Swimming New Zealand Dumped

By David

What else could go wrong? In a week when Lauren Boyle, Swimming New Zealand’s best swimmer, had to be send home, dehydrated and exhausted, from a much flaunted altitude camp in Arizona; in a week when Swimming New Zealand tried to hide Boyle’s training problems with a lie that said, “There’s been no major illness or disasters, so in terms of adaptation to the environment we’ve had no issues”; in a week when Christian Renford, Swimming New Zealand’s CEO described the cover up as an “administrative oversight”; surely nothing else could go wrong.

But this is the new Miskimmin Swimming New Zealand we are talking about. Cock-up superlatives are its specialty. But this one surprised even me. State Insurance took their money elsewhere. They dumped the Swimming New Zealand sponsorship; said thank you, goodbye and buggered off.

Of course everybody said the right things. Roger Wallace, General Manager for State Insurance, said: “State is moving in a different direction with its sponsorship strategy. However, this is no reflection on the quality and success of our sponsorship with Swimming New Zealand. We’re extremely proud of what’s been achieved during our partnership with Swimming New Zealand. At an elite level, State is also proud to have been a major sponsor of the AquaBlacks. Above our sponsorship of the elite athletes, State has jointly helped to create a highly successful learn to swim programme with Swimming New Zealand – the State Kiwi Swim Safe programme”.

After the other events of this week it is difficult to know what to believe when the source is Swimming New Zealand. However, and for what it’s worth, CEO Christian Renford looked back on a great partnership between the two organisations.  “Whilst it is sad to part ways, we respect and appreciate the commitment State Insurance has shown to our sport since 2010. They have been nothing but a pleasure to work with.

“During this time Swimming New Zealand has undergone significant organisational change and has achieved many successes both in and out of the water. Accordingly we believe that we are now in the position to offer a sound investment for new commercial partners and we are actively pursuing opportunities. A key focus of State’s partnership has been Swimming New Zealand’s Kiwi Swim Safe programme. State Insurance and its staff, have great values and a willingness to make a difference in the community, values shared by Swimming New Zealand,” Mr Renford said.

Of course it all sounds as fake as two lovers claiming to still be “the best of friends”. Swimming New Zealand must be pissed. They’ve just lost a bucket load of money. The prospects for replacing any of it rest again on poor old Lauren Boyle’s dehydrated and exhausted shoulders.

Just look at some of the stuff Renford says, “Swimming New Zealand has achieved many successes out of the water.” That must be a reference to stripping the Regions of their power and replacing Coulter, Cameron and Byrne with Layton, Lyles and Renford. Well, I guess Renford is entitled to believe that his appointment is a success. The rest of us are not so sure. Not so sure at all.

And then this gem. “State Insurance and its staff, have great values; values shared by Swimming New Zealand,” Mr Renford said. Tell me do these values include this week’s monumental cover up of Lauren Boyle’s problems? I don’t think State Insurance would want to share those values, one little bit.

Then Renford goes on to say. “A key focus of State’s partnership has been Swimming New Zealand’s Kiwi Swim Safe programme.” Renford might say that, but State Insurance must have been acutely aware that the Moller Report’s first and second recommendations involved abandoning the activity State Insurance were most interested in funding. Recommendation One says, “That the sport fully endorses the future role and purpose of SNZ. This is to Support the growth and performance of the sport of competitive swimming – from entry level Club competitive swimmers to elite High Performance athletes.” No mention of water safety or learn to swim.

Recommendation Two goes on to emphasis the lack of interest Swimming New Zealand has in the State Insurance funded learn to swim when it says, “Transfer ‘teach the teachers’ function from SNZ. SNZ will no longer deliver the “Teach the Teachers” Learn to Swim program.”

It may be fair to say that Swimming New Zealand is now paying the price for an obsessive involvement in their nationalised swim school in Auckland. Training elite swimmers is none of their business. They are now paying for that preoccupation, big time.

I noticed another quote in the Moller Report. “While the sport can be positively characterised by the strong volunteer base and the passionate and committed people within the sport, it is also undermined by potential loss of or reduced sponsorship.” Well if the old Swimming New Zealand was tarnished by a “loss of or reduced sponsorship” I wonder what Moller makes of the performance so far of his new Miskimmin Swimming New Zealand? This loss of sponsorship beats anything Coulter, Cameron or Byrne managed.

Of course financially none of this matters a toss. Swimming New Zealand will carry on with their high altitude junkets, their fleet of leather and chrome Mazdas and their new Auckland offices. Miskimmin is so committed to his new Swimming New Zealand project; committed up to his eye balls, that the government “state” will make up the funding short fall. That’s you and me brother, the ever generous tax payer. I have little doubt that Swimming New Zealand will abandon learn to swim. I can’t see Miskimmin wanting to pay for that. Water Safety New Zealand will take over the role of saving lives and Miskimmin’s new Swimming New Zealand will try and convince someone with money that they are good at coaching fast swimmers.

Well done Christian Renford. Well done on a fine week; a week that has cost the sport of swimming its reputation for honesty and close to a million dollars of corporate sponsorship. I guess it’s not a week Christian Renford will want to highlight on his Resume for his next position in sport. He may need to take a look at that Resume though. Peter Miskimmin is not known for taking kindly to failures like this week in one of his pet sporting projects.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not clear if State has only withdrawn from SNZ or swimming altogether? I understood Scott Rice (Ocean Swim Series) had a hand in putting this deal together. Is State staying with him or does he have to look for another name sponsor too?

  • concerned

    The State Kiwi Swim Safe Program should never have been run, and should never have been supported by state in the first place. Basically what Swimming New Zealand did through state was launch a Schools Swimming Product providing ‘free’ swimming education training to teachers and provision to schools in communities throughout New Zealand.

    Basically in the process they put themselves into competition with the local providers who offer the same service at cost. the quality of the service provision was abysmal, as the SNZ team went on a mission around the country offering ‘professional development and follow up support’ to school teachers to deliver swimming programes themselves.

    a clear intent of clocking up as many ‘teachers trained’ in the shortest space of time, and then averaging out the number of kids a school teacher teachers and highlighting monstrous numbers of children receiving quality learn to swim programmes to make the organisation feel they are making positive change.

    Can a swimming teacher be trained in under 3 hours? and can a group of 3-4 SNZ staff really provide adequate follow up support to the thousands of teachers and schools they preached to. This move did nothing to improve water safety and swimming standards in New Zealand – and crapped all over the people running swimming programmes throughout New Zealand they are supposed to be supporting.

    This move was hugely detrimental to the good people throughout New Zealand offering fully professional services at fair prices to support the operations of their facilities, to provide more stable jobs to their swimming professionals, and in many cases to support their competitive programmes – the state kiwi swim safe project set the professionalization of the swimming industry back many years.

    To Swimming New Zealand, we hope that the tens of thousands of children being taught by teachers with little or no swimming knowledge around New Zealand due to the kiwi swim project are not left up in the air for too long. Hopefully a movement is made to ensure that our communities around New Zealand are self sufficient in their provision of Learn to Swim without having to rely on the ‘professional’ services your organisation are renowned for.