Cotterill, Johns & Francis Have Brought Us To This

 Some things really piss me off. Usually they involve an injustice; the powerful taking advantage of the weak; the strong rewarding themselves at the expense of the public; behaviour that decent societies recognise as corrupt. One such event has occurred this week. Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) announced the team to represent New Zealand at the 2018 World Short Course Championships in China. It is a big team of eighteen swimmers. Congratulations to every swimmer. Representing your country does not come easy. You have earned the respect of us all. Here are their names.

Bradlee Ashby (North Shore), George Schroder (Hokitika), Vanessa Ouwehand (St Peter’s), Ruby Matthews (Evolution Aquatics), Hayley McIntosh (Northwave), Paige Flynn (St Peter’s), Wilrich Coetzee (North Shore), Carina Doyle (North Shore), Yeonsu Lee (North Shore), Ciara Smith (Northwave), Daniel Hunter (Howick Pakuranga), Matt Hyde (Matamata), Andrew Jeffcoat (Fairfield), Quinton Hurley (Jasi), Caitlin Deans (Neptune), Gina McCarthy (Hillcrest), Rebecca Moynihan (Raumati), Emma Godwin (Heretaunga Sundevils).

Along with the names of the selected swimmers SNZ announced that every team member would have to pay $5,300 towards the cost of getting to the World Championships. Just imagine that. Swimmers work hard year after year and finally get good enough to represent New Zealand at a World Championships and SNZ asks them to pay. Those swimmers have already paid. They have been paying with money and sweat for years and still Scrooge Cotterill, Scrooge Johns and Scrooge Francis ask for more.

That is no way to treat a national team attending a World Championships. It is desperately wrong in a number of ways.

New Zealand’s eighteen swimmers are about to meet swimmers from many different countries. Almost always they will be rubbing shoulders with swimmers who are rewarded by their countries with paid travel, accommodation, uniforms and possibly a daily allowance. The inevitable and desperate feeling of rejection is no way for a national team to approach a World Championship. “My country wouldn’t even pay for my uniform”, is not a thought any swimmer should have at a World Championships. Does my Federation care? Do Cotterill, Johns and Francis care about me? Not enough to pay a cent towards your trip is the answer. It is understandably hard to feel pride in your national cap when you know that SNZ made money out of selling it to you.

I have been fortunate enough to place swimmers on several national teams including Great Britain, New Zealand, the Virgin Islands, the USA and Saudi Arabia. Big or small, rich or poor New Zealand is the only one I have seen charge swimmers to attend a World Championship.

And finally, in my opinion, it is an obscene level of corruption when SNZ bureaucrats sit around in Antares Place drinking coffee, paying themselves handsome salaries and at the same time demand that swimmers pay to represent the country. I bet Steve Johns never paid to fly to Japan recently for a ceremonial junket. No of course he didn’t pay. After all, he is the great and the powerful Steve Johns. How dare we compare mere swimmers to his arrogant royal highness. The sense of entitlement is stunning. The master and slave relationship is impossible to avoid.

Today the six officials traveling with the team were announced; three coaches, a Manager, a Physiotherapist and – wait for the sound of celestial trumpets – Gary Francis. How much do you want to bet Francis is having the full cost of his trip paid by SNZ? That’s right, eighteen hard working and talented swimmers are required to pay while an Auckland age-group coach gets his junket for free.

It is a corrupt disgrace. Between them Johns and Francis earn the thick end of $300,000 in salaries at SNZ. How they sleep at night knowing that eighteen dedicated swimmers are paying their bloated wages is beyond my understanding. Those guys don’t care about New Zealand’s swimmers. The athletes are pawns in a game of executive privilege and greed.

The full horror of these events became apparent when I noticed the following page on the “Give-a-Little” website.

New Zealand Short Course Championships saw the team for World Short Course Championships selected. My winning time of 2.07.48 for the 200 Backstroke was enough to see me selected to this New Zealand team to compete in Hangzhou China in December. It is a huge stepping stone for me on my way towards the ultimate goal of competing at the 2020 Olympics, and provides a great feeling of progression and recognition for all the hard work and sacrifices over the past four years. Having made my way back to Hawke’s Bay at the beginning of the year, I am super proud to be flying the flag not only for our country, but for the HBPB swimming region and Sundevils club. As swimmers we are not in it for the financial rewards, more our own personal journey towards these goals we set ourselves. However this chance to compete on an International stage comes with a price tag. The team to compete has to front up $5300 for flights, accommodation, uniform, other team costs. It would mean the world to me if some friends, family, supporters and swimming community could chip in a bit of this to make sure my primary focus is on how to swim as fast as I can come December, not just how do I pay my way there! Every little bit would be greatly appreciated, and I will be doing my absolute best to do everyone in my wider circle proud when I stand behind those starting blocks in a few months time.

The team cost of $5300. Flights, uniform, accommodation.

Emma Godwin

I desperately hope Emma Godwin raises the full $5,300 and more. She is a terrific backstroke swimmer with a cultured stroke to die for. I admire her initiative in asking for assistance. But I also believe she should not have to advertise on “Give-a-Little”. Raising travel money is a core duty of SNZ. If Cotterill, Johns and Francis can’t avoid the spectacle of having national representatives asking the public for money, then they should be replaced by others with superior values. Consider this; every week Johns and Francis are paid about $5,700. That’s more than the cost of getting Emma Godwin to the World Championships. Every week those two waste-of-space officials take more money out of the sport than it would cost to get Emma Godwin to the Championships. There is something desperately wrong with their values. Or perhaps they have no values.

The question is: has SNZ become an organisation that cares for Emma Godwin or does it pander to the greed of Johns and Francis? There is little doubt about who benefits the most right now.

In the meantime I recommend you go to Emma Godwin’s “Give-a-Little” page and chip in a few dollars. She deserves it. She needs the help and is not going to get it from the three Scrooges that run SNZ.

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