Archive for December, 2014

The Conclusion of Another Year

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

By David

And so we end 2014 in a hell of a mess. Swimming New Zealand is advertising for a National Coach when we all naively thought we still had one; a guy called David Lyles. You must know who I mean. The English coach appointed in May 2013. The one Alex Baumann told us would “complete the turning of a new leaf for embattled Swimming NZ.” Not content, it seems, with “turning a new leaf” Baumann announced that the appointment of Lyles was also the start of putting “the building blocks in place for swimming to be successful.”

Unsure whether the sport had a “new leaf” or a “building block” Baumann went on to excitedly tell the nation that Lyles CV was “impressive and other countries were trying to secure him.” But not even that was enough to explain the magnitude of Baumann’s appointment of David Lyles. The new coach he told us would, “bring an amount of credibility and a person that can drive the programme forward. It’s what we need.”

And all that was in May 2013, only eighteen months ago. And now Lyles’ job is being advertised on an Australian employment website and no one, not Baumann, or Villanueva, or Renford or, especially, Layton will tell us why. Why is the new leaf, or was it a building block, being replaced? Is he being replaced? If Baumann was so sure in May 2013 that Lyles was, “what we need” why, after eighteen months don’t we need him anymore? What happened to the need for “credibility”?

Apart from believe in and support a hopeless Swimming New Zealand program, what did Lyles do wrong? Why is he being singled out for the chop when Villanueva has had far more to do with the program’s failure? Why does Villanueva get a free ride? Isn’t Villanueva principally responsible for this mess? Wasn’t the pre-Games junket through the hot spots of the Mediterranean Villanueva’s idea? Is Lyles just a fall guy for the actions of others?

Of course I’m being a little sarcastic, but really does the behaviour of Miskimmin’s Swimming New Zealand deserve any less. Remember this is the organization that screams, “Excellence, Integrity, Accountability” at every opportunity. Really, if I was responsible for Swimming New Zealand, those three words would be abandoned immediately. They have become symbols of derision. That’s what happens when you claim a status that you have no hope of meeting.

I did notice that Lyles also had quite a bit to say at the time of his appointment. “I think there’s a lot of very positive things happening there and I want to be part of it,” he said. “A lot of positive things happening” – what on God’s good earth were they? Since Miskimmin got his hands on this sport there has not been one “very positive thing” happen anywhere. The sport lurches from one disaster to the next. And don’t mention Lauren Boyle. A very good American University program nurtured her huge talent. Lyle concludes by expressing the wish to be part of Swimming New Zealand’s brave new world. Today, I bet he wishes his aspirations had been less successful. If other countries really were, “trying to secure him” I bet he wishes they’d been successful. Even North Korea would have been better that this mess.

Given the chaos of swimming in New Zealand you can imagine my horror at reading the following “Stuff” report.

“An independent report has slammed Boxing New Zealand, saying it has no clear direction and the sport is at risk if its board does not make changes. After months of infighting within the New Zealand amateur boxing community, Boxing New Zealand’s executive board called on Sport New Zealand to help conduct a review of the sport’s structure, governance and management of its programs.

Sport New Zealand appointed Peter Dale to conduct the review of Boxing New Zealand. The report and its findings were today circulated among the boxing community. The findings suggest important changes are needed if amateur boxing is to survive in New Zealand.

“Without remedial action, these matters represent significant risk to Boxing NZ’s capability to lead the affairs of the sport,” the report said.

“BNZ lacks any formal plans for any of its operations or endeavors. “The organization operates without a strategic plan, annual plan or annual budget agreed in advance. As a result, the organization operates without a sense of direction.

“During the review process it has become clear that there are a substantial number of talented boxers who would benefit from a structured athlete development programme. This will take a new approach to planning.”

Forums would be held throughout the country early next year to gather more thoughts, he said. The forums will be fronted by members of the executive board and Dale to give the boxing community another opportunity to express its views on the report’s findings and what should now happen.”

So there we have it. The Sport New Zealand formula absorbs another New Zealand sport. The state’s tentacles reach out growing Miskimmin’s empire, sport by sport. And the method is so transparent; so bloody obvious. Highlight a couple of organizational shortcomings, make the offer of a Sport New Zealand funded Review, appoint a tame author, stage manage a few regional forums, prepare a new constitution, call a Special General Meeting, order a once and for all vote and hey presto another sport is bought body and soul.

Of course you will recognize it is exactly what happened to New Zealand swimming. And now boxing is heading towards the same abyss. I plan to send this story to Boxing New Zealand, not because I think it will have any effect. Like lemmings they will march confidently over the Miskimmin cliff. I will send them this report so that in eighteen months I can write another Swimwatch story telling Boxing New Zealand that they were warned; suggesting they should have asked David Lyles. He was warned too. He knows what I mean.


Annus Horribilis

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

By David

So where do you start? The litany of corrupt behaviour coming out of Swimming New Zealand never stops. So now we have caught them advertising, what we can only assume is, David Lyles’ job on an Australian website. But has anyone heard of Lyles being sacked? Has anyone seen the job advertised in New Zealand? No of course not. I have no doubt Renford, Layton and Villanueva will be sitting back, patting themselves on the back wallowing in how tough they are – hiring and firing, leading the sport forward, clearing swimming of deadwood coaches, scouring the world for new coaching blood; the Kim Jong-uns of New Zealand swimming.

For years it has been the same story. When Miskimmin’s autocratic communist plans don’t work, sack the coach. Find someone who can prove Miskimmin right. It will never happen. The policy is wrong. Miskimmin is wrong. Layton, Villanueva and Renford are wrong. How many times does swimming have to go through the same drama before someone calls a halt to the madness?

That gang who run Swimming New Zealand are disgusting creeps. They will have sacked Gary Hurring and David Lyles on Christmas week for a reason. Members of Swimming New Zealand who should care about their organization shafting good people will be too busy with Christmas. By the time the presents are opened, the whiskey is drunk and the pudding is eaten SNZ’s disgusting behaviour will be in the past; a sad event but too late now to worry about.

Well that may be the case. The Regions of Northland, Auckland, Counties, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, HBPB, Manawatu, Nelson, Canterbury, Otago and Southland may well abdicate their responsibility to the sport and let the creeps who run SNZ get away with this behaviour, but Swimwatch will not. Every week I will remind New Zealand what Renford, Layton and Villanueva have done to two good coaches. Every week I will alert New Zealand to the morally bankrupt behaviour of those in charge.  As far as I am concerned shafting Lyles and Hurring is a step too far. It is the suits that should leave this sport, that’s Layton, Renford and Vilanueva. They have forfeited any call on our loyalty, friendship or cooperation.

And the swimming world is watching. Here is an email I got from a well-known coach in the United States when he heard about the SNZ abuse of David Lyles and Gary Hurring.

“sneaky – and in my country it might well be seen as  being illegal….not sure how the NZ federation has gone about this …you would imagine they’ve gone through proper legal procedure…  you can’t make someone set aside their job in that way without official dismissal on grounds x y and z after warning processes a, b and c… ? … You can make folk redundant but then you would have to wait 6 months minimum before you could reappoint for jobs deemed unnecessary/unsupportable…”

And the fact Renford, Layton and Villanueva advertised the Head Coach position only on an Australian employment website – is that relevant? I think it is. I think they have some Australian in mind; some Australian hard man or woman they think can come here and sort out their coaching mess. Perhaps they are going to bring Sweetenham back. Who knows? Who cares? Whatever their devious, hidden, little plan might be, it won’t work. The policy is wrong. And if they do employ a decent, honest coach let me warn him or her just as I warned David Lyles – this job, these people, this SNZ organization comes with a government health warning. Beware; stay well away; dangerous at any distance. I bet David Lyles wishes he had listened to that advice.

The man has just bought a house in Auckland. Clearly he intended to make a long term commitment to the sport of swimming in New Zealand. That was a really dumb thing to do. He was warned by Swimwatch. Miskimmin and his gang cannot to be trusted. Too late he has found out the value of that warning. If you lie down with dogs, you get fleas.

One does wonder whether any sane person is going to apply for this job. In seven years they have hired and fired or got rid of Jan Cameron, Thomas Ansorg, Mark Regan, David Lyles, Scot Talbot and Gary Hurring. That’s a coach a year. No one should buy a house on the basis of that job security record. No one, with any coaching standing, should even apply for a job with that employer. And if someone does, the consequences, after Rio, should not come as a surprise.

I mean just look at the sort of person they want. And remember they have already had Cameron, Ansorg, Regan, Hurring and Lyles who more than met their requirements but ended up not being good enough. Ask yourself, is yet another quality person going to fall for their three card trick? Is there a General Eisenhower out their prepared to work for Kim Jong-un? Because that is what this position requires.

Here is what SNZ want – “an outstanding candidate with substantial experience in a world class high performance swimming programme with extensive coaching experience at World and/or Olympic level.” Every coach in the world with that background will have heard the SNZ horror stories by now. Especially when SNZ’s next demand says, “the ideal candidate is well connected internationally and has strong and credible relationships with key individuals in those programmes.” All coaches that are “well connected internationally” have heard about New Zealand’s North Korean swimming regime. When I coached in Florida the chaos of swimming in New Zealand was a regular topic of poolside chat. Doesn’t SNZ realize that good coaches read the SwimVortex and Swimming World websites? They have read about the Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre lie. They know about the revolving door of good coaches. They know that SNZ wrote a glowing reference for a multiple drink driving employee. They are acutely aware that SNZ cannot be trusted.

But SNZ ask for even more. The person they are looking for will need to be, “a dynamic leader with energy and an ability to swiftly build relationships and credibility with international level athletes.” I’m not sure who they are referring to. Boyle is in Australia, Snyders is in California, Main is in Florida, Stanley is in Matamata or Australia, two or three others train at the North Shore Club and Radford is in Australia. Perhaps Renford means that little girl he saw last week blowing bubbles under water for the first time.

And still it goes on. The new coach evidentially has to be “comfortable being measured by your results.” Wow oh wow; the ultimate do as I say not as I do. Look in the mirror Miskimmin, Layton, Renford and Villanueva. Swimming New Zealand’s performance is down to you guys. You have successfully blamed coach after coach but the buck stops with you. Your performance stinks.

And finally SNZ say they require “a resolute coach with innate capacity to lead New Zealand’s leading elite swimmers and coaches in a demanding high performance environment.” That suggests they want some bastard who is as hard as nails; someone with a history of running over opposition; someone well practiced in the art of North Korean politics. I still think they are chasing Bill Sweetenham.

This story has legs. After Christmas we will continue to work for the destruction of the current SNZ regime. But until that happy hour –



A Political Solution

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

By David

Simon Plumb’s Sunday Star Times article (“Another Swim NZ restructure puts coaches’ jobs on line”) highlights the fiasco that is Swimming New Zealand. One of the many important observations reported by Simon Plumb is this fascinating comment “Associate Minister of Sport Murray McCully is now taking an interest.”

If that means what it seems to mean it is welcome news indeed. Swimming New Zealand has had review after review after review after review. Millions have been spent studying the subject. The analysis has been breathtaking. Sweetenham was well paid to tell us that following his advice would yield a bucket full of Beijing Olympic medals. Swimming New Zealand followed his instructions; Jan Cameron got control of the Miskimmin centralized delivery of elite training. But inevitably the Sweetenham promise of Olympic Gold came to nothing.

And then, when Swimming New Zealand couldn’t impose Project Vanguard on the sport, Miskimmin employed Chris Ineson to prepare another report. Ineson did a good job. His report included many “down to earth” truths and good advice that the sport desperately needed. I was a bit embarrassed by Ineson’s findings. I thought he was a Miskimmin hired hand that would write whatever Sport New Zealand ordered. But I was wrong. Of course my admiration for Ineson’s work was more than matched by Miskimmin’s disapproval. The Ineson Report was shelved, never to be heard of again.

And then, just as the regions of Swimming New Zealand were about to roll their corrupt, inept and incompetent rulers, Miskimmin called for another review. Chris Moller was brought in. He was well aware of the rules of the game and prepared a report that fitted perfectly with Miskimmin’s ambition. The report was bulldozed through a Special General Meeting; remember the infamous Moller instruction, “The recommendations of the report cannot be cherry picked.” Game, set and match – Miskimmin owned the sport of swimming. And from that day onwards it has all been downhill.

By now, it must be obvious to everyone – in the sport of swimming Miskimmin’s policy of centralized delivery does not work. Miskimmin’s policy will never work in the sport of swimming. Swimming is different from cycling and rowing. Swimming has a history of private businesses providing commercial instruction. Cycling and rowing do not have that same commercial history. Their clubs have traditionally been coached by amateur coaches. The government taking over these sports was like the government managing our national parks. No one cared. No one’s business was being impacted as a result. But swimming is different. Taking over swimming is like the government wanting to assume control of supermarket retailing. PAK’nSAVE and Countdown are not going to like that one little bit. Just as New Zealand swimming clubs are going to object and prevent government bureaucrats, in the form of Swimming New Zealand, stealing income and business from our swimming retail outlets. Sport New Zealand and Swimming New Zealand’s current strategy is a threat to the livelihood of every professional club and coach in the country.

Swimming New Zealand has become an object of jest. Renford, Villanueva and Layton are despised by some and laughed at by others. The governance of the sport is respected by almost no one. The way Swimming New Zealand has dealt with David Lyles and Gary Hurring is a final insult. Pencil pushing foreigners, driving around in flash new Mazda cars, appear to have treated an honest New Zealand sporting icon and a world recognized poolside coach with contempt and disdain. The grass roots of the sport should not, will not, stand for that behavior. How Mark Berge can worship Swimming New Zealand on a prayer mat facing the Auckland Harbor Bridge when, of all people, Gary Hurring has been treated like this, beggars belief.

If the Government is to avoid serious political fallout from the mess that is the sport of swimming it would indeed be prudent for the Associate Minister of Sport Murray McCully to take an interest. For the government doing something about the mess that is swimming is all upside; the ultimate win, win. Decisive action by the Minister will win favor with swimming people throughout the country. They are sick of losing, sick of the “them-and-us” culture, sick of the flash offices, inflated salaries and corporate cars. For New Zealanders outside of swimming government action will be seen in an even more positive light. Of course other sports are wondering why swimming, with its appalling performance record and management chaos keeps being rewarded with multimillion dollar handouts. With some justification the public are asking, “Aren’t there more worthy causes?”

Murray McCully has been presented with the perfect opportunity to fix swimming and earn the support of thousands of regular New Zealand observers of sport. Here are the Swimwatch suggestions of what the Associate Minster should do.

  1. With the exception of grants paid directly to athletes withdraw all government funding of swimming. No more $1.4million per year for the high performance program. No more government funding provided to swimming under other headings.

  2. Appoint an employee of Sport New Zealand to manage the withdrawal of the government’s involvement in the sport of swimming; to teach swimming to stand on its own two independent feet again.

  3. Fund the closure of Antares Place including the departure of Renford, Villanueva and all the other staff. Find private employment for Loader, Bentley, Lyles and Hurring.

  4. Terminate all Swimming New Zealand’s involvement in high performance training or emerging talent identification. Assist athletes currently coached by Swimming New Zealand find suitable coaches in New Zealand or overseas. In other words – return those responsibilities to the private sector.

  5. Terminate all Swimming New Zealand programs such as the Whole of Sport Plan, the membership register, the centralized meet entry procedure and the sport’s involvement in learn to swim.

  6. Employ two Swimming New Zealand employees, a CEO and an Assistant, to manage and run the affairs of New Zealand Swimming. Find office space for Swimming New Zealand’s two employees in the building currently occupied by Auckland Swimming.

  7. Ensure that all Swimming New Zealand operating costs are funded by membership fees or money received from national meets or from private enterprise sponsorships or from “Pub Charity” type grants.

  8. Teach the organization to stand alone. Teach the organization that it does not need to be a welfare beneficiary to operate successfully.

  9. With the exception of direct athlete grants paid under the PEGS or Prime Minister Scholarship programs provide no government financial assistance to swimming for a period of five years. At the end of five years fund the appointment of a Head Coach who would not coach but would be charged with assisting private coaches do their jobs better.

  10. Prepare a new national constitution that provides a strong federal power structure for the sport based on robust regions governing the affairs of Swimming New Zealand and managing the sport of swimming in their geographical areas.

  11. Prepare new regional constitutions that provide for the democratic election of regional boards by clubs. In other words use the governance structure of the organization to invest power in the clubs and the regions – not Sport New Zealand’s electoral commission.

In a month Murray McCully could win huge popular support for his management of sport; not to mention votes at the next general election. He could find a better home for millions of government dollars and could turn a sport that is currently a shambolic welfare beneficiary into a successful, strong, independent organization capable of beating the world. As I say, please Murray McCully, do it. It’s a win, win for us all.


What A Bloody Mess

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

By David

For days now swimming in New Zealand has been awash with rumour and gossip. The High Performance Unit in Wellington was about to be closed. Gary Hurring and his Assistant were out of a job. The High Performance unit at the Millennium Institute was about to be restructured. David Lyles and Danyon Loader were being stood down and were expected to apply for new positions created as part of the restructuring. Swimming New Zealand was about to change its high performance focus from senior “Lauren Boyle” type swimmers to emerging talent. On and on the gossip train rolled.

And where was the leadership from Swimming New Zealand in all this? Where was the much trumpeted communication between Layton and the Chairmen of the Regions? Where was the architect of this shambles, Chris Moller? Where was Miskimmin, the sport’s esteemed leader? Where was Baumann who only a week ago told us the Dutch had visited New Zealand to find out our swimming secrets? Gone, vanished, nowhere to be found is the answer. In a management style for which they have become famous, Swimming New Zealand bumbled and stumbled and sat in silence. Swimming New Zealand fiddled while Rome burned.

In a move straight out of Monte Python, the first indication that Swimming New Zealand was up a creek without a paddle was published 12,000 miles away in London on the SwimVortex website. The wreck that is Swimming New Zealand had circled the world and still Miskimmin, Layton and Renford said nothing.

The first rule of a government bureaucrat is, “never make your minister look stupid.” Take a bow Peter Miskimmin. On the same day as Swimming New Zealand was falling to bits; one week after Miskimmin had promised high performance swimming $2.8 million, the Minister of Sport, Dr Jonathan Coleman was reported as “defending the process for handing out High Performance Sport New Zealand funding.

Coleman is reported to have said Sport New Zealand is “getting results where they want them. In the end look you’ve got to pick a strategy. We’ve been quite clear of what we’re looking to achieve and the path to achieving that, and I’ve got real confidence that it is delivering.”

Well good for you Dr Coleman. But I’m not so sure you are right. In fact I think you are being made to look like an incompetent fool. In three weeks the program you finance has lost New Zealand’s best swimmers. Clearly Boyle and Stanley think your program is not “delivering”. They think it stinks. Your program may have just sacked a New Zealand sporting icon and winner of the Halberg Award. The same guy is also one of the best swim coaches in the world; a man who struggled to get results out of your ridiculous strategy and unsurprisingly failed as many before him and others still to come will fail. How do I know all this? Well I worked in the same club as that coach many years ago. And let me tell you this for nothing – he’s worth a hundred of the Sport New Zealand and Swimming New Zealand air-brains you currently rely on.

And if your “path” to achievement is buggering about with David Lyles, that is just as bad. I don’t know Lyles. But as I have made clear on several occasions my only complaint with the man is that he supported Miskimmin’s barren sporting strategy – a strategy that looks like its bitten Lyles on the arse just as it has done to a dozen good coaches that went before. What I can say about Lyles is that many good swimming people, who I do know well, hold him in high regard. I trust their opinion. It appears as if David Lyles is another good man wrecked and abandoned by Swimming New Zealand. Thank you Chris Moller. Thank you Peter Miskimmin.

The most amusing aspect of this sorry saga is the suggestion that Swimming New Zealand is going to focus on developing emerging talent. What on earth convinces Swimming New Zealand to believe that it is going to be successful with junior swimmers is beyond me. What is Swimming New Zealand saying? We couldn’t prepare Lauren Boyle or Mathew Stanley properly so let us loose on the careers of Bobbi Gichard and others. If they are, it is sad and it is pathetic.

But that’s not the amusing bit. One rumour doing the rounds today was that Donna Bouzaid saw herself as a potential National Head Coach of the new emerging talent program. Now that is funny. Swimming New Zealand discards Chief Engineers Hurring and Lyles and appoints the oily rag to run the engine room. I did not believe Layton, Renford and Villanueva could do worse than they already have. It looks to me like they are giving it a real shot.

This last point may or may not be relevant. But if it is true and Swimming New Zealand is pulling out of high performance preparation in Auckland, what is happening to the $24million swimming pool being built at the Millennium Institute? Auckland City Council agreed to pay for that pool because it was going to be the home of the High Performance Sport New Zealand and Swimming New Zealand elite swimming strategy. A commitment to spend $24million was entered into on the basis of high performance assurances given to Auckland councillors by High Performance Sport New Zealand and Swimming New Zealand.

And now, it seems, those assurances are being abandoned. They count for nothing. I’m no expert in corporate law but it seems to me that the request for money to build that pool may now be as corrupt as any finance company that prepares a false prospectus. The Serious Fraud Office has locked away numerous executives who have asked for money on the basis of false promises. It may be worth the SFO making a visit to Antares Place. It is certainly worth Councillors with a deep understanding of sport (Quax and Walker) looking into this potential funding fiasco.

I would be the first to admit that this post is based on rumour and gossip. It has to be that way. Swimming New Zealand seems incapable of telling the membership what is happening to the sport. It will be interesting to read their spin. It should make fertile ground for further Swimwatch comment.

Fourth Estate Or Miskimmin Spin Agent?

Monday, December 15th, 2014

By David

For the second weekend in succession the Herald on Sunday has published a “feel-good” public relations hand-out on behalf of Sport New Zealand. Both the PR communiqués were written by Michael Burgess, a football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday. Last week’s story contained so many factual errors that I wrote the Swimwatch story “Figures Can’t Lie But Liars Can Figure”. I also forwarded a copy to Michael Burgess hoping it would alert him to the dangers of accepting the spin, verging on lies, that originate from Sport New Zealand.

Clearly he did not read my story properly or did not understand its message. This is his email reply.

Hi David, Thanks for your email – not sure if you meant to send it to me but you make some interesting points. The stats are impressive from 1984-1996… And swimming has to be under pressure, though Boyle is keeping them afloat. Regards Michael

Well the story did go to the right place but its point was clearly lost. This week Michael Burgess has written, and the Herald on Sunday has published, a second round of Sport New Zealand PR spin. The new Burgess story begins with the line “if imitation is indeed the best form of flattery”. No, the best form of flattery is conning a national newspaper into publishing your corporate PR spin without checking the facts or investigating the context. For the Herald on Sunday to fail this most basic duty of good journalism twice in two weeks, and after being warned, is professionally careless.

But let’s look more closely at their second story titled “What are we doing right?”

Sport New Zealand spin doctor, Alex Baumann, convinced the Herald on Sunday that, “something special is brewing here and other countries want to know the recipe. Until 2012, we were under the radar to a degree,” HPSNZ chief executive Alex Baumann said. “We were known for great achievements but London [13 medals, including six golds] took things to a new level.”

But did it? New Zealand has won thirteen medals before at an Olympic Games. At the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul New Zealand won thirteen medals in five sports – sailing, canoeing, equestrian, rowing, and swimming. In London New Zealand also won thirteen medals; this time in six sports – rowing, sailing, athletics, canoeing, cycling and equestrian. And so Baumann’s spin that, “London” (with 13 medals) “took things to a new level” simply isn’t true. So why, without analysis or research, did the Herald on Sunday publish Sport New Zealand’s propaganda? A week ago we warned them – if the information comes from Sport New Zealand check it before you put it in your newspaper.

But what about the gold medal tally. Baumann is reported as saying that the six gold medals in London also “took things to a new level”. And that’s really, really not true. In the 1984 Olympic Games New Zealand won eight gold medals in four sports – canoeing, equestrian, sailing and rowing. Baumann’s “new level” in London was in fact six gold medals; two less than in 1984. The London gold medals were won in five sports – rowing, athletics, sailing, canoeing and cycling. And so, six gold medals is not a “new level”. It is 25% less than New Zealand won in 1984, before there was a Sport New Zealand or a Peter Miskimmin handing out state donations. So why, without analysis or research, did the Herald on Sunday publish Sport New Zealand’s propaganda? A week ago we warned them – if the information comes from Sport New Zealand check it before you put it in your newspaper.

Sport New Zealand and Baumann are desperate to sell the argument that Olympic sport in New Zealand is doing better than ever as a result of the government’s millions; that New Zealand’s brand of sporting socialism works best. It will be a hard sell. Why? Because it’s not true.

The sport that has followed the centralised, “focussed” policy, promoted by Baumann, longest is swimming. And just look at the resulting shambles. SwimVortex, one of the world’s most respected swimming websites, reported Lauren Boyle’s world record being broken by Mireia Belmonte with the following comment, “The standard had stood at 15:22.68 to part-time training partner this season past, New Zealand’s Lauren Boyle, currently training in Australia while her country attempts to find a solution to a crisis of management.”

Over the last 18 months, HPSNZ may have “hosted delegations from seven countries, including Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan.” That says nothing about the conclusions the delegates reached as a result of their visits. Perhaps they too detected a “crisis of management.” I bet the Dutch delegation was never taken anywhere near the government’s Millennium swim school. Or at least I hope it wasn’t.

What an embarrassment. On one hand we have New Zealand – one of the worst national swim schools in the world; a swimming program that can’t hold on to a decent swimmer no matter how much the state pays; a program as unmanned and abandoned as the Marie Celeste. Baumann would need to bus in a rent-a-crowd to sell the New Zealand swimming program. Last week at the Doha World Championships our best swimmers decided they weren’t fit enough to attend and the two that did, failed to make a final.

And on the other hand a delegation from Holland. Their swim team won two gold, one silver and one bronze at the London Games, two gold in Beijing, two gold, three silver and two bronze in Athens and five gold, one silver and two bronze in Sydney. In Doha the Dutch woman’s team won twelve medals, five of which were gold, and set three world records.

Given those results can you imagine the sheer blind arrogant stupidity of Baumann’s next comment?

“But how open can New Zealand afford to be? Some countries are notorious for acquiring information and then overtaking their rivals so New Zealand needs to be cautious. “We have to be careful what we give away,” Baumann said. “Anything on the innovation side is not something we would share because that is a competitive advantage for us. We believe in sharing information but it has to be a win-win situation.”

I’m sure the delegation from Holland returned to Amsterdam trembling with fear that New Zealand was about to produce a swim team capable of upsetting Veldhuis, Kromowidjojo and Heemskerk. Clearly the whole idea is ridiculous. So why, without analysis or research, did the Herald on Sunday publish Sport New Zealand’s propaganda? A week ago we warned them – if the information comes from Sport New Zealand check it before you put it in your newspaper.