Performance Appraisal



The views expressed here are genuine opinions of the reviewer. The person being reviewed has every right to discuss and contest their merits


Name: Bruce Cotterill                             Title: Chairman Swimming New Zealand

Dept: Administration                               Hire Date: 2012

Time in position: Six Years                     Evaluation Period: From 2012 to 2018


Name: A member of Swimming New Zealand

Supervised employee for: Six years


The Chairman is the leader of the Swimming New Zealand Board. As such he is ultimately responsible for the performance of the organisation. In his role as Chairman, Bruce Cotterill is expected to shape a successful, growing and financially viable sport.

Successful means winning medals at senior international events. In particular it means winning gold medals at Commonwealth Games, Pan Pacific Games, World Championships and Olympic Games.

Growing means increasing membership numbers in the categories of senior elite athletes, junior swimmers, coaches and administrators.

Financially viable means increasing income from members, HPSNZ, and commercial sponsors. It also means earning sufficient profit to accumulate healthy reserves for the purpose of funding the future of the sport.

RATING SCALE: Exceptional (E) – More Than Satisfactory (MS) – Satisfactory (S) – Needs Improvement (NI) – Performance does not meet expectations (NE) – Unacceptable (U)


Position Expertise

We note that Bruce Cotterill has gone to some effort on the internet to describe his own skills. Here is what he tells us:

“He is now a professional director and advisor, and is a highly regarded business communicator assisting managers, leaders and their organisations to improve their performance and profitability. In his “spare time” he is a husband, father, lifeguard, ageing triathlete, competitive ocean swimmer and frustrated golfer.”

Superficially that would appear to make his expertise ideally suited to the position of Chairman. Sadly that is not the case. The fundamental skill required to lead the sport of swimming is an understanding of competitive swimming, a quality called product knowledge. Bruce Cotterill’s involvement in lifeguarding, ageing triathlons, ocean swimming and golf have no relevance to international pool swimming. In fact experience shows that lifeguarding is often the opt-out option for failed competitive swimmers. So we know he probably has an intimate association with failure. 

Rating Grade: Performance does not meet expectations (NE)

Approach To Work

Bruce Cotterill’s approach to work clearly demonstrates his background and training. He is a talker. Once again, in his own words, he describes himself as “one of Australasia’s leading keynote speakers – a wonderful storyteller who adds humour”. It seems his actions do not match the hype. Experience suggests he is strong on talk but not so good on getting it done.    

Rating Grade: Needs Improvement (NI)

Quality Of Work

We are disappointed in the quality of Bruce Cotterill’s work in this period. We are especially disappointed in two features that we believe tarnish his performance.

First the decision of the organisation to investigate and subject a member to a three day trial and then deny the member access to the verdict. In our opinion, that decision was either inexcusable arrogance or incompetence. It should be noted that the case was brought to his direct attention recently without redress.    

Second, after the decision of HPSNZ to reduce their funding Bruce Cotterill told the members he was going to find out why and determine what swimming should do about the cuts. We have heard nothing since. Assurances given and not actioned are damaging for the sport and reflect poorly on those involved.

Rating Grade: Unacceptable (U)

Communication Skills

We understand that the quality Bruce Cotterill prides himself on most is communication. However, high quality communication has not been characteristic of this period in Swimming New Zealand. For example, in the period Bruce Cotterill has been on the Board, Swimming New Zealand has approved a resolution to stop publishing minutes of Board Meetings. Swimming information is frequently published and then requires correction. Information like the Francis Fantasy remains hidden. Swim meets are held in pools of doubtful legality and a World Record application was signed, making assurances of suspect honesty. The reality of Swimming New Zealand is not open and transparent communication; rather it is Antares Place behind closed doors. The organisation has not demonstrated the communication strengths for which Bruce Cotterill prides himself.

Rating Grade: Unacceptable (U)

Interpersonal Skills

No one could ever accuse Bruce Cotterill of lacking charm. He is a walking, talking charm offensive. We are unsure of the sincerity behind the friendly wave and cheesy grin. We have already mentioned the decision to withhold information from a member being investigated by the organisation. That was a bad decision and did suggest a lack of empathy and disregard for personal relationships and natural justice.

Rating Grade: Needs Improvement (NI)

Supervisory/Leadership Skills

We believe that leadership skills are best demonstrated by results. For the majority of the period Bruce Cotterill has been Chairman of Swimming New Zealand, and with the exception of Lauren Boyle, who learned her trade in California and then swam best for a coach Swimming New Zealand manoeuvred out of his job, international results from the sport have been dismal. The Cotterill organisation clings on to a centralised training policy that costs millions of dollars and will eventually fail. Good leadership requires a change of direction. And that still hasn’t occurred. The result has been the sport’s worst Commonwealth Games ever. Swimming today is an abandoned soul, wandering lost in a fog without purpose or direction; without leadership.

Rating Grade: Unacceptable (U)


Rating Grade: Unacceptable (U)


The rating grade of “unacceptable” may seem harsh. However it should be considered in light of the following table of key performance indicators. During the time Bruce Cotterill has been on the Board of Swimming New Zealand, either as a member or as Chairman every key measure of the organisation’s performance has declined. That is unacceptable and, as we are aware, the buck stops at the top.

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%


Resignation and replacement is recommended


Unable to provide at this time



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