Archive for March, 2018

National Age Group Ticket Sales

Saturday, March 31st, 2018

For two or three days all hell has broken out about the unavailability of public tickets for the National Age Group Championships. Swimming New Zealand say they allocated 10 season tickets to each region. The tickets were offered for sale on the internet and within a few minutes they were all sold. Many parents, from all over the country, had booked and paid for travel and accommodation and were now not going to see their children swim. Those that Swimming New Zealand relies on most were being punished. It was another classic Swimming New Zealand shambles.

A Wellington lawyer, named Eugene Collins, expressed the frustration felt by many in an eleven page letter to Swimming New Zealand CEO, Steve Johns. In addition to expressing his frustration Collins did a brilliant job of setting out the responsibilities Swimming New Zealand has to the sport, to the competitors and to the supporters; responsibilities that are being abandoned by Swimming New Zealand’s arrogant neglect.

Summarising eleven pages is not an easy task. Many of the valid concerns raised by Collins will be missed. The letter has been sent to most clubs. I would recommend reading it in full. The table below attempts to summarise his key arguments and concerns.

It is of concern to note that the AGM minutes on your web site for both 2015 and 2016 are in draft and there are no minutes at all for 2017.

Why wasn’t a reasonable notice period given to stakeholders?

When did SNZ decide to reserve 10 all-session passes for each Region? 

Why did they decide on 10 when they have spectator seating for up to 1100 spectators?

There are 13 regions in NZ so that is 130 tickets reserved for members in total, which represents 11% of available seats given to regions equally. This results in some regions proportionally receiving a greater share of the reserved tickets.

Do SNZ see this as treating its members in a fair and equitable manner?

What is the SNZ policy for tickets sales at NAGS?

If it has one why has this not been communicated to members?

If it doesn’t have a policy, why not?

The communication on ticket sales was poor and in reality non-existent and key stakeholders have been let down as a result.

We are the key stakeholders.

We want transparency and collaboration on all matters.

We want policies on critical matters.

We want fostering interaction and communication across SNZ, regional associations and member clubs.

We don’t just want it because our governing body’s constitution says that SNZ must provide these standards.

We want it because it is about being fair and equitable and because it is what we deserve.

It really is disappointing to find that SNZ’s key stakeholders are still not getting collaboration, transparency, policies and clear communication regarding something as significant as the release of tickets to the most important meet of the year.

A perusal of the recent annual reports would suggest that SNZ is talking the talk regarding the importance of volunteers to the organization but are not walking the walk

Shouldn’t SNZ reflect that fact by ensuring that as many as those vital and critical people as possible have a fair and equitable opportunity to watch their children compete.

Collaboration, Transparency and communication is essential to be seen to be fair and equitable.

On this occasion SNZ has fallen seriously short of achieving this.

There is not one word that is not relevant, accurate and deserved. Swimming New Zealand will have an excuse for their allocation of 130 public tickets in a 1100 seat stadium. My guess is they will claim 900 seats are required for competitors. No one should be surprised. Swimming New Zealand has a ready-made excuse for every transgression.

However, despite the validity and importance of Collins’ letter, I feel no sympathy whatsoever – none at all. Why? Because, in my view, Collins is complicit in the wrongdoing. My response to Collins is simply – I told you so.

For eight years Swimwatch has reported on an endless list of similar mismanagement. One thousand two hundred and forty eight stories have been posted on this website, most of them addressing issues very similar to this ticketing fiasco; in fact some far more serious. For example we have discussed the policy that, in my opinion, destroyed the swimming careers of two generations of young New Zealanders. We highlighted cheating in the selection of teams. We talked about the errors of expensive high altitude training camps and poorly programmed competitions. We pointed out the lies endorsed by Swimming New Zealand when it signed Lauren Boyle’s record application. We lobbied for swim meets to be taken away from dangerously shallow pools. We exposed badly planned pre-Games camps. We questioned administrators holding positions that appear to breach the spirit of the constitution. We questioned the competence of Johns and Cotterill to govern the organization. We disputed the rush into a shockingly undemocratic constitution. The list of Swimming New Zealand’s incompetence was huge.

And do you know the response we received? Well Swimming New Zealand portrayed Swimwatch as Don Quixote tilting at windmills. I am told the Wellington Region, that Collins belongs to, went into committee in several Board Meetings to discuss whether it was possible to close the website down. Social media sites complained about a negative bias. Raumati Club was ordered to remove the Swimwatch link on their club website. And I understand the Chairman of the Wellington Region obtained legal advice on whether the website could be removed. The Chairman of Swimming New Zealand went as far as to use the Annual Report to attack Swimwatch.

It is fine for Collins to be upset when Swimming New Zealand’s bad behaviour affects him personally. But where has he been for eight years? What has he done previously to correct the multitude of Swimming New Zealand wrongs? This latest episode has been a long time coming. It is just the latest event in a long and sad series. If Collins had paid more attention yesterday he would not have these ticket problems today.

However, I guess it’s better late than never. The problems highlighted by Collins will continue for as long as the incompetence of those that lead the organization is not addressed. I hope that Collins now applies his skills to addressing the necessary reforms.

An Australian Plea For Honesty

Saturday, March 31st, 2018

 Swimwatch has only posted one story about paralympic sport. The reason is because I know very little about this part of the swimming world. Of course I have watched, in amazement, the feats of Sophie Pascoe and her mates. Pascoe’s times, over numerous events, are stunning by any standard – 59.77 for 100 freestyle, 31.62 for 50 backstroke, 28.38 for 50 fly, 27.78 for 50 free and 35.87 for 50 breast. However the various Paralympic grades and many of the competitors are a mystery to me.

To make matters worse, I am no expert on Australian swimming either. Unlike the USA, where I lived and coached for seven years, my contact with Australian swimming has only been through training and competing there as a teenage swimmer and visiting, as a coach, various State Championships and the Australian National Championships. That contact however has been sufficient to confirm the quality of Australian swimming. More than that though, Australia has a respect for swimming that is different from anywhere else – including the United States. The closest I’ve seen elsewhere is the reverence given to rugby All Blacks in New Zealand. Australians just love swimming. The respect given to the sport goes to make winning a race there so very satisfying. Toni Jeffs regularly won New South Wales Championships. The warmth she received in Australia was greater than her recognition at home.

It’s off the subject but, talking about the All Blacks, I do have one All Blacks’ story. When Athens’ Olympic swimming Gold Medallist, Rhi Jeffrey, came to New Zealand to train for a couple of years I picked her up at Auckland Airport. As we drove home a car, with some Pacific Islanders inside, passed us on the motorway.

Rhi said to me, “Wow you’d never see that in the United States.”

“Never see what?” I asked.

“That sign on the car,” she said.

I took a closer look. On the car, a sign, in large letters, said “ALL BLACKS”. Rhi did not know that was the name of the nation’s rugby team and assumed it was a description of the passengers. I put her mind at rest. It was not what she feared.

But back to Australian swimming, or more specifically Australian Paralympic Swimming. Something in the Paralympic world seems in need of attention. The accusations of cheating are becoming too loud to be ignored. In an Australian sporting scene that has recently been given a sharp reminder of the dangers of cheating it would be wise for those in authority to investigate the Paralympic complaints. Australia needs to overcompensate to avoid the accusation of being a nation of cheats. The country is not a nation of cheats, but just now it must make sure it is seen to be cleaner than clean.

For this reason set out in the table below is a copy of a letter sent to Swimwatch by Melinda Downie. Her opinions deserve respect. Melinda Downie is the mother of a Paralympic swimmer who is a dual gold medallist, a Commonwealth Games silver medallist and has been awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services to the sport.

Downie’s letter has been sent to the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. I do not know whether the events described in the letter are valid or not. But certainly they merit investigation. If cheating is going on in the sport then it should be exposed and stopped. Here then is Melinda Downie’s letter.

For the attention of the Honourable Malcolm Turnbull

Dear Mr Turnbull,

The CA ball tampering issue has once again highlighted double standards in Australian Sport. I write to you as a last resort to highlight cheating in Paralympic Sport, Swimming in particular.

In my opinion, John Bertram AO is acutely aware of this practice by SAL athletes and staff. He will inform you and others that he has investigated and that the IPC cleared the athletes. He most certainly has not investigated, if he had, the evidence was such that the IPC would have struggled to clear the athletes involved. One thing that CA reminded us all of is just because a system / sport can be cheated, most decent human beings don’t cheat. The reason people do cheat is because the rewards far outweigh the consequences unless they are caught.

We most certainly should not be turning a blind eye to cheating once we are aware and that is exactly what SAL, ASC and the APC are doing. What can you, the Minister for Sport, the NISU and the Commonwealth Games Association do to address cheating in Para Swimming prior to the Commonwealth Games? Cheating in Australian Sport is ongoing.


Event Tampering

Friday, March 30th, 2018

 320 GRIT

Swimming New Zealand has announced the event list for the swimmers attending the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. As expected all the swimmers selected for relays have been entered in a host of individual events.

Swimming New Zealand’s habit of doing that is really annoying. They write eleven pages of qualifying criteria and then, when only two swimmers meet the conditions, select about a dozen relay swimmers and enter them in 28 individual events anyway. I find that stunningly dishonest. Of course Swimming New Zealand can quote numerous “get-out-of-jail” paragraphs from their eleven pages to excuse the behaviour.

If anything, the excuses make the selections worse. They encourage behaviour that looks at rules as conditions to be got around. Swimming New Zealand is supposed to be leading an organization that promotes good behaviour and good sportsmanship where the rules matter. Fundamentally that is a primary purpose of sport in society. These selections have sabotaged that purpose. A dozen team members have been taught that failing doesn’t matter. Worse than that, 5000 other competitors have learned that coming up short is not a difficulty. Just find a way around the problem.

That culture, that environment, is where players using yellow sandpaper begins. It is ironic that Australian Cricket is handing out sanctions to the three players involved in test match ball tampering. It is the culture of the sport led by Australian Cricket that allowed the behaviour to thrive. Swimming New Zealand’s Commonwealth Games selection is guilty of the same negligence; not by omission but by example.

With the exception of Main and Ashby the New Zealand swimmers did not qualify for Commonwealth Games’ individual events. Each air ticket effectively came with a page of yellow sandpaper.

So, what are the individual events entered by New Zealand swimmers? The tables below show the events to be swum each day at the Games and the New Zealanders entered. There are a couple of things I find interesting.

I have heard there has been discussion in Swimming New Zealand about whether swimmers selected for relays should swim in an individual event in the same session. Some swimmers wanted to enter their favourite individual event irrespective of the relays. Some administrators believed that the relays should have priority. I tend to support the administrator’s opinion. A swimmer selected for a relay should have that as their priority. However it seems that the swimmer’s opinion has prevailed. There are seven occasions where swimmers will swim individual events in the same session as their relay event. It is difficult to imagine that relay duties will have priority. And they should. After all, they were selected to swim in the relay; not as an excuse to swim something else. Although this is Swimming New Zealand – you never can tell. Obviously Main and Ashby are excluded because they swam individual qualifying times.

  Events in Same Session
Name Relay Individual Event
Helena Gasson 4 x 100m Free Relay 100m Butterfly
Georgia Marris 4 x 100m Free Relay 100m Butterfly
Carina Doyle 4 x 100m Free Relay 200m Freestyle
Helena Gasson 4 x 100m Free Relay Final 100m Butterfly Semi-Final
Carina Doyle 4 x 100m Free Relay Final 200m Freestyle Final
Matthew Stanley 4 x 100m Free Relay 200m Freestyle
Matthew Stanley 4 x 100m Free Relay Final 200m Freestyle Final

Here then is the daily schedule of events together with the New Zealand swimmers entered.

Thursday 5 April AM

Men Women Para
100m Backstroke 50m Breaststroke S7 50m Butterfly
Corey Main Bronagh Ryan
200m Breaststroke 100m Butterfly
50m Butterfly Helena Gasson
Sam Perry Georgia Marris
Daniel Hunter 200m Freestyle
400m Freestyle Carina Doyle
  400m Individual Medley
4 x 100m Free Relay
Helena Gasson
Laticia Transom
Georgia Marris
Carina Doyle

Thursday 5 April PM

Men Women Para
Semi Final Semi Final S7 50m Butterfly
100m Backstroke 50m Breaststroke S14 200m Freestyle
50m Butterfly 100m Butterfly
Final Final
400m Freestyle 200m Freestyle
200m Breaststroke 400m Individual Medley
4 x 100m Free Relay


Friday 6 April AM

Men Women Para
100m Breaststroke 100m Backstroke
200m Freestyle Bobbi Gichard
Matthew Stanley 50m Freestyle
400m Individual Medley Laticia Transom
Lewis Clareburt
Bradlee Ashby
4 x 100m Free Relay
Sam Perry
Matthew Stanley
Daniel Hunter
Corey Main

Friday 6 April PM

Men Women Para
Semi Final Semi Final S9 100m Freestyle
100m Breaststroke 100m Backstroke S9 100m Backstroke
50m Freestyle
Final Final
100m Backstroke 50m Breaststroke
50m Butterfly 100m Butterfly
200m Freestyle
400m Individual Medley
4x100m Free Relay


Saturday 7 April AM

Men Women Para
50m Backstroke 200m Breaststroke SB8 100m Breaststroke
200m Butterfly 50m Butterfly SM10 200m Individual Med.
Lewis Clareburt Helena Gasson
Bradlee Ashby 4x200m Free Relay
100m Freestyle
Sam Perry
Matthew Stanley
Daniel Hunter

Saturday 7 April PM

Men Women Para
Semi Final Semi Final SB8 100m Breaststroke
50m Backstroke 50m Butterfly SM10 200m Individual Med.
100m Freestyle
Final Final
100m Breaststroke 100m Backstroke
200m Butterfly 200m Breaststroke
50m Freestyle
4×200 Free Relay


Sunday 8 April AM

Men Women Para
50m Breaststroke 200m Backstroke SM8 200m Individual Med.
100m Butterfly Bobbi Gichard S9 100m Freestyle
4×200 Free Relay 100m Breaststroke
Bronagh Ryan
100m Freestyle
Laticia Transom
Georgia Marris
Carina Doyle
800m Freestyle
200m Individual Medley

Sunday 8 April PM

Men Women Para
Semi Final Semi Final SM8 200m Individual Med.
50m Breaststroke 100m Breaststroke S9 100m Freestyle
100m Butterfly 100m Freestyle
Final Final
50m Backstroke 200m Backstroke
100m Freestyle 50m Butterfly
4x200m Free Relay 200m Individual Medley


Monday 9 April AM

Men Women Para
200m Backstroke 50m Backstroke S7 50m Freestyle
Lewis Clareburt Bobbi Gichard S9 100m Breaststroke
Bradlee Ashby 200m Butterfly
Corey Main Helena Gasson
50m Freestyle
Sam Perry
Daniel Hunter
1500m Freestyle

Monday 9 April PM

Men Women Para
Semi Final Semi Final S7 50m Freestyle
50m Freestyle 50m Backstroke S9 100m Breaststroke
Final Final
200m Backstroke 100m Breaststroke
50m Breaststroke 200m Butterfly
100m Butterfly 100m Freestyle
800m Freestyle


Tuesday 10 April AM

Men Women Para
200m Individual Medley 400m Freestyle S9 100m Backstroke
Lewis Clareburt Georgia Marris
Bradlee Ashby Carina Doyle
4x100m Medley Relay 4x100m Medley Relay
  Bobbi Gichard
Helena Gasson
Bronagh Ryan
Laticia Transom

Tuesday 10 April PM

Men Women Para
Final Final S9 100m Backstroke
50m Freestyle 50m Backstroke S8 50m Freestyle
1500m Freestyle 400m Freestyle
200m Individual Medley 4x100m Medley Relay
4x100m Medley Relay

And here is a table showing each swimmer’s events.

Carina Doyle, 100m/200m/400m freestyle, and 4x100m freestyle relay
Georgia Marris 100m/400m freestyle , 100m butterfly 4x100m freestyle relay
Laticia Transom 50m/100m freestyle, 4x100m medley and freestyle relays
Bronagh Ryan 50m/100m breaststroke, 4x100m medley relay
Helena Gasson 50m/100m/200m butterfly, 4x100m freestyle and medley relays
Bobbi Gichard 50m/100m/200m backstroke, 4x100m medley relay
Corey Main 100m/200m backstroke, 4×100 freestyle relay
Daniel Hunter 50m/100m freestyle, 50m butterfly, 4x100m freestyle relay
Matthew Stanley 100m/200m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle relay
Sam Perry 50m/100m freestyle 50m butterfly, 4x10m freestyle relay
Bradlee Ashby 200m backstroke, 200m butterfly, 200m/400m IM
Lewis Clareburt 200m backstroke, 200m butterfly, 200m/400m IM


A Grain of Salt

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

 Dave Crampton of NZ Swim Facebook fame is clearly a fan of ex-national coach David Lyles. The Swimwatch post discussing the Commonwealth Games support staff had only been published for a couple of minutes when Crampton sprang to Lyles defence. In a Facebook post he made three claims that need closer examination. He said Lyles was:

  1. A coach – a good one too
  2. He coaches several good swimmers
  3. Perhaps he should never have been made redundant – maybe that was always the plan even before he went to Glasgow

Crampton provides no evidence to support those assertions. At best they are unsubstantiated gossip and wild conspiracy theories.

I’m not sure what training or experience Crampton has to pass judgement on whether a coach is good or not. I know he has only been involved in swimming for five minutes. My guess is his interest began when his son started swimming. I do know he asked me recently whether the Henderson Pool was a 50m or 25m pool. He had never been there. It is just my feeling that someone who has to ask the length of what for years was the nation’s main swimming pool and home to the Commonwealth Games has much to learn before passing public judgement on coaching quality.

He says that Lyles coaches several good swimmers. That could well be true. His best swimmer is the Commonwealth Games backstroker, Bobbi Gichard. However even with Gichard it is worth remembering that her best 100 backstroke time of 1:00.51 and her best 200 backstroke time of 2:10.87, were both swum in 2015 when she swam for the Greendale Club. Gichard has been with Lyles for some time and, so far, has not improved on her Hawke’s Bay results. For a swimmer in her late teens that should be a concern. It should certainly be sufficient to temper Crampton’s unbounded enthusiasm.

And as for the blatant conspiracy theory that, “Perhaps he should never have been made redundant – maybe that was always the plan even before he went to Glasgow.” That is irresponsible rubbish. I could probably lay claim to being Swimming New Zealand’s harshest critic. But not even I would say that Lyles should never have been made redundant and that the redundancy was planned before the Games began. If anything justifies deleting the NZ Swim Facebook page that wild assertion must qualify.

Even the law disagrees again with Crampton. The Employment Relations Authority found the national head coach position was insufficiently similar for him to be automatically redeployed. The poor results of the high performance programme were the key trigger for the restructure. The ERA found the decision to disestablish Lyles’ position was a genuine business decision. The redundancy procedure, including the selection process for the new role, was found to be conducted fairly. Lyles’ claims were dismissed – and so should Crampton’s.

And the suggestion that Lyles’ redundancy was pre-planned is outrageously bizarre. The table below shows the results of the Lyles led team at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Name Event CG Swam PB CG Place
Donaldson 200 Free 1:49.76 1:48.80 11
200 IM 2:01.32 2:00.96 10
Dunlop-Barrett 200 Free 1:50.23 1:49.14 14
400 Free 3:53.35 3:50.61 12
Main 100 Back 54.40 PB 54.47 6
200 Back 1:57.79 PB 1:59.67 4
Snyders 50 Breast 27.53 27.06 5
100 Breast 1:00.64 59.78 5
200 Breast 2:12.16 2:10.55 9
Stanley 200 Free 1:48.11 1:47.13 7
400 Free 3:52.81 3:47.67 11
Boyle 200 Free 1:57.00 PB 1:57.67 4
400 Free 4:04.47 4:03.63 1
800 Free 8:20.59 8:18.58 2
Lee 100 Fly 1:00.27 59.52 12
200 Fly 2:13.63 2:11.79 11
Lucie-Smith 100 Free 56.09 55.28 12
200 Free 1:59.63 1:58.62 13
400 Free 4:16.48 4:10.79 15
Robinson 200 Free 2:01.78 1:59.69 16
800 Free 8:41.02 8:37.30 10
Quilter 50 Fly 27.00 26.64 11

That result tells us the following:

  1. Only two swimmers, Boyle and Main, swam PBs. Neither swimmer was coached by Lyles.
  2. From 22 swims the team achieved three PBs. That’s a stunning PB ratio of 13%.
  3. The team won two medals, both by Boyle, down from five won in Delhi and six in Melbourne.

Faced with that reality is it any wonder that Swimming New Zealand took action? Even they could work out that the survival of the sport’s government funding meant that something had to be done. Far from the redundancy being pre-planned the overwhelming facts point to it being the logical reaction to a Game’s performance that was putting the sport at risk. The suggestion of pre-planning has no credibility at all.

Crampton also fails to take into account that the SNZ High Performance program was falling to bits. Boyle, Snyders and Stanley had all fled to Auckland airport in search of different coaching. In her public statements Lauren Boyle was always absolutely diplomatic and polite. But if you read between the lines she was clearly of the view that Lyles’ coaching was not for her.

The success I had in Turkey in 2012 was with Mark Regan as my coach. My coaching arrangements have been unsettled since he left in [January] 2013. My build-up to Doha has not been what it should have. I’m still committed to finding a long-term coaching solution.”

Moss Burmester clearly agrees with Boyle. This is what he said about her coaching:

This same issue of SNZ not having a coach that us swimmers have wanted has been happening since 2010.They have got it wrong and aren’t prepared to admit it.

And when Stuff reported on the same coaching problem this is how they described the issue:

The lack of adequate coaching in New Zealand forced Boyle to surrender her world short course title this month without even mounting a challenge, something she was frustrated and disappointed by.

There appears to be a serious disconnect between the facts, the law, the opinion of Boyle and Burmester, the Stuff website and Swimwatch and the opinion of Dave Cramption. Perhaps we should enjoy the reposts he puts on his Facebook page but skim quickly over his opinions.

The Circus Goes On & On & On & On

Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

 Swimming New Zealand has recently announced the support staff selected to accompany swimmers to the Commonwealth Games. This is what the announcement says:

We are super pleased to announce that the New Zealand Olympic Committee has officially selected the Swimming support staff who will accompany our athletes to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games next month.

Simon Mayne – Paralympic Coach

Roly Crichton – Paralympic Coach

Jana Wilkitzki – Howick Pakuranga Swim Club

Mat Woofe – SNZ National Training Centre Performance Coach

David Lyles – United Swim Club

Matthew Ingram – HPSNZ Analyst

Toni Bayliffe – Team Manager (North shore Swim Club)

I do not plan to comment on the Paralympic appointments. The other staff selected are of interest.

First is Coach Jana Wilkitzki of the Howick Pakuranga Swim Club. I do not know Coach Jana. However, from all that I have heard, from people I do respect, she is an able, knowledgeable and well qualified coach. She coaches successful swimmers for a successful club. In my view her appointment is entirely positive. The team will benefit from her presence.

I do know Toni Bayliffe. She is an excellent selection for the Team Manager’s position. So often, Team Managers have little or no personal experience of sport. That certainly is not the case here. Bayliffe had a very successful swimming career. And after swimming she has successfully managed dozens of club, regional and national teams. For many years she also managed the business affairs of New Zealand’s largest swim club. I have often been involved in events where Bayliffe has been the Team Manager. In every case she has been open, efficient and fair – a good team manager.

I do have a problem with the selection of Mat Woofe. Just who is Mat Woofe? The Swimming New Zealand staff profile’s page describes him as the High Performance Coach Intern but, all of a sudden, in this announcement, he has become SNZ National Training Centre Performance Coach. When was that promotion approved? Or is it a title invented for this occasion? After all, having a Coach Intern on the national team would make the team look as mickey-mouse as it actually is. It’s a fair bet Woofe’s title was changed in a desperate act of window dressing. Because the reality is “intern” is a more accurate description of his appointment. I could name thirty coaches from Whangarei to Invercargill who are more experienced, more successful, more knowledgeable and in my opinion better selections. It does seem as if Woofe is going simply because the name of his employer is Swimming New Zealand. If that’s true, once again the organization has put appearance ahead of performance. New Zealand swimming will never win anything while it persists with this sort of flawed decision making.

I’m picking Swimming New Zealand will justify the selection of Woofe by claiming he has recently, since Jerry left, begun coaching Bradlee Ashby. That argument makes no sense. Swimming New Zealand appears perfectly happy for the team’s highest ranked swimmer, Corey Main, to travel without the coach who has guided him through the last four years. He fortunately has a good NZ club coach who will take over. In my view the decision to pick Woofe is unprincipled window dressing.

Which brings us to the selection of David Lyles. As recently as April 2015 David Lyles and Swimming New Zealand were facing each other in the Employment Relations Authority. Here is a summarised version of how the case was reported in the NZ Herald.

David Lyles was employed as National High Performance Centre coach in 2013 but lost his job in February, less than two years later.

He was made redundant after the national sports body restructured its high performance programme in the wake of a poor performance at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Swimming New Zealand told the ERA that the high performance programme had not achieved the expected results at the 2014 Glasgow Games. In the lead-up to the games, swimmers targeted for success at Glasgow were achieving slower times than previous personal bests.

And many swimmers aiming for the Rio Olympics in 2016 had elected not to train at high performance centres in Auckland and Wellington, so most of those training under the programme were “development swimmers”, aiming for Tokyo 2020.

The failure to meet targets meant High Performance Sport New Zealand could slash funding for the sport unless Swimming New Zealand could show improvements in the lead-up to Rio.

The ERA found the national head coach role had greater responsibility and required different skills than Mr Lyles’ role, and was not substantially the same. The redundancy procedure, including the selection process for the new role, was conducted fairly. The application was dismissed.

It is incredible to me that three years after putting the judicial arguments that Lyles had been involved in New Zealand’s “poor performance at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games,” and swimmers “were achieving slower times than previous personal bests,” and “many swimmers had elected not to train at high performance centres” Swimming New Zealand should go back to the same person seeking Gold Coast redemption. The person Swimming New Zealand spent $9,998 on legal fees to get rid of after the last Commonwealth Games has been brought back to coach the next Commonwealth Games. It seems the disaster that was Glasgow has been forgiven and forgotten. It is however a classic example of Swimming New Zealand management chaos.

One of the swimmers who left the Swimming New Zealand program during the Lyles’ era was Lauren Boyle. She was the only able-body swimmer to medal in Glasgow. It beats me how some office bureaucrats can figure that Lyles is their main man when New Zealand’s best swimmer went off to Australia to find different coaching. I know whose opinion I would go with.

And finally Swimming New Zealand has appointed Matthew Ingram. He is listed in the HPSNZ directory as a “Performance & Technique Analyst”. I cannot imagine a worse appointment than this. Twelve New Zealand swimmers will be on the Gold Coast for three or four weeks. Every coach in the world is taught that this is not the time to make changes. So what does a guy like Ingram do? Well the University of Canterbury website tells me he does this:

  • Videoing of swimming technique. We will film you during competition or training
  • Identify strengths and weakness in your technique
  • Improve movement patterns
  • Reduce your risk of injury
  • Enhance your body awareness through visual feedback
  • We will analyse your technique using SiliconCoach Pro 7
  • We will review your technique with athlete and coach, using the analysis results
  • We will provide you with awareness drills and/or strengthening exercises to assist you in optimising performance.

None of that stuff should be done in the weeks of a major competition. The analysis may have value in the months before an event when changes can be made. It may even benefit the swimmer in the months after the Games. But at the Games this pseudo-science is all show and no substance. In fact it can have serious negative results. It tends to undermine the confidence and normal routine peace-of-mind critical to sporting success.

And so it seems to me that New Zealand has a swim team that is going to include an inexperienced intern and a coach who was made redundant after coaching the previous Commonwealth Games’ team; both being advised by a University of Canterbury academic with a camera. That sounds like it should work out just fine! It sure is putting a pile of pressure on the able shoulders of Wilkitzki and Bayliffe. My guess is the result will be worse than Glasgow. And as I have said before the fault will lie right at the feet of Cotterill and Johns.