If FINA is a family, How come they treat their children so badly?

The sport of swimming is changing. There have been several efforts at reform in the past. But this time there is different feel about the effort. This time the people involved are heavy weights – from British journalist Craig Lord to outstanding UK swimmer Adam Peaty, to USA Olympic Champion Simone Manuel and Russian billionaire Konstantin Grigorishin. These are not people to be taken lightly. They know what’s good for swimming and are up to their eyes-balls in getting it done. If you are interested in reading more about what’s going on, Craig Lord has written an excellent summary. Here is the link.


If Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) had half a brain, but of course it doesn’t, they would join the Grigorishin army. In fact swimming in New Zealand has the opportunity to transform itself from a swimming backwater to leading the world. You see the key reform proposed by Grigorishin is professionalism, a world where 50% of the sports income is paid to the swimmers. SNZ could do that now. New Zealand could lead the swimming world.

Don’t be stupid I hear Steve Johns and Gary Francis exclaim. Their reaction is why they should not be involved. So here is how it could be done.

Set out in the table below in Column One is the 2018 SNZ profit and loss account. That is what SNZ is doing now. This is the activity that produced one bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games, nothing at the Pan Pacific Games and a $5,300 bill for every swimmer selected to swim in the World SC Championships. This is a profit and loss account that does not work. Column Two shows the changes that could reform swimming in New Zealand. Column Three shows what a reformed 2020 profit and loss account could look like. The text below the table will describe the changes that would cause the reform.

Item Amount $000 – 1 Amount $000 – 2 Amount $000 – 3
Income 2018 Current Changes 2020 Budget
Grants and Donations 1,962 0 1,962
Swimming Activities 1,192 0 1,192
Total Income 3,154 0 3,154
Administration 524 -250 274
Audit 13 0 13
Marketing 3 97 100
Depreciation 40 0 40
Events 556 244 800
Education 643 -643 0
Governance 23 0 23
High Performance Coach Support 225 -225 0
High Performance Teams 559 -309 250
High Performance Programs 299 -299 0
Legal 3 17 20
Loss on Sale Fixed Assets 18 0 18
Motor Vehicles 22 -10 12
Pegs 91 0 91
Rent 72 0 72
Rewards 4 -4 0
Prize Money 0 1,382 1,382
Total Expenditure 3095 0 3,095
Profit (Loss) 59 0 59


We have assumed there will be no change in income. An income of $3,154,000 combined with the new policy of spending 50% on prize money, paid directly to swimmers, means the aim is to spend $1,577,000 on prize money.


The cost of administration should drop by $250,000. This would be achieved by dismissing Gary Francis and Steve Johns. The nature of the business is changing and these two are not needed. Currently SNZ is directly involved in a range of swimming activities from learn-to-swim to elite competitive swimming. That is not the organisation’s job. Those functions are the responsibility of clubs and professional coaches. SNZ spends a fortune on telling professional coaches and teachers how they should be doing their job. The fact is that every coach and swim teacher in New Zealand has forgotten more about swimming than Francis or Johns ever knew. The two SNZ staff members are not needed. They are not part of the new organisation’s role. They should go.


We have assumed there will be no change in the audit fee.


The cost of marketing is expected to increase by $97,000. This reflects the change in the primary function of SNZ. The purpose of the organisation should not be to meddle about in functions other people do better, like learn-to-swim and competitive coaching, but should be to promote the popularity of the sport. This should be done by using the two big events controlled by SNZ – the Open LC Championships and the Open SC Championships. These need to be turned into Wimbledon style events. To do that money needs to be spent on marketing.


We have assumed there will be no change in the cost of depreciation


This cost is projected to increase by $244,000 to $800,000. This reflects two factors. First, the cost of running the Age Group Championships, the Division Two Championships, the Open Water Championships and the Secondary School’s Championships will not change. Those events should continue on as they do now. The additional money is needed to upgrade the LC and SC Open Championships. They are currently pretty dull. They certainly do not compare with the hype I have seen in the USA. The upgrade will require more money.


It has always been the ultimate irony that one of the Moller Report’s key recommendations was for SNZ to get out of this learn-to-swim function. For some unknown reason the Board has stubbornly refused to comply. Their decision is ridiculous. Dozens of learn-to-swim organisations are better equipped to perform this function. The Waterhole or Coast or Millennium Swim Schools could and would train swim teachers better in a heartbeat. The business should be sold or given away. This cost of $643,000 would no longer be incurred.


This is the cost of the SNZ Board and is not expected to change.

High Performance Coach Support  

Just as there is no need or purpose for SNZ to be involved in learn-to-swim, SNZ should have no involvement in high performance coaching. SNZ has spent many millions on elite coaching and has achieved nothing. The whole thing should be dropped and left to club coaches who are much better equipped to handle the role. Let me think – Hollywood or Francis, Winter or Johns, Benson or Cotterill – not hard is it? The saving is expected to be $225,000.

High performance Teams

The current cost of $559,000 is expected to reduce by $309,000 to $250,000. This reflects the change in SNZ’s responsibilities. In the past SNZ has run a traditional amateur sport where teams are sent to key events. SNZ has not always done that well. The current World SC Championship is a classic example. The move towards professionalism will change all that. Well-paid professional athletes pay to get themselves to major events. Federer pays his own way to Wimbledon. The same principle should work here. Well-paid swimmers can pay their own travel costs. Junior teams will, of course, not change which is why the schedule shows a cost of $250,000.

High Performance Programs     

This cost will also be eliminated as SNZ gets out of any involvement in high performance swimming. The saving will be $299,000.


Professional sport tends to bring its share of problems. For this reason the cost of legal fees has been increased by $17,000 to $20,000.

Loss on Sale of Fixed Assets

We have assumed there will be no change in the loss on the sale of fixed assets.

Motor Vehicles

The cost of motor vehicles is expected to reduce by $10,000 to $12,000. The reduction in senior staff and the sale of the education activity will reduce the need for motor cars.


We have assumed there will be no change in the cost of the Pegs program.


We have assumed there will be no change in the cost of renting office accommodation.


This program will be eliminated and replaced by direct payment to swimmers. The saving will be $4,000.

Prize Money

This is where the big change will occur. SNZ should spend $1,382,000 on prize money. It should be spent over two competitions – the LC Open Championships and the SC Open Championships.

The amount should be distributed as follows:

Events at both Championships should be divided into categories as shown in the table below.

Category Events Included
Free Sprint Men 50, 100, 200 free
Free Sprint Women 50, 100, 200 free
Free Distance Men 400, 800, 1500 free
Free Distance Women 400, 800, 1500 free
Back Men 50, 100, 200 back
Back Women 50, 100, 200 back
Brst Men 50, 100, 200 brst
Brst Women 50, 100, 200 brst
Fly Men 50, 100, 200 fly
Fly Women 50, 100, 200 fly
IM Men 100 (SC Only) 200, 400 IM
IM Women 100 (SC Only) 200, 400 IM

Points will then be allocated to the top eight finalists in each event. The table below shows the allocation of points for each event.

Place Points
1 12
2 9
3 7
4 5
5 4
6 3
7 2
8 1

At the conclusion of the meet the top eight points winners in each category will be awarded prize money as shown in the table below. The total cost of prize money for each of the twelve categories will be $43,000.  

Place Event Amount
1 12,000
2 9,000
3 7,000
4 5,000
5 4,000
6 3,000
7 2,000
8 1,000
Total 43,000

The total cost of all categories for the meet will be $516,000 as shown in the table below.

Category Category Amount
Free Sprint Men 43,000
Free Sprint Women 43,000
Free Distance Men 43,000
Free Distance Women 43,000
Back Men 43,000
Back Women 43,000
Brst Men 43,000
Brst Women 43,000
Fly Men 43,000
Fly Women 43,000
IM Men 43,000
IM Women 43,000
Total Prize Money 516,000

The prize money allocated for each meet will be $516,000. The total annual cost will be as shown in the table below.

Annual Prize Money Annual Amount
Long Course Nationals 516,000
Short Course Nationals 516,000
Insurance 350,000
Total Annual Prize Money 1,382,000

The amount of $350,000 shown as the annual amount paid for insurance is the estimated cost of insuring additional payments for records set at either meet. The prize offered will be $100,000 for an open able body New Zealand record and $500,000 for an able body world record. The New Zealand open record prize is only available to New Zealand swimmers. Swimmers from anywhere in the world should be able to win the category and world record prize money. The cost of insuring this risk has been estimated as shown in the table below.

Insurance Annual Amount
New Zealand Open Record 100,000
World Record 250,000
Total Insurance 350,000

So there it is – a plan to increase the profile and popularity of swimming. With this money on offer little old New Zealand would attract swimmers from all over the world. Imagine Peaty, Campbell, Manuel, Ledecky, Lochte and Sjöströmn all gathered at the New Zealand Championships. TV would be falling over itself to film the event. Sponsors would be beating down the Antares Place door. And best of all, young New Zealanders would see the reality of their dreams. I guarantee in two years swimming membership would double. Imagine NZ Champions, Hunter and Godwin, earning a good living doing what they enjoy. Breaking a New Zealand Open Record plus a category win in the LC and SC Championships would give a swimmer an annual income of $124,000 – not as much as it should be but a good place to start.

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