Swimwatch Did Warn You…

By David

Today Sport New Zealand announced the amount of money they will give the Swimming New Zealand high performance program. The Millennium swim school is going to cost us all $1.4 million per year for two years. Someone called Mike Govern from High Performance Sport New Zealand said, “I think Swimming New Zealand would be the first to agree that their performances through 2014 weren’t at the level that we were collectively hoping for. They have got a reduction.”

The basic premise of that comment is rubbish. Swimming New Zealand has never acknowledged any corporate fault for the embarrassment of 2014. Instead Villanueva has been quick to blame everyone wearing a pair of togs for the failings of his plan. Swimwatch ran a story on that very subject. There is no evidence that Layton, Renford or Villanueva have learned anything from the fiasco of 2014. As has always been the case with Swimming New Zealand – it’s all about jam tomorrow. Just keep the funds coming and in four years or eight years we will have a bucket full of gold medals. Renford is already softening us up. This is what he said today, “An important aspect of this for us is that it will also allow us to integrate our key 2020 Olympic prospects into the process. Swimmers aiming for medals in Tokyo need to be actively introduced to the Olympic program for 2016 as it takes two Olympic cycles to develop an Olympic athlete.”

He makes me sick. There is no evidence to support the view that, “it takes two Olympic cycles to develop an Olympic athlete.” It is certainly true that many Olympic Gold Medals are won by swimmers in their second or even third Olympic Games. However first time gold medalists are not as uncommon as Renford would have us believe. For example, in London ten Olympic Gold medals were won by swimmers at their first Olympic Games. Everything Swimming New Zealand says needs to be checked. Renford’s argument has more to do with securing our money for another four years than with the reality of life in a swimming pool.

Mike Govern then announced severely, “They have got a reduction.” The clear implication of this is that Sport New Zealand is a tough guardian of the public purse. Sports are expected to perform or their funding will vanish. In the case of swimming that’s just not true. Miskimmin and Baumann are personally invested in the future of swimming – up to their eye balls, they are committed. Swimming New Zealand is locked into Miskimmin’s centralist policy. Swimming New Zealand has a Miskimmin Board and a Miskimmin management team. If Swimming New Zealand fails Miskimmin and Baumann fail. And they will pay whatever it takes to avoid that happening.

So what does Miskimmin do? True to his political breeding, and to give the right impression, he skims off a few punishment dollars. But the loss of $k100 is window dressing. Swimming has secured a new two years funding package that guarantees the disaster of swimming’s last ten years will roll on uninterrupted. $1.4 million each year for the next two years is swimming’s reward for being a loyal Miskimmin subject. As a punishment the reduced funding provided to swimming is nothing more than a slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket.

A grant of $1.4m means poor performance and bad behavior has been rewarded. Renford acknowledged that when he was reported as saying, “We have been on a year-to-year basis currently, so to have surety of funding through to the 2016 Rio Olympics is important for us.” He’s right. By funding swimming for two years, Miskimmin’s donation to swimming has actually improved. The decision about funding swimming has nothing to do with performance. If it did swimming would be paying us. The truth is that swimming has been rewarded for its obedience. Funding swimming in New Zealand is about applying and supporting Miskimmin’s personal agenda. Performance is not the issue. Obey and be rewarded is the lesson.

Baumann confirmed this truth when he spoke about the sport of triathlon, “Triathlon,” he said, “is the right structure and is moving in the right direction, they have centralised and gone from a two to eight-year plan. They have a good high performance director and coaches in place. Even though they didn’t reach all their key performance indicators, there is still potential. They just need to get more athletes in their system.”

So there you have it – right from the horse’s mouth. Comply with Miskimmin’s structure, approve his authoritarian constitution, centralize (socialize) the means of production distribution and exchange, appoint bureaucrats that have Miskimmin’s blessing and even if you bomb at Commonwealth Games, Pan Pacific Games and World Championships; even if your athletes couldn’t beat an egg, money will not be a problem.

Oh, and don’t you just love Baumann’s last sentence – “They just need to get more athletes in their system.” Is that the same as saying that the best way to ensure success is to throw “more athletes” into the grinder? One of them is bound to survive. In American swimming this coaching philosophy is called, “Eggs against the wall coaching”. Throw enough eggs at a wall and one will hit the wall and fall to the ground without breaking. That egg is your Olympic champion. Beware New Zealand parents. It could be that the guy in charge of swimming’s Millennium swim school sees your child as just another egg.

Perhaps we should leave the last words on this sorry subject to Sport New Zealand’s talkative swimming expert, Mike Govern. “He said he believed the true potential of swimming had not been “fully realized in New Zealand”. There’s some challenges in the sport but we are working closely and openly with Swimming New Zealand to assist them in resolving those challenges. We are going to be monitoring their progress through the course of 2015.”

I wonder what he means by “some challenges in the sport”. Is that Lauren Boyle and Matthew Stanley disappearing to Australia? Is that a shocking set of annual accounts? Is that a Millennium swim school with no swimmers? Just what are these “challenges”?

Govern promises the challenges are being dealt with openly. Open to who I wonder? Certainly not “open” to the membership of Swimming New Zealand. There is no chance of “open” anything while the Miskimmin gang is in charge. Govern’s comment is meaningless flannel. Just as meaningless as the thought that Swimming New Zealand has had a funding cut.