Truth Matters

 I ended the last Swimwatch post by saying this post would discuss how swimmers should be financially rewarded. Well that will have to wait. Something more important has occurred that deserves consideration first.

There appears to be a slide into dishonesty at Swimming New Zealand. Examples discussed in Swimwatch include:

The 2017 Annual Report headline that announced:

“An astonishing 49 New Zealand swimming records were broken between July 2016 – June 2017, including six open records and forty three age group records.”

The truth is that result is not astonishing at all. Researching the records as far back as I can reveals that 49 records is the worst year in recent New Zealand swimming history. Swimming New Zealand has padded their resume with fake news. And the problem when you do that is getting caught makes the organisation look worse than if had told the truth. The one thing worse than bad news is lying about it.

Then on 22 February Swimming New Zealand announced a new sponsorship deal with the following claim:

“The announcement comes following the growth of participating swimmers entering both championships every year.”

We have already pointed out that this was not true. It is a lie. The following table tells what actually happened to New Zealand’s championship entries.

Entries 2012 2017 No. Drop % Drop
Number 997 767 230 23%

Once again Swimming New Zealand lied. Once again they got caught. Once again they end up looking worse than if they had told the truth in the first place.

On the 9 February Swimming New Zealand sent out an email introducing the new Targeted Athlete and Coach Manager. This was announced as a “new beginning” or as the email put it a “revised HP strategy that includes the ‘Targeted Athlete and Coach’ programme”.

And it was never that at all. Because hidden in the same email was this sentence.

“Mat Woofe will continue to coach the squad that currently swims out of that centre.”

The truth is we were being conned into believing Swimming New Zealand was striking out with a new decentralized, club focused program when in fact all the old structures that had caused ruin in the past were being preserved. It was and is extraordinarily dishonest. And worse, it won’t work.

On 16 February I was told that Gabrielle Fa’amausili had pulled out of the Commonwealth Games in order to have a knee operation. I did not say anything on Swimwatch because the news might not have been accurate. I did ask a couple of contacts if they could confirm the rumour. One of them replied that he had tried to call Swimming New Zealand but, “Nobody has returned my calls.”

Finally on the 23 February Swimming New Zealand came clean and announced that Gabrielle Fa’amausili has a problem knee and will be withdrawing from the team. The question is, why did Swimming New Zealand sit on that news for more than a week? Why did they keep the news secret? What were they doing in that time?

Were they trying to convince Gabrielle Fa’amausili to stay in the team against the best interests of her long term health? Were they hiding her departure from the NZ Olympic Committee? Were they negotiating her withdrawal with the NZ Olympic Committee in order that her place could be taken by Lewis Clareburt rather than made available to someone, possibly more deserving, from another sport? That last option is what I think was happening. The coincidental timing certainly points in that direction.

Your average club coach would never be allowed to enter swimmers in the local chocolate fish carnival the way Swimming New Zealand enters swimmers in the Commonwealth Games. They have no shame. Entering unqualified swimmers, using relays to enter individual events – Swimming New Zealand do it all.

So many of Swimming New Zealand’s actions smack of, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we plot to deceive.” The real problem that seems to characterise organizations in trouble is the effort they go to cover their difficulties. And as the problems get worse, lies are used to cover previous lies in an ever descending spiral. You see it all the time.

You see it on the world stage where the Trump administration are piling lie upon lie to cover their tracks. As the Mueller investigation gets closer and closer to the President the cover up memos and speeches get increasingly shrill and desperate.

On a smaller stage, for years, the behaviour of the team doctor in the USA Gymnastics case caused its own network of cover-up lies before the dam burst and the full extent of the dishonesty was revealed.

And there is growing evidence that, as the performance of Swimming New Zealand continues to slide, we are seeing the same cover up here. It began with the decision to hide Board Meeting Minutes and has accelerated from there. We are now hitting on a lie a week.

In my opinion, Cotterill runs a secretive “Antares Place behind closed doors” administration. There is a culture of secrecy and deception. My bet is Swimming New Zealand will be no more successful than the Trump organization or a US gymnastics doctor. Eventually the dam will burst here too. It always does. And when it does, swimming will be in a better place. Free of lies and half-truths, swimming will be revived by the introduction of fresh air.

0 responses. Leave a Reply

  1. Swimwatch


    Be the first to leave a comment!

Comments are closed.