judith Wright, the Waterhole Club, the environment that cared and provided have been discarded. Not because they are no good. Not because of any fault in anything they have done.

Mincham has gone to the Millennium Institute because Sport New Zealand and Swimming New Zealand sold him and his family their centralized fantasy. Mincham has gone to the Millennium Institute because of greed. Greed that has been fed by propaganda pushing the line that New Zealand’s best coaching is to be found at the government’s Millennium swim school. Perhaps you don’t believe me? Well, next time you are at your local pool ask the parents present, “Where are New Zealand’s best swim coaches located?” One hundred per cent will give you the same answer as Michael Mincham and his family, “Why at the Millennium Institute, of course.” It is not true, but as the worst German dictator once said, “Tell a lie often enough and it will be believed.” Well for seventeen years this lie has been repeated. It is less than surprising that it is now believed.

What is really pathetic is that a National led government should be doing this to the sport’s private sector. I’m no great supporter of the National Party but, naively perhaps, I did believe that National was the guardian of private sector values. Well, not in swimming they are not. In swimming, for seventeen years, the current National government’s sport’s agency has been tearing the heart out of swimming’s private sector.

And that’s the annoying part. Every reader must be able to imagine the hurt felt by coaches when swimmers they have tutored and cared for from cradle to international athletes pack their bags and piss-off to the North Shore of Auckland. “Thanks’ for what you’ve done, but I’m too good for you now. I’m off to the Millennium Institute.” When that process is repeated sixty or seventy times over seventeen years, is it any wonder New Zealand’s club coaches view themselves as second class; not quite as good as the government’s hired hands at the Millennium Institute. When that process happens to a good, hardworking servant of New Zealand swimming like Judith Wright it is more than unfair. Miskimmin, Leyton, Renford, Villanueva, Lyles and Baumann – you should be ashamed. Your policy has caused another case of unnecessary and damaging hurt. A very good coach, equal to anything at the Millennium Institute, has just been told she isn’t good enough. It’s not true but it hurts. It hurts the person and it hurts the sport.

You may remember when Renford arrived in New Zealand he did a whistle-stop tour of New Zealand swimming clubs. Like Donna Bouzaid he avoided West Auckland Aquatics. I’m beginning to think they are scared of me. I do hope so. When Swimming New Zealand warns their employees not to talk to me it displays a morbid and unhealthy degree of paranoia and fear. Renford asked us to keep an eye on what he does. He clearly panics when we take him at his word.

Shortly after his trip, Renford was interviewed on Radio Sport. He saved his most strident criticism for New Zealand’s coaches. We, he said, needed to polish our skills. We are not up to international standard. Although, I suspect Renford is totally unqualified to make that call, that’s what he said. What he did not add was that if there are any shortcomings in the standard of New Zealand club coaches, his organization, Swimming New Zealand, is responsible.

For seventeen years Swimming New Zealand has repeated dozens of times just what it did to Judith Wright today. Is it any wonder that good club coaches are feeling a little lost, like travellers in tourist class? Is it any wonder that good people do not perform at their best when the national organization uses its website to sell its superior Millennium service and by implication diminish the work of club coaches?

Sadly there is every sign that the hurt will continue. Miskimmin and Swimming New Zealand are committed to the centralized delivery of swimming. If the collateral damage of the policy is the pride and standard of many New Zealand’s club coaches, that’s unfortunate. But it’s important people’s reputations we are dealing with here. Damage to a few club coaches is incidental when compared to the main objective of proving themselves right. And that is what I despise.

I have written this piece without communicating with anyone from the Waterhole Club. I heard about Mincham from a swimmer at training this morning. It is a subject of deep personal interest. However, if my article has caused any hurt to anyone from Waterhole – I apologize.

PS What on earth is going on with Gareth Kean? I was told today that Gary Hurring kicked Kean out of the Wellington training group for bad training habits but that Kean has been taken in by the Millennium Institute in Auckland. Is that true? Because if it is, it seems very odd that the same organization that considers his behaviour merits pretty tough discipline in Wellington welcomes him with open arms in Auckland. It’s hard to imagine Gareth Kean has learned anything beneficial from that. If it’s true the message is clear. “It doesn’t matter if I screw up, Swimming New Zealand are so desperate they will find a way to take me back.” If it’s true it has all the hallmarks of Swimming New Zealand’s efforts at disciplining Daniel Bell and Phillip Rush. It is also a terrible undermining of Gary’s attempt to impose some much needed discipline.

Simple Really – The World’s Best Swim Meet

Friday, December 27th, 2013

By David

Over the years I have been fortunate enough to attend quite a few swim meets. I’ve been to Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships, ninety-six World Cups, six Mare Nostrum series, Pan Pacific Games, Pan American Games, Caribbean and Central American Games and National Championships in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and New Zealand.

As you would expect there has been the good, the bad and the very ugly. The title for the biggest meet has to belong to the Fort Lauderdale International held each summer in Florida. Let me tell you, it’s just bloody huge – two 50 metre pools going flat out all day to get through the heats and one pool working during the evening to clear the finals. I’ll tell you how big it is. They have to employ an American Airlines 757 Captain just to run the Meet Manager results system for the four days. You don’t believe me? Well his name is Jay Thomas and if you’re ever on a plane with a problem just hope he’s the guy up front sorting it out. The way I’ve seen him run the Fort Lauderdale International, he can fix anything.

The meet that looks after coaches the best is the USA National Championships. For most readers, I realize, coaches’ hospitality is not a life and death issue. However, if you are a coach, it is very nice to relax in your own air conditioned sitting room with big comfy chairs and couches, pay TV, drinks and food to die for – try steaks and salad, strawberries and ice cream. And it’s all free. Did you hear that Swimming New Zealand, free, gratis, nothing. No wonder American swimming is as good as it is. Every coach is fighting to get back to the National Championships to eat better than they do at home.

The world’s worst official was at the Caribbean and Central American Games. One of my swimmers was disqualified in a breaststroke race. The disqualification notice contained more errors than a Puerto Rican airline timetable. It was dated the previous year, the lane was wrong and the infringement rule number referred to the rules for backstroke not breaststroke. And it was all in Spanish which made comprehension difficult. I decided to protest. Well, I have never seen the like; the Mexican referee went into orbit. His tirade was a difficult mixture of Spanish and English. However I did manage to pick up his last sentence. “You are,” he said, “the sort of person that would get rapists off on a technicality.” Wow, I never realized 100 meters breaststroke was quite that important.

The meet that should never be held in its current location is the New Zealand Short Course Championships. The Kilbirnie Pool is not a suitable venue for a national meet. For years they started every race at the shallow end in water well below the minimum standard required by FINA rules. I protested. On some spurious grounds they rejected my protest. However the meet was shifted to the other, deep end of the pool. What they still haven’t fixed is the current that flows along the Kilbirnie pool. Imagine it – a national swimming championships swum in the Arateatea Rapids. It’s illegal and it’s ridiculous.

The most competitive meet I’ve attended is easily the NCAA National Championships. Ah but, I hear you say, what about the Olympic Games? Well, believe me for cut throat competition the NCAA Championships are tougher than the Olympic Games. I doubt there is a swimmer alive, who has been to both, who would disagree. You see the NCAAs are not restricted by the two swimmers per country rule. That means a bus load of very good Americans turn up to compete in every event. The NCAAs also allow as many good non-American swimmers to compete as want to take advantage of the USA’s kind offer of educating them for free. It is a truly international event with no fake Olympic restrictions on who can compete. If you are good enough you can swim. I know Swimming New Zealand would like to convince the world that their precious Millennium Institute was the making of Lauren Boyle. But that’s rubbish. I saw Lauren Boyle compete in the NCAAs while my daughter Jane was also taking part. The steel hard competitor that is Boyle today was fired and tempered in the white hot furnace of NCAA competition; the toughest meet in the world.

So, where is the world’s best swim meet? Well, I’ve just entered the West Auckland Aquatics’ swimmers in the 2014 event. Sound of trumpets – the best swim meet in the world is the Hawkes Bay Poverty Bay Championships held in Gisborne, New Zealand. For some reason the administrators who run HBPB Swimming stopped the Championships for a few years. But in 2014 the meet is back – and about time. So why is it the world’s best swim meet? Well first the facility. The main 50 meter pool is housed in a huge tent that allows a sea breeze to cool the East Coast sun. It’s fresh, it’s bright and it’s a pleasant place to be. Then there’s the location; on the beach looking out across Poverty Bay towards Cape Kidnappers. The meet program is an interesting mix of individual events and relays. The inter-city relay is unusual and great fun. And, just in case I hear any readers muttering about poor competition, it is wise to remember the number of good swimmers that have swum in the HBPB Championships either as natives or as visitors. In the 1960s John Palmer was easily New Zealand’s fastest freestyle sprinter. In the same era, Quentin Todd and Allan Christie were the country’s best distance swimmers. Sandra Whittleston, John Coutts, William Benson, Daniel Bell, and Sharron Musson swam for New Zealand in the Olympic Games. Other stars include national record holders Emily Thomas, Rachael Anderson and Julie McLaughlin.  Of the swimmers coached by me, national representatives, Jane Copland, Toni Jeffs and Nichola Chellingworth were regular visitors. And, lest we forget, the current Comet Club coach, Greg Meade was once a HBPB superstar. So have no fear there’s plenty of competition at the HBPB Championships.

But what I like most is the whole atmosphere of the event. It’s a perfect union of serious swimming and a fun weekend in the sun. It’s a really fast picnic meet and I love it.

So there you have it my choice of the world’s best swim meet. I see entries don’t close until 5.00pm on Tuesday 9th January 2014. Give it a go. I’m sure you will swim fast and I know you’ll have fun


With A Deep Sense Of Pride

Friday, December 20th, 2013

By David

Too many Swimwatch articles focus on the sleazy side of swimming. You will know what I mean; Swimming New Zealand providing the media with misleading World Championship results; an Appointment’s Committee that nominates two candidates for two vacancies and calls it an election; employees convicted of criminal behaviour, who violate Clause 7.3 of SNZ’s new Constitution and are rewarded with a glowing corporate testimonial; foreign athletes, the children of a foreign Sport New Zealand executive who swim in the New Zealand taxpayer funded swim school and the mismanagement that saw a small girl from Raumati loose her teeth on the bottom of the Kilbirnie pool. It frequently seems like Swimming New Zealand is a rancid gift that keeps on giving.

But of course there is another side to the swimming story. A world where genuine, sincere people run swim meets and where young people toil to challenge their talent. I want to tell you a story about three swimmers who have toiled through this past ten weeks; who have challenged their talent and have overcome.

As many of you know Arthur Lydiard was famous for developing a training program based on running 100 miles a week for ten weeks. At the conclusion of this aerobic period Lydiard introduced anaerobic and speed training. He called the 100 miles a week “general conditioning” and the anaerobic and speed training, “race specific”.

When I worked with Arthur to develop a swimming version of his running program, it was important to find how far and how fast a swimmer needed to swim in order to achieve the same physiological changes that Lydiard’s 100 miles per week achieved in a runner. We did this by experimenting. Toni Jeffs was the principal guinea-pig but Jane Copland and Nichola Chellingworth also did their time in the Freyberg Pool laboratory. With the advantage of hindsight, we did ask these three to do some incredible aquatic feats; days of very light training and days of over 30 kilometres swum in three 10 kilometre sessions. The experience can’t have been too bad. All three ended up New Zealand national champions, record holders and representatives.

Eventually we settled on a distance we thought worked best; that was far enough to be physically taxing but could still be swum at a firm pace; a distance that achieved the aerobic conditioning necessary to realize successful swimming results. We settled on 100 kilometres a week; swum each week for ten weeks.

It’s a tough ask. Very few swimmers can sustain that level of effort. Many can and do swim 100 kilometres in a week, but for ten weeks? 1000 kilometres in ten weeks is often a hill too high. Toni Jeffs and Jane Copland did it several times; Nichola Chellingworth’s best ten weeks was 956 kilometres. Joe Skuba in Florida got to 1000 kilometres and in that season improved his best 100m long course freestyle from 54.6 to 50.9. But most swimmers old enough to tackle a full Lydiard program, settle for 800 to 850 kilometres.

What I have never seen, is a season when multiple swimmers get to 1000 kilometres in the same season. Never seen that is, until now. Let me introduce Abigail Frink (17), Lara van Egten (21) and Jessica Marston (20). The table below shows what they have been up to in the past ten weeks. Of course it was a conspiracy for them all to stop at exactly 1001 kilometres. But I’m sure you will agree – a good conspiracy. For Lara it was also her first experience of 100 kilometres in a single week. To do all ten weeks at a first attempt demands a very special effort and is another first in my coaching career.

















































I have called this story “With a Deep Sense of Pride”. Pride in the purity of their effort. That is what I have when I consider the achievement of these three young New Zealanders. Not any personal pride of course, but pride that I was on hand to witness something very special. All that’s best in swimming; all that’s good in people was demonstrated by the pain and effort of this ten weeks.

Not only did the three swimmers get through 1000 kilometres they swam some fine sets. See what you think of these – 10,000 straight swim for time, 8000 fly, 5000 kick timed, 100×25 underwater on 0.40, 10,000 straight kick, 100×100 on 1.30 and 5000 IM straight.

The 8000 straight fly set was still on the club’s white board during the Auckland Age Group Championships. I enjoyed the moment when a visiting Wellington swimmer asked me if he could photograph the board. He said, “I just want to show my mates that they don’t train all that hard after all.”

Of course sets like these only make sense when swimmers are well conditioned. Lydiard loved sending his runners around the Waitakere Ranges. That run and these swimming sets would be damaging if attempted by the underprepared or too young. Done by well-trained athletes, they are a challenge on which athletes and swimmers can grow and prosper. I think it was Peter Snell who said there was something about climbing through the Waitakere Ranges that made you believe you were a champion just by being there.

I believe that 10,000 straight and 8000 fly have the same quality. Of course the eventual race results these three swimmers achieve over 400m freestyle or 100m freestyle or 200m breaststroke will be the test that matters. After all, doing well in competition is the purpose of the ten weeks. But there is another aspect that is also important. Theirs is an achievement in its own right. Irrespective of qualifying times, records and titles they have swum 1000 kilometres in ten weeks. They have learned much about themselves. They have struggled and they have overcome. They have joined a very exclusive club; a club that only the truly tough, the truly honest, can join. Any weakness and 1000 kilometres will find you out.

Lara, Jess and Abigail – welcome to the 1000 Club. As Mohammed Ali is reported to have said, “You done splendid.”


Spin Is A Form Of Propaganda

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

By David

Or at least that’s what Wikipedia tells me. It says spin is achieved through providing an interpretation of an event to persuade public opinion in favor of a certain organization. Spin, Wikipedia concludes, often implies disingenuous, deceptive and/or highly manipulative tactics.

The old Swimming New Zealand was a master of spin. Remember how the performance of every New Zealand swim team was our best ever. That certainly met the definition of trying to persuade public opinion. But Christian Reford’s Swimming New Zealand is proving to be just as skilled. The stuff Swimming New Zealand told good national sport’s journalists like the Sports Editor of The Dominion Post, Jonathan Millmow was as remarkable as it was shameful. It seems that the public picture of success is important even if it’s not true.

On that occasion Swimming New Zealand told the nation this:

 But the full team statistics were five finals appearances and 12 personal bests. Personal bests were set by Boyle (1500m twice, 800m twice), Snyders (50m breaststroke three times), Sophia Batchelor (50m butterfly) and the Wellington pair of Samantha Lucie-Smith (400 individual medley, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle) and Samantha Lee (200m butterfly).

Three or four months ago we reported the truth of New Zealand’s performance. This is what we said.

“Glenn Snyders 50 Breaststroke

Barcelona Heat 27.27, Semi 27.22, Final 27.21. Snyders’ personal best and NZ National Record is 27.06 set in the 2012 Open Championships. In four lines of text, that’s Swimming New Zealand’s first three lies.

Sophia Batchelor 50 Butterfly

Barcelona Semi 26.34. Batchelor’s personal best and NZ National Record is 26.30 set in the 2013 Open Championships. In four lines Swimming New Zealand are now scoring one lie a line.

Samantha Lucie-Smith 200 Freestyle

Barcelona Heat 1.58.87. Lucie-Smith’s personal best is 1.58.62 set in the 2013 Mare Nostrum in Canet (scroll to page 14 of the PDF) competition prior to the World Championships. That’s five lies in four lines.

Even by Swimming New Zealand’s impressive standards, five lies in four lines, most certainly is a personal best.”

Today’s announcement on the Swimming New Zealand website is not as blatant as their effort at reporting the World Championship results. However it is arguable that the current report satisfies Wikipedia’s description of spin. This is what it says.

An increase in funding is a recognition that Swimming New Zealand is progressing in the right direction, the organisation said today. Swimming New Zealand will receive an additional $100,000 this year as it rebuilds following the whole-of-sport review by Sport New Zealand and High Performance Sport NZ.  “Our major stakeholders are supportive of the rebuilding plan and the first steps we have taken,” said Swimming New Zealand CEO, Christian Renford. “In the pool our top swimmers, led by Lauren Boyle with her three medals at the world championships, are moving in the right direction as they begin their campaign through to the Commonwealth Games. “We remain as a campaign sport for the next year which we completely understand as we will have much planned and documented work today. This will ensure we remain vigilant and on track.”

It’s a personal view of course, but any additional funding, whether its $1.50, $100,000 or $1.0 million, has nothing to do with “progressing in the right direction.” The Moller Report ceded control of Swimming New Zealand to Miskimmin at Sport New Zealand and Baumann at High Performance Sport New Zealand. Miskimmin’s public admiration for the centralized control of elite sport could be practiced free of regional checks and balances. In the sport of swimming, Sport New Zealand had free reign.

However, along with their victory, it became vitally important for swimming to succeed. If the Miskimmin centralized philosophy was to win new converts; if Miskimmin’s empire was to grow; if Miskimmin was to survive, the success of swimming was critical. If that view is true, through to the Rio Games, money will never be a problem. Whatever swimming needs it will get. In my view the extra $100,000 simply reflects the extent to which Miskimmin is vested in the result of a swimming race. I also think Swimming has sold itself cheap. They should have asked for $500,000. Miskimmin has to pay. The cost of failure in the sport of swimming is impossible for him to even contemplate.

And then we read this, “Our major stakeholders are supportive of the rebuilding plan and the first steps we have taken,” said Swimming New Zealand CEO, Christian Renford. That’s a joke worthy of any British comedy pantomime. Of course Miskimmin and Baumann are supportive of the plan for swimming; it’s their plan. I doubt that Renford can order a paper clip without getting the approval of Sport New Zealand. As we have said Sport New Zealand has too much personal capital invested to allow Renford to run around making independent plans for swimming’s future. The pantomime in swimming is a “Punch and Judy” puppet show and Sport New Zealand is pulling the strings. It is less than surprising that Renford can report this as Miskimmin’s approval.

My final point is trivial but has anyone else noted Renford’s habit of using important sounding words that mean nothing. His last sentence in this report is an example, “We will have much planned and documented work today. This will ensure we remain vigilant and on track.” Does this mean that Swimming New Zealand’s plans are in writing somewhere? Wow that’s good. Perhaps we could see them one day. And as for being “vigilant” and “on track” that’s just words designed to convince the simple reader that Swimming New Zealand is up with the play, on top of their game, as they look to the future, going forward. See, I can do it too.

But I’m afraid the words of “vigilant” and “on track” mean little. You see I was told Renford was invited to visit the Auckland Age Group Championships a couple of weekends ago. It was a huge meet of massive importance to the future of swimming. It was also a chance to say goodbye to swimming’s best administrator, Brian Palmer. But it meant driving across the Harbour Bridge. Evidentally Renford’s right track does not include one of the lanes across to West Auckland. Evidentally Renford’s vigilance doesn’t include making an appearance at New Zealand’s largest provincial age group meet or saying farewell to the guy whose decisions earned Renford his job.

Spin is achieved through providing an interpretation of an event to persuade public opinion in favor of a certain organization. Spin, Wikipedia concludes, often implies disingenuous, deceptive and/or highly manipulative tactics. My hope is that this report presents an alternative view.







Australia Gets It Right

Monday, December 16th, 2013

By David

Just one day after Swimwatch finished telling Miskimmin, Layton, Renford, Villaneuva and Lyles that their Millennium Institute was a waste of money, just one day after Miskimmin told New Zealand he’d built another “Millennium Institute” lookalike in Cambridge for Triathlon and Cycling – Australian Swimming makes a decision that exactly reflects the Swimwatch private enterprise model. After years of putting all their eggs in the Canberra Australian Institute of Sport basket, Australian Swimming has decided to decentralize.

The Australian announcement is vastly significant to every individual sport in New Zealand. It is a clear rejection of Miskimmin’s Sport New Zealand policy and dreams of a centralized sporting empire. Take a minute to read what the Australian’s have done.

However for those who are busy here is a summary of what Swimming Australia announced.

  1. Working in partnership with State Institutes of Sport, Swimming Clubs, Schools, Universities and Facilities, Swimming Australia will establish 15 Podium Performance Centres to deliver strategic initiatives linked to the Australian Sports Commission’s Winning Edge plan and targets. I do not think 15 is enough but it is a start and their announcement carries the prospect of more to come.
  2. One of the 15 will be based at Australia’s National Training Centre in Canberra, replacing the previous AIS swimming program. Australia’s centralized version of the Millennium Institute has gone.
  3. Swimming Australia CEO Mark Anderson said the Podium Centre Program is another step towards the vision of Australia being the world’s best in and out of the pool by 2020. “There is no doubt that it is a combined effort to produce world’s best coaches and athletes and that’s where this program will excel, forming clear partnerships with swimming clubs, and high performance coaches to achieve our vision.”
  4. Swimming Australia Director of High Performance Michael Scott said the Podium Centre Program is designed to capitalise on Australia’s existing strengths of producing world class athletes through a strong club system.
  5. Michael Scott said, “In establishing the network of Podium Performance Centres Australia acknowledged that the traditional strength of clubs and coaches has meant that there will always be swimmers, not based within the formally identified network, who achieve world-class outcomes. These athlete and coach units will continue to be well supported through our Individual Podium Program.”

Please, oh please read the next three words slowly and carefully. In order to win at the sport of swimming – “AUSTRALIA IS DECENTRALIZING”. Isn’t it just too bloody ironic for words? While Australia decentralizes to improve their performance, Peter Miskimmin and Sport New Zealand continue to pour millions into centralized follies such as the Millennium Institute. At the same time as Miskimmin and his disciples are boasting about the benefits of the centralized delivery of sport, the world’s second best swimming nation is spreading its coaching coverage over 15 centres nationwide – with more to come.

For ten years Swimwatch has preached the philosophy of what Australia has done today. For ten years we told Miskimmin that diversified, private enterprise is the way to win. For ten years we highlighted the independent private enterprise character of the successful American and French programs. I even travelled to Wellington just to deliver a written submission proposing the decentralized delivery of elite swimming to the Moller inquiry.

And I was ignored. For ten years Miskimmin did not listened. For ten years Sport New Zealand and Swimming New Zealand said I was just causing trouble. For ten years they banned their employees from talking to me. I know of one Swimming New Zealand employee who was disciplined for talking to me at a National Swimming Championships.

Even today Swimming New Zealand proudly announce on their website that Donna Bouzaid has visited 32 swimming programs, visiting 78 swimmers (aged 18 and under). The Swimming New Zealand website tells me this was for the purpose of “assessing their overall program including their season plans, and dry land programs” and identifying “the support they would like from SNZ.” Well I know of a 33rd program that coaches a 79th swimmer who is the national open 100m short course breaststroke champion, 17 year old Jane Ip. Donna missed her and her program – I wonder why? Sadly people have told me that’s the way Donna Bouzaid works; nice in Wellington but always with a cautious eye on her political masters in Auckland. Time will tell.

But, back to Australia. And now after all that fighting, after ten years of struggle – the Australian’s have decided to decentralize. The Australians have seen the light. They have had a “road to Damascus” moment.

The real bugger is that if Miskimmin had listened, if Miskimmin had known anything about swimming at all, New Zealand swimmers could have had a ten year head start on what the Australians are just starting today. We could have been beating them senseless by now. Instead we are going to have to wait while the Australian’s beat us at swimming again. Eventually, tired of losing, Miskimmin will be thrown out and someone new will put in place a decentralized elite sport delivery structure – ten years too late.

Right now, every New Zealander should recognize that Miskimmin is spending your millions putting in place a program that the Australians are just about to scrap. Miskimmin is building an empire of “barns and bigger barns”, a monument to futile excess. We are buying new what the Australian’s are throwing out. Australia’s failed policies of the 1960s are Miskimmin’s 21st century dreams. A yesterday man, always late, always behind.

Just look at triathlon, cycling and swimming; all being bribed down the “one stop national shop” path. Remember, last week Graeme Maw, Tri NZ High Performance Director said, “Things like centralization, getting athletes and coaches concentrated together really bringing that intensity of expertise, is probably our step forward.” Well Graham Maw, Sport New Zealand may have convinced you there is merit in that argument. Clearly the Australian’s do not agree.

At Miskimmin’s expense, we have just been witness to a schadenfreude moment. It is good because it brings the reform of swimming, the implementation of numerous decentralized club-based elite training programs in New Zealand one step closer.