Leaving Rotorua

As I leave town this sign, in the rear vision mirror, is my last look back at Rotorua. But before leaving I wanted to clarify just what the two posts on swimming in that city have been about.

First, there is the question raised by the Chair of Swimming Bay of Plenty (Swimming BOP), Bronwen Radford’s email reply to the first Swimwatch post.

Question One – Why was Radford so concerned that her email be kept secret?

I would have thought that, if the Swimwatch post was “a gutter report with no substance” and was “riddlef (sic) with errors”; if the source of my information was leading me “up the garden path” and critics were acting contrary to “the betterment of swimming in bop”, then surely Bronwen Radford would have wanted that as widely known as possible.

But no, it seems she wanted it kept secret. Her email says, “I trust this email will not become public.” It is important to ask why. What was it in her email that she wanted to hide? What was it that she did not want the swimming people of Rotorua to know? If it was me and I had been “shamed” as badly as her email says, I would have been demanding the right of reply. I’d want to grab with both hands the opportunity to put my point of view. But no, not Radford. Instead she felt it important to say, “I trust this email will not become public.”   

Second, there are the questions raised in the original Swimwatch post.

Question Two – Why is Swimming BOP standing in the way of Te Arawa registering as a Swimming New Zealand Club?

I have a message here that says, “BOP has now had 4 years of denying our membership hence we still swim under Taupo.” I don’t understand that at all. The internet presence of the Te Arawa swim group looks active and exciting; just the sort of spirit needed in a new club. Why Swimming BOP would want to stop that is beyond me. It can only be for the selfish motive of holding on to a Swim Rotorua monopoly. And that, Bronwen Radford, is certainly not for, “the betterment of swimming in bop”.

Question Three – Is Radford and her Board happy that their decision has forced Rotorua swimmers to join a club 84 kilometers from home?

The Board letter to the Rotorua Lakes Council said swim meets “lost” to Taupo or Tauranga would be a disaster. For the Swimming BOP Board swim meets leaving town merits a letter to the Council. But evidently it’s fine to make decisions that force young Rotorua swimmers to join a club in a distant town.     

Question Three – Please explain why Radford’s email says, “I am not employed by swim rotorua” and the Swim Rotorua website says Radford is the, “Coach of Turbo & Metro Squad and Adults/Triathlons/Masters Squad.”  

The optics of that contradiction are pretty bad. The constitutional restraints on club employment are there for a reason. You may recall that Clive Power stood down from the Swimming New Zealand Board when he became Head Coach at the Millennium Institute. Unless Radford can explain the contradiction between her email and what the club website tells me, then Radford should leave the Swimming BOP Board.

Question Four – Were the Board of Swimming BOP or any of its members involved in negotiating a 40% discount for the Swim Rotorua Club compared to other users hiring space at the pool?

The reason for wanting Radford to answer this question is to establish whether her Board has been involved in any way with obtaining a massive financial benefit for the Swim Rotorua Club. Council members should also be asking why one pool user receives a $10,000 a year subsidy from Rotorua rate payers. What is it about Swim Rotorua that merits special Council treatment ahead of Te Arawa swimmers or underwater hockey or waterpolo players? The pool already runs at a loss. Perhaps this is part of the reason why.

Question Five – If Te Arawa applied to form a club in Rotorua would the current Swimming BOP Board approve its application?

This is a critical question that Radford needs to answer. In the first Swimwatch post on this subject I said, “If it was me I’d encourage Te Arawa to form a club and hire more space in the Rotorua pool. Competition is what sport is about and should be encouraged. Competition in this case would improve the service delivered by Swim Rotorua and Te Arawa to the city of Rotorua.” And if Radford and her Board are still of the view that Te Arawa swimmers should be denied; should be forced to join the Taupo Club, then they should clearly explain why they are of that opinion.

So there we have five questions that Radford needs to rationally answer. Writing insulting emails will not make them go away. Certainly when Radford does explain what’s going on in Rotorua we would be delighted to publish her reply.

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