What Is The Truth Of All This?

By David

I see the Swimming New Zealand website is doing its usual impersonation of a Billy T James comedy script. It is an interesting fact that there are members of the Miskimmin Swimming New Zealand community who would like nothing more than to see Swimwatch silenced, and who knows one day their wish may well be realized. Many readers probably view the content of Swimwatch as negative and uncalled for criticism, not to be tolerated in the brave new world of Miskimmin’s swimming empire. It seems there is little tolerance of dissent in the new Swimming New Zealand. I suspect Miskimmin minions prefer grievances to be processed through their formal constitutional channels. That way rebellion can be controlled, channelled, filed and ignored. Swimwatch on the other hand is free and out of their control. And that, they just cannot stomach or allow.

But until Swimwatch is silenced let’s look at the latest tall tales and true, published by the party’s central committee. The item this week is about the Oceania Championships being swum at the West Wave Pool in Henderson. The press release begins by saying:

All of the New Zealand team for Glasgow are competing aside from US-based Glenn Snyders and Corey Main while triple world championship medallist Lauren Boyle is in Europe.

However the truth may be different. Only four swimmers qualified to swim in individual events at the Commonwealth Games. Four swimmers are on the team by right; qualified because their individual performances met the selector’s standard. The rest, that’s ten others, are going because of generous relay conditions. Of the four swimmers who swam an individual qualifying time three, that’s three-quarters, are not swimming in the Oceania meet. Only one, Matt Stanley, will be in swimming in Auckland this week.

Perhaps another way of wording the Swimming New Zealand press release may be to say – three of New Zealand’s four best swimmers have buggered off overseas to train in a better environment that they can find at home. Now that is a thought that might have merit.

The Swimming New Zealand press release then goes on to discuss the decision of Lauren Boyle to train in Spain. Here is what it says.

Boyle decided to up the ante in her training regime with a three-week stint alongside some of Spain’s leading swimmers including double Olympic medallist Mireia Bemonte.

She suffered a setback in March when she fell ill during altitude training in USA which affected her build-up to the New Zealand Open Championships.

Boyle now wants to push herself in training to make up lost ground. I have to get some really hard work in a competitive environment,” Boyle said.

“I’ve trained with the Spanish group before and that link has allowed me to hook up with Fred Vergnoux, a coach that I admire.

“It will be hard because of the language barrier and I am on my own but it’s what I need to do.”

While I am sure apologists for Peter Miskimmin would prefer Swimming New Zealand to get away with this stuff, the ironies included in the item should not pass unmentioned.

First of all this sentence – She suffered a setback in March when she fell ill during altitude training in USA which affected her build-up to the New Zealand Open Championships.” Can this possibly be the same organisation that said about their USA altitude training camp, “There’s been no major illness or disasters, so in terms of adaptation to the environment we’ve had no issues. It has been a good experience and hopefully very valuable for the preparation.”

How can anyone take an organization seriously when one article says Boyle’s preparation for the Commonwealth Games trials “suffered a setback” when “she fell ill during altitude training” then claims “no major illness” at the altitude camp had affected their “very valuable – preparation.” I may not be the brightest light bulb in the store, but I’m struggling to put those two claims together.

Then Boyle makes a very strange claim. She says, “I have to get some really hard work in a competitive environment,”

But hold on a second. I thought the whole reason for having a Millennium Institute; the justification given by Miskimmin for having centralized canoeing, rowing, cycling, triathlon and swimming was the have “the best competing against the best.” The SNZ website tells me clearly that Lauren Boyle’s home pool was built, “To provide a sustainable high performance environment that systematically produces world class performances.” I may have got it wrong, but I thought Boyle was at the multi-million dollar Millennium Institute so she could, “get some really hard work in a competitive environment,” But no, it seems New Zealand’s best and most experienced swimmer has had to go to Spain to find what Miskimmin’s dream cannot provide in Auckland.

My confusion over the content of this SNZ report intensified when I read this next comment. “I’ve trained with the Spanish group before and that link has allowed me to hook up with Fred Vergnoux, a coach that I admire.” Of course it is possible to admire several coaches. For example, I’m sure Boyle has many good memories of her Cal coach, Teri McKeever. However Boyle’s comment could be interpreted as meaning she has more in common with a coach in Spain than with David Lyles, the Head Coach of the Miskimmin swim school. If that is the case, if Lauren Boyle has decided she gets on better with Vergnoux and can train better in his team, that should come as a surprise to no one. Much of the Swimwatch case against centralization in swimming is based on the almost impossible odds of one coach being all things to all swimmers. Perhaps Boyle has detected that and is in the process of doing something about it. If that is the case, I suspect her decision is a good one.

But better than that, perhaps Miskimmin’s centralized dream for swimming is beginning to unravel again. Certainly the time Boyle has spent training around the world is beginning to mean that if she was good enough to break a world record tomorrow it would be very difficult for Miskimmin or anyone else to claim the coaching credit. I suspect the acclaim for that would rest on Boyle’s able shoulders alone.

  • Ringing Battersby

    Diversity of swim options is essential. South Africa’s relay team of Athens that won gold all swam at different US Colleges. Russian trials last week had four swimmers under 49 seconds, all train off shore in the U.S. Or Italy. These countries also have their fair share of home coached success. At least by Boyle Snyders etc going overseas they still seem to be supported by SNZ and not suffer any vindictive repercussions. Pls. You forget to mention the fifth individual qualifier from millennium, Tabitha Bauman in the Canadian Comm Games team.