A Grain of Salt

 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.

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