Has Donna Taken Over?

By David

Well ladies and gentlemen, Villanueva has gone, David Lyles has gone. For one play Land of Hope and Glory by Edward Elgar and for the other the Requiem Mass in D minor by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I’ll leave you to decide which is applicable.

So who’s filling the vacuum? Who’s making the poolside decisions? My money says Donna Bouzaid has scrambled into the void. Just look at the coaches selected for the 2015 international meets – Gary Hurring, Sue Southgate and Graeme Laing. I have nothing against any of those coaches. In fact I think Gary and Graeme are brilliant choices. I admired Graeme and Gary’s father hugely. They would be very proud of their sons’ appointment. Congratulations to both of you – like your fathers, you are the sort of coaches New Zealand needs.

However where is David Lyles? I thought he coached two of the ten swimmers going to the meet; more than any other domestic coach. What did he do wrong? Apart from asking SNZ’s disappearing Spaniard some difficult questions. Or was it because Lyles asked SNZ whether the way they dismissed him had any moral virtue? It seems to me that David Lyles is not going to Kazan because he tells the truth – silly boy. New Zealand has a world class coach in their midst and they leave him at home. It is unbelievable. Actually it is not unbelievable. This is, after all, Christian Renford’s Swimming New Zealand.

I accept Sue Southgate coaches New Zealand’s best female open water swimmer. But all of a sudden she seems to have become a permanent international coaching fixture. She is on her way to Kazan in Russia and Gwangju City in Korea. I have been told that Southgate and Bouzaid are close. I do hope SNZ are not going back to the days where Jan appointed her son and all that stuff. I don’t think so, but this is SNZ.

And while we are on the subject of team coaches; what has Noel Hardgrave-Booth done wrong? His best female swimmer, Bobbi Gichard, qualified under the youth criteria, for the Kazan World Championships and the Youth Championships in Singapore. But no Noel on either team. Why? I know that he had some health problems a few years ago. But if Noel’s health is SNZ’s problem tell him to have a medical check-up and if the professionals give him the all clear, put him on the team. He’s a good coach.

But remember when Renford told us all that New Zealand swim coaches were the sport’s big problem? Having picked New Zealand coaches Gary Hurring, Sue Southgate and Graeme Laing, perhaps the thought of New Zealand’s longest serving coach was more than the Australian could handle.

Mind you, from what I’ve been told, Noel might be the lucky one. Don Quixote Villanueva has designed a most tortuous passage to Kazan. His efforts remind me of a quote by Sir John Walker who said about a New Zealand cross country manager that he took longer than anyone he knew to make the wrong decision. Swimming New Zealand had two choices. Book the NZ team to fly to Spain for a training camp and then fly to Kazan. With good connections that’s a total travel time of 44 hours, through 18 time zones to get to Kazan airport.

And the alternative? SNZ was offered first class training facilities, at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, at minimal cost – the coach and Lauren Boyle would be put up for free. With this option the travel time is 26 hours. Hong Kong is cheaper, involves 18 hours less travel and nine less time zones to handle – and can you guess what Don Quixote and Renford, or was it Donna, decided? Barcelona of course.

Before leaving the subject of Noel Hardgrave-Booth and Bobbi Gichard, an Auckland coach who was at the Age Group Championships has just emailed me a fascinating story. Evidentially Bobbi Gichard won the 200 backstroke in what the electronic scoreboard said was a time of 2:15.34. How is it then that the published result is 2:14.83? What went on in the AOD Room to cause that change?

For years SNZ have caused me no end of wonder. Well, for this post, I have one last question. Evidentially SNZ have issued a directive saying that selected swimmers must wear their old uniforms and some will have to buy their own caps. At least that’s what I’ve been told. It’s not the first time they have done that sort of thing. Years ago Nichola Chellingworth was selected for her first New Zealand team and was told to buy her own NZ caps. I bought them for her. How anyone could ask a first time national representative to pay for their cap is beyond me. A year ago another swimmer of mine, Jane Ip, was also selected to swim for New Zealand for the first time. Her parents had to dip into their pockets for the same reason.

It seems Renford has taken to this SNZ tradition like a duck to water. The claim is that SNZ don’t have enough money – they cry poor all the time. There always seems to be enough tax payer money for the Mazdas, the salaries, the consultants and new offices, but Ashby or Gichard’s cap? Seems not.

What makes all that deeply disturbing is that I hear Renford is on his way to the Russian World Championships. Ashby has had to buy his national swim cap so that a pen pushing Australian can enjoy a junket to Kazan. That really is bad. Seriously I don’t know about you but I would gladly donate the cost of my ticket so that the team could have free caps. Clearly this Australian is not wired that way. Perhaps that’s why we don’t need him.