Who The Hell Would Apply

By David

I wonder how many Swimwatch readers have studied the Swimming New Zealand advertisement calling for coaches to apply for the position of National Head Coach. It makes bloody incredible reading. On and on the specification goes calling for some combination of Mother Teresa and Bruce Willis to come to the Millennium Institute’s rescue.

Surely SNZ must understand that no coach anywhere in the world possessing just a few of the qualities SNZ requires is going to apply for their poisoned challis. Every decent coach in the world knows that applying for the SNZ position is certain suicide; as fatal as going over the Huka Falls in a barrel. Come to think of it I’d risk a barrel over the Huka falls any day before applying to be New Zealand’s National Head Coach.

Just look at the stuff they want from the current applicants.

  1. Extensive experience in coaching swimming at World and / or Olympic level.
  2. Leadership with significant exposure to high performance swimming issues and solutions.
  3. A recognised High Performance coaching qualification.
  4. A thorough understanding of coaching swimmers at an elite level.
  5. A thorough understanding of swimming training including periodisation, skill acquisition, dry-land training, workout design, hypoxic training, test design and interpretation and anything related to preparing swimmers at the high level.
  6. An understanding of sports science in all aspects related with swimming performance.
  7. Broad knowledge of national and international swimming sporting organisations.
  8. An ability to motivate elite athletes and skilled professional staff, in a performance focused environment. Good communication skills and strong time management skills.

And all of it is so much blaaa. Time after time good coaches have answered that sort of advertisement and time after time they have been shafted by New Zealand sport. Just look at three of the names that have answered the call and have lost – Thomas Ansorg, Mark Regan and David Lyles. Good God there is enough coaching experience there to coach the United States, French, German and Chinese national teams combined. But in New Zealand all three survived five minutes before Sport New Zealand had seen enough and wielded their fatal blow. It is unbelievable. David Lyles survived seven years of communist rule in the world’s most ruthless political environment – China. In New Zealand he was in-and-out in two years.

Please don’t tell me that was David Lyles’ fault; that he was a coaching fake. No one can be so in love with SNZ that they would make that claim. If there is, I guess they believe Ansorg and Regan were coaching phoneys as well. No, I’m afraid SNZ, the swimming world has rumbled to the fact that it is your organization that stinks; is rotten to the core. I do so hope no one is stupid enough to apply for your ridiculous job.

But I think there will be some wonderfully naïve souls around the world who will take the risk. Their thought process will say

  1. The money is good.
  2. New Zealand is a terrific place to live; to bring up children.
  3. I can change the organization. I will be the catalyst for reform.

And that last thought will be fatal. I do not know but I’m pretty sure Lyles, Regan and Ansorg all had the “I will bring about change” thought. And it never worked. And it never will work. Miskimmin and Baumann (Renford doesn’t count) are wedded to the invincibility of their divine right to rule. They are not going to change because some jumped-up swim coach comes along and tells them there is a better way. We know their immediate response is to sack the coach and try again.

And even worse is the coach who believes he or she is good enough to make the Miskimmin and Baumann policy work. A hard working soul who believes that seven days a week toil will turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. The end result will be the same. When the coach fails, Miskimmin and Baumann will personalize the failure and another coach will be gone. Does anybody anywhere in the swimming world really believe Miskimmin and Baumann are about to change their policy because of some swim coach; no matter what his or her qualifications?

Incidentally, on the subject of qualifications, I see SNZ want “a recognized High Performance coaching qualification.” I have that. I am an American Swim Coaches Association International Level Five swim coach. And do you know what? SNZ won’t even let me sign the time sheet of a coach who worked under my supervision. That’s Swimming New Zealand for you. Any coach applying for the National coaching job can expect lots of that sort of nonsense.

So for any coach out there looking to become New Zealand’s next National coach consider this thought. The commitment required of a National Coach is similar to a marriage. A recent USA study interviewed 800 of the oldest Americans – a group that had over 25,000 years of marriage experience. These real “experts” on marriage shared a very powerful warning about the biggest marriage mistake a person can make. Never expect your partner to change after marriage. If you are considering marriage, you have to take to heart this truth: accept your partner as is, or don’t get married. Take Patricia, age 81, whose answers to other questions were positive and pleasant. She was blunt on this issue: “If you think you’re going to marry someone who is just not quite on the same page you are and you’re going to change them, you’re a fool.”

And so you have been warned. A similar Swimwatch story to this one was written prior to the appointment of Regan and Lyles. Both clearly thought I was wrong. I doubt that they do any longer. Any coach who might be about to send their Resume to Swimming New Zealand this time should consider Patricia’s warning. Don’t be a fool. There are a lot of other coaching jobs; many good jobs without the 100% fatality rate of the New Zealand position