Auckland Council Ignores Its Own Code of Conduct

A month ago I published a story about an attempt by the manager of the West Wave Aquatic Centre, a guy called Alex Calwell, to ban Syrian swimmer, Eyad Masoud, and me from the facility. He said he felt “uncomfortable” with me being in the pool. My complaint was investigated and Eyad and I were allowed to use the pool. It was agreed Alex Calwell had made an error.

At the time I confirmed I was not Eyad’s coach. I was asked to make sure I did not coach Eyad while he was swimming. I agreed to that condition. I asked if I could occasionally time an Eyad swim to communicate his progress to his Syrian coach. As long as I was discreet this amount of attention was agreed.

Since those events, a month ago, I have been back to the West Wave Pool on four occasions without incident. I have not coached Eyad but have twice unobtrusively timed two one hundred metres swims and conveyed the times by email to his coach.

But today Alex Calwell’s staff decided I should again be asked to leave the pool. Before I interpret what happened let me describe in a series of factual bullet points what occurred.

  1. Eyad’s coach had set him a session of 100×100 metre swims. He began swimming the set and I sat on a chair as far back from the side of the pool as possible.
  2. Eyad had swum about ten of the 100s when I was approached by two lifeguards who said their boss had told them I was not allowed to coach Eyad and if I did they would ask me to leave the pool. I assured them I was not his coach and was not coaching him.
  3. About another ten 100s went by and the same two lifeguards came back and said their boss had been “studying” my behaviour, had seen me look at my wristwatch, which he said was clearly coaching and I was required to leave the pool.
  4. I protested my innocence and asked to see this “boss” person. I was told he was not available.
  5. A third more senior person arrived. I don’t know who she was. She said I could stay in the facility but had to sit in the grandstand seating. I took this option and went up into the grandstand.

So, that’s what happened. And now here is my interpretation.

  1. Nothing that was done this morning breached my agreement a month ago with the Auckland Council. In the course of twenty 100 metre swims I had timed two of the swims and emailed Eyad’s coach. I have an IPhone watch and used it to time the two swims and send the email. No member of the public or Eyad was aware that I had timed the two swims or that I had told Eyad’s coach the two times.
  2. I only spoke to Eyad once. After the lifeguard’s first visit Eyad stopped to ask me what the lifeguard’s wanted. In their second visit my explanation to Eyad was described as clear evidence I was coaching.
  3. I still have no idea who this “boss” is that issues orders to junior staff at the West Wave pool. What is it with that pool? A month ago Alex Calwell sent a junior staff member down to do his dirty work and today some other “boss” dispatched two juniors while he hid somewhere and was unavailable. The evidence suggests some training in the responsibilities that go with office is required.
  4. The two junior lifeguards said the fact that I looked at my wristwatch was all the proof they needed to confirm that I was coaching Eyad. They seemed to be unaware that my watch also sends and receives emails, sends and receives text messages, counts my daily steps, takes phone calls and performs a number of other functions that require my attention.
  5. If looking at my watch was the “sin” that caused me to be asked to leave the pool, why did the senior person say it was fine for me to sit in the grandstand? I would have thought it just as easy to look at a wristwatch in the grandstand as on the pool deck. The decision to send me to the grandstand makes a mockery out of the accusation of coaching. It makes no sense at all.
  6. At the time the lifeguards asked me to leave for “looking at my watch” there were two women at the pool who were clearly coaching swimmers. In their cases they were either walking alongside the swimmer or sitting right down on the side of the pool talking to the swimmer after every length. Nothing was said to either of these women; just to Eyad and me.
  7. While all this was happening only four swimmers, including Eyad, were swimming in the six lanes available. Members of the public were not being inconvenienced or even aware of our presence.
  8. It seems the West Wave pool staff have it “in-for” Eyad and me and I have no idea why. Certainly the events of the past month appear to be in stark violation of the Auckland Council Code of Conduct. That document clearly says the following behaviour is unacceptable:

“Victimisation, intimidation, harassment, bullying or inappropriate behaviour towards another person, client or customer.”

  1. Lest there be any doubt that I sat quietly, well away from the poolside and did not communicate with Eyad in any coaching way, the West Wave pool is full of security cameras. Just play the tapes. Eyad was not being coached. I was not behaving badly. The staff just made it up. As Bob Woodward, the journalist who exposed the corruption of President Nixon said, “Happily history won, largely because of the tapes.”
  2. Since Eyad arrived in New Zealand he has swum twice a day, every day for six weeks in seven different swimming pools. Four of those pools are operated by the Auckland Council. We have conducted ourselves exactly the same way at every pool. In fact I tend to be extra cautious at West Wave because I am aware the staff there are particularly sensitive and aggressive. But only at West Wave has there been a problem. It is insulting. It is hurtful and it is wrong.

Once again the circumstances need to be investigated. This time the correction needs to be stronger and needs to include an apology from Alex Calwell and the four staff members involved today. We look forward to the Auckland Council response.


0 responses. Leave a Reply

  1. Swimwatch


    Be the first to leave a comment!

Comments are closed.