An Interactive Q&A Session with Swimming New Zealand

The Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) Facebook post announcing the meeting in Wellington to discuss the new Targeted Athlete & Coach Manager’s job ended with the following sentence.

There will be ample time for Q+A so we encourage all interested parties to come along and join this interactive session.

It is extremely difficult to understand why we continue the call Gary Francis the “new” Targeted Athlete & Coach Manager. He was appointed in January 2018. Only in SNZ would five months be considered new. Even at SNZ whole careers have come and gone in less time. As a SNZ coach he is knocking on the door of veteran status. I suspect the adjective is a ruse to excuse the fact that $50,000 of our money has been spent on his wages and nothing has been done yet.

Of course, as of last night, nothing being done it not entirely true. SNZ has held a meeting. I have no idea what happened. Being in Wellington I doubt anything of importance. The Wellington Chairman, Mark Berge, calls himself “the consultant in jeans” – a title I find pretentious and unlikely to move the world forward. I notice another member of the audience was the founder of the NZSwim Facebook page, Dave Crampton. Berge and Crampton have never got on. For some reason Crampton calls Berge a bully. In my view that is probably because the arrogant leading the self-opinionated is never likely to end well. I have occasionally mused over what Crampton was like during his time at Massey University – the Che Guevara of Fitzherbert Avenue. He seems to have brought the same underwhelming presence to his new interest. I have little time or respect for individuals who text me every five minutes with pleas not to mention their name on Swimwatch. Their obvious fear of Cotterill and Johns is hardly the stuff of “shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man.” They certainly contribute nothing to the sport of swimming.

There are important questions that should be asked in these “interactive” sessions. They are not asked by delegates at the Annual Meeting. It has been years since the delegates at a SNZ Annual Meeting have done their job. I have asked them a million times and have never received a reply. So let’s see if Gary Francis is any different. Here are eleven sample questions. We look forward to hearing the answers.

  1. How did a dozen unqualified swimmers end up swimming in individual events at the Commonwealth Games? How do Johns and Francis justify what looks like blatant cheating?
  2. What is SNZ’s explanation for the lies it told New Zealand about Lauren Boyle’s altitude camp sickness problems?
  3. Why was Lyles made redundant after the Glasgow Games and then brought back to coach a second Commonwealth Games poor performance?
  4. Why has it taken since January 2018 and $50,000 in wages to arrange the first meeting explaining Gary Francis’ position to New Zealand? Is this pace of change a permanent feature of life at Antares Place?
  5. With all its negative consequences and with it being accepted that SNZ has no role in coaching swimming – why has SNZ persisted with coaching a small group of swimmers in Auckland when clubs could do the job better and without damaging elitist penalties?
  6. Why has the sport’s income declined by 14.7% in eight years? What is being done to address the decay?
  7. Why has the sport’s membership declined by 24.9% in eight years? What is being done to address the decay?
  8. Why has the sport’s competitive membership declined by 8.1% in eight years? What is being done to address the decay?
  9. Why has the number of clubs and coaches declined by 8.3% and 54.7% respectively in eight years? Is this deliberate SNZ policy?
  10. Does the drop in government funding of 28.0% in eight years have anything to do with the sport’s poor international results? If so what is being done to address the decay? If that is not the reason why has government funding been cut? What is being done to address the decay?
  11. Since State Insurance withdrew their sponsorship SNZ has been unable to find a replacement major sponsor. Why not?

For Gary’s benefit and to keep the data tidy the table showing the performance of SNZ since 2011 is shown below.

Item 2011 2017 Change
Competitive Swimmers 6161 5,660 Down By 8.1%
Coaches 543 246 Down By 54.7%
Total Membership 25,467 19,118 Down By 24.9%
Clubs 180 165 Down By 8.3%
Government Funding 1,962,838 1,413,148 Down By 28.0%
Membership Fees 288,712 286,777 Down By 0.7%
Total Funding 4,158,493 3,546,861 Down By 14.7%

I’m told there are two or three further “interactive” sessions planned for other New Zealand towns. I imagine one of those will be Auckland. Perhaps then I will get a chance to ask why. For as sure as God made little green apples someone needs to. Or as the real Che Guevara put it, “someone who risks their skin to prove their platitudes.”

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