Rules? What Rules?

 Two or three Swimwatch posts have discussed aspects of the Steve Johns’ email. I thought it best to save the most important to last. You see the principal point Johns was attempting to make was contained in the following quote.

“For you its too easy just to put pen to paper, write whatever pops into your head and not be interested in the negative impact that you have on people’s lives.  If you think your little blogs and constant attacks are helping swimming in NZ, then you are seriously mistaken – or is it just a fun little game you like to play?”

His intention is clearly to convey the impression that there is no substance to the arguments put forward in Swimwatch. There are no problems. David Wright has these flights of fancy that pop into his head but they are not real. It is just a little game he likes to play. If David Wright brings his latte to Steve Johns’ office Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) will provide a re-education program. According to Johns, change lies in reforming the messenger. The SNZ product is doing fine. It’s the Swimwatch message that needs to change.
Of course the implications of that argument go further than Steve Johns’ email. There are two serious costs. First it convinces others of a false narrative. Members believe the Antares Place propaganda. They accept that Cotterill, Johns and Francis are leading well, with sound and well thought-out plans. The problems are only in David Wright’s blog; a fantasy of his twisted imagination. And second, the arrogant belief in their own virtue robs Cotterill, Johns and Francis of all incentive to reform. The clear message of Johns’ email is that there is no reason for him to reform. David Wright’s blog is an insult; a mere burning kite flying over the border.

Those two costs are serious. I guess there are readers who are already saying, “Here he goes again.” But just bear with me for a couple of minutes more.

I imagine we can all agree rules are an important feature of well-run organisations. The “rule of law” and “no one is above the law” are foundation principles. We should have rules and we should obey them.

SNZ also recognises the importance of the rule of law. The SNZ Code of Conduct says:

3.1 The Objective of the Code are to ensure that Members, parents and guardians comply with certain standards of behaviour

But the Code then reinforces the importance of the rules when it says:

5.1 A Member must at all times during the course of his/her membership of Swimming New Zealand comply with:

(a) The Constitution;

And any breach of the above shall be a breach of this Code.

And so the position of SNZ seems pretty clear; we have rules and they must be followed or sanctions will result. None of that is a David Wright fantasy designed to “hurt people’s lives”.

If that is the case then please Cotterill, Johns and Francis explain the following table to me. It shows how the Swimming New Zealand Constitution requires the National Secondary Schools Championships to be run and how the Meet Flyer says Cotterill, Johns and Francis have decided will actually happen.

The SNZ Constitution Says 2018 What is Actually Going to Happen
2.21.1 The competition will be swum in a long course 50m pool. Meet Set-Up The meet is Short Course (25m Pool).
2.21.4 To be eligible to compete a swimmer must be a financial and registered Club Swimmer or Competitive Swimmer. Non-SNZ members are enter (sic) through the online entry form
2.21.6 Events will be super seeded with the fastest 8 swimmers in each age group swimming together in the last heats. Events will be super seeded with the top 10 swimmers in each age group swimming together in the last heats,

There could well be a dozen other examples. Those three just happened to stand out. What the Constitution says has been taken from the SNZ Constitution and what is going to happen has been taken from the meet flyer published on the SNZ website.

But in these three instances Steve Johns and his mates are about to blatantly disregard the rules. That’s okay – the rules don’t apply to them. Well they do. The rules apply to everybody including the arrogant inhabitants of Antares Place. Cotterill, Johns and Francis should be dismissed for this example alone. Not because it matters whether the pool is 50m or 25m or whether eight or ten swimmers compete in the fastest heat but because Cotterill, Johns and Francis cheat on the rules. It is exactly the same principle as signing the Lauren Boyle world record form or picking relay swimmers for unqualified individual events. Cotterill, Johns and Francis cannot be trusted to obey the rules.

I had a conversation today about the problems in SNZ. Loud and great blame was being heaped on coaches and swimmers. We were just not good enough. But that is a lie. It is simply not true. The reality is the toxic lack of principle in our leadership. We have been led by them into a dark place that even the Jelleys and Lydiards and Hansens would struggle to overcome. New Zealand swimming is blessed with some wonderful swim coaches but when they work for individuals that have no regard for the rule of law we have no chance.

And that is what matters about this SNZ example of their disregard for the rules.

So there is an example today that is NOT a David Wright flight of fancy. It is real and it is in writing. Bruce Cotterill, Steve Johns and Gary Francis, please explain yourselves. No, better still, apologise and resign. At least leave with some integrity.

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