What An Interesting Weekend

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.


  • David

    The standard of most Millennium Institute swimming is average at best. However Lyles appears to have done a good job in passing on tanning tips to his male swimmers – here’s what the internet says about their diligent use of baby oils – “Baby Oil Spray. Here’s a trick we use on beauty shoots: glistening limbs look leaner and sexier. A spritz of Johnsons Baby Light Oil Spray over arms and legs will help your tan come back to life.” So, congratulations Renford, Lyles, Villanueva and Miskimmin; our $1.6million per year is not being wasted after all.
    Perhaps the role model below is something you could aim at.

  • H2tk

    I agree with your sentiments about the Anthony Mosse meet. Well done to the Auckland organizers. It’s a great meet to get your kids back into the season again. Just a comment on an observation of mine. It is really great for our young swimmers to see the likes of Lauren Boyle out swimming with her club like everyone else. When the other HP swimmers hang around in their clique it’s a missed opportunity. These kids watch their every move and not all of it is good. I noticed Sarah Hardcastle having a few “words” with the HP guys and their coaches and she wasn’t happy. Good on her!

  • H2tk

    Just another comment. Sorry. I’ve noticed that the prices for entry into the Swimming New Zealand meets has gone up to $17.50. Really? With all the money they get from the government how can they justify that? The Anthony Mosse meet cost us $8.00 an entry – a reduction in the entry fees. Just saying.