Archive for January, 2014

What An Interesting Weekend

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

By David

The Antony Mosse Meet in Auckland has just ended. What a marathon. Four days from 7.00am to 7.00pm. Auckland Swimming needs to be reported to someone for encouraging “cruel and unusual” punishment. Actually, I enjoyed the meet; certainly bad for my health but good for the soul.

What hasn’t changed in Auckland over the years is the amazing news and gossip that flows and ebbs around that West Wave swimming pool. It’s a positive Al Jazeera on steroids. Here are examples of what I mean.

I met the new CEO of Auckland Swimming, Sarah Thomas. Before she married her name was Sarah Hardcastle. When Brian Palmer left the Auckland CEO job, I was certain the region would struggle for leadership. As Swimwatch readers will know Brian had my admiration and absolute respect. Auckland was not about to find another Brian Palmer any time soon. Or at least that’s what I thought. Well, I think Auckland may have been amazingly fortunate. Sarah Thomas is not Brian Palmer, not even Brian would want that; she will be different but I suspect she’s going to be a top flight replacement. Certainly her knowledge of swimming and work ethic command unconditional respect. Here is an extract from her Wikapedia profile page.

Sarah Hardcastle is a former freestyle swimmer from England. She won a bronze and a silver medal as a fifteen-year old at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California. Twelve years later she competed at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia and qualified for the 800 m freestyle final. 

And here is another email quote from a friend of mine who knows Sarah Thomas – and a thing or two about swimming.

AKL swimming are about to announce Sarah Hardcastle as their new CEO. Double Olympic medallist (1984), World SC champion (1995), six Commonwealth Games medals – 2 gold, missed Tracey Wickham’s WR in the 800 at Edinburgh ’86 by, I think, 12/100ths!!!!!!

In her hey-day with Mike Higgs in Southend, her training regime would have made yours look like Brent Rushall’s USRPT stuff :)) Saw her do 20×400 as a warm-up at European’s once!! She’s a really great character. Tough as old boots. Straight in your face and direct. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

Apart from the unflattering comparison with Brent Rushall, from what I saw this weekend, the email is right on the button. I did ask about the warm up of 20×400 – Sarah confirmed that was true. She also confirmed that in her big weeks of training she swam up to 120 kilometres. So there we have it – Auckland now has an administrator who has done more swimming that any swimmer in the region. And I love it! But next build up four West Auckland swimmers will certainly have 120 kilometres in their sights. Can’t have the office staff holding the distance-per-week title, can we?

Anyway Sarah, welcome to the new job. West Auckland Aquatics are pleased to see you here.

The Millennium Institute turned up with three support staff. The $150,000 per year Villanueva, the $50,000 Danyon Loader and the $150,000 David Lyles were all there. $350,000 per year to look after five swimmers is ridiculous; especially when the best of them, Lauren Boyle, gave me the impression she was perfectly happy doing her own thing. Boyle might be one of those naturally independent, “get-on-with-it-on-your-own” types, but the communication between her and the guys called her coaches, Lyles and Loader, seemed to range between cold and non-existent. Boyles 4.08 in the 400 freestyle was probably the best swim of the weekend. The other Millennium swimmers appeared to be more concerned with applying baby oil to their bodies for the purpose, I am told, of “preserving their tans” and entertaining some mothers in the stands with a fine display of abdominal gymnastics than swimming world class times. Everyone knows I do not approve of the Miskimmin’s Millennium Institute. If this weekend is anything to go by, and with the exception of Lauren Boyle, the way their staff and swimmers behave is simply not the way Lydiard, Jelley, Walker, Quax and Laing went about doing the same job. So what do I mean by that?

Well, one of my swimmers told me the following story. Excuse me if some of the facts are not quite right. However, even if it’s half true it highlights Miskimmin’s expensive Millennium folly is in deep trouble – up the creek without a pair of togs. For some reason Mathew Stanley failed to turn up at marshalling for the final of the 100m freestyle. The event’s administration asked Stanley’s coach, the Millennium Institute’s David Lyles, “Why did Stanley miss the event?” My swimmer tells me Lyles explained Stanley’s absence with the expression, “It is only an Auckland event.” So now New Zealand swimming members do you believe me? From top to bottom the place is full of jumped up, jack ass arrogance; full of people too good for Auckland, or Waikato or Canterbury or Otago or HBPB. I wouldn’t let any swimmer of mine near the place. Good people should not associate with attitudes like that.

On the subject of paying, I hear that eleven Millennium swimmers and the too-good-for-Auckland, David Lyles are shortly off for a period of high altitude training in the United States. Lyles’ trip is being paid for by the New Zealand taxpayer, that’s you and me; the people he referred to as “only an Auckland event”. Seldom do I object to how the government spends my tax dollars. But on this occasion, I am revolted by the thought that I am paying for the arrogance of “it’s only an Auckland event.” If that’s your attitude David Lyles New Zealand can do without you. Some things are just more important than winning a swimming race.

The Club scene in Auckland appears to be in a bit of chaos. I’m not party to all the ins-and-outs of club politics. But here are examples of what I was told during the four days.

The North Shore Club and the Millennium Institute have fallen out of love. Lauren Boyle and the other Millennium swimmers, who were members of the North Shore Club, have packed their bags and moved to other Auckland clubs. It all seems a bit petty, but fun as well, like watching Maddie steal a kiss from smitten Sophie on Coronation Street. I’m only guessing but I suspect the North Shore Coach, Thomas Ansorg, and the new tenants at the Millennium Institute can’t stand each other.

The Laser Mt. Eden Club has been split in half. One of their coaches, Josh Munro, has left with a group of swimmers and is trying to set up a new club. I don’t envy his task. A number of his followers have had the statistical misfortune of being caught up in turmoil at all two or three of their previous clubs. Josh can only hope that their run of bad luck is about to change.

In a previous Swimwatch post I told you about the Roskill Club and the decision of their coach, Paul Kent, to join West Auckland Aquatics. The Antony Mosse Meet was the first hit-out for the new club. We had one problem. Our team manager scratched some of the old WAQ swimmers from finals when only the new members were not swimming. The fault was ours. However Paul and I pleaded our case and it was decided that a “C” final should be added to get our swimmers back in the event. The rule book was put to one side in order to correct an inadvertent mistake. It was an example of officiating at its best. It doesn’t always happen. We understand that it can’t always happen. But when it does, those of us affected, are most grateful. Thank you.

And that, as they say, is the Antony Mosse for this year.


To Kind Of Catapult The Propaganda

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

By David

The title of this story is a George Bush quote. Bush was explaining what he meant by the phrase, “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again.” His opinion is similar to the more famous quote of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister in Nazi Germany. Goebbels said, “The bigger the lie, the more it will be believed. If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.”

Of course, in 2014, it is unacceptable to compare anything to the monsters that led Nazi Germany. Nothing in modern New Zealand compares with those brutes. New Zealand lies are trivial in comparison. However the principle of repeating more modest lies until they are believed is frequently practiced, even in New Zealand. Swimming New Zealand often use the ploy. Their latest example is on the Swimming New Zealand website today. This is what it says. “Swimming New Zealand has employed the services of two past national swimming representatives to assist in the coaching of the country’s greatest talents.”

There they go again; the arrogant belief that Swimming New Zealand’s swim schools in Auckland and Wellington are the source of all that’s good and best; repositories this time of “the country’s greatest talents”.

Who wrote this insulting rubbish? Was it Christian Renford? His background in matters swimming is sufficiently limited he could well be the author. Was it Luis Villenueva? Embellishing his recruiting skills would be an understandable fault. Was it David Lyles? False promotion of the swimmers he has been recruited to coach would be silly. If he has inherited New Zealand’s greatest talents, how is he going to explain it when they lose a race? Or was it Melissa Ingram? Was this her final effort at writing exciting prose even if the facts didn’t quite fit? I hear Ingram may have resigned. If she has her career at Swimming New Zealand has hardly matched the fanfare of her appointment.

Whoever it was wrote the website nonsense, it would do Swimming New Zealand well to remember most of swimming’s greatest talents live, work and train elsewhere. Swimmers like New Zealand’s best Open Water swimmers Kane Radford and Philip Ryan; World Junior Champion Gabrielle Fa’amausili; USA based Glen Snyders and Sophie Batchelor and National Champions Natasha Lloyd, Kurt Crosland, Jane Ip, Ben Walsh, Max Polianski, Kate Godfrey, Cameron Simpson, Caroline Baddock, Daniel Bell, George Schroder, Chloe Francis and Erik Kahr. There are other “great talents” I will have missed. For this I apologize. But I’m sure you get the idea. Writing these fine swimmers off as somehow second tier simply because they are loyal to their home programs is typical of the arrogance of power.

The arrogance represented by the idea that New Zealand’s greatest swimming talent belongs exclusively to Swimming New Zealand is pretty typical of what we have come to expect; pretty typical of the conduct Swimming New Zealand has indulged in for ten years. Miskimmin’s policies and his money have cultivated a coterie of privilege; swimmers, coaches and administrators with ideas well above their station or performance. A comment like “the country’s greatest talents” proves that point.

In fact some readers may be aware that in my undergraduate degree I majored in political science. During one period I studied the Soviet Communist Party. That was an arrogant organization as well. I recently managed to find an essay describing the Party’s membership. Set out below I have repeated a paragraph from the essay word for word simply converting Russian political terms into New Zealand swimming expressions.

Membership in the Millennium Institute ultimately is a privilege, with a small subset of swimmers becoming an élite class. The members of the elite class enjoy many perquisites denied to the average swimmer. Such perks included fake national uniforms, free coaching, free entry into meets, flash cars, free dry land training and plentiful overseas travel. It became virtually impossible to join the New Zealand swim team without becoming a member of the Millennium Institute. To become a member, one had to be approved by various committees and one’s past was closely scrutinized. Ultimately, if one had shown the proper adherence to Swimming New Zealand discipline or had the right connections one would become a member of the Millennium Institute itself. Membership also had its obligations. Swimming New Zealand expected members to carry out appropriate “social tasks”.

Uncanny isn’t it? Uncanny how easily the Miskimmin world of membership privilege and outsider poverty fits into a description of the Soviet Communist world.

That world is not the New Zealand way. That exclusive, supercilious world of money and power is not the way of Lydiard or Jelley or Laing. I see that Duncan Laing’s most famous pupil, Danyon Loader, has been appointed to the position of Assistant Coach at the Millennium Institute. I knew Duncan Laing pretty well and I doubt he would approve. Why? Well, let me tell you a story.

In 2002 the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships were held in Yokohama, Japan. One of my swimmers, Jane Copland, was on the New Zealand team; selected to swim the breaststroke events. Because I was not in Yokohama I asked Duncan to look after Jane. When I was unable to be at an event I made the same request with Toni Jeffs and Nichola Chellingworth. Duncan seemed to handle swimmers from our team very well.

In addition to the breaststroke races Jane was entered in the 200 medley. As it turned out Jane’s heat included a member of Jan Cameron’s Millennium squad and the rising star, or was it the “greatest talent”, of New Zealand medley swimming. I was told later by Duncan Laing that the race between the two New Zealand swimmers was amazing; together at the end of the butterfly, the Millennium star ahead after the backstroke, Jane even again at the end of the breaststroke, with it all to play for down the length freestyle. Duncan told me that the last length was a classic. “A win,” he said, “for the good guys.” A man who spent his life in Dunedin quietly coaching eleven Olympians without once referring to them as “the country’s greatest talents” was clearly delighted. In the Laing world there was no free coaching, no Miskimmin check books, no flash Mazda cars and no fake New Zealand uniforms. His Moana pool was about honest toil. And he just loved it when time after time his journeymen took down those of unearned privilege from Auckland’s North Shore. And, we will do it again.

That sentence was meant to close this post. But before ending I must tell you another Duncan Laing story. One evening Duncan was asked to take a Pirates Rugby Club junior team for lineout practice. The normal coach said he was teaching the boys the calls to be used prior to throwing the ball into the lineout. Duncan arrived at the practice and asked the team to demonstrate the calls they had been taught so far. After an impressive set of calls the ball was thrown in and no one could catch it. “So I took them instead for an hour of catching practice.” Duncan told me. I’ve always remembered that story. I’m sure it was central to Laing’s coaching success. The frills are fine but the basics are essential.



Swimming New Zealand Recent History

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

By David

The events of history are often dull and dusty. I have no doubt that this post will fit that description. However I believe there is merit in recording how I saw the events that have led to the current Swimming New Zealand.

But before doing that what has changed? Two things really.

  1. The people have changed. The Board, the Chairman Murray Coulter, CEO Mike Burn, High Performance boss Jan Cameron, and Coaches Scot Talbot and Mark Regan have gone – replaced by a new Board, Chairman Brent Layton, CEO Christian Renford (in Taupo I was told Renford has been awarded the nickname “Teflon”, presumably a reference to an ability to avoid accountability, an important skill in New Zealand sport these days.), High Performance boss Luis Villanueva and Coach David Lyles.     .
  2. Power in the organization has been formally transferred from a federal regional democracy to an authoritarian oligarchy controlled by Sport New Zealand and the new staff members.

The position taken in Swimwatch has often been misunderstood. The people doing these jobs, at Swimming New Zealand, have always been of little or no interest. The Swimwatch position was never personal and still isn’t. In fact I have never met any of the new owners. At all costs they avoid me. I’ve spoken to Swimming New Zealand staff who have been reprimanded for just talking to this corrupt author of the revolution. When Jan Cameron finally packed her bags and left Swimming New Zealand several news outlets asked whether I was pleased Jan had gone. I said then that I couldn’t care less. The debate was not about Jan Cameron. My concern was the structure of Swimming New Zealand and the method used to deliver good coaching to the members.

In summary – change number one is of no interest here. Change number two is of considerable concern.

So how did we end up transforming a reasonably democratic federal structure of regions into the centralized authoritarian structure so favoured by Miskimmin and his Sport New Zealand?

Well, when I came back to New Zealand after coaching in Florida the Chairman and the CEO of Swimming New Zealand, financed by Peter Miskimmin, were deep in the throes of a campaign to convince the members of Swimming New Zealand that the central organization should be given more power. It was all called Project Vanguard and it cost Miskimmin and the sport about $600,000. A road show travelled the length and breadth of the country selling the message of centralization. I went to the Auckland meeting. What a farce. I’ve never seen a more blatant grab for power, all dressed in a cloak of greater efficiency. Fortunately the Regions saw through the façade. Under the guidance of Brian Palmer from Auckland and Bronwen Radford from Bay of Plenty, a Coalition of Regions was formed to put an end to Project Vanguard.

And they were brilliantly successful. Project Vanguard died. The Coalition of Regions then demanded that the Swimming New Zealand Board that had promoted the idea resign. And that’s when Peter Miskimmin from Sport New Zealand intervened. There was no-way Miskimmin could allow the democratic expression of the membership to be successful. How was Sport New Zealand going to run swimming if a rag-tag bunch of its members exercised their constitutional right to govern? This regional rebellion had to be stopped.

Miskimmin did what he always does; he rang Palmer and Radford with an offer of help. Would they like to come to Wellington for a meeting with Sport New Zealand to see if all this could be sorted out? Being reasonable people Palmer and Radford agreed. Several days later I met Brian Palmer at a swim meet and he told me about Miskimmin’s invitation. I told him not to go. I said he was about to be conned out of the family silver. In Wellington he would accept a deal that would make Project Vanguard look like a Mary Poppins’ tea party. If Brian Palmer and Bronwen Radford went to Wellington ten years of debate defending the rights of the regions to manage the sport would be lost in a day.

But Palmer and Radford did not listen. They went to Wellington and were done like a dinner. They did a deal that got rid of the old Board and that saw the end of Mike Byrne and Jan Cameron. And in return they sold the sport down the river. As a result of what Palmer and Radford agreed to in Wellington the cause they were charged with defeating, Project Vanguard, was imposed on swimming plus plenty. I don’t know whether it was the chance to rub shoulders with the power brokers of New Zealand sport or the attraction of seeing Byrne and Cameron down the road that caused Palmer and Radford to act with such stunning naivety. Whatever it was, I am of the view that swimming in New Zealand will pay for the errors and gullibility of that day in Wellington for a generation to come.

Palmer and Radford eventually witnessed first-hand the behaviour I warned them about before they went to Wellington. While Sport New Zealand needed Palmer and Radford all was sweetness and light. But the minute that changed; as soon as Miskimmin’s hired gun, Chris Moller assumed power he demanded Brian Palmer’s resignation; his head on a plate. The chances of Palmer being employed in New Zealand sport just became nil. If you lie down with dogs, you get fleas. Palmer and Radford should never have gone to Wellington. Those of us left behind will pay for their blunder.

And so a new gang of Miskimmin minions has been appointed to run the sport. My advice to them is to be cautious; to be very, very cautious indeed. Right now there is ample money, comfortable offices, generous salaries, plentiful overseas travel and lavish Mazda corporate cars. But the story I have told is littered with the remains of those who either crossed Miskimmin or who failed to implement the plans and power of Sport New Zealand. I am picking most of you, that’s Layton, Renford, Villanueva and Lyles, are looking down the barrel of a similar future.



State Insurance, Take A Bow

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

By David

Last week Swimwatch reported on the absence of lifejackets on the boat carrying “feeders” at the Swimming New Zealand Open Water Championships. Instead of just complaining about the problem I decided to contact State Insurance. After all State is paying Swimming New Zealand close to a million dollars a year to promote water safety. If the Miskimmin and Renford run Swimming New Zealand is ignoring their water safety duties, State should know about it.

Unfortunately I cannot copy my email to State. I wrote it on the State website’s email complaint facility. This does not allow the writer to retain a copy. However I simply pointed out that “feeders” should have been wearing lifejackets. Given State’s huge investment in water safety, I was sure State would want a product carrying their name to observe the highest standard of aquatic care. If this had not happened at Taupo then Swimming New Zealand use of State’s money could be considered hypocritical.

I did not expect a reply from State. You wouldn’t get one from Swimming New Zealand. They say ““Excellence – Integrity – Accountability” but don’t mean it. However, I underestimated “State”. That afternoon I received the following reply.

Hi David,

Thank you for taking the time to send us your complaint around the use of life jackets for the recent Open Water Champs event on the weekend which forms part of the State Epic Swim event. When I first read your email I too was alarmed with the apparent lack of safety, something that Swimming NZ and State have been working hard on over the past few years. I know the Event Manager well at Swimming New Zealand so asked for a quick debrief around the issue.

 It appears that the original vessel that was charted to hold the support crew for the swimmers, the size of which required supporters to wear a life jacket, became unavailable in the days preceding the event. Swimming NZ set about to quickly source an alternate vessel for the support crew of the swimmers taking part and secured the use of a second larger enclosed vessel. The size of this new vessel meant supporters did not need to wear life jackets as the vessel carried its own supply in case of an emergency.

 While we receive brand recognition via our sponsorship of an event like this one, the safety of all participants, their spectators and families is our main concern. Safety protocols and emergency plans are always in place and often reviewed. I hope the above explanation helps put your mind at ease about this. I believe the event was enjoyed by all with some exhilarating swimming in the 5km and 10km races on Saturday.

Kind regards, Sean Craigen, Sponsorship & Events Activation Specialist – State & AMI

I debated whether the conversation should be continued. No one likes a complaining fanatic. However I decided to reply. The email from State was so obviously sincere, that the con-job, the whitewash, the snow job by Swimming New Zealand should not be allowed to go unanswered. This is my reply.

Sean Hi,

Thank you very much for taking the time to look into my concerns regarding lifejackets at the Open Water Championships. “State” is a huge organisation. I’m sure you have more important things to do than follow up on these type of issues. For that reason I would not normally reply to your explanation. However in this case and because I think you have been misled I think a follow up has merit.

I believe you have been misled for the following reasons:

1. Although it is correct to say a bigger boat was found the nature of the activity taking part on the boat made the wearing of a lifejacket at least prudent. As each swimmer passed the boat “feeders” were required to reach out over the boat’s side to provide food and drink. I doubt there is a water safety expert alive who would not agree that in these circumstances the “heightened risk” of feeding made the wearing a lifejacket prudent and probably essential. It may not have been required by law, but I doubt that is the point of “State’s” water safety message.

2. However what is required by the Taupo authorities is the wearing of a lifejacket in vessels under 6 meters. Every person on the “big” boat was transferred from the beach to the big boat in a small rubber dingy. During that trip each dingy carried six people; a big load. Each trip involved a fairly difficult transfer from dingy to the deck of the big boat. For some of the older supporters that was not an easy climb. Maritime rules provide that it is a legal responsibility to ensure that lifejackets are worn in situations of heightened risk. This transfer was certainly “heightened risk”. With the exception of me not one person wore a lifejacket in the small rubber boats, during the ferry trip.

Swimming New Zealand’s explanation does not excuse the failure to wear lifejackets in these two circumstances.

Thank you again for your time. Yes the swimming on display was of great credit to all those involved.

David Wright, Head Coach, West Auckland Aquatics

Of course, Sean Craigen could be excused for concluding he had stumbled upon a born trouble-maker. If he does feel that way I would be surprised. Why? Because his reply indicates real concern; an emotion that is justified and may encourage Swimming New Zealand to begin acting with the integrity of their sponsor. Right now, while they drive around in Mazda luxury, while they add “Excellence – Integrity – Accountability” on their emails, while they ignore the water safety rules of the nation, in my view, they forfeit the right to any further State money. This is Sean’s reply:

Hi David,

Thanks for the below. I’ll stress the importance of mandatory life jackets for future events during the debrief with Swimming NZ, particularly on the transfer part of the process as the Surf Life Saving IRBs are not the most stable.

 Kind regards, Sean

As so often happens in cases like this one, the events that lead to my complaint are bad. However Swimming New Zealand’s cover up is far worse. Swimming New Zealand seem incapable of saying, “Opps, sorry you guys. Got it wrong. Won’t happen again.” Their behaviour suggests Swimming New Zealand is a stranger to the meaning of “Excellence – Integrity – Accountability”

State’s reaction on the other hand has been exemplary. In the insurance business you need a supplier that can be trusted, that will reply to your concerns and that will act. If my experience today is anything to go by – get a quote from State next time you need to insure something.


Measures of Financial Collapse

Monday, January 13th, 2014

By David

The world’s first discount airline was called Laker Airways. For twenty years Laker Airways enjoyed spectacular success. And then as a result of regulation restrictions and cut throat competition from British Airways and others, on the 5th February 1982, the company collapsed with debts of 270million pounds. At the time I was living in Windsor and working at Priory Gate, Clerkenwell or, as it is more popularly known, Smithfield Meat Market. Along with 60 million other Brits I was fascinated by the rise and fall of Laker Airways. I was especially interested to read that the “Financial Times” had asked the Laker Airways receiver to write an article on what he considered were seven signs of impending financial ruin.

Two days later on my normal 7.30am train to Waterloo I opened the paper to the receiver’s report. I expected to be told about critical debt to equity ratios, profit to sale’s revenue percentages, customer retention, bad debt levels and the cost of excess stock. But what I got instead was the most dazzling 2000 words of financial advice ever penned. I cannot remember all seven critical warning signs. However the five that I can recall were, a fountain in the company courtyard, more than two flag poles outside the corporate headquarters, a Chairman who owns a racehorse, a CEO who has a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce and Directors who employ a cordon-bleu cook to prepare their lunch. It was brilliant reading and wise words indeed.

I was reminded of the receiver’s report this weekend. I was at Swimming New Zealand’s Lake Taupo Open Water Championships. On Saturday morning I turned up at the Taupo AC Baths for my swimmers to warm up for their lake swim. And there in the car park sat a gleaming black Mazda CX-5 adorned with Swimming New Zealand and High Performance Sport logos. Wow, I thought, who owns this $50,000 beauty? The answer was standing beside the outdoor pool. The new Millennium Institute coach, David Lyles, was there coaching five swimmers. It’s hard to escape the thought that sitting in the car park is a vehicle that cost us $10,000 per swimmer. Simply to justify the car, Lyles had better be one hell of a coach.

But, as they say, there is more. Down by the lake the “official car park” was like a Mazda show room. It does seem that when Miskimmin has a point to prove, money is the smallest of problems. I don’t know whether Miskimmin believes he can buy Olympic success. But, if Swimming New Zealand is representative, it looks like he supports the view that throwing money at a problem will be the cure. Right now Swimming New Zealand is a union of an eighteenth century coal mine and a perfect example of the Laker Airways’ report. A coal mine because, while Renford and Lyles are driving around in leather cushioned luxury the rest of the sport struggles simply to make ends meet. The discrepancy between the haves and the have nots is huge. In the have not category are six swimmers selected to represent New Zealand in the Oceania Open Water Championships. I’m told Swimming New Zealand would not even pay their entry fees for the event. I might be wrong but I have to say it does not seem to me to be the way a sport should be run.

And the Laker Airway’s receiver’s report? Contrary to the popular view that swimming has no money, right now Swimming New Zealand is out there spending money like a drunken sailor. I’ve already told you about the line-up of expensive cars. But Lauren Boyle is in Spain again, training at altitude. It begs the question – who is Lauren Boyles coach? $50,000 worth of motor car and New Zealand’s best swimmer is 12,000 miles away training with someone else. Or does Lauren Boyle have concerns about Lyles training? Remember, Boyle will know. She is the product of one of the world’s best programs on the east side of the San Francisco Bay. And then, in a few weeks, I’m told, thirteen of the Millennium faithful are off to Arizona for another stint of altitude training. I think the extravagance is obscene.

So what else did I learn in Taupo. Well, Phillip Rush has gone. The official story is that he resigned but my guess is Swimming New Zealand is not too upset by his departure. However the exits should not stop with Philip Rush. Newspaper reports tell me Swimming New Zealand sent a letter of support for Rush to the Magistrate’s Court. If Christian Renford approved that letter then, in my view, his behaviour fails to meet the standard required of a CEO. There is not much point in putting “Excellence – Integrity – Accountability” on your letters if you involve the sport in a sordid case of drunk driving. Accountability in this case should involve a flight back to Australia.

And then there is this bit of mismanagement. This is what Swimming New Zealand rules say about wearing a life jacket. (Link opens a PDF file.)

Swimmers competing in the New Zealand Open Water and Oceania Championship races will have their feeding boat in position at the start end of the course. Feeders will be transported to this boat on IRB’s prior to the race starting. Life jackets will not be provided so feeders will need to provide their own for the trip to the feeding boat, and to wear whilst on the feeding boat. There will be a few available but don’t be caught out without one.

I don’t own a life jacket so I hired one for the day from a local Taupo canoe retailer. I turned up on the feeding boat to find that of thirty people on the boat I was the only one wearing a life jacket. State Insurance gives Swimming New Zealand a lot of money to promote water safety. A goal they endorse with the slogan, “With you in the Water”. Just not at Lake Taupo it seems. Thirty anxious coaches and administrators, some well into their sixties, leaning way over the edge of the boat handing swimmers drink and food, and not a life jacket in sight. Again Christian Renford, there seems little point in thanking State Insurance for their money when the purpose of that money seems to be of such little value. Some would call that hypocrisy. But then anything is possible at an event run by Swimming New Zealand where Philip Rush is the Safety Officer. Perhaps I should ask for my hire charge of $7.50 to be refunded from Miskimmin’s High Performance budget.

However the swimming, I enjoyed. Kane Radford and Philip Ryan are showing progress from their private club training. Thank you – It was fun watching the two of you at work.