Archive for June, 2014

Are We Being Ripped Off?

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

By David

First a confession; the figures I’m using to make this case are vague and may be far from accurate. For that reason I will explain how they were arrived at and leave you to decide.

As many readers will know Swimming New Zealand has just introduced a new way of entering swim meets. It’s called “The Swimming New Zealand Membership Database”. There is a “big brother”, “animal farm” feel about most of what Swimming New Zealand do these days. When everyone’s name, address, date of birth, telephone number and financial membership record are held at the Millennium Institute it provides them with a lot of control. Just ask the American FBI, CIA and the NSA (did you see John Key took a secret trip to that bastion of individual freedom last week) and in New Zealand the GCSB. Why else were they so concerned about the revelations of Edward Snowden? While I have a degree of dislike for that sort of central control, if Renford and Miskimmin want to know my phone number, address and date of birth they are welcome.

However, I have no doubt that the new system will eventually end up costing every region, club and swimmer more money. How else are Lyles, Renford and Villanueva going to be kept in the Mazda style to which they must have become accustomed? It has to be paid for by someone and that’s where you come in. Even the much touted centralized meet entry is going to cost every club and region in the country. That much is certain. But how much is where the estimating comes in.

In 2013 the Take Your Marks website tells me there were 364 swim meets in New Zealand; an easy number to remember – almost an average of one a day. There is a huge variation in the number of entries in each meet. Small meets such as an Auckland Level 3 meet may have only 200 entries at $5.00 per entry. Larger meets can have 1000 entries at $7.50 per entry. A recent meet in Cambridge had 700 entries at $7.00 per entry. A 2014 Matamata meet had 950 entries at $6.50 per entry. So what’s the average? Well your guess is as good as mine.

I am going to go with 780 entries at $6.75 per entry. If that’s roughly right and the number of meets is 364 per year, the club’s and regions of Swimming New Zealand are going to pay the Millennium Institute office of Swimming New Zealand $1,916,460 in entry fees each year.

Now there is, of course, a time value to that money. In other words it earns interest. I think it’s fair to assume there will be at least a two months lag between Swimming New Zealand receiving your money and paying it back to its rightful owners. From the stories I’ve been told two months may be way too generous. However, if it is two months, Swimming New Zealand will have a permanent entry fees bank deposit of $319,410 at any one time.

That deposit will earn interest that Swimming New Zealand will keep; interest that normally, under the old entry system, would be earned by a club or a region. My guess is Swimming New Zealand will earn 4.8% interest per annum on your money.

In other words, if these figures are correct, Swimming New Zealand will be taking an extra $15,332 per year, or about one third of a new Mazda, out of the collective pocket of every club and region in the country. And my guess, with this lot, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Remember these are the guys who decided to charge every official that helped out at a swim meet an annual membership fee. Service charges, administration fees and membership tax are just around the corner. Sure, the first $15,332 has gone. But that is just the tip of the financial iceberg.

At those monthly telephone conference calls the SNZ Chairman, Brent Layton, holds with the regional Chairs does anyone ask Layton about the organization’s usury? Or is it all just servile gratitude for the generosity of a phone call? One of the best swim coaches in New Zealand is Gary Martin from Gisborne. He was appointed the Team Manager of the NZ Oceania Championship team. It seemed to me far too much of his time in Auckland was spent trotting out to get SNZ coaches hot cups of coffee. A man of his calibre has bigger things to address, especially in the joke called Swimming New Zealand. Perhaps the Chairman’s conference call has also become coffee time.

And what do you get for your $15,332. Well, you are getting Project Vanguard whether you like it or not. The old Swimming New Zealand tried to sell you this stuff and failed. Remember the Project Vanguard road show that toured the country and cost you half a million dollars. Well the Swimming New Zealand of Miskimmin, Layton and Renford don’t need to sell you anything anymore. Chis Moller’s constitution means they can charge what they like and do what they like.

You are going to pay Swimming New Zealand to enter the same meets at the same time as you always have. Another layer of bureaucracy has been installed – that’s all. And, before the other charges still to come, it’s already costing you $15,332 per annum.

I do so look forward to the day when I hear of my club getting anything from the Millennium office of Swimming New Zealand. One of our swimmers recently swam for her country in the Oceania Championships. And what did she get from Swimming New Zealand? An invoice for $1000 to pay for everything – even her bloody cap. She swam for her country and had to buy her own New Zealand cap. What have we become?

You will have realized by now that the $15,332 does not surprise me. It’s the way this sport and this Board (that’s Layton, McKee, Power, Hunt, Cotterill and Brown) believe things should be done. It meets perfectly their understanding of the meaning of good management. Time will prove them wrong. But by then two generations of young New Zealand swimmers will have been lost paying for the excess of the Millennium folly. The sooner swimming members take back control of the sport of swimming the better – and you will be $15,332 better off.

PS: A Swimming New Zealand member, who was aware I was writing this story, has just sent me an email asking whether SNZ has considered the GST implications of having all the clubs wanting to enter a meet pay Swimming New Zealand and two months later SNZ pay the club hosting the meet. Is GST going to be charged and paid twice: once by the attending clubs for entering the meet and once by SNZ for its stunning service. Does the net result mean the IRD gets twice as much (2×15%) and the hosting club gets 15% less or does the cost of entering every swim meet have to go up by 15% to cover the extra lot of GST involved in the SNZ transaction? I hope not. Overnight the cost of entering swim meets in New Zealand would go up by $287,469 per year.

I sure am no accountant. I have to believe SNZ has sorted out something as simple as that. Perhaps the SNZ transaction is an exempt financial service. But then again, who knows? Funnier things have happened.

Free Al Jazeera Three

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

By David

It is unusual for Swimwatch to dwell on events at our club, West Auckland Aquatics. A swimming blog such as this has normally considered wider issues. However recent events have conspired to link the parochial interests of the West Auckland Aquatics Club with one of the world’s most important news items.

A few weeks ago a new family joined our club. The father introduced himself as Wayne Hay. I thought I’d heard that name before but wasn’t sure in what context. When I got home, I Googled “Wayne Hay” and quickly realised why the club’s newest member had a memorable name. This is what Google tells me the New Zealand Herald had to say.

A New Zealand journalist has been freed from an Egyptian jail after being detained for five days without charge. Al Jazeera correspondent Wayne Hay, formerly a TVNZ reporter and presenter, was arrested with three colleagues while covering events in Cairo on Tuesday.  The network called for Egyptian authorities to release its staff unconditionally along with their belongings and equipment. It said there had been a campaign against Al Jazeera, as the channel’s offices were raided last month. A post on the Al Jazeera website said Mr Hay and his colleagues were deported to London, Radio New Zealand reported. They were forced to leave their equipment behind.

An Al Jazeera spokesperson told RNZ they were not given a reason for their detention. Al Jazeera thanked all those who helped the group, especially the New Zealand, South African and Irish embassies in the Egyptian capital.

There is an obvious link with the most recent events in Cairo where another three Al Jazeera journalists were arrested 180 days ago and have now been sentenced by an Egyptian court to seven years in jail for doing their job. Here is a summarised version of how Al Jazeera reported recent events.

An Egypt court has sentenced two Al Jazeera journalists to seven years in jail and one to 10 years, triggering international outrage and condemnation of what many described as an “unjust verdict”. The guilty verdicts were announced by a judge on Monday against Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed. Greste and Fahmy were sentenced to seven years in prison, while Baher Mohamed was sentenced to an additional three years for possession of ammunition. Mohamed was in possession of a spent bullet casing he had found on the ground during a protest.

Greste, Fahmy, and Mohamed were arrested in December in Cairo as they covered the aftermath of the army’s removal of Mohamed Morsi from the presidency in July. The prosecution said Greste, Al Jazeera’s East Africa correspondent, and his Egypt bureau colleagues aided the Brotherhood and produced false news reports of the situation in Egypt.

The defence maintained that the journalists were wrongly arrested and that the prosecution had failed to prove any of the charges. Al Jazeera has strenuously rejected the charges against its journalists and maintains their innocence. Al Anstey, Al Jazeera English managing director, said the verdicts defied “logic, sense, and any semblance of justice”.

“Today three colleagues and friends were sentenced, and will continue to be kept behind bars for doing a brilliant job of being great journalists. “There is only one sensible outcome now – for the verdict to be overturned, and justice to be recognised by Egypt.”

The verdict provoked international outcry and raised fears of growing media restrictions in Egypt. Australia expressed shock and US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke of “a chilling and draconian sentence”, while the White House urged President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to pardon the journalists involved.

“We call on the Egyptian government to pardon these individuals or commute their sentences so that they can be released immediately and (to) grant clemency for all politically motivated sentences,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. UN rights chief Navi Pillay said journalism “is not a crime” and urged Egypt to “promptly release” those jailed for doing their job. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said: “We are deeply dismayed that a sentence has been imposed and appalled at the severity of it.” Several countries announced plans to summon Egyptian ambassadors to protest what many called an unjust verdict.

The reality of this outrageous violation of all that is good and decent is so much greater when you know someone who was within a whisker of the same fate just because he was doing his job. The bad things, bad people can do to good people is just stunning. Any claim the authorities in Cairo make to democracy and the rule of law means nothing while the Al Jazeera three remain behind Egyptian bars.

Of course the condemnation of Swimwatch is not going to mean anything to the recently elected President of Egypt, Abdel Al-Sisi. But in a case like this every voice matters. Freedom of speech, the right of journalists to report the news, to do their job is important to us all. Even when we do not like or agree with what is being said, it is essential we defend the right to say it.

After all, it looks as though John Kerry and Barack Obama are not making much progress toward civilizing those currently in power in Cairo. American words sound hollow however when their actions support the thugs running Egypt. How on God’s good earth the United States can provide this gang of Egyptian low-life with $600million of military aid is beyond belief.

And so, Swimming New Zealand and its Wellington Region, when you go to a local club and insist it takes down its link to Swimwatch or when you spend time and money debating how to have this blog closed and its journalist sued, think about Egypt and remember where the logical extension of your bigotry can lead. After all, I’m told an employee of SNZ was fired, in part, because he spoke to one of the authors of Swimwatch. You are not in good company. That move would have been well understood and endorsed by Abdel Al-Sisi.

Free the Al Jazeera three.

Ethical Behaviour

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

By David

I spent a few minutes this week discussing a couple of events that occurred in Auckland swimming and that caused me concern. I was unsure whether to discuss them on the Swimwatch blog. Every recommendation I received, there were three, advised me to leave things alone. I was assured that any problems had been resolved and any errors would not occur again.

And then I came home and was watching a discussion on the terrible plight of the three Al Jazeera journalists held in an Egyptian jail simply because they reported news that the state did not like. One British journalist used an expression I had not heard before. He said, “Good journalism should be a thorn in the side of power.” And that is right. Staying silent does no one any favours, no matter how much Wellington Swimming may wish that was the case. I see Wellington’s May Board Meeting disappeared into committee, that’s another word for secret, again while, I’m picking, they debated how to avoid the western world’s rules on free speech and have Swimwatch closed down. This time they spent twenty-five minutes on the subject. There must be better things for them to do.

However the subject of this blog is not Wellington. Regular readers may have noticed very little has been written on Swimwatch about Auckland in the past four years. And what has been written is largely complimentary. I have much admiration for the honest and good job Brian Palmer did of managing Auckland Swimming. Of course I did not agree with his every decision, but the professional, open style of his governance was beyond reproach. For years he was the custodian of values that less principled swimming people would have loved to see dismantled.

Brian Palmer did not need to write excellence, integrity and accountability at the conclusion of his correspondence. He lived by the words. They were obvious in his every action. And many of those who do need to write them disliked him for it.

I very much hope the legacy of Brian’s business integrity is not about to change. Two events occurred in Auckland swimming this week that may be cause for concern.

The first involved a decision by the current Board to use the 2014 Annual Meeting to reduce the constitutional size of the elected Board by two. This would prematurely bring the Board size in line with the new Swimming New Zealand imposed regional constitution. Being as the new constitution was not due to be adopted for probably six months I saw the reduced number of elected positions in the Notice of Meeting and asked Auckland Swimming why the meeting was not being run in accordance with the current constitution. I immediately received a reply that explained the wish of the Board to prepare for the new constitution. I was told a memo would be distributed explaining the decision.

Sure enough that afternoon a memo was distributed. This is what it said.

Clarification to Notice of Meeting Auckland Swimming Association AGM 2014

We have received enquiries in regard to the number of positions for the Board at the AGM, and the Board would like to offer the following explanation:

There are four vacancies open for Board members under the current Constitution. It is the Board’s recommendation to the AGM that we offer two elected Board Member positions, in preparation of adopting the new Regional Constitution later this year, to bring the total Board Members to six (four elected and two independent). This will need to be agreed by the AGM. If the AGM decides against this, when we do adopt the new constitution, we will need to reduce the number of Board Members to six in total.

I hope this helps clarify this proposal in the Notice of Meeting.

That is a good explanation. However it came too late. It was sent out only after some of us, possibly only me, asked what was going on. When something like this happens it is human nature to wonder what other tricks are the Board getting up to without our knowledge. Possibly, hopefully none, but the constitution is an important document and should not be by-passed without an explanation. For years Swimming New Zealand has practiced that sort of sleight of hand. Hopefully this error by Auckland is not a portent of things to come. Our message is tell us upfront and, like Brian Palmer, you will earn our absolute support.

The second incident involved a decision to reduce the size of this weekend’s Level 1&2 swim meet. On Thursday we received the following email.

Dear Members

Due to a huge number of entries into LME Level 1 & 2 being held this Saturday 21st June, both LME and ASA have made the decision to remove the following events from the programme:

Session One:

Mens 1500m Freestyle

Womens 1500m Freestyle

Mens 50m Freestyle

Womens 50m Freestyle

Mens 50m Backstroke

Womens 50m Backstroke

Mens 400m IM

Womens 400m IM

On current psych sheets this session would run for 6 hours, by removing these events it will now take approximately 3 hours 45minutes.

Session Two:

Mens 400m Freestyle

Womens 400m Freestyle

Mens 50m Butterfly

Womens 50m Butterfly

Mens 50m Breaststroke

Womens 50m Breaststroke

On current psych sheets this session would run for 5 hours, by removing these events it will now take approximately 4 hours. Any Level 2 swimmers who wish to compete in these events will be offered the opportunity at the Level 1 on 19th July space permitting. This will be offered with 1 week’s notice on a first come, first serve basis.

We are aware that this situation is not ideal, however it would be unacceptable for volunteers to attend such long session. Entry fees for these removed events will be reimbursed in due course.

Although the notice of this change was unacceptably late I understand the reasons. Certainly something had to be done. Deleting events was certainly one alternative. However I was surprised to find the huge number of Counties’ swimmers entered in the meet. Including swimmers entered in the scratched events there were 386 entries from Counties, or about 4 hours of swimming.  Why didn’t the Auckland Board comply with its constitution responsibility of protecting the interests of Auckland swimmers and simply reject entries from outside Auckland? The decision to hurt Auckland swimmers to accommodate 302 entries from Counties, in accepted events, was a bad one. The interests of Auckland swimmers should have come first.

However, just as important, the email sent out from the Auckland Board contains no hint of an apology. “We are aware that this situation is not ideal,” is not sufficient. “We are really sorry” takes so little and means so much. The quality of never admitting error is a Swimming New Zealand hallmark. I do hope Auckland Swimming is not learning at the feet of its parent. Auckland used to be far better than that.

And so my apology for telling three friends I would not write this story. “Good journalism should be a thorn in the side of power,” just seemed too important to ignore.

“Hole” of Sport Plan

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

By David

I am sure every reader of this blog will have been waiting with baited breath for the publication of Swimming New Zealand’s Whole of Sport Plan. Around every corner it has been pushed and promoted. Moller extolled its importance in his Review. Swimming New Zealand pointed out its significance in the new Constitution. Only the seventh and final novel in the Harry Potter series can have been more anticipated.

Finally this week our nervous expectations were sated; Swimming’s Whole of Sport Plan was published. What a disappointment. This sure isn’t a J.K. Rowling masterpiece. Most of it is just bureaucratic nonsense; “full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”

I wonder if Christian Renford, the current CEO, drives to work in his Mazda listening to those self-improvement audio tapes. One of his first instructions was to order SNZ staff to include “Excellence, Integrity, Accountability” at the conclusion of all correspondence. Renford must be settling into the job. In the Whole of Sport Plan he has gone one better. The number of values has doubled to six and they are now located are at the beginning of the plan – Excellence, Innovation, Integrity, Service, Accountability, Safety.

Excellence must mean failing to include open water swimmers in the original publication of the national team. SNZ did apologize for that stunning bit of management; too little, too late.

Integrity; I suppose includes recommending to a New Zealand Court, the character and performance of a senior employee convicted of multiple drink driving offences

Safety; that must mean ferrying two dozen coaches in small rubber dinghies out to the feeding boat on Lake Taupo without a life jacket in sight – sorry there was one; mine.

Service; I guess that means I can expect a call from SNZ anytime. I’ve been back here four years. Our swim team includes two National Representatives and four Open National medallists and I’ve had no service at all. Only one SNZ employee has ever spoken to me, Donna Bouzaid on three occasions.

Innovation; I have no idea what that could possibly mean – unless Renford thinks that providing Lauren Boyle with five coaches in three years is an international coaching innovation. I’m sure the rest of the swimming world is fascinated.

Accountability; is possibly a reference to the SNZ’s ability to spend $1.6 million on getting two Millennium swimmers to better the Commonwealth Games individual qualifying times. I can help. That’s $800,000 per annum per swimmer.

Much of the report is banal generalities. For example who could possibly disagree with, “strengthen swimming at a grassroots level” or “promote opportunities for swimmers and coaches to access the expertise and opportunities they need to develop their full potential” or “create a culture of continuous improvement” or “maintain open and honest dialogue with all stakeholders”. I’m sure you get the idea; a whole pile of words that keep Miskimmin’s masters happy. No one is going to disagree with any of that of course. I can’t imagine the organization setting out to weaken swimming, even if that is the reality of its performance in recent years.

I did love the last one: an “open and honest dialogue” with stakeholders. That must mean Wellington is going to try its best to avoid altering approved minutes without first obtaining formal Board sanction. I imagine the Sport’s Editor of the Dom Post, Jonathan Millmow will be pleased to hear about the new “open and honest” vision. Remember the spin and misinformation Millmow was given about New Zealand swimming’s World Championship results. Simon Plumb will be no less delighted to hear that the next time he’s told everything is lovely at a SNZ altitude camp, a world swimming champion won’t be spending time in an Arizona Hospital, waiting to fly home. Best of all, I suppose “open and honest” means the swimming people of Wairarapa will be able to sleep at night knowing that there is no police investigation into their telephone behaviour. The plan is right though – an “open and honest dialogue” is seriously overdue.

I found two specifics interesting. The first referred to SNZ’s learn to swim ambitions. It said:

Every 10 year old to swim 200. By 2025 every New Zealand child should be able to swim 200m by 10 years of age. (The “200 by 10” target).

Admirable as that may be, it is as unrealistic as me wanting to buy a majority share in Google. For many reasons it’s just not going to happen. Two immediately come to mind – religion and health.

The New Zealand of 2014 is a pretty multicultural place. In her paper on “Muslim Women in Sport”, Sister Hikmat Beiruty had this to say:

In most female-only schools, there are always male teachers around. Hence wearing even body suits is not sufficient; therefore to remove yourself from this activity is the only solution.

And Muslims are not alone. In Orthodox Judaism many believe that men and women should not swim together. USA Swimming came across this problem when the new swim suit rules were introduced. In that case, USA Swimming had to include the following clarification clause in their rules (doc download link):

While the rule was never intended to discriminate, it could certainly be viewed as having a discriminatory effect on swimmers whose religious beliefs require them to cover more of their bodies than is permitted by the newly amended rule. It has also come to our attention that there may be some athletes whose medical conditions require them to avoid direct sunlight exposure to their skin. The amended rule was also not intended to prohibit these athletes from competing because they cannot adequately cover their skin as a result of the amended rule.

And so unless SNZ are planning to have their corps of swim police empty every mosque, temple and hospital of ten year olds who don’t want to, or are unable to swim, the idea of having every ten year old in the country swim 200 meters is ludicrous and should never be included in a document of this type. Ten year olds who are able and want to swim 200 meters – fine; nothing wrong with that. But “every” ten year old just makes the organization look stupid.

SNZ’s high performance goals will be a real test of their plan.

In Glasgow, they say they want 12 finalists, 5 to place 4th to 8th and 7 to win a medal. On a good day with a fair wind that is achievable. Boyle should oblige in the 400 and 800 and possibly in the 200. Snyder should be successful in the 50 and 100 breaststroke. That leaves Stanley, Main and the relay swimmers to find two or three medals between them. In a Commonwealth Games if swimming can’t do that it would be a poor result. The table below shows New Zealand medal tally in past Commonwealth Games



2010 Delhi


2006 Melbourne


2002 Manchester


1998 Kuala Lumpur


1994 Victoria


1990 Auckland


1986 Edinburgh


1982 Brisbane


1978 Edmonton



And so the goal of seven medals is a good normal – about the same as Edinburgh 1986, Auckland 1990 and Victoria 1994. Ah, but them were the days before Millennium Institutes, before Miskimmin’s $1.6 million and before Whole of Sport Plans.

Time will tell what the “Whole of Sport Plan” is worth. At least they end the document with the acknowledgement that it is Swimming New Zealand who is “Responsible for delivery of the whole of sport plan.” Let’s hold them to that, shall we?



Swimming New Zealand Fail Sport 101

Monday, June 16th, 2014

By David

Academics have spent considerable time discussing the value of sport. Does it build character or simply reveal character? Both arguments have their vocal supporters. However on one aspect there appears to be consensus. Both sides agree with Dr Stewart Robbins the chair of the School of Physical Education at York University in Canada. Dr Robbins says;

“Sport is inherently neither good nor bad. The positive and negative effects associated with sport do not result from participation but from the nature of the experience. In the hands of the right people with the right attitudes, sport can be a positive, character-building experience. It provides one of the best opportunities for children to come in contact with rules and social values. It plays a prime role in promoting values such as tolerance, fairness, and responsibility.

The idea that sport builds character comes from 19th-century Britain. The key virtue the British tried to instil in young people through sport was a sense of fairness and justice. Following rules, not cheating, and learning how to be good winners and losers were considered by headmasters to be part of what it meant to be a good citizen.

The notion that sport builds character does not sit well with today’s critics of competitive sport. The external pressures of high profits and high salaries have often led to the corruption of these ideals. Instead of building character, competitive sport, which values winning above all else, challenges this notion. The more important winning becomes, the more the rewards for fair play and other values are likely to be diminished.”

And in Dr Robbin’s argument lies the most fundamental failure of Miskimmin’s Swimming New Zealand. The negative effects of swimming in New Zealand do not result from participation but from the nature of the experience. In the hands of the right people with the right attitudes, swimming can be a positive, character-building experience. But in the Miskimmin model the external pressures of big spending and high salaries have led to the corruption of these ideals. The more important winning and status and power and big salaries and Mazda SUVs have become, the more the rewards for fair play, following the rules, not cheating, and learning how to be good winners and losers have diminished.”

That is an important accusation. It is saying that Miskimmin’s swimming is failing its most basic social duty, to educate and benefit the people of New Zealand. You may well ask, “If that is the case give us an example.”

Well, take the current swim team selected for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. They were selected on the basis of a document called, “Nomination Criteria – 2014 Commonwealth Games (Pool)”. This sets out the times swimmers must swim in order to be selected for an individual event. Four swimmers qualified on this basis;

Lauren Boyle 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 800m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle relay

Corey Main 100m backstroke

Glenn Snyders 100m breaststroke, 200m breaststroke

Matthew Stanley 400m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle relay

The Nomination Criteria document also sets out the times swimmers must swim in order to be selected for a relay event. Ten swimmers qualified on this basis;

Mitchell Donaldson 4x200m freestyle

Dylan-Dunlop Barrett 4x200m freestyle relay

Tash Hind 4x200m freestyle relay

Ewan Jackson 4x200m freestyle relay

Steven Kent 4x200m freestyle relay

Samantha Lee 4x200m freestyle relay, 4 x 100 freestyle relay

Samantha Lucie-Smith 4x200m freestyle relay, 4 x 100 freestyle relay

Laura Quilter 4 x 100m freestyle relay

Ellen Quirke 4 x 100m freestyle relay

Emma Robinson 4x200m freestyle relay

Nowhere – absolutely nowhere – in the Nomination Criteria is there any mention of the fact that a relay swimmer can be selected for an individual event. The only provision that may allow that sort of change is a Nomination Criteria clause that says:

SNZ may amend this Nomination Criteria at any time prior to the Nomination Date, with the approval of the NZOC, by giving reasonable notice to all athletes eligible for nomination.

However the first mention of the change that allows relay swimmers to compete in individual events was made on the 11 June 2014 in the Swimming New Zealand team announcement. This said;

“Note that swimmers may swim in other events for the Commonwealth Games.”

Swimming New Zealand cheated. The change was not “prior to the Nomination Date”. I bet the change never had NZOC approval prior to being made. And all the eligible athletes were not given reasonable notice. Swimming New Zealand cheated.

Someone like Swimming New Zealand Board member Margaret McKee should be ashamed. I happen to know the environment that nurtured her swimming career. I stayed at her coach’s home for about five years. Beth Meade would never have tolerated an organization cheating like this. There was no place for sporting dishonesty in the Beth Meade Comet Club. Margaret McKee could do Swimming New Zealand a real service by insisting they apply some decent standards to the way they run the sport. Margaret McKee needs to remember that, “the positive and negative effects associated with sport do not result from participation but from the nature of the experience.”

The nature of the experience in this instance has been to teach every swimmer in New Zealand that if things don’t go the way you want; if the results are not going to justify the salaries and the Mazdas – then make up a new rule; change the law; cheat.

So that’s an example of the way Swimming New Zealand is failing in its most basic duty. And it’s not as though the relay swimmers are even close to qualifying. The table below shows the ten relay swimmers and compares their trial’s swims with the Commonwealth Games’ qualifying times. I have shown the amount each swimmer is behind the qualifying time as a percentage. I did this because ASCA have 3% as a rule of thumb guide to a good year’s progress. Well, if that’s true the average New Zealand relay swimmer is eleven month’s training away from swimming a Games qualifying standard. The closest is Samantha Lucie-Smith in the 200 free and Dylan Dunlop-Barrett in the 400 free. But none of them get anywhere near Kurt Crosland (0.5%) who is being left home in Dunedin.



Qual. Time

Trial Time

Deficit %

Mitchell Donaldson

100 free




200 free




Ewan Jackson

100 free




200 free




400 free




Steven Kent

100 free




200 free




Samantha Lee

100 free




200 free




100 fly




Samantha Lucie-Smith

100 free




200 free




400 free




Laura Quilter

50 free




100 free




100 fly




Ellen Quirke

100 free




200 free




Emma Robinson

200 free




400 free




800 free




Dylan-Dunlop Barrett

200 free




400 free




Tash Hind

200 free




400 free




400 IM




200 IM




Average Deficit


Kurt Crosland

100 back




The longer this shambles goes on, the clearer it becomes. Miskimmin’s Swimming New Zealand and those he has appointed are not working. Decent swimming people need to claim back their sport.