Archive for August, 2014

Renford Ducks for Cover

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

By David

The title of this post is a parody the title of an article in the Dominion Post and on the Stuff website this morning. The headline said, “Swim-record protest like water off a duck’s back” and was meant to demonstrate the contempt Swimming New Zealand had for our protests about the depth and current in the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre.

It is not often we get to hear publically from the CEO of the new Swimming New Zealand. He appears to prefer the Miskimmin style of management – “If it’s not written down, I never said it.” Less than generous others call it mushroom management – keep them in the dark and feed them shit.

However here, at last and thanks to the Dom-Post, we have Renford on the record. So let’s examine what he said to reporter Toby Robson on the 13 August 2014.

First the introduction.

Swimming New Zealand believes doubts raised about the legitimacy of Lauren Boyle’s world record 1500m swim in Wellington on Saturday are so flimsy they do not warrant an investigation.

Swimwatch website operator and Auckland-based swimming coach David Wright has protested Boyle’s record on the grounds he believes a current in the Kilbirnie Aquatic Centre pool means the facility does not meet Fina regulations.

However, SNZ chief executive Christian Renford yesterday labelled the claims “unsubstantiated”, “disappointing” and lacking in integrity.

This is Renford setting out his stall. Note there is no mention of the depth issue. But my protests at the use of the Kilbirnie Pool were about its current and its depth. I guess Renford wants to stay as far away from the question of depth as possible. To address that issue means admitting the organization, for which he is responsible, is ignoring the safety of every swimmer, in its care, who swims in the shallow end of the Kilbirnie Pool.

And secondly it appears Renford has decided that when he wants to avoid answering difficult questions he will string together a list of insulting adjectives – “flimsy, unsubstantiated, disappointing and lacking in integrity”. It’s a pretty standard defence used by the guilty. Avoid the evidence, just insult the accusation. Incidentally Renford seems to love that word integrity. Me thinks he doth protest too much.

And then he says this.

“We have a situation where a few people seem to have taken some unofficial times and splits from hand timing by an unnamed person sitting in the grandstand,” Renford said. “It’s pretty unsubstantiated, so to be relatively blunt there just isn’t really a lot to respond to.

“There are split times missing. We are talking about world records and integrity and I just don’t think we can respond to this [in an official capacity].”

This is fascinating. “A few people” – I am afraid there are more than a few people watching Renford’s behaviour. For example the number of people reading Swimwatch has risen to 700 a day. Not only are there more than a few, there are some respected, heavy hitters in the world of swimming journalism checking on Renford’s and Swimming New Zealand’s “integrity”. Names like Rushton, Lord and Marsteller are not swimming froth to be dismissed by the likes of Renford. They are concerned and they are watching him closely.

And next, “an unnamed person sitting in the grandstand”. The person is not unnamed. It was Jon Winter who published the 25 metre times on Twitter. He was not sitting in the grandstand but was on the pool deck throughout the race. Was Renford told this stuff or did he just make it up?

And finally, “there just isn’t really a lot to respond to” and “I just don’t think we can respond to this.” Here he goes again; back to the ploy of trivialising the complaint. In this paragraph Renford uses a couple of untruths to defend SNZ’s use of the Kilbirnie Pool. And then says the lies confirm the validity of dismissing our protest. I do hope Renford’s misstatements were only unfortunate errors.

And then a call for the sympathy vote.   

“I don’t know what the swimmers would take from it, but I find it very distracting and very sad that what should be a positive event for the sport and for Lauren, the athlete concerned, gets tarnished by what are unsubstantiated accusations. He doubted Fina would take seriously hand timed splits from the grandstand when Boyle’s swim was timed using world class equipment. Wright believes his split times clearly prove that swimming in one direction at Kilbirnie is faster than swimming in the other. He says that is a violation of Fina rules.”

I fail to see what is unsubstantiated about our protests. The sign on the side of the Kilbirnie Pool tells me the depth is 1.2 metres. The FINA rule book requires 1.35 metres; there doesn’t seem to be much unsubstantiated about that. Perhaps the word has a different meaning in Australia. And as for the current is concerned, Lauren’s splits are pretty substantiated. I know the Renfords of this world will distort the truth by questioning the validity of Jon Winter’s hand timing. Renford has bent over backward to portray Jon as a drunken sailor needing binoculars to see the end of the pool. However we are able to check the accuracy of Winter’s timing every 50 metres by comparing Winter’s times with Renford’s electronic timing. I have done that and have discovered that Jon Winters hand times average a mere 0.13 seconds different from Renford’s precious “world class equipment”. The comparison is included at the conclusion of this post. Jon knew what he was doing alright. And I do hope the distortions his splits prove are taken very seriously by FINA. Protecting the rules is not a matter to be taken lightly. Renford should want the same. Is he looking for the truth?

There are of course some athletes who don’t like what I am doing. Corney Swanepoel for example got really heated about it all and urged me to climb back into whatever hole I called home. I ask those who feel that way to pause and consider whether what we do here might just result in a better SNZ, a better Wellington Pool and a better sport. We already have got SNZ to shift the Nationals to the deep end of the Wellington Pool. Now we need more.

And then unbelievably the Australian rowing administrator said this.

Renford acknowledged there was some debate about “flows” in pools around the world, but believed the effects were in all likelihood infinitesimal.

In the case of the Wellington Pool we know full well the effect of the current. Per 25 metres, Lauren Boyle was 0.57 of a second faster swimming with the current that against the current. Renford is the only swimming administrator in the world that would call that infinitesimal. He is unique. But then perhaps he has another agenda. I wonder if position and power have become more important than the truth.   

And finally Renford concludes with this gem.

“Are we prepared to take the word, or at least run with the word of an unidentified person in the grandstand . . . and taken on a hand stopwatch? That’s the part that, to be honest, confuses me the most. I don’t understand why there is any attention on this. It’s the man on the grassy knoll.”

Well Renford should feel confused no longer. The person is not unidentified, he was not in the grandstand and his times are close to identical to Swimming New Zealand’s “world class equipment”. Oh, and the issue here is in two parts – the current and the depth. I live in hope that, with this explanation, Renford may have a Road to Damascus experience. Perhaps he will join the good guys on the grassy knoll making sure swimmers like Boyle are always provided with a FINA compliant swimming pool.

PS: One correspondent to Swimwatch wonders whether Renford also breeched FINA Rule 12.4 in respect of Boyle’s swim. This rule says, “In the event of an individual race against time being sanctioned by a Member, as a time trial during a competition, then an advertisement at least three (3) days before the attempt is to be made shall not be necessary.” And so, did SNZ sanction the Lauren Boyle’s swim three days prior to her swim? I doubt they did. Even Boyle is reported as saying she did not have a record attempt in mind. If SNZ did sanction the attempt, please show us the document.  If SNZ breeched yet another rule and didn’t sanction the time trial, is Renford hard at work tonight, typing a post-dated approval? They couldn’t run a piss up in Speights Brewery.

A COMPARISON BETWEEN RENFORD’S WORLD CLASS EQUIPMENT AND JON WINTER’S WORLD CLASS THUMB AND STOP WATCH

Winter

Touch Pad

Difference

28.36

28.46

0.10

-

58.66

0

1.28.87

1.29.07

0.20

1.59.31

1.59.51

0.20

2.30.01

2.30.00

0.01

3.00.35

3.00.50

0.15

3.31.06

3.31.15

0.09

4.01.56

4.01.74

0.18

4.32.22

4.32.34

0.12

5.03.06

5.03.01

0.05

5.33.85

5.33.85

0

6.04.30

6.04.57

0.27

6.35.22

6.35.31

0.09

7.06.02

7.06.10

0.08

7.36.66

7.36.85

0.19

8.07.95

8.08.85

0.10

8.38.99

8.39.13

0.14

9.09.94

9.10.07

0.14

9.41.01

9.41.23

0.22

10.12.12

10.12.38

0.26

10.43.14

10.43.42

0.28

11.14.61

11.14.64

0.03

11.45.88

11.45.92

0.04

12.17.14

12.17.24

0.10

12.47.98

12.48.15

0.17

13.19.10

13.19.13

0.03

13.50.06

13.50.21

0.15

14.20.89

14.21.04

0.15

14.51.96

14.52.09

0.13

15.22.50

15.22.68

0.18

Average

Per 25m

0.13

 

TV One News Interview

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

By David

I was interviewed today by the Sports Editor, 6pm News at TVNZ, Andrew Hay. Television interviews are always slightly nervous occasions. I do not like the powerlessness of not knowing what comments will be edited. What am I going to end up saying and what is being left out? On this occasion I was happy with the item that went to air. Andrew Hay had selected the points I thought were important and had included them in an interesting way – TVNZ, thank you.

The topic was Lauren Boyle’s 1500 meters swim in the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre. Is her swim a world record or isn’t it? Hay interviewed ex-national coach and current swim school teacher, Mark Bone and the Australian that Sport New Zealand appointed to manage the new Swimming New Zealand, Christian Renford. Here is my biased view of what each of us had to say.

Me – I made two points. First, that this debate was not about the quality of Lauren Boyle’s swim. It was about whether the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre complies with FINA’s facility rules. Especially the question of fairness. The Wellington Pool has a significant current. And the question of danger. FINA rules establish a minimum water depth for a competition pool. The Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre does not comply with either the fairness or the danger rules.

And second I made the point that signing a World Record Application will require two Swimming New Zealand officials to lie. Questions 13 requires SNZ to confirm that the “water was still” and question 17 requires confirmation that all FINA rules have been met. No Swimming New Zealand official in Wellington or Auckland can confirm either of these things. The pool is too shallow; 1.2 meters compared to the rule requiring a minimum depth of 1.35 meters and there is a current that required an extra stroke and half a second from Boyle every second length. Anyone who signs a form confirming that questions 13 and 17 are true and accurate in respect of the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre will be lying to the parent body, FINA. If they do lie, I can only hope FINA impose a harsh penalty and decline the World Record Application.

Renford – He seems to me to have a most unfortunate TV manner; uncaring, arrogant and self-important. But that’s just my biased view. Certainly his short appearance was all about the man and not the ball. He did not use my name but said Swimming New Zealand was used to aggravation coming from my direction. Clearly he was trying to create the impression that nothing from this source (me) had any merit and should be dismissed out of hand. Absolutely no mention by Renford of the illegal depth of the pool, the raging current or the stopwatch and stroke count evidence. One would have thought that a good CEO would find these of great concern. After all one of his members lost her front teeth diving into this very same pool. It seems Renford comes from a school that believes if you attack the messenger loud enough and long enough the message might just get lost; but not this time; no chance, no way. We will never give up. It is all too important for that.

Bone – Bone appears to me to come across as a bit stupid; saying stuff he thinks Swimming New Zealand wants to hear but with no evidence to support his platitudes. He has a lovely speaking voice. It’s the content that’s a problem. His rant on this occasion was the shame of this attack on Boyle’s credibility and integrity. What a load of rubbish. Nowhere on the Swimwatch site, or Swim Vortex or Swimming World has there ever been anything but the highest admiration for Boyle and her swimming. Remember this. “Absolute unreserved congratulations to Lauren Boyle: what a fantastic 1500 meter swim in a world best time. She continues to prove herself as a true class act – an athlete New Zealand can be very proud of.” That’s the first two lines from the August 11 Swimwatch post. If Bone ever reads this post, could he please send me or TVNZ the slightest evidence that this matter has anything to do with Lauren Boyle? What this is about is the inability of Bone, Renford and their mates to accept that the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre does not comply with FINA facility rules. Boyle is a victim of Swimming New Zealand’s incompetence. It is such a pity Bone was unable to use his media skills to address this real injustice. Not that I expected anything more. Courage and the free expression of a minority dissenting opinion are not the first qualities that have ever come to mind when I hear the name, Mark Bone.

So that’s my thoughts on the first television interview on this subject. At this stage it appears SNZ is hell bent on submitting the World Record Application. To do that two people are going to have to lie about the fitness of the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre. Wouldn’t it be nice to think that there was someone, somewhere in Swimming New Zealand that was brave, principled and valued swimming enough to stand up and say, “The pool does not meet FINA standards. I’m not signing the form.”

Rest assured we will hold their feet very close to the honesty fire. Rest assured we will warn FINA of the arrival of this item of SNZ fiction. This debate is important. It goes right to the heart of what sort of organization do we have and what sort of people are guiding its progress.

And finally, it would be nice to do something live on television with Bone and Renford one day. I don’t think the buggers have a leg to stand on. I think this TVNZ interview exposed them as guilty as sin and slightly scared.

What They Don’t Want You To Know

Monday, August 11th, 2014

By David

This post will make more sense if you read the previous story “Unbroken Record or a Broken Back?” first.   

Update: Craig Lord at Swimvortex has written about this issue today as well. It’s definitely worth a read.

Would you believe it? Swimming New Zealand and Swimming Wellington don’t time the 25 metre lap times in the Kilbirnie Pool any more. It is hard to escape the feeling that’s because they don’t want you and me to know what effect the current in their pool is having. However Swimming New Zealand, please take note, you have nowhere to hide. Sitting in the stands last Saturday night was one of New Zealand’s most respected swim coaches and he did time each 25 metre split. He also sent them to Swimwatch. Our apologies for the two missed times early in Boyle’s swim.

The table below gives you an exclusive look into each of Lauren Boyle’s 25 metre times and shows clearly the effect the Wellington pool had on her performance; an effect that is in huge violation of FINA rules. On average Boyle took 0.57 of a second longer to swim into the current than with the current; an average variation of 3.6% per length. And still they claim there is no appreciable current.

Those officials and employees responsible for this fiasco should pack their personal belongings and leave the sport immediately. Miskimmin has effectively run swimming in New Zealand for several years now. In his time Valerie Adams came within a whisker of missing an Olympic Gold Medal and now Boyle looks dead certain to miss a world record. Miskimmin should join Renford, Villanueva and the Board of Swimming New Zealand waiting to catch a bus out of town.

In no world should an athlete compete in a regional championships in her own country, break a world record and have it be in danger of not counting because of a known, reported issue that both her national body and the regional centre have been aware of for years.

LAUREN BOYLE 25 METRE SPLITS WORLD BEST 1500 TIME 9 AUGUST 2014

Cumulative Splits

Lap Times

 

With Current

Into Current

13.56

28.36

13.56

14.80

42.36

-

14.00

0

-

1.28.87

0

0

1.43.09

1.59.31

14.22

16.22

2.14.21

2.30.01

14.90

15.80

2.45.02

3.00.35

15.01

15.33

3.15.47

3.31.06

15.12

15.59

3.46.18

4.01.56

15.12

15.38

4.16.89

4.32.22

15.33

15.33

4.47.33

5.03.06

15.11

15.73

5.18.15

5.33.85

15.09

15.70

5.48.94

6.04.30

15.09

15.36

6.19.42

6.35.22

15.12

15.82

6.50.72

7.06.02

15.50

15.30

7.21.25

7.36.66

15.23

15.41

7.51.77

8.07.95

15.11

16.18

8.23.32

8.38.99

15.37

15.67

8.54.16

9.09.94

15.17

15.78

9.25.19

9.41.01

15.25

15.82

9.56.37

10.12.12

15.36

15.75

10.27.45

10.43.14

15.33

15.69

10.58.70

11.14.61

15.56

15.91

11.30.06

11.45.88

15.45

15.82

12.01.43

12.17.14

15.55

15.71

12.32.25

12.47.98

15.11

15.64

13.03.50

13.19.10

15.52

15.60

13.34.55

13.50.06

15.45

15.51

14.05.17

14.20.89

15.11

15.72

14.36.04

14.51.96

15.15

15.92

15.06.58

15.22.50

14.62

15.92

Average Each

25 metres

15.09

15.66

Difference Per

25 metres

 

0.57

 

 

Unbroken Record or a Broken Back?

Monday, August 11th, 2014

By David

Absolute unreserved congratulations to Lauren Boyle: what a fantastic 1500 meter swim in a world best time. She continues to prove herself as a true class act – an athlete New Zealand can be very proud of. But is it a world record? Unfortunately, of course it’s not. No honest referee could possibly sign the FINA World Record Application Form. Here is what questions 13 and 17 on that form ask the referee to confirm.

WORLD RECORD APPLICATION FORM

DEMANDE D’HOMOLOGATION DE RECORD DU MONDE

13. Was the water still?

17. In my opinion all FINA Rules have been met

Let’s look at each of these questions; was the water still? A week ago (i.e. before the swim), I submitted a facility’s protest to Swimming New Zealand through Auckland Swimming. The protest was posted on Swimwatch in the article titled “Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre”. Given the turn of events created by Lauren Boyle’s swim it may be worth reading. However in summary the protest was based on the following faults in the Wellington pool.

  1. In every event, male and female, there is a consistent variation between the times taken to swim in one direction compared to the other direction.
  2. It is reasonable to expect that “flat” strokes (breaststroke and butterfly) will be more affected by swimming into a current. This is confirmed by the data where the variation between the “into current” and “with current” lengths in these strokes is an average of 0.84 seconds per length.
  3. Rotating strokes (backstroke and freestyle) show a significant but lower variation of 0.67 seconds per length.
  4. The average variation over all events between the “into current” and “with current” lengths is 0.74 seconds per 25m length. What that means is that on average New Zealand’s best swimmers consistently took 0.74 of a second longer to swim one way in the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre than in the other direction. By any standard that meets the definition of “appreciable”; appreciable in terms of variation and its only explanation – a current.

Since submitting the protest Boyle has recorded her world best time. I was interested to read that she swam the race taking 17 strokes in one direction and 18 in the other. A current maybe? The comment was left by “FGT” and on the linked-to article.

Clearly, faced with this hard, provable data there is no referee in the world who could answer, “Yes” to the question, “Was the water still?” Or is there? Remember this is Swimming New Zealand we are talking about. This organization has lied and swept under the carpet before. Will they do it again? We shall see.

And then there is the second question – “In my opinion all FINA Rules have been met.”

As we already know the presence of a raging current in the Wellington pool rules out a positive answer to that question. But, there is more. Two years ago I filed another protest about the Wellington Pool. On this occasion my concern was, and it still is, that the pool at the shallow end was well below the minimum depth required by FINA rules. Here is what Swimwatch said at the time.

In that case it was most certainly my initiative that caused the storm clouds to gather. At its shallow end the Kilbirnie Pool does not comply with the minimum depth required by FINA Rules. In fact the pool is bloody dangerous. Along with my $50 filing fee, I lost the protest. However, shortly after the Championships, Swimming New Zealand received a rap over the knuckles from FINA. Events, FINA said, held in the Kilbirnie Pool ran the risk of not being recognized by the world governing body. FINA’s judgment made the officials that discarded my protest look stupid.

In association with the Wellington City Council, and at a cost of what I’ve been told was $250,000, Swimming New Zealand altered the Kilbirnie Pool so that competitions could be held at the deep end of the main pool. I might have lost my $50 but New Zealand swimmers were safe. At the next short course National Championships the races all began at the deep end of the Wellington Pool. FINA’s rules had been satisfied in full. The risk of broken necks, grazed torsos, black eyes and worse had been eliminated.

Of course I did not get any thanks for initiating the change. Quite the contrary in fact. Chris Moller and Sue Suckling, the authors of the 2012 Swimming New Zealand founding document, called me and interrogated my motives. For thirty minutes Perry Moller Mason tried to prove that my Kilbirnie Pool protest was frivolous; founded solely on a need to cause trouble; a baseless distraction; proof that I was a malcontent hell bent on causing harm. I thought Moller was pathetically ignorant. If he got a kick out of questioning my motives; if he thought the history of my protest was more important that the safety of New Zealand swimmers, he was stupid and of no concern to me. Wellington was having to pay $250,000 to provide a safe pool and that was fine by me.

Or at least that’s what I thought until tonight.

Unbeknown to me the idiots that run Swimming New Zealand and the Wellington Swimming Region continued to run local meets from the pool’s shallow end. I told them it was wrong. FINA told them it was wrong. But when we weren’t there, when our backs were turned they used the shallow end of the pool anyway. The deep end was reserved for the National Championships when the troublemakers were in town. These people are disgusting. Genuine safety concerns were either neglected or by-passed in their obsession to prove me wrong.

Well last week their chickens came home to roost. You see last weekend the Wellington Short Course Championships were held in the shallow end of the Kilbirnie Pool. I understand one club had four swimmers hit the bottom of the pool. One of them, an eleven year old girl, had her front teeth smashed out – gone, her teeth lying on the tiles at the shallow end of the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre.  Wellington City Council, Renford, Moller and Layton take note – I paid $50 to warn you that competitive swimmers diving into the shallow end of your pool was dangerous and you let the Wellington Swimming Region do it anyway. In my view, that’s criminal neglect. And I hope you are made to pay in full measure. Another one of the injured, a ten year old girl, grazed her face during the start of a 200 meter breaststroke race. She swam on to achieve an eighteen second personal best time. Instead of delight, she burst into tears that mixed with her cuts and blood. She hadn’t stopped because she thought her coach and family would be disappointed.

And so Swimming New Zealand, Wellington Swimming and the Wellington City Council have been told for two years that their pool does not comply with FINA rules. For two years they have harassed the author of Swimwatch and ignored our advice. And now, because of their own stupidity, they can’t honestly sign a world record application form. There is no still water in their pool and the pool depth is way too shallow. The application simply cannot be submitted. But this is a Swimming New Zealand capable of just about anything. Let’s see what they do.

We warned them the “would pay in full measure”. Hopefully that day has arrived.

However, if they are honest and don’t sign the form Renford, Villanueva and the leaders of Swimming Wellington should be sacked for ignoring our advice and our protests. If they are not honest and sign the forms they should be sacked as well, for being dishonest and ignoring our advice and our protests.

Either way if the price of getting that pool fixed is a lost world record, then so be it. Something really bad was going to happen before Swimming New Zealand and Swimming Wellington did anything. A set of broken teeth was not enough to cause them to change. I’m just glad it’s a lost world record and not some young swimmer lying in a hospital bed with a broken back. Faced with that choice I’m picking even Lauren Boyle might be pleased with the fate of her lost world record.

The Golden Rule

Friday, August 8th, 2014

By David

Most of what Swimming New Zealand does and says is hot air. Remember this gem from their “Whole of Sport Plan” – “Swimming New Zealand is recognized as having one of the leading sustainable programs in New Zealand for consistently producing high performance swimming.” If Glasgow is an example of “producing high performance swimming” their definition of high performance needs attention. Saying stuff like that and underperforming makes them look puerile and leads me to the subject of this Swimwatch post.

I imagine many readers will have noticed the analysis that goes on after a Commonwealth or Olympic Games. How will a sport’s performance affect its future funding? Before the Games judo got no funding but won five medals. In the four year prior to the Games swimming got $8,000,000 and won two medals. Will that paradox mean judo will get a fat Miskimmin cheque and swimming will get less? A recent Stuff article on the subject had 76 comments debating the merits of funding Swimming New Zealand.

This week the Herald on Sunday’s Sport Editor, Paul Lewis, also discussed the future funding prospects of New Zealand swimming. Here is an abbreviated version of what Lewis had to say.

Lauren Boyle’s Commonwealth Games success, has underlined a recurring problem — what to do about New Zealand swimming? If not for her, New Zealand elite swimming would be without a medal at these Games.

Since the all-too-public dysfunctions within swimming, the national body (spurred on by High Performance Sport New Zealand) have undertaken a big review and brought in new people, a new CEO and high performance director Luis Villanueva. One of Canada’s best swimmers ever, Alex Baumann, is now CEO of HPSNZ. But even with all this heavyweight activity and personnel, New Zealand swimming remains waterlogged. Quite what this will mean when it comes to funding time is anybody’s guess.

It’s a puzzling decline. Swimming NZ have had their centralised programme at the Millennium Institute for years, dating back to coach Jan Cameron. But that is a long way from a swim squad with a genuinely promising future. Swimming NZ has little to show for $8 million of taxpayer investment over the past four years.

It’s a tough problem. Baumann and his team at HPSNZ have a worrying time ahead of them when deciding on funding. It would not be easy for any former international swimmer to cut funding to the sport which made him famous. But it seems likely. Yet it’s enormously difficult to see how cutting funding is going to breathe life back into New Zealand swimming.

So what would a cut in funding mean? Bugger all is the answer. When was the last time your club or mine saw any of swimming’s $8,000,000? Real swimming does not get a penny of Sport New Zealand’s money. Baumann could take his money and catch a first class flight back to Canada and none of us would notice the difference. Oh, twenty bureaucrats in the Swimming New Zealand office would have to find real jobs. Renford, Villanueva and Lyles would have to hand in their cars and join Baumann at Auckland airport. The swimmers at the Millennium Centre would struggle while they found a domestic or foreign club. But that dose of reality and common purpose would do them and us a power of good.

I would argue swimming in New Zealand could well be better off without Miskimmin’s money. No Renford, no Villanueva, no Lyles, no Millennium Institute – it’s all good news so far. A sport forced to live within its means; a sport free of the burden of being a state beneficiary. I have never understood why the Coalition of Regions was so spooked by the thought of Miskimmin pulling his money out of swimming. I would have thought that positive would have spurred the Coalition to greater effort. They had nothing to lose, but their chains.

The reality is that nothing would scare Miskimmin and Baumann more than an independent sport of swimming. I’ve never understood why journalists like Paul Lewis write stories that imply a sport without Miskimmin’s money is a sport doomed. Success comes from performance; not Miskimmin’s money. Peter Snell and Danyon Loader seemed to do alright without Miskimmin. Money does not buy performance. It never has.

Besides the last thing Sport New Zealand want is a successful main stream sport that does not depend on their money. You see the next step is the thought that Miskimmin and his mates might also be surplus to requirements; costs that we could well do without. We have the power. It has always been true. Miskimmin, Baumann, Renford, Villanueva and Lyles need us way more than we need them. We have the power. We need to use it.

But even if we, as we should, asked Miskimmin to take his money and leave us alone there is no way on God’s good earth Miskimmin would allow swimming to become independent; to stand on its own two feet. He and Baumann are too personally invested. If the current swimming setup fails, they fail. Swimming is their baby. They implemented the current policy. They hired the Australian CEO, the Spanish High Performance Director and the English coach. They spent their money as they wanted. Their commitment is total. They cannot allow a revolution. They cannot tolerate dissent. Independence will be crushed.

Miskimmin’s and Baumann’s power depends on how the importance of their money is perceived; depends on their policy of centralization being successful. For that reason alone they will pour money at swimming, irrespective of results. The pathetic Glasgow result simply does not matter. Miskimmin and Baumann’s cash will keep on coming. You see that cash is not only spent on swimming; way more importantly it is an investment in the personal credibility of the funders. A dollar spent on swimming is a dollar invested in their personal job security.

Certainly swimming would be better off without Miskimmin’s money. If Miskimmin withdrew the government’s financial support, ninety-nine percent of the sport would notice no change. Sadly, though, it is not going to happen. The self-interest of swimming’s “Mazda set” and the personal commitment of Sport New Zealand will not allow swimming to grow up. Independent self-sufficiency will take a revolution. Perhaps the New Zealand Swim Coaches Association is where it should start. Bring on the revolution.